Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One of THOSE Days

When the alarm went off this morning, I didn't argue with it quite as long as usual. I knew there were about 1,000 things to do because the kids and I have been sick. No point in putting it off, (despite the fact that I am a world class putter offer.) Up I rose, made the kids eggs and grapes for breakfast and woke them up. I took the dog out and had to stand in the damp grass because he didn't want to leave the porch.  UGH Wonderlump, UGH to you and my wet slippers. 

 Still, this is just how morning is for us. I got back in and Laura-Elizabeth was playing up her sniffling and cough while Conner just sat there making no attempt to get ready. Ah yes, morning! I gave them individualized speeches and an implied threat and sent them off to get ready while I changed the littles, wrote LE's sick note and signed agendas. I tucked LE's note into her trapper keeper and signed C's homework page. Then, as I went to initial his agenda in his folder, I saw the red face. At our school, a green face with hair means that your kid had a great day. A yellow face means they had a good day after a warning of some sort. An orange face without a smile means that the child had to be corrected past a warning. A red face means that after a warning and correction, the child continued to misbehave. There is actually a purple face that means something like, we are considering caning your child and putting him in the stockade (just kidding.) There is a purple face and I think it means your child went to the Principal's office. I should mention here that I love C's teacher and she goes way out of her way for him, therefore, I am certain that he really earned this red face. I also know that she wrote me a note to explain whatever happened except that my son has done away with it. I asked him to give it to me and, of course, he has no idea where it was. He proceeded to illustrate this by dumping everything out of his backpack, the backpack of a hoarder-who has had a sick mother, who has not forced him to pick and choose between the paper scraps and bazillion works of academia and art in his bag for 2 days. LOVELY!!! Irritated, I write the teacher a note to let her know that I had not seen hers and that I would deal with my son and stuck it in the folder in his backpack. "Let's go!" I yelled trying my best to maintain my cool; no point in letting yesterday's issues mess up today. 

 That's when he said it, my sweet, first grade ball of love and cuteness (he of the red face) said, "But Mom, you didn't put socks in my organizer." 

 "Conner, are there no socks in your drawer?" 

 "Um, I'll check..." Really? He just sat there waiting for me to ask him about the fact he had no socks and shoes on rather than letting me know that I had skipped Wednesday's cubby with socks or--heaven forbid--reaching into his own drawer and pulling a pair out! I'm pretty sure my face matched the one on his agenda at that point. Never the less, with C properly shod, we all marched out to the van, prayed on our way and I dropped the bigs off with a smile.

 Next on the agenda, hit the store with the littles to get ingredients for veggie soup and cornbread for dinner. We made it a quick trip, I only purchased one item not on my list!!! I was proud, red face fading into the background. So I drove home. In the driveway, I handed Mylie a light bag to carry and loaded the other 3 onto my right arm so I could carry Isaac in the right, (he can't walk without a walker and we have steps leading into the house.) So I throw Isaac up on my hip and he pulls one of his least pleasant tricks, the one where he goes completely limp rather than assisting me in carrying him in any way. At this point, I decide the best thing is to dash inside so I can plop him on the couch as I cannot think of a good way to reshuffle anything to make this work better that won't involve Mylie panicking because Mommy has run back outside to grab damp groceries from the driveway. It would have been okay but I have lost a few pounds and the pants I was wearing started sliding down my leg along with my son. I am pleading with Mylie to go in the door so that I can get inside before my pants actually hit my ankles and she is picking me a bouquet from my potted plant on the porch which never gets a chance to bloom because it is always, always plucked of its plumage by this princess. A billion cars are flying past, my hind end is exposed to the elements but hidden by a long shirt, thank goodness, and I finally step in the door, toss down my groceries, put my son on the floor and pull up my pants. I thank Mylie for the bouquet and put up the groceries. 

 Then, it dawns on me this is one of those days. It's one of those days where I try to remain positive and life makes it hard; where I can breathe through only one nostril, where I will wonder all day what my son did to get a red face, where my slippers will get soggy and my little son will play wet noodle, where I will very nearly provide adult entertainment for the poor unsuspecting hoards of people driving up my street on their way to work and school. This is one of THOSE days where I have to make a choice. I can decide, here and now, whether to let this make me grumpy and irritated or if I will decide to laugh, because it's kind of hysterical. I can decide to let my morning make the friends who read my blog smile. I can decide and I have. So, red faces and near moonings aside, I hope you smile friends. I hope, like me, you decide to look this day in the face and keep on going. That is what I am going to do!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A PSA About What NOT to Say to a Mom

Today's blog is my own special brand of Public Service Announcement-warning sarcasm ahead.  I realized while pondering a new topic that I am uniquely equipped to write a post about things not to say to a mother.  I say that I am uniquely qualified because I am the mother of 4 kids, the mother of children with special needs, an adoptive mother, an ex-foster mother, the mother of children of multiple races and have both had a miscarriage and struggled with infertility.  As such, I have been privy to more idiotic statements about a wider variety of things that are no one else's business than the average mama.  Thus, today, I offer this list of things never to say to mamas in each of these categories followed by how I actually reply in bold and how I would love to reply in italics.  Enjoy!!!

DISCLAIMER:  This blog does not refer, for the most part, to close friends and family who support us mommies and are living this stuff with us.  It is about new acquaintances and the ever present Wal-mart/pharmacy woman who inevitably feels compelled to say something really, really stupid.

To Mothers Struggling with Infertility:

  1. Just quit trying, that's when it always happens: I said, "Well, we have actual medical issues for our struggles." I wanted to say, "Look, deary, we did a whole lot of not trying before we bothered with this sweet hell that is TRYING to get pregnant!!!"  See how this will work?  
  2. Well maybe it's just not meant to be:  I said nothing.  I thought:  Maybe YOU'RE not meant to be and I'm the chick that's about to make it so!
To Mothers Who Have Miscarried:
  1. Obviously something was wrong with the baby:  I'm not sure what they are trying to make us feel when people say this.  I said, "I've spent my entire career taking care of children with something "wrong" with them, I am willing to raise an imperfect baby."  I wanted to say, "Obviously something is "wrong" with you because you think that way.  Should I kill you?"
  2. Maybe you just aren't supposed to have a baby/maybe it's time to let go:  I only miscarried once and didn't get this one but friends have.  "Maybe you should mind you're own business and shut the heck up!"
  3. There will be other babies:  "I hope so."  "That's all well and good but I'm going to mourn this one, thanks."
To Mothers with Lots of Children:
  1. Don't you think that's about enough?: "We believe children are gifts and are feel like God will make his plans clear to us."  "I sure wish your parents decided that right before having you."
  2. You do know how to stop having kids, right?:  "I actually only gave birth to one of these, so my husband and I are still well under our population replacement rate, thanks"  "You do know how to STFU, right?"
  3. Better you than me!: "Aw, they're a challenge but we are deeply blessed."  "Yes, yes it IS better me than you!"
To Foster Parents:
  1. I could NEVER be a foster parent, I love kids too much, I could never give them up:  "We feel like this is our ministry and know that God will never lead us where His grace can't keep us."  "Well, clearly, we signed up because we hate children.  Foster parenting isn't really about my warm and fuzzy feelings, moron!!!"
  2. My sister/cousin/neighbor really wants a baby, maybe you could give them this one:  "Well, it doesn't really work that way.  If the court decides that this child needs a forever home, he/she will stay with us."  "It's illegal for me to give them my baby but there's definitely a process for you to give them one of YOUR children."
  3. You get paid a lot of money for that, right?:  "I had to quit work to adequately provide for the special needs of my children and I make less per day for the three of them than I did for two hours of work as a developmental interventionist."  "Yeah, can't you tell by my bitchin' 2003 minivan, 1300 square foot home, and Wal-mart fashion sense that I am rollin' in the benjamins?" (Because snarky is even more fun with awkward sounding hip hop slang!)
To Adoptive Parents:
  1. Now, which one's your real child?:  "Laura-Elizabeth is our BIOLOGICAL daughter."  "Honey, they're all real, not a single one of them runs on batteries."
  2. (Of my sibling set) Now they're really siblings, right?  They must have a special relationship:  "Honestly, there is no difference between their relationship with each other and their relationship with the others.  They love each other dearly and fight like cats and dogs.  Truth is, any one of them would probably sell out the others for the baby."  "They are 4 and 6 year olds with brain injury.  The four year old came here straight from the hospital, their biology means far less than their history."
  3. I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want him/her! (Especially horrifying when said in front of the child): "All of my kids' birth parents wanted them, they were just not able to care for them.  Giving them up was selfless."  "By the way, how many special needs kids are you in line to snatch up?"
  4. Anything using the term "real mom":  "In our house, we know that your real mom is the one who takes care of you every day.  I will answer any questions the children have about their BIRTH PARENTS when they ask."  I really just want to punch them in the face.
To Mothers of Kids of Multiple Races:
  1. How many fathers do your kids have?:  "*big smile* 5 (if you're doing the math, this is exactly one more dad than the number of kids)"  "Seriously, did you just ask me that?"
  2. Awkward stares at my kids, my husband and I followed by, "He's cute," while pointing at Isaac: "Yeah, he's the only one with brown eyes like his mommy."  I always want to finish that statement by singing "One of these things is not like the other" from Sesame Street.
  3. Oh, you must babysit!:  "Nope, they're all mine!"  "Oh, you must be stupid!"
  4. ANYTHING remotely racist:  Quite frankly, I say exactly what I think at the time because this person is not deserving of anything better.
To Mothers of Kids with Special Needs:
  1. What's wrong with his legs (substitute any obvious issue):  "He has arthrogryposis and the braces/casts help to keep his joints straight."  "What's wrong with your face?"
  2. Why does she have seizures?:  "Epilepsy is part of her brain injury." "She thinks it's tons of fun and some of her medicine tastes like bubblegum!"
  3. If my kid was acting like that, I'd spank them:  "Sorry, he/she has sensory integration dysfunction."  "By all means, come over here and I'll smack you around some."
  4. My son/daughter didn't like wearing shoes either but I just made them.:  "My child has a sensory disorder."  "Really, did you do that right after cutting out every tag, holding her down to get medicine down her, torturing her by brushing her hair and forcing her to wear the clothes she also didn't want to wear, because that's what I did this morning."
  5. Really, he/she has a disability? But he/she looks so normal:  "Disabilities with recognizable features make up a fairly small percentage of all disabilities."  "Darn it, I can't believe I let him/her out without her handicapped sign again!"
  6. But eventually he/she will be, like, normal, right?:  "Well, his/her diagnosis is a life long one and there is just no good way to know what the future holds right now.  We're hoping for the best."  "Babe, take a look at your little mouth breathers, I'll show you my normal when you show me yours!" 
I know it was long but I hope you laughed along with my little PSA.  Beware the Wal-mart momsters!  I think it's a great idea to close with some awesome things to say to the harried mommies you know:
  • I love you
  • You are doing a great job
  • Girls with vomit on their clothes/boogers in their hair turn me on
  • Here's a Starbucks gift certificate
  • Hey, I'd love to babysit for you some time:)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Girls ROCK!!!

     As a mother of girls, I have always tried to be mindful of raising strong, confident women.  I pray that my girls will not engage in self loathing and make some of the poor choices I made out of insecurity.  To that end, I read lots of articles, books, etc. that focus on how to raise strong, healthy women in a world that sexualizes toddlers and would have them believe that their best asset is sex appeal.  However, I see this growing trend that is very hard for me to swallow.  It seems that much of the advice I am reading and many of the accounts of mothers who think that they are winning this battle seem to be pushing a gender free agenda.  I want my girls to believe that they can do anything but I still want them to be girls--is this so odd?
     I have two dramatically different daughters.  Laura-Elizabeth is very much like me.  She's girly but definitely more rock and roll than rainbows and lollipops.  She likes pink but she likes it best in cheetah print.  She loves animals more than dolls.  She adores art but is also head over heels for science. She's a drama queen with a big heart; a diva with an independent streak but also a generosity of spirit.  She is awesome.
    Mylie, on the other hand, is the pink and purplest princess on the planet.  She loves a dress and her princess dolls, (I still don't really do barbie around here unless its a fairy or mermaid or something-much to her chagrin.)  Is it what I would have picked myself, no, but she's not weak or oppressed.  The child will put on a show at the drop of a dime.  She slays dragons wearing wings and high heels all the time.  This is the child who responded to her brother's refusal to play with her with the phrase, "Fine, I am fun all by myself.  You'll be sorry because I am a princess and I am delightful!"  See?  She's a princess that packs a punch and she's every bit as awesome in her own way as her edgier sister.
    You see, I want to celebrate my girls, and my boys for that matter, for all that they are-including their genders.  I want Isaac to grow up as a strong, confident man of color; I would never do that by down playing his racial heritage.  I want him to know about both African and Hispanic cultures.  I want him to know the strength of the people from which he came.  I also want him to know the strength of the people who love him and are raising him.  I adore all of these parts of him.  Why on earth would I want less for my girls?  I want them to know their strength within their femininity not to deny it.
     Femininity is beautiful-yep, I said it, beautiful.  Many child advocacy groups would love to make us believe that speaking of beauty is near profanity but I don't buy it.  First of all, let's face it, women want to feel beautiful.  I don't think it's all cultural, it's in us, because this desire has spanned history, culture, and location forever.  God made us this way and if you don't believe me compare the skeletons of men and women.  Female skeletons are dainty and smooth, rounded, lovely.  Male skeletons are bigger, squarer, with sharp edges and bony protrusions, burly if you will.  I will be kind and refrain from a discussion of the smells and body hair that also support this theory.  I tell my kids, all of them, that they are strong and smart and kind every day.  I also tell them that they are attractive and I don't apologize for it.
     Being a woman can be hard.  I tell the girls that too.  You have to be strong.  You have to stand up for yourself.  You have to be ready to do things for yourself.  You have to remind yourself of the things that make you special.  But, being a woman is also really, really great.  We can focus on multiple things at one time.  We have girlfriends who talk about feelings and cry with us rather than chest bumping us and grunting condolences without making eye contact.  We can weave relationships and anticipate the needs of our children (yes, men do this too but there's nothing quite like a mama.)  We get to buy really cute shoes and know what to do when the toilet paper roll gets empty!!!
     Please don't mistake this as an anti-male blog.  I love men!  Men are great and wonderfully made in their own right.  Don't forget, I'm raising two of them as well.  It's just that I want my girls to feel empowered without feeling like it's not okay to paint their finger and toenails.  For heavens sake, I have felt a tiny human life growing inside me.  That's one of the special gifts that only we girls will ever know.  So, do I seethe with murderous rage when I see advertisements for "Toddlers in Tiaras" and watch cute round girls from Disney Channel waste away into gaunt monstrosities as they try to break into adult media--ABSOLUTELY!!! But am I going to banish pink, hair bows, dance classes and dresses?  Heck no!!!  My girls are gorgeous, funny, confident ladies and I'm going to help them rock it:)