Momfession #59: Family vacations

Oh, hello there loyal Momfessional readers. Not sure if there are any of you left, after I  virtually abandoned you over the last several months, but hello anyway. I’ll spare you the “I’ve been busy” excuse and just say that it is nice to be back.

So this week, we took our first camping trip of the summer. I had planned it out months ago; we would be going to somewhere more remote than we had in previous years (well, as remote as you can get while car camping), about 3 1/2 hours from home. I was excited to go somewhere less populated and experience more “nature” and I was certain the kids would be blown away by all of the hiking, fishing, canoeing, etc. that I planned to pack into our three days away.

But, things didn’t quite end up the way I had envisioned.

It started when we were unpacking our car, after driving the 4+ hours it ended up taking to get to the site. And it went something like this.

Me: Ummm, hey dear husband, where’s the other bin with our camping stuff?

Him: What bin?

Me: The bin with our equipment in it. Like ALL of our cooking stuff, our flashlights, matches, propane, tools, etc. The one that we can’t do much without? OMG WHERE IS IT? SHIT!!

I moaned, sat down, and put my head in my hands. I had packed for days, written lists, pre-made all of our meals. And now we were four hours from home, with frozen food but no way to cook it. And no flashlight. And no way to start a fire. And no rope to hang the tarps with for the rain that was supposed to fall while we were sleeping.

I guess you could say I over-reacted a bit. I blamed my husband. I growled at the kids. I might have cried a bit. Then, we hopped back into the car and drove off, searching for some sort of camp store (which we did find, and ended up spending $100 in, just buying essentials).

And that’s pretty much how the camping trip went. My husband and I bickered, our kids misbehaved and were bored, we didn’t sleep, and a massive thunderstorm came through exactly while we were trying to pack up to leave. Thankfully there were some highlights: the surroundings were beautiful, the kids loved the beach, and they were obsessed with the park badges that they got to earn for doing things like keeping the campsite clean. But on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it a solid 5.

The funny thing is, while I was editing and later posting our pictures on Facebook, I realized that, to an outsider, it must look like we had a perfectly idyllic trip. There we were: smiling, laughing, hiking, eating s’mores, and building sand castles like the “normal” family I had secretly wished we could be while we were in the midst of our dysfunction. I felt like a fraud.

And then I realized, maybe everyone else is a fraud too.

How many people do you know that actually tell the truth about their family trips? We don’t hear the stories about how mommy yelled at little Jimmy when he stepped in poop on the trip to the farm. Or how daddy got lost on the way to the beach and mommy told him she knew she shouldn’t have let him drive because he always gets lost. Or how the kids woke up every hour screaming because they weren’t used to sleeping in a completely dark hotel room, and mommy and daddy lost their patience around 4am and yelled, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT UP!

No one talks about that because those things aren’t supposed to happen. And we feel guilty that they do. We feel like terrible parents, jealous of those other parents who seem to have perfect kids and amazing trips  filled with laughter and good times, while we pray for night time to come so that we can break out the wine and have some peace before collapsing into an exhausted heap.

Yet, here we all are, likely going through similar experiences, but only telling the “good” side of things. It’s wrong. We should be more honest about life as parents. It isn’t always perfect. Scratch that; it’s NEVER perfect. We shouldn’t strive for perfection and we shouldn’t pretend we have it.

The other day, a colleague asked me how my vacation was, and I replied immediately, “It was great!”. And then I stopped. “Actually, you know what? It wasn’t great. It was average at best. My kids were nuts, we forgot a bunch of supplies (which I blamed my husband for), and we got poured on. We’ve had better trips. But we did have a nice hike and the park was beautiful.” Perhaps it was too much information for a pre-9am water cooler chat, but it made me feel better.

So the next time you’re asked to recount your latest family trip, do me and all of us imperfect parents out there a favour: throw in a story or two about something that didn’t go according to plan. I promise we won’t judge.

 

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Momfession #52: Married with children

I’ve had several conversations lately with friends, colleagues, and even my husband around marriage. As in, what makes a good marriage? What to look for in a partner? How do you keep the marriage going through all that life has to dump on offer us? After each of these conversations, I realized something that I thought too important not to discuss. Many of us feel less-than-satisfied about our relationships from time to time. Some people suffer only the occasional relationship slump, while others are dealing with major, possibly life-changing relationship issues. But no one (that I’ve talked to, at least) has a perfect relationship situation.

So why, then, don’t we talk about it more? I find that pretending a relationship is “perfect” happens so much more often than the “perfect parenting” that I write about. On the outside, many couples look like they have it all: an amazing relationship, happy kids, a lovely home, great jobs. But no one talks about the fact that behind the closed doors of their fabulous home lie sexless nights, arguments, and feelings of dissatisfaction.

So let me be the first to admit that my relationship isn’t perfect. I love my husband dearly, and I know he loves me, but there are times when we really don’t like each other. I have a tendency to score-keep (I washed the dishes, made dinner, did two loads of laundry, and all he did was POUR THE MILK= 3-1. What an ass.) and am extremely controlling (as in, everything needs to be done the right way, RIGHT NOW). While he isn’t the greatest communicator and tends to hold grudges. Pair those awesome qualities with two children that love to argue, two full-time jobs, finances to manage, a four bedroom house to clean, dance/karate/swimming/therapy appointments, and a cat that lives to piss us off (literally), and you end up with some not so great moments. There are many nights when we sleep in separate rooms, often with one or more children by our side. We often go days without having a real conversation. I sometimes feel like I haven’t really looked at my husband in a very long time. And sex? It comes and goes, mostly depending on how exhausted I am from the day’s activities.

It might sound like a pretty dismal circumstance, to an outsider. But I am pretty sure that these are all things that most married couples with kids could attest to. Marriage isn’t easy, and once you have kids, forget about it. Life is no longer about you as a couple; it is about you as a family. And often times, the couple part gets put on the back burner for a few years. I think the key to surviving the child-rearing years as a couple is to understand that it won’t last forever. I read a quote somewhere a few years ago that has stuck with me. It goes something like, the days are long, but the years are short. And when it comes to marriage and kids, that is absolutely true. I know I am going to turn around one day and my kids will be grown. I am sure I’ll be a bit saggier and my husband perhaps a bit rounder around the midsection, but we’ll be alone again. And we’ll be able to look back at a beautiful, totally fucked up life that we stumbled through together. The journey is anything but pretty, but remembering that life is not about one single bad day/week/month helps to keep me going through the rough times. And to be honest, it also helps knowing that others have dealt with similar challenges.

So that’s where you come in. Tell me I am not alone. Tell me that you and your husband/wife/partner have had similar issues. Comment below and let’s band together in our imperfect relationships. Who’s with me??

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.

Continue reading “Momfession #49: The phone call”

Momfessional #47: Freaking out

stay-calm-and-carry-on

I was reading 46 reasons why my three-year-old might be freaking out the other day, and I couldn’t believe how accurate it was. The post was hilarious, and, while sharing on my Facebook wall, I added a few things that especially cause K to freak out these days:

  • The TV is not a touchscreen like the iPad or my phone
  • Her “plain pasta” has a speck of sauce on it
  • She wanted to choose her own orange vitamin, out of the bottle that only has orange vitamins left.
  • Her nose has a caterpillar in it (AKA it is stuffy)
  • I was squishing her when I laid in bed with her
  • I didn’t lay in bed with her
  • The (sleeping) cat tripped her
  • I didn’t warm her pants up with my hairdryer before she put them on
  • I won’t let her wear underwear, even though she refuses to use the potty
  • Her brother is looking at her
  • Her brother isn’t looking at her

The list goes on, and on, and on.

Continue reading “Momfessional #47: Freaking out”

Momfession #40: So long, farewell

The other day, I sat outside for over an hour in a torrential downpour watching my husband play baseball. It was cold and muddy, my ballet flats and jeans were soaked. As I crouched under a tiny umbrella that had seen better days, one of the players said something about how awful it was to be a spectator in such terrible weather. And without thinking, I replied, “Actually, it isn’t so bad. I would take sitting here alone, even in the pouring rain over chasing my kids around any day.”  He gave me a funny look, and I realized how terrible that sounded. But what was more terrible was how much I meant it.

My husband and I, like most parents, don’t get to spend a lot of time alone. We are actually luckier than most, though; we have a very strong network of family who live nearby which allows us one night a week out (usually to play on one of our many sports teams). On the weekends, we rarely spend time alone. After all, we hardly get to see the kids during the week, with a strict commute/work/school/daycare/sleep routine that allows us about an hour of “free” time to spend with them each day (at which point, we are usually so exhausted that it is spent watching Netflix). So, we pack our weekends full of bike rides, splash pads, apple picking, local festivals, and playdates, and make sure we are doing our best to spend every moment building memories that will last their lifetimes. However, somewhere between building forts in our living room and jack-o-lantern carving, my husband and I get lost.

I hate to admit it, but there are definitely times that I forget why I fell in love with my husband. We get so bogged down by the stresses of life and children that our relationship sometimes feels more like a series of transactions than a marriage. I make dinner, he sets the table. I do the dishes, he gives our daughter a bath. He drops the kids off, I pick them up. Days pass before I realize that we haven’t had a “real” conversation (except if you count discussing the frequency of our preschooler’s bowel movements a conversation). It is amazing how lonely it can all get, if you let it.

Which is why this weekend was so amazing. Two childless days, with no responsibilities other than hanging out with my husband, and watching him play baseball (in the rain). When his games were over, we ate pizza and watched TV together. We took walks and held hands. We spent time with some friends. By the end of the weekend, we both felt a renewed sense of excitement and love; and we both agreed that we need to spend more alone time together.

I know some people who have a really hard time leaving their kids. There are some that even admit they have never left their kids, because they would miss them too much. I definitely love my kids, and I do think about them when I am gone. But I definitely don’t pine for them all day when I am away. Am I a terrible parent because of it? Maybe. But I also think that part of being a good parent is taking care of yourself, and your relationship. When they grow up, my kids will probably not remember the weekend or two a year that their parents skipped town. But I am pretty sure they will remember the love that they felt from us, and the friendship, respect, and love that my husband and I had with each other.

Momfession #7: Hey, jealousy

I have become *that* woman. The one who gets jealous of the younger, skinnier, sexier, and yes….childless…woman.

It all started recently when I found out that a friend split from his wife a few months ago and already had a girlfriend. Now, I am not friends with his wife and I have no idea what happened in their relationship but I found myself getting mad. I immediately made the assumption that his new girlfriend was younger, hotter and likely childless. I was really angry and downright jealous. I found myself thinking, “hmmm, must be nice to have some chick with no responsibilities who exists just to please you!” I mean really…wouldn’t it be nice if all I had to worry about in a given day was making myself look cute for my husband? Sadly, that is usually the last thing on my mind. Who cares about looking cute when there are dishes to wash, diapers to change and screaming children to tend to?

So, I got jealous. And I told my husband about how I was feeling. And here’s  what he said (badly paraphrased but you’ll get the gist)…

Yeah, I’m sure some people would love to have a young, hot girlfriend. Maybe it would be exciting for a while to have someone who was so into you, and wanted to please you all the time. But you know what? I would be sad. I would miss my kids. I would miss the relationship with my wife. It wouldn’t be worth it to me.

So yeah, I do get jealous when I see some young, cute girl who seemingly doesn’t have a care in the world. There are moments that I long to be her. But those moments are fleeting. As crazy as my life is, and as much as I really need a pedicure and a shower right now, I’ve got it pretty good. My husband can be a pretty forgetful guy but he is really good at reminding me how lucky I am, at the times I need it most.