Archive for May, 2009

My Most Memorable “Mom Moments” So Far…

Being a Mom is the most rewarding, frustrating and stupifying job in the world! I have been a Mom for the last 7 years and sometimes I am blown away by the incredibly, silly and simultaneously wonderful things my children have done! Here are some of my favourites, perhaps you can relate…

1. My son painting the cat with peanut butter from tip to tail…very funny but have you ever tried to bath a peanut butter-covered  cat?

2. One July afternoon, my son playing outside in his snow suit in 39 degree weather…insisting he wasn’t hot.

3. My boy running in front of the house buck naked with nothing but rubber boots on his feet.

4. My son reaching through the cat hole in the basement door to yank the cat through to the other side.

5. A creepy collection of hundreds of snails in a bug catcher one summer afternoon.

6. My daughter colouring her whole face with black magic marker.

7. When she tried to paint the dogs toenails with nailpolish…he was NOT happy about it.

8. The day she went to sunday school in a lovely blouse and skirt with no underwear…so embarrassing!

9. The day my 3 year old slipped into her brothers classroom to hear the story, I guess the supply teacher didn’t realize she was too young to be in grade one.

10. When at 18 months, he ate an entire package of raw hotdogs.

11. Finding my 9 month old son inexplicably sitting in the middle of the dining room table eating a bag of cookies.

12. The rubber duck that found it’s way flushed down the toilet and impossible to dislodge…Daddy had to remove the whole toilet from the bathroom just to get it out and stop the floosing.

13. My son falling asleep in the jolly jumper only to rouse and keep bouncing, then fall asleep and rouse and bounce again….over and over and over.

14. My firstborn ripping the wristband off twice in the first five minutes outside the womb…should have been a clear sign that this kid would have a mind of his own.

15. The summer of the red rubber boots…my little girl wearing them with every outfit, every day in all weather…

16. My princess running through the back yard buck naked except for the beloved red rubber boots…what is it with my exhibitionist children anyway?

17. Bathing my daughter in a canning pot on the dining room table.

18. Bubblegum in her hair and nailpolish all over her feet and ankles.

19. Camping with an 8 week old one rainy weekend in Sauble Beach…nothing says nature like sterilizing bottles and nipples at a campsite.

20. My 18 month old boy less-than-gently tossing baby kittens into the Christmas Tree…

21. Seeing my daughters full head of hair clearly during the 32 week ultrasound.

22. My son’s infatuation with infomercial products, and his purchase of a sham-wow mop for me (with his OWN money), convinced that it was the solution to all my cleaning woes.

23. My 3 year old catapulting himself from one couch to the next singing the theme song to Spiderman.

24. Waiting hysterically for the lifeguards all-points-bulletin at Canada’s Wonderland in search of my son at the splash park…he’d slipped away from me and gone to the wave pool by himself.

25. My daughter lounging on top of the family dog to watch television, it would appear she thinks he’s a bean bag chair.

26. Sitting expectantly beside an Neo-natal incubator for 15 days straight waiting for the words “you can take him home today”.

27. Going on a “date” with my 5 year old son to see Shrek 3 and finding that we were the only two people in the whole theatre…it was the most exciting thing for him!

28. Being locked out of the house by my 18 month old daughter and having to remove the kitchen screen and shove my son through the window into the kictchen sink, which just so happened to be full of dirty dishes.

29. My 9 month old son opening his mouth to show me the dead fly that he found.

30. Finding teeth marks in the pound of butter AND my apple cinnamon candles!

Things I Swore I’d NEVER Do

I have a tendency to think that I know everything about everything, I often think that I know the best way to handle a situation even though I may not have much experience in the area. Take Mothering as an example, I had the handling of every obstacle and hot button issue mapped out before my eggs were even released from the ovary.

 

As I gain more and more experience I often find myself remembering all the things I swore I would “never do, when I have kids”, and yet find myself doing some of these things on a regular basis. Sometimes I think about tasks that I thought would be easier and realize now that I make compromises just to get through them, these choices don’t fill me with pride. However there are many things that I used to think I couldn’t do or wouldn’t do them no matter what, and yet I have found that God has given me exactly what I need to do them and that’s a good thing, because I’m probably a better mother for them. Through trial and error I have also learned that many things are really not that big a deal and it’s ok to adjust my plan as I go, it’s always a good idea to be flexible when you are a Mom.

So in no particular order, here are some things that I currently do or have done as a mother, despite having claimed that I would “Never Do” them in my pre-children naivete.

1. Let the television babysit my children…now I turn on the DVD player in the van just to drive 3 blocks to school, anything to keep them quiet.

2. Feed my children food that comes in unnatural forms…now yogurt tubes, fruit-by-the-foot and cheese strings are regular lunch items.

3. Wear my hair in a ponytail for 67 consecutive weeks…now, I don’t even need an elastic to hold it anymore, it just grows that way.

4. Use dinnertime battles to educate my kids about starving children who would be happy to have the meatloaf they are refusing to eat…now it’s a standard lecture at our dining room table.

5. Look forward to time away from my kids…I love them more than anything, but some days a weekend away starts to look like heaven.

6. Ice skate, skateboard, swim in public, play soccer, practice tae kwon do, slip n’ slide, Chuck E Cheese…now I find myself participating in all of these activities with my children regularly, except Chuck E Cheese, I try to avoid that place like the plague!

7. Let my daughter play with objectifying or unrealistic toys like Barbie…now they are my absolute favourite toys, dolls and movies. My daughter is lucky if I let her play with MY Barbies.

8. Let my little girl leave the house without perfectly styled and orderly hair…now I find letting her sleep with braids makes for good get-up-and-go hair the next day…anything to make the mornings run smoother.

9. Be capable of cleaning up vomit, wiping snotty noses and picking lice out of hair…and yet I am now an expert in all these undesirable tasks.

10. Respond to questions with “Because I said so”…unfortunately sometimes I just don’t feel I need to give a better reason. After 24+ hours of labour this is a good enough reason to obey me.

11. Let my children watch Spongebob Squarepants…I am embarrassed to admit that I caved. No excuse, no honourable goal, I just can’t come up with a valid reason to prohibit it other than it’s just stupid.

12. Let my babies have soothers…when my son was born they gave him a soother, to my outrage, I quickly realized what a useful tool I had been given. It was a well-utilized device for both my children and not so hard to give up after all.

13. Go Camping, I have always had an intense dislike for the outdoors…now I pack my citronella candles, coffee maker and inflatable raised mattress and I am as game for nature loving as the next city girl.

14. Let my children eat froot loops, chocolate milk, pez candy, gummi worms, fruit roll ups, dunkaroos and cotton candy…because they never got these things when they were small, they have healthy appetites and more often than not make better choices, so I can give them these things once and a while as treat and they don’t get out of hand.

15. Have Children…yes, that’s what I said. I swore for years that I would never have children, people who knew me will remember my vehement argument against it…and yet now, there is not a day that goes by, no matter how difficult or stressful my job gets, that I regret my decision to have children. They are my life and bring me more joy than anything I could have planned or imagined!

The Sorority of Expert Mothers

When we are young and we have no idea about marriage, raising children or life in general; there are so many things about which we have preconceived notions. Ways that we will do things, methods to handling certain situations, all of which are good in theory but often become ineffective in the practice of real life. Our intentions are good, our goal honourable, and yet in our youthful arrogance we look at the world around us with impatience and barely supressed smugness.For example, we know exactly what kind of wife/husband we will be, and who we want to marry. We know exactly the best time to have children and how many years to leave between the birth of each child. We know the best way to feed our baby, our children will “never” be picky eaters, nor will meal time ever be a battle. We are pretty sure that we know how to calm a crying baby, although it is unlikely we will need this skill because of course, “our baby” will NEVER be difficult. And the most definitive opinion that most people have before they become parents; is regarding discipline and punishment, we know EXACTLY how children should behave and have a pretty good plan for how to achieve the elusive “well-behaved child”. In public places the words “MY child will NEVER behave like THAT!!” can oft be heard on our lips as we make a mental note to nip that in the bud before our child has even begun breathing on his own.

 

So if we all have this perfect plan, and we all know the RIGHT way to handle every situation, what happens? Why do we find ourselves on the receiving end of a flying shoe or cringing at the sound of spiteful words like “you’re the WORST Mother EVER!!”?? Where did we go wrong? What happened to all our wisdom and certainty?
The answer is…children. The Children happened. No matter how many books we read and no matter how many times we dissect the public temper tantrum of “someone else’s child, we can never really know how to handle a situation like that until we are face to face with the screaming “I-want-a-treat”-monster!!

I often find myself in a store trying to stop the bickering between children or quell the constant whining for this treat or that toy, and just when I’m reaching my breaking point (you know the place, when you don’t even care who hears you…) I look over and there is inevitably a woman staring at me. She’s usually trying to stay focussed on her task, but she is having difficulty keeping her eyes to herself.

In that moment I wonder, is she looking at me because she has been in my shoes and she feels badly for me? Or is she the kind of woman who raised “perfect” children, did everything “right”, you know this woman…the one who has fogotten that her children whined too? Usually I never find out. I am doomed to wondering if this stranger that I will likely never see again, looked on me with compassion or contempt. That is frustrating.

With my personality, I instinctively react to every frustrating situation with a change in my behaviour at some level. And so I have developed a habit that drives my husband crazy, causing him to beg me to stop talking to people in public. Every time we are out and about, at the mall, amusement park or dollar store, and we come across another mother battling with her child or trying to put a temper tantrum to rest; I go out of my way to lean over and tell the frazzled mother-on-the-verge that she is doing a great job. I can see my husband visibly shrink back into the woodwork when he sees this impending exchange, nonetheless I feel very strongly that it is important for mothers to show solidarity in the midst of difficult parenting moments.

After all, haven’t we all been in a situation where we felt less than capable in our role as authority figure to our children, at the mercy of those passing us by with pity or compassion-filled looks. And how much better it would have been if someone (anyone) had given us a thumbs up and encouraged us, how much easier would it have been to stand our ground and not buckle under the pressure? So I plan to continue to give my fellow mother’s a thumbs up in their time of need, a gentle voice of solidarity any time I see someone giving their screaming dragon-child a “stop right now or we are going home” warning.

And please, if you see me stuck in a mire of public humiliation, just give me a little thumbs up, because despite all my preparation and pre-child “expertise”, I have no idea what I’m doing and I could use the encouragement!

Stress…It’s in the Eye of the Beholder

Stress is defined as “A specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism causing physical, mental or emotional strain or tension.”

Stress manifests very differently in every person, depending on their coping techniques, life experience and quantity of stressful stimuli present in their daily lives. Personally I find rigid schedules and repetitive tasks stressful. I much prefer to have something interesting and unpredictable happening in my life every day. However, I know that there are millions of people who would find my unstructured, impulsive lifestyle stressful and difficult to manage, as they take comfort in knowing what each day brings in advance.

How is it possible that one situation can be so comfortable and welcoming to one person and actually induce feelings of panic and anxiety in another? Let me give you an example to illustrate my confusion; I love my children, I love my home and I am rarely sorry about my choice to be a stay at home mother to my two delightful offspring for the last 7 years. However, despite my passion for my family, I often find myself overcome with a desire to stick a fork in my ear just to avoid hearing any more whining, bickering, complaining, banging, and shouting. It’s true, I often feel like my children have laid wagers on who will actually cause Mommy’s head to explode! So far the have merely achieved the throbbing veins in my forehead and neck, but they are driven youngsters, I have no doubt their success is inevitable.

So you can imagine my surprise the other day when my best friend called me from work to let me know that she was coming over to spend the night. This of course is my single friend who hasn’t had the privilege of procreating as of yet and therefore finds my children endearing and enjoyable. Anyways, she called to tell me that she had been having a terrible day at work, found herself stressed and emotionally drained and was hoping to come for an overnight visit.

I am always very happy to have her visit, as she is as close to a sister as I can get other than my wonderful sister in law. But I found it incredibly interesting that after a day full of “stressful stimuli”, my friend’s instinct was to come to my little world and spend some time “relaxing. Seriously? How could spending 24 hours with children chasing the dog through the house trying to ride him like bull, and arguing over who ate their noodles the fastest, possibly be relaxing for anyone? Is it possible that anyone could find the blaring cartoons, slamming doors and giggling games of hide and seek to be a blissful getaway from the everyday?

Well the answer according to my friend is a resounding yes, despite all the craziness, she finds our home comforting. Apparently, the fact that my kids adore her and come running when she enters the house, and the fact that she fits right into our family is enough to help her get past the extreme disquiet of our home. Huh.

So I guess the question of how situations can cause both comfort AND anxiety in different people is best answered by looking at the individual perspective. I think that our level of stress is lowered the more we are loved, and the more our emotional needs are met. That must be why at night when my kids are snuggled up next to me and we are reading a book, or when I hear the little voice spontaneously say “Mommy, I LOVE you” or when my son sees me at school and his face lights up, I don’t feel stress. Instead, I take a deep relaxing sigh and put down the fork, at least until the next rainy day when the bickering starts again.

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