Family, Growth, Parenting

Dear Kids, I Hope You Never Thank Me for This.

You probably already know this but, parenting is not an easy gig. Well, let me clarify, it’s not easy as long as you are doing it right. My son and I were sitting on the sofa recently watching television when a commercial for a toy came on. He said, “Being a parent must be really hard, huh Mommy? I mean, kids always ask for things over and over and over and you’ve got to say, ‘no’.”

At almost 8 years old, he’s 100% correct.

This summer Brain and I had a decision to make about whether or not to give Audrey what she wanted. It was a tough decision but I think we definitely did the right thing.

It was also my first publication for Grown & Flown! You can read the full article here.

xoxo

For more content similar to this, check out: In Defense of Not Helping My Kids, or Finding Happiness Within Disappointment.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook!

Family, Uncategorized

Let Them Eat Cake.

Let me start by creating a visual for you:

I’m wearing a set of flannel, black and white toile pajamas (with pink trim), collar up of course. My short hair is pushed back with one of Audrey’s pink, yellow, and green floral emmie j headbands so most of it is sticking straight up. I have a black spatula in my right hand. My left, if I remember correctly is waiving wildly in the air.

“Fine, then don’t eat. Go hungry! Better yet, go right into the kitchen and help yourself to whatever your little heart desires. Have cookies! Have Doritos for breakfast! Go right ahead; I truly don’t care anymore.”

Yes indeed one of my finer moments of motherhood, right here in black and white for all of you to see. Reminds me of the time when she had the horrible skin virus molluscum. Please take note: if your child has this condition, do not let your child swim, bathe, share a donut, or even talk on the phone with anyone, ever until the condition is completely gone. It is so highly contagious and a royal pain in the ass to deal with. I had to treat one of the bumps and she didn’t want me to touch it. I was over her fear and worry about the damn thing and I just wanted to get the medicine and be done with it. It was late. I had reached my limit. At her last tear-filled sob that she was afraid it might hurt, I blurted out, “Well fine, then. Let them spread all over your little body.”

The good news is that there has been at least a full year between these two outbursts of fine mothering quality. It doesn’t happen that often but boy when it does…

So the issue now is all about food and my child’s current revolt against anything I cook. I. Am. Over. It. I make no claims to be Barefoot Contessa, but I serve my family healthy, well prepared meals. I use only organic chicken. I make my spaghetti sauce from scratch. I make mashed potatoes from actual potatoes. I have never served a frozen meatball in my life! I plan meals that are supposed to be relatively kid friendly. A few weeks ago I made lasagna pasta which consisted of a kid’s holy trinity – meat, noodles, and cheese. I served this delight only to watch both of my ungrateful children stare blankly at their bowls. Whining ensued.

Over this past weekend I served red beans and rice, of which Audrey pushed around in her bowl, took two bites and declared she was finished. The next day I made a gumbo, which I can say with certainty is good. Very good. I cook a pot of gumbo for no less than five hours. It was met with an apathetic side of meah. I should have known better but I had big plans for Sunday morning. I was making pancakes – from scratch! I found this delish recipe that consisted of whole wheat flour, oats, honey, and buttermilk. Yes, that’s right, I made my own buttermilk. They were crusty golden brown and as delicious as expected.

I have never heard so much unfounded complaining in my life. I was informed that they looked too lumpy, they felt funny when picked up with the fork, and yes, there was a concern that they weren’t cooked long enough. I thought I would roll my eyeballs right out of my head.

This brings us to the visual of me standing in the den, spatula in hand, yelling something about either going hungry or eating Skittles for breakfast. I truly didn’t care.

Isn’t it true that no good deed goes unpunished? 

I know that as a mother, I am the nutritional gatekeeper for my children. The choices I make daily about what to serve them impacts their lives. I think this is a pretty big responsibility! Our food choices today will have an impact on how they eat as adults. Look, I know how to pick my battles and I truly am flexible. I know that nothing is perfect. In our home, nothing is off-limits. My kids have access to anything as long as it is in moderation. No one ever has to clean their plate. You eat until you are full. (Of course, you can’t just look at the plate and declare your fullness.) We don’t use food to take care of emotional issues. You have to try something at least once. And lastly, the one I am having the hardest time with, you have to eat what I serve you. I am a mother, not a short order cook! This idea of turning away my prepared meals in exchange for cereal, raisin toast, or a PB&J has got to stop.

Am I the only person on the planet this happens to? I know that can’t possibly be true. I do think I could possibly be the only one screaming in pajamas wielding a spatula, though. I am open to any and all suggestions! Truly, though, I do know what I have to do. I have to be a mother. I have to draw a hard line and actually do what I always say to myself that I’m going to do. I truly do have wonderful children and I love them dearly. I’m not an idiot, though. I realize that my daughter is smart enough to bargain her way out of meal she’d rather not eat. Which is where the mothering comes in. Yes, oh yes, the mothering. It always comes down to the mothering.

Happy Mothering,

Melanie

 

Uncategorized

#sirtoby

As you have probably noticed, we have a new addition to our family! Yes, our kids have been blessed with a sweet little rescue that we named Toby. Once thought to be part Pug, I realize now that Sir Toby is undoubtably part Boston Terrier and part nervous Chihuahua. He truly is my third child. He requires just about as much attention, medication, and steady stream of food and water as my other two children do. Truly though, he is just about sweetest dog on the planet. He tolerates everything my kids throw at him (and in some cases I mean throw literally.) He happily puts up with being chased, covered, trapped, and even being carried around in my mother’s orange leather Michael Kors bag. He sometimes looks at me with a hint of desperation but I quickly remind him that his alternative could be sharing a kennel with six other dogs and only one food bowl. Then I encourage him to hide in the tub.

Recently this sweet hound had, what he would classify as a brush with death. It really was terrible. The poor thing was attacked by ground hornets and had a horrible reaction. He was bumpy, swollen, and just a total mess. In a ton of pain. I rushed him to the vet where he required a steroid treatment and narcotics for the pain. His recovery was slow. I guess at 16 pounds it takes a while for the pain medication to leave your system. Poor sweet, very drunk Toby.  At one point during his afternoon of recovery he woke up and immediately threw up on the floor. He attempted to walk a few steps and proceeded to pee in the den. Trying to squat, the sweet boy got stuck and ended up sitting in his own pee. See what I mean? Basically the same scenario with children.

If anyone has pets and if you have ever had to give them steroids, they can cause adverse reactions. For example, in our case, the medication caused Toby to have to potty….a lot. One evening I was home alone with the kids while Brian was at work. William was already sleeping and Audrey spent the evening playing with Toby. She was making tents with pillows and blankets and keeping him in there with her. One may call that playing, however, Toby would probably call it entrapment. Nonetheless, it was a peaceful evening.

At some point Toby came to visit me while I was in the bathroom. (What can I say, mommies have to potty, too.) He tapped his nails on the tile indicating that he had to go out. You couldn’t have come at a worse time! Tap, tap, tap the nails of a nervous Chihuahua. I knew he had to go out but in reality, I was not in a position to run to the back door. I’m not exactly sure what happened next except that while I was washing my hands Audrey came running into my room. “Mom, mom! I think Toby had an accident!” She guides me into her room where I saw something that literally sent me over the edge. I yelled for the dog.

Now, I have never spanked either of my children nor do I have the intention to ever do so. I know that as a practice, spanking not only doesn’t work, it is harmful. I have never even had the feeling or urge to spank my children but I understand now how it happens. Hitting anyone, animals included, as a form of punishment makes absolutely zero sense to me. It is not anywhere on my radar of logical next steps. What happened this evening can only be classified as, ‘losing my shit.’

What I found in Audrey’s room was that Toby peed on her bed. The worst of all dog accidents, I know. The greatest violation of the pet-owner relationship ever. Ever. My mind began to race. I panicked. What the hell is wrong with this dog? Why the hell is he now acting like a mean, vindictive cat? What does this mean for the future? Is this what we will have to face in the future? Is this who Toby really is? I was angry and scared and my mind was racing. Right there in her room, in front of Audrey, I grabbed the dog, shoved his face in the wet spot and hauled off and slapped the daylight out of his haunches. I then went to the back door to put him out. Of course, I opened the door, forgetting about the alarm,  and set it off. The alarm is now blaring, which scared  the ever-living crap out of William who was sound asleep.

The alarm is blaring, both kids are crying and my mind is spinning. What the hell just happened? And why do these things happen when I’m home alone?

I’m sure you think the wet bed is the worst part of this evening. No, no, no. Truly the bed was the easiest part to deal with. All of her bedding was pushed to the side so he only peed on the fitted sheet – all of her down was spared. I also have a quilted mattress pad on top of a plastic bed liner to cover her mattress. Clean up was really easy. I stripped it all down, threw it in the wash for the sanitary cycle and sprayed the liner with Lysol. Truly not much worse than the time William threw up in her bed.

After I was able to calm William and put him back to sleep I had to face Audrey. There she was standing in the den, her face wet with tears. Looking me straight in the face, through her tears she asked me, “Why did you hit Toby?” She buried her face in her hands. I could feel myself bristle, afraid of what she was going to say next. I knelt down by her and hugged her. She looked at me again and said, “We are supposed to give him a better life.”

Truth be told, I still tear up every time I think about this exchange with my daughter. Those were my words. I continually remind the kids that we are here to give Toby a better life – we rescued him from the shelter and now it’s our job to keep him safe, happy, and loved. How can I reconcile my message with my actions in front of my child? Part of me wanted to get all righteous and parenty with her and tell her that sometimes parents have to do things that kids don’t always understand, and blah, blah, blah. Instead, I opened up and exposed myself to her as a person, who also happens to be her mom, who makes mistakes. It was hard. Reeeaaallly hard.  I knew  that if I couldn’t show her that I make mistakes, too, how could she ever feel okay about making them herself?

It wasn’t until after things had settled down that the reality really sunk in. Remember the medication he was on? Remember the need to pee frequently? Remember the evening of play with a theme of trapping? Oh I felt worse than horrible. It all happened so fast and I realized that poor sweet Toby really did nothing wrong! He came to me but I couldn’t meet his needs right away. I’m certain he was taken away to a tent on her bed and barricaded with pillows. I’m certain he held it as long as he possibly could. I’m certain I spanked a sweet innocent dog!

The guilt lingered for some time. Thankfully both Audrey and Toby recovered very, very quickly. I, on the other hand had wounds that were slow to heal.  For days I felt guilt not only for the dog but for literally loosing it in front of my child. I showered Toby with treats and even (without Brian knowing) let him snuggle with me in our bed the next evening. Audrey and I talked more about it and I assured her that Toby was okay and that together we were going to give him a long, happy, loving life.

Vulnerability is a tough thing folks. It’s really, really hard to expose ourselves as humans who are not always perfect. For some reason it’s even harder to expose ourselves to our children. I don’t know if it’s embarrassment or if  we are afraid of what they will think of us. I just know that really showing up, being seen for who I am, good and bad is important for my children.

So yes! Let the shroud of mystery be pulled away. The truth must be told.  Although many of us still hold it to be the mystery of all ages, but yes, in fact mommies do have to potty and, alas! They sometimes make mistakes, too.

Happy Mothering,

Melanie

Uncategorized

A Little Fantasy for My Reality….

Today I am obsessed. Strange, because I just found out about my new obsession last night but I am obsessed with having boudoir pictures taken. I found out that someone we know is a photographer and she is doing beautiful, glamorous pictures of women in various stages of undress. They are so beautiful and well done I am obsessed with having them done! I know it’s odd to have an overnight obsession but it really makes total sense. Believe me, I am fully aware of my physical appearance, and well, lack of fullness but I still think I need to do this. I know that I have the glamorous, sexy body of a thirteen year-old boy but hey, I can at least rock a pair of boy shorts. I think doing something like this will help balance out my life as a hands-on mother of two. Since my day-to-day life isn’t necessarily that glamorous, I think having pictures like this will help me keep a healthy balance and remember that underneath that crust of the morning’s oatmeal on my sleeve there lives a hot-blooded woman.

So, if none other than being totally fun and indulgent, I believe that I, like many other moms need to take a full set of boudoir pictures for the following reasons:

  • There is a distinct possibility that at any given time you may find one or more of the following in my purse: Perry the Platypus’ hat, rocks, dead flowers, and/or used kleenex.
  • I often pee with one child on my lap and the other wanting to know exactly what I am producing. Clearly we have no boundaries.
  • Without a second thought I will use my shirt to wipe my son’s snotty nose.
  • I sleep in the same kind of shirts as my husband.
  • What a better place to hide my child’s booger than in my jeans pocket?
  • There are times while we are watching television that I actually ask Audrey to stop talking just so I can hear what is being said. Look, I haven’t seen an episode of The Real Housewives in so damn long it’s no wonder I want to be sure I don’t miss Sister Bear’s anecdote or what great idea just flew into Thomas’ funnel.
  • Until last week’s purchase, all of my jeans were from before I had Audrey. That makes them over 5 years old. Age isn’t really the biggest issue, though. You see these jeans were from Old Navy and thanks to a good friend who enlightened me that those jeans are actually “gateway” mom jeans. Oh.the.horror.
  • I’m not the least bit embarrassed when I am verbally praised for doing such a good job on the potty. In public.

So do you see why I’m obsessed? Now I just have to find a small window of time when I can get all people big and small out of my house so I can become the woman who my wonderful husband first fell in love with. A few moments in time when no one needs me, no one has to tell me about a boo-boo, and no one needs me to find a missing toy. A few moments to have fun, and well most likely miss them.

Happy Mothering,

Melanie

Uncategorized

She Knows Stuff…

This is a picture of my daughter when she was about 14 months old. I love this picture, it’s one of my favorites especially because she’s not smiling. For whatever reason, I have a fondness for pictures without smiles. Even without a huge grin on her face, the picture truly captures her personality and, I think shows how beautiful she is. I remember when the pictures arrived and I was so excited to share them with friends and family. I showed them to one friend who remarked almost immediately at how her expression is so telling. “It’s like she knows stuff” my friend Kay said to me. “This little girl knows more than you think!” Of course we laughed about it but for years Kay’s reaction has stayed with me and I often find myself going back to this picture in my mind and wondering, just how much exactly does she know? How much more does she know then she is actually letting on? After our conversation over lunch recently I wonder if she does, in fact, know more than me…

Audrey has grandparents on both sides of her family. Lucky for her she actually has a great-grandmother on Brian’s side! On my side she has three grandparents. My mother is Sugar, my step-father is Opa, and my father is Pere. I have not up until this point discussed much about this arrangement except that Audrey knows they are all part of her family and that they all love her very much. She knows, clearly that Pere is my dad and Sugar is my mom but how Opa fits into the picture hasn’t actually been discussed. There is no real reason to anyway. All three of them are part of our family and we all love and care about one another.

We had an impromptu lunch date recently while we were waiting out a bad rainstorm. It was really more like a snack since our “lunch” consisted of french fries and chocolate malts! We had just left a clothing store where Audrey talked a lot about how much Sugar would love it. “Oh mom look, Sugar would love this!” She told the saleslady how her Sugar loves the color orange and that she would just love the jewelry. Fresh on her mind she posed a question, “Mom, did Sugar marry Opa?” From the moment I saw her lips forming the words I knew exactly the path down which we were headed.

“Yes, Sugar and Opa are married. Why?”

“Well, how can Sugar marry Opa if she was married to Pere?”

As the whirl of the blenders seemed to become the only thing I could hear, I began to mentally prepare carefully for my next steps. How can you possibly know to even ask this? How in the world do I explain this? Is divorce a topic to discuss with my four-year-old?

I was honest. She had a valid, albeit surprisingly deep, question. I told her that Sugar and Pere were married but that they aren’t anymore. I told her that the adult word is called ‘divorce.’ She pulled a face at that so I reframed it and said that they broke up. “You mean they don’t like each other anymore?” Oh my precious, precious child. I felt like I was looking into the soul of wisdom tucked inside a four-year-old body. With curls.

Again I was honest. “That’s part of it, yes.”

The conversation ended as quickly as it started. My answers and explanations were all that she needed. I reminded her again that what’s most important is that everyone loves her and that we all love each other. Families come in all shapes and sizes and it’s the love we have for each other is all that really matters.

As I enjoyed the last few sips of my malt and saw this picture in my mind and I thought about Kay remarking how she looks so wise. I wonder for a moment where this beautiful, wonderful soul will lead us next. Clearly I am not leading these adventures. No, I am at least smart enough to recognize that I’m here to nurture and support her; not direct her.

The week after she was born I wrote in her baby book about my greatest wishes for her.  My wish for both of my children is for their world to be bigger than mine. I have this flicker of a sense sometimes that she will easily soar beyond the limits to have her world be just as big as she wants it to be.

Happy Mothering!

Melanie

Uncategorized

A Few Random Thoughts…

Just a few things that have been clouding my brain lately…

  • When shopping for a vacation condo, the descriptions should read something more like this: “Two bedrooms, two baths, with view of the gulf. Gourmet kitchen and luxury bath. Convection microwave  that is certain to confuse the hell out of you. Like pancakes? Try our pillows.”
  • It is only when you being to feel more like your old self and find that inner confidence that you realize you have a glob of dried oatmeal stuck to your bikini top.
  • Why is the dishwasher ALWAYS full of clean dishes?
  • I think the invention of the ‘Big Gulp’ is where we went wrong, or at least off course. I mean, does anyone really need 64 ounces of any kind of liquid at any one given sitting? 64? I would argue probably not.
  • How does one completely forget how to make dumplings? After three tries I think it’s time to give up.
  • I know it’s totally weird but I like the way my baby’s lovie smells after he’s slept with it all night long. (Yes, I know it’s been drooled on.)
  • No matter how well I have slept the night before, at any given time during the day I am at least a little bit tired.
  • Even tired, there are times at any given point in the day when I feel a flutter of happiness and I can hear my heart whisper, “I love my life.”

Happy Mothering,

Melanie

Uncategorized

I Finally Screamed! (And Yelled, and Threatened…)

My daughter is two. She’s been two since February and I honestly have not had a reason to ever raise my voice. Of course she has kicked the cat, which required a stern talking to and an explanation that we do not hit people or animals. Well, this Sunday proved to be a new day. After a long weekend away we were all tired. Especially me who had the honor of sleeping with a toddler in a hot bedroom with an extraordinarily noisy fan. I chased after my daughter in the sun, in the house, and all around. By the time we got home for dinner, bath, and bed it was clear she was exhausted. I’m educated. I should know better. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself! It was time to brush teeth and she wanted nothing to do with that but I was determined to ensure my daughter’s good oral health! I’m not sure if it was the tears of her screaming for her Daddy or if it was when I realized that I was squeezing her little cheeks to get her mouth open so I could shove the tiny toothbrush all while yelling back at her that she couldn’t watch her TV show if she didn’t cooperate. Is it just me or is it impossible to reason with a tired toddler? What the hell was I thinking? Sure, Melanie, go ahead and make her even more upset by taking away her evening programs! That will do it. Right. I was screaming and she was crying. The louder she got, you get it. Anyway, she cried through her bath and I sulked. When it was all over, I handed her to my husband and left the scene. Lasting scars? For her, no, for me? Maybe…

Happy Mothering!

Melanie