Unnecessary Niceness

Yes, I realize I work in an office with other humans, I get that. And I get that my parents raised me to be nice to others, and that’s how I raise my kids as well; to speak nicely to those who speak nicely to you, ask ‘How are you’ & answer the same question politely, etc. But I don’t have to like it. In fact, I can hate it actually. And I do.

My hubs leaves for work around 4am every day, so I get myself & our two sweet kiddos up, happy, motivated, dressed & fed every morning; I haul our loads of crap to two different schools & try to acclimate the kids to spending another day with a bunch of ppl they prob really don’t like. I try to get to work sometime before 8:30 where I try to acclimate myself to spending another day with a bunch of ppl that I really don’t like.

Perhaps I should’ve started by saying that I am not a morning person. In a former life, I think I was Garfield the Cat. But since I’ve become a Mom and mornings became my primary platform where I can instill love & happiness in my kids, I’ve changed. Big time changed. I love the slice of time in the mornings that I spend with my kids. It’s become my very favorite part of every day.

But I really don’t give a rat’s rear hind quarters to know how any of my coworkers feel or if they’re having a good today. Or yesterday. Or tomorrow. Or any day ending in a ‘y’. I see these weird, uninteresting, boring ppl every single day Monday-Friday for 10 hours/day.

Since I left work yesterday afternoon, I basically had 2 hours to decompress from my day, go through backpacks, clean the daily trash from the Jeep, do homework, prepare dinner, open & answer mail, encourage the kids to eat, cram in some playtime outdoors, prepare for the next day, get the kiddos bathed & in the bed so we can start all over again in 8 hours. And those are the days when we don’t have baseball, dance, karate or church.

Therefore, it is not necessary for you to ask me ‘how are you?’ every flippin’ day. And please know that I try to avoid you at all cost; if anyone is in the community bathroom when I have the urge to go, um, I’ll come back later. Just to avoid sharing more insincere, canned, empty small talk. I avoid the breakroom like the plague just so I don’t run the risk of having to entertain any empty small talk. If someone enters the bathroom while I’m in the stall, I’ll wait until they leave to exit the stall. Again, just to avoid unnecessary niceness.

So, when I walk past you in the hall, I’ll make the requisite eye contact & smile kindly, but I don’t give a shit how you are doing, and I don’t give a shit for you to know how I’m doing.

Happy working with me!!

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First Love, Hopefully

My childhood memories have always centered around my years in Elementary School. Not sure why. I remember every inflection & every emotion my teachers expressed. And I remember every emotion that I felt as if it were yesterday. That’s not a small thing, considering that since I’ve become a mom I oftentimes can’t even remember if I put on a bra on any given day.

I remember my insecurities, my lack of confidence, the utter dismay I felt during those years. But, I cannot remember or understand why I had those emotions. None of the teachers were particularly mean or insensitive, and I have always loved & enjoyed learning.

These memories have always been there, in the back of my mind, as I tried to ‘find myself’ and discover who I am as a person. When I became pregnant with our first child, the first fear I had was thinking about them going to Elementary School. I actually had panic attacks thinking about reliving my experiences, and God forbid my child having the same experiences.

But, I was able to lock those worries in a vault in the recesses of my mind, knowing that I had a full 5 years before I would have to deal with them again.

So, here I sit, 10 days from the 1st day of 1st grade. My son is going to be a 1st grader. My anxiety is much less than I anticipated it would be, thanks to having 1 year under my belt already; Kindergarten was a total success for him. He loved it. Turns out, he was 100% perfectly fine with everything. He had a few bumps in the road, when this person or that person didn’t want to be friends on Monday; then Tuesday all was well again. He would just go with the flow & not get upset about it.

My daughter will be in Preschool for 1 more year; and I hope that my son’s success will repeat itself with my daughter. Part of me wonders if it’s a boy/girl thing; girls just being more sensitive & in-tune with ppl’s emotions. Let’s hope not; I’m trying to raise my darling daughter to be a tough-as-nails version of Mother Theresa. With any luck, she’ll be able to kick your ass while praying for your health, well being & happiness.

Ten days and counting. Here’s to loving 1st grade!!!

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Hot Mess Princess

Hot mess princess is the most glorious and wonderful baby girl ever born. Ever. Hot mess princess is a very fitting nickname for her. She’s mostly a hot mess so I like to tack on the word ‘princess’ to remind myself that she is a delicate, sweet, precious girl made of sugar & spice & everything nice.

She is now 4; and she has a big brother who is 6 years old. You know where I’m going with this, right? She is a bit of a, um, wildcat. My mom tells me that she’s afraid of hot mess princess. She says that I am, too. Not so. But, it is true that my hubs & I have raised her to be a strong, independent, take-no-shit kind of gal.

We have given her the requisite Barbies, Barbie mansions, Barbie convertibles, Disney princess dolls, dress-up outfits, etc and everything pink & girlie that has ever been manufactured. But, we’ve never really read her any of the Disney princess stories or watched Disney princess movies. Stop feeling sorry for her. Disney princesses are not banned in our home, they are just not idolized.

We’re more of a Dora the Explorer or Scooby Do type of family.

As for the reason why we call her hot mess, well, she’s…a hot mess. She couldn’t care less if her hair is in a gigantic knot, if she has poop on her somewhere, if she has an oreo face, if her clothes match or are even on in the right direction, you get the idea. And, as I mentioned before, she is a sweet gal but she is tough as nails. She’s funny and messy and sweet and irresistible. And I love it. I love, love it.

I’ve learned a lot from hot mess princess along the way. I’ve learned that it really is ok to not ‘go along to get along’. I’ve learned that acquiescence isn’t a virtue, it’s a fault. I’ve learned that I really can answer a question based on what I want/need rather than what someone else wants or needs (except for whatever the hell the kids want or need 100% of the time). And I’ve grown up beyond my years in the short time she’s been kickin’ my ass every day.

I feel an inspirational quote coming on. No!!! I hate that crap! So I’m going to stop now, except to say that I love her and all of her hot messness. She inspires me to be, a better version of me.

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A cavity in my leg

It’s been a whirlwind year of medical-related issues for our fam.

BabyBoy (um, not a baby at all) had groin hernia surgery, BabyGirl (um, again, not a baby at all) had an adenoidectomy, I almost died (not really) of a bout of strep throat that sent me to the ER and that sent $4200 to the local charitable fund for DoctorsTryingToImproveTheirGolfHandicap. BabyBoy also had two cavities.

I feel like I’m naked standing in the middle of the Freeway now that I’ve confessed my deepest, darkest secret: BabyBoy has had two cavities.

Please refrain from swerving your car to avoid crushing me. I’m standing in the fast lane. I am the worst.mom.ever. I, myself, have never ever never had a cavity. I’m 36 years old. And I am extremely dental-health-conscious for my kiddos. I get sick of hearing myself reminding them to brush constantly. ‘If you so much as lick that glass of water, you’d better brush!’

It’s not like they don’t like to brush; they are very dental-health-conscious as well. They actually love it & are very faithful.

Which is why it’s even worse that BabyBoy had 2 cavities. We brush all the time! And we do a great job!

When the hygentist told me BabyBoy had 2 cavities, I felt as though I should forfeit my mom license, hand over my house keys & quietly exit stage left.

Literally, I wanted to suddenly become invisible. But I couldn’t. I spent the next week or so lamenting about what could’ve gone wrong. I told BabyBoy to never ever never tell anyone he had 2 cavities. Poor thing. I was not shaming him by any means, I was the only person to blame. And I didn’t want anyone to know it.

By the way, probably not a great idea to schedule dental visits on the first day of your vacation; ruins the whole week if you get bad news.

Anyhoo. BabyBoy had his congenitial groin hernia surgery about a month or so before CavityGate. He got through that with flying colors. That was a breeze. I didn’t cause that. I did cause the cavities. Somehow. I just know I did.

But we are getting through everything togetha’ <insert image of me doing the cabbage patch dance here>. Or so I thought:

When he told me that he didn’t want to go ice skating with his summer camp yesterday because he ‘will get another cavity in my leg if I do the splits’, I wondered how I could’ve f’ed up so much in explaining all of this to him. Oh boy.

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Got Poop?

Being a parent of two kiddos affords me the opportunity to catalog a ton of stories about poop. Plus, we have a dog in the house so that makes all of the poop stories even more abundant & interesting. There’s the time Biscuit (the dog) ate a poopy diaper & then threw it up all over the house, but all dogs do that, amIright? Let me just start by saying that I’m a bit of a germaphobe (sp?). Annnnddd…so is my son. Hot mess princess, on the other hand, is not. She never got the memo about germs being deadly/lethal little creatures. But of course we all love her just the same; even though sometimes I am completely freaked out by her behavior. BabyBoy will not go outside w/o wearing shoes. She won’t wear shoes. She has an intense aversion to soap. If we’d let him, BabyBoy would use a whole bottle of Dawn after picking his nose. Before HMP was potty trained, we had real issues with her reaching in her diaper, getting a handful of poop, showing it to everyone or smearing it on herself or on something else. Her behavior wasn’t defiant, she just really didn’t care about poop/germs or that it was socially unacceptable to use poop as lotion or wall paint. It’s not that we hadn’t tried to teach her that poop is bad; after all, we apparently raised a germaphobe in BabyBoy. We even coined a phrase to help her remember: What do poop & pee make? Answer: A.BIG.MESS. But it just never mattered much to her. There’s the time she pooped in the bathtub when they were both bathing together. I was sure that BabyBoy was going to have an aneurism due to the stress of the experience. But she continued to play, quietly, until we intervened, removed everything & bleached the entire bathroom. That was the day BabyBoy decided he would be bathing alone or showering the rest of his life. Forever. HMP has gotten so much better about these things in the last year or two. She is four years old now. However, recently we catalogued one of the funniest experiences with poop that we’d seen in a long time. On our way back from Holiday World this summer, HMP uttered the words that make us cringe, “I. Need. To. Poop.” Me: “Honey, pull over.” Hubs: “The exit is less than a mile away.” Me: “Honey, pull over.” Hubs: “But.” Me: “I’m telling you, you should pull over.” Hubs: “Baby, can you hold it for 1 minute?” HMP: “Yes, Daddy.” Hubs: “See?” Me: “*%&$#(%)@#” Suddenly, a tiny little poop-covered hand lunged between my hubs & me in the front seat. That was followed immediately by horrendous gagging from BabyBoy as he feverishly tried to roll down his window. I wasn’t sure if his intention was to jump from the truck rolling down the highway at 80 MPH or just to get some fresh air. HMP was sobbing in embarrassment & bewilderment. She had literally, literally been trying to ”hold” it in; not figuratively speaking. Poor baby. Just to make sure you have the right imagery for this story, we had just stopped at a rest area & purchased snacks for everyone, and of course neither kid needed to use the bathroom. Of course. So, two miles down the road, hubs is quietly listening to his ear buds, driving, chompin’ on his snack, trying to convince us to wait until the next exit to stop, when the poop-covered hand appeared. In a moment of sheer panic & ingenuity, he thrust his bag of sour cream & onion chips over the poop mitt & pulled over. HMP & I got out of the truck, and standing on the side of the highway, I undressed her, covered her in hand sanitizer, bathed her with 4000 Kleenexes, redressed her & left the entire mess on the side of the road. The glove of poop-soaked broken sour cream & onion chips were especially fun to remove. When finally pulling away from the scene of the accident, everything seemed to be back in order. BabyBoy finally got control of his intense gagging, HMP stopped crying; but no one uttered a word. At the next exit, everyone quietly exited the truck & went inside a Wendy’s to wash with real soap and real water. The truth is that trips are really super fun with kids, no matter what happens, what doesn’t happen or what never gets spoken about again. Until Mommy starts a blog…

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Some people know their weaknesses and strengths and act accordingly. I, unfortunately, am not one of those people.

I constantly put myself in situations where I’m completely unsure of the outcome, in the hopes that I’ll be able to accomplish something new & different or learn something about myself.

I have these stupid, hopeful intentions (they should actually be called hopeless intentions) and somehow I convince myself that ‘it will be different/better this time’.

Actually, maybe it should be called insanity. Yes, that’s more accurate.

When I put myself in these situations, I rarely fully commit to actually making a change. Rather, I typically fly by the seat of my pants and hope that the circumstances will dictate my actions; not that that makes any sense at all.

I suppose I do not want to actually take responsibility for anything, so nothing can ever be my fault. A sane person would see that as also not being able to take credit if something goes perfectly right. But I would rather forfeit the possibility of receiving that credit 100 times over in an attempt to prevent the blame for the opposite that may occur only 1/100 times.

The most recent manifestation of this took place last weekend during a camping trip with our Church.

Perfect circumstances, perfect opportunity to become the person I should be, the person I want to be: a better Christian, a more grounded human being, a better Mom who can enjoy camping and who can entertain her kids with few resources, someone who is content just relaxing & hanging-out quietly, a mom who never loses her temper and who can negotiate effectively with kids without the first sign of being overbearing or meek, without raising her voice, the nurturing mom who is perfect in every way.

So I signed us up for the camping weekend.

And I resolved myself to be that person. I told myself that it would happen; I would be ‘that’ mom on the other side of this adventure.

As Friday night drew nearer, I made excuses about why hubs & I should leave the kids with grandparents & take the camper to the lake by ourselves. I speculated that we weren’t sure what to expect/ I wasn’t sure the kids would like it, etc. So hubs & I took the camper to the lake & dropped it off; attending the church service only momentarily; returned home, got in the hot tub & went to bed early.

Saturday morning, we took the kids to the lake at noon, missing all of the kids’ activities at 9 & 10. No other activities were planned until the 7PM service, so we had 7 hours to play & be a family. I forgot to mention that Hot Mess Princess presented Friday afternoon with a horrible cough, so we were apprehensive to let her be outside after dark, esp. since it was supposed to be muggy & 54 degrees Saturday night. So, we planned our escape for around 6PM.

Baby boy *6yo* had met up w/some friends from Bible School & he was playing wonderfully with them at their site. They were young parents, with two boys the same ages are our two kiddos, and they were tent camping, in one tent. They had been camping since Thursday.

I admired their resilience and smoothness of operation at their campsite. The mom had somehow made puppy chow (in a tent), her kids could ride bikes w/o assistance and they weren’t the least bit whiny, etc.  My son had invited one of her sons to our camper to play Wii, something she was not happy about, so she quickly retrieved him. The kid happily left, w/o issue, and I was left in awe. She had simply told her kid that they were going to spend time together as a family at the playground. My son, being his sweet & innocent self, asked if he could join them, but she replied that she preferred to just go as a family. So I was left to explain to my son why that was ok and that he shouldn’t be sad about it.

I noticed that across from them was another family of four, two parents, two 4&6yo kids, camping, all in one tent as well. They were just as happy & had just as much of a smooth, quiet operation going on.

I was actually completely content with our circumstances; my kids were joyfully playing and hubs & I were relaxing. But, when it was time to go, it was a different story. As I tried to sweetly talk my 6yo into leaving his friend’s site, he went into unadulterated meltdown. Kids’ parents were staring at me from afar, all of them. At least they weren’t pointing & shaking their heads at me, I told myself.

In the heat of the moment during this meltdown, my son looked at me and said, ‘I never want to go home with you, I want to live with Nana!’ Alrightee, let’s just all pretend that time just stopped & that no one actually heard that declaration. Let’s pretend that no one is judging me right now. I mean, I’m not a bad mom. I never spank, I prefer calm reason over loud arguing, I do all of the requisite mom-things and I have a happy family. Or so I had thought. Obviously, as that moment demonstrated to everyone within earshot, I was wrong.

So, I quietly scooped him up, smiled to everyone, retreated to our vehicle & headed home, in utter shock.

When we arrived home, tempers had cooled & all was well; we enjoyed the rest of Saturday as a happy family, at home, with our creature comforts in our little family bubble. We got in the hot tub together, we made dinner, we watched kid-movies, we played Wii…

Sunday morning came and we headed back to the lake, our 4th trip of the weekend, which I might add is 60 miles away, for the baptisms in the lake & to remove our camper.

Unfortunately, our kids couldn’t see the baptisms because we were late and therefore were too far back in the crowd to see the activities. Again, another lost opportunity.

The two camping families were still blissfully camping & enjoying the out of doors without the apparent need of electronics, conversation, entertainment, etc and without the first sign of conflict. They said they were going to spend the afternoon fishing and hiking with the kids. I wondered to myself how they would ever have time to do their laundry, go grocery shopping, pack school lunches, do homework and get clothes ready for dance/karate/church, etc for the upcoming week. Those are all things I do on weekends, and every day of the week.

I use every single second of every day to do something. When did these families do those things?

Will my kids grow up and only remember me as the one-who-does-chores-drinks-wine-&-needs-her-own-identity and not the mom-who-makes-puppy-chow-and-sleeps-in-a-tent-and-doesn’t-require-her-own-identity? In other words, would they wonder if I loved them?

So I left the weekend feeling defeated and wondering, even more so than before, how some moms do it, i.e. have it all, do it all, need/want for nothing and have their family-stuff totally together.

In other words, I left just as I had arrived: as myself. As always.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Right?

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