Some parents need help. As the old saying goes, “There is no manual.”
No, but there are videos.
Flight of the Conchords is a great example, as the fourth largest parody folk band in New Zealand, on teachable moments through the magic of You Tube.
*In this video, we learn that being pretty isn’t a full time job, only a part time job, thus enforcing the “BE COOL STAY IN SCHOOL” philosophy.
*Here we learn healthy expectations in regards to sex: 2 minutes in heaven is better than 1 minute in heaven.
*Here we find out why you don’t play with your food.
*Learning to can change my cussing habits to “Mother Ucker.”
*Possibly one of the best songs for teaching young girls that they are in control of their bodies. Oh, that’s right, the FOTC is all about the morals:
*We use this to teach our children other languages. Foux Da Fa Fa!
*Serving as a reminder on how to express your anger in healthy ways.
*Here we find out how not to judge people for where they come from.
*Also, we learn how to be sexist.
Thank you, FOTC, for giving parents the tools we need to succeed in these tumultuous times.
Having a daughter was wonderful. She was soft and tiny and petite. She naturally gravitated to dolls and princesses and PINK PINK PINK. She wasn’t a real climber. She was social from the beginning. We never encouraged the stereo-type girl behavior, she just.. was a girl. It was familiar to me. I saw myself in her. She was.. a girl.
Having a son changed my life.
A son is nothing like how a mom remembers her own childhood. Childhood is TALL and LOUD and SMASH SMASH SMASH. The living room is for climbing and the candles are for stacking and the pans are for banging. KAPLOW CHOMP CHOMP CHOMP KABLOOM. There are BALLS! BALLS! FOOT BALLS! And Basketball! And running! And tickling! Laughter is easy, there is no other place to be, the NOW is important.
Boys are so here and now. They are simple in that what is in front of them is what they are thinking about. Issues are strictly at hand, not three days ago. Play is loud and physical. It’s GROWL and BANG and SHOOT. Girls are sassy, easily carried to tears, and dramatic. Shoe laces can create a tantrum where a boy wouldn’t give a fuck about shoelaces, where is my TRUCK TRUCK TRUCK.
My children are so, totally, a girl and a boy. I have a girl. And I have a boy.
I love them both in very different ways. I love them equally. I love them with my whole self. I would die for them.
But they are different people. Very. Different. People. And I love them for who they are. Different.
My friends and I often joke about having sons. “No woman will ever be good enough for you” we tell our sons. “You will marry someone just like yer mama” we joke. We watch them wrestle, we roll our eyes, and then we snuggle them softly at night because one day it will be so very taboo to feel their breath on our neck and feel their soft hair brush our shoulder.
I love my son’s soft hair and his quiet breathing and how nobody, absolutely nobody, is as good as mama. Nobody.
I understand now how my Mother In Law must have felt watching her sons grow. How she would always tell me about what wonderful children they were. At first it irritated me, thinking, “Comon, he wasn’t PERFECT.” But now I understand:
No. Not perfect.
It hit me the other day that I am the fourth generation of working moms in my family, on both sides. While many young families are learning the ropes of having two working parents for the first time without a reference in their own lives, I have the luxury of knowing it’s been done since my Great Grandmother Kingery. I don’t know how she did it, but I know she worked hard her whole life, lived independently for years, and the legend lives on that she walked the hills in Colorado until she died at 103.
I have a lot to live up to.
My Grandmother Betty, on my Dad’s side, was a teacher with a Masters Degree. Advanced degrees in those days were rare and impressive. I never fail to see the magnitude of this accomplishment. My other Grandmother Betty, on my Mom’s side, worked hard in nursing homes and other jobs until she retired. My own mother started working again when I was 2 and worked while going back to school full time. It’s a pattern you can see repeated over and over in my family history.
The women in our family are strong, classy, and determined. They tend to work hard and stay married. They set standards and live up to them and believe, no, demand that their children do the same. It’s not an easy life, not unlike raising cattle or monkeys while simultaneously applying makeup and keeping the grey out of your hair and receiving awards for your hard work.
I seriously have a lot to live up to.
I’m certain they struggled with balance. I’m sure they had guilt for balls dropped. I know they were tired even if they never admitted it. I believe they cried in their bathrooms some days because the pressure was too much. I hope so, at least, because I know they were human, women, and my family. And I have to believe they struggled so I can remember that struggle is ok. The crying is ok. The pressure is real but we will all be ok.
I work hard to find the balance. I work hard to meet expectations, both internal and external. I work to remember it’s been done in my family for a century. That, maybe, it’s my destiny to use my graduate degree and pursue a career while having a family.
And I work to remember I will fail some days but it does not make me a failure.
It makes me human.
*Grandma Betty with Oma: 1949.
I’m pleased to see us, as a country, moving forward. It’s healthy. It’s refreshing. It’s time.
I wish I could get myself to do the same. Instead, I remain a 12 year old boy at heart:
Respectfully, Mr. Bush, you are a funny funny man. I’ll miss the Saturday Night Live and Daily Show skits.
I just hope we don’t take ourselves too seriously now. As they say, laughter is the best medicine… or Prozac… or Vodka…
Most of the time, I walk around feeling confident, tired, irritated, strong. All these emotions cover my thirty-three year old self. I’m a mother, a wife, and a million other roles, almost all at the same time. Insecurity isn’t something I have time for most days.
Sometimes, though, it seeks me out. It finds me when I least expect it. And it brings me to my knees.
I can recall very insecure times in my life. These times are something I don’t dwell on, don’t want to relive. It’s part (or all) of why I left facebook. There are relationships I’ve moved on from that I don’t need to invite back. I’ve grown. I’m not the same person I was in high school, in college, in church. I’m much happier with where I stand today and where my life is. I’m pleased with the decisions, over all, and my marriage is a good, strong pillar in my life. My kids, my career, my friends: All these things I value and hold dear in living as the person I am today, not twenty years ago.
So why can something from ten years ago kick me down in one fell swoop? I. Do. Not. Know.
After dinner with some of my college friends the other night, we laughed about how silly we were at 21. So young! So insecure! So. .. So.. stupid.
We’re all happy now, with families and jobs and lives and friends. We stay in touch. We were together, best friends, during some of the most awkward times of life and it’s easy to be friends in the secure times.
Not everyone in my life is the same.
I realized I never truly tackled my insecure side. I simply pushed it down, down, down until I could tell myself she was gone. She comes out about once a month and I blame hormones and sleep deprivation for my weakness. But she’s always there. Hiding. Lurking. Waiting. And when she comes out, mocking at my confidence, I feel so sheepish, so weak, easily afraid.
Up until this moment, I’ve hated her and wished her death. I wanted to never deal with her, to never face her. Today, however, I’ve decided to welcome her in to my conscience. She’s a path to understanding. Should I not have her at all, I would not relate to my daughter as she enters the Awkward Years. I would not understand her social fears. I could not empathize with her tears.
So today, I celebrate the woman I am now: Business Owner, Lover, Mother, Friend. But I hold my insecure side by the hand accepting she’s still there. She’s shaking in her boots, terrified of how good life is. Afraid for The Shoe To Drop. She’s wondering how everything got so great.
And it’s ok. I can’t explain it either. Hopefully one day she’ll accept that life really is great. And that will be the day I let her go for good.
I distinctly remember my mom once talking to a friend on the phone and laughing animatedly while yelling, “I look like my mother!” I remember her saying one day she looked in the mirror and she was Grandma. That was it. She just turned in to Grandma one day and never saw it coming.
It scared the shit out of me.
*Me: 4yrs, Oma: 29yrs.
I was probably four or five at the time, listening to her go on about aging and gray hair and wrinkles. About her body. About being a mom. I was taken aback some. Wasn’t she always a Mom? Ever since I knew her, she was. My entire life she looked pretty much the same so where was this “shock”, this “coming out of left field” when she looked in the mirror?
She looked the exact same to me.
It never occurred to me that my own mom was once my age. That she used to be young. That she WAS young, at twenty-nine, laughing in to the phone at twenty-nine. That one day I’d look at the same pictures of myself and vaguely remember a time before I was a mom. Before I was gray. Before my belly jiggled with the emptiness of a twice-occupied uterus.
I point out pictures to my daughter and she guesses it’s her. “Is that me?” “No, that’s me!” I say. She looks at me quizzically. To her it’s as hard to grasp as addition or not getting her own pink room. Then she shrugs and runs up to her room to play princess.
But I stare at our faces, wondering if we’re really in there. I notice how similar my niece is to my mom. I study my chin and my daughter’s chin. I wonder if I really did give her more than butt dimples.
And then I shrug, put the pictures away and go play princess with her. Sometimes the past doesn’t matter. Like today.
So, hiya. I know I use my google reader as a crutch ENTIRELY too much. I’m sorry. It’s mostly in a vain attempt to pretend like I’m organized.
So let me know you’re out there. I’ll be sure to say a Holla back.
If you’re uncomfortable and need a bone? Why not answer me this burning question in the minds of all Flingers everywhere:
Mayonnaise? Or Miracle Whip?
I’m starting with part IV of a series. Think of it like Star Wars. I’ll be bringing you up to speed in installments. Trust me, it’s better this way.
The story of my daughter’s birth week is one I don’t often try to remember. It’s full of painful memories I feel are best kept locked away. I hate not being able to say her birth was The Moment I loved her. It’s hard to explain the circumstances surrounding that first week that landed me in the ER 12 hours a day, two days in a row, until finally being re-admitted for a three day stay. Perhaps one day I’ll share this story with her so she can avoid the same fate, should it come down to it, but for now, I’ll wait to dispense that information until necessary.
The next part of the story, however, is one I’ll share only in-so-much that I hope it’s helpful to her and anyone who may find it.
With such a rough start to motherhood, it’s no surprise I struggled to gain my footing. I was lost for a very long time, angry, hurt. I had expectations of coming home with my daughter and holding her to my breast and feeling a gush of love and emotion. None of this transpired as I’d pictured, not the birth, not the week following, and most certainly not the gush of emotions of love.
Instead, I was afraid.
Nearly paralyzed with my own fear, I gripped her tightly as I walked past the fireplace, picturing her tiny body falling on the bricks in a repeating nightmare. Unable to sleep more than 15 minutes at a time, I checked her breathing on the rare occasion she slept at night. Exhausted, emotional, and a complete wreck, my mom showed up to help out.
She would hold the screaming baby unaffected by her high pitch wail. She would lay her down in the pack-n-play and take a shower leaving the sleeping baby for a full 30 minutes to get dressed. I gasped when she told me this and asked her to check her breathing.
She smiled, rubbed my back and said, “I used to do that with you, too.” I relaxed as she went on “I used to sit and hold you and look at you and cry. I didn’t know what to do with you. You were so… tiny.” My eyes filled up involuntarily as I related. “I was worried you’d die in your sleep or someone would take you. You slept two inches from my bedside and still I worried.”
I didn’t realize how much she would understand that first transition until we were both there, watching history again.
Three months later I was diagnosed with Postpartum depression. I sought refuge after three months of hiding, crying, regretting. I finally wanted to say the words, “I love my daughter” and mean it. My mom’s story was told to my therapist and she nodded quietly saying, “there was nothing you could’ve done to prevent this given your birth experience and your Mom’s history. It’s not your fault. It’s just your story.”
Time is forgiving and memories wash in to each other. I remember that time but it’s not as crisp as it once was. I never went back to that place. But when the time comes, I will share the story with my daughter, when she is ready.
If we’re lucky, history will not repeat for her. Not for her.
Some memories can change: They are as fluid as their outcome and depend heavily on it. They can sway to the right or left with the brush of feather, a second of change, one tiny instant of uncertainty.
Thankfully for us, our memory is a good one.
Looking back through some old photos of the children, I came across some of Buddy’s days in the Nicu. Buddy (formerly Baby O, see notes) was born nearly a month early. This isn’t extreme by any standard and he was strong and fought for air. Literally. The nurses in the Nicu loved and cared for him while he learned to breath on his own and we watched from a rocking chair holding his tiny hand and snuggling his oxygen-masked tiny face.
We knew he would be ok. Of course we knew. But in those moments, those times of uncertainty, where a brush of a feather to fate could make the outcome something unavoidably horrible, we held our breath and pictured him toddlering about, giggling, laughing, running.
I’ve never been so glad to be so right. Or as thankful to not have to be wrong.
Hiya, so, it appears I’ve been placed with some freaking AMAZING PEOPLE in the 2008 Weblog Award Finalist this year. Which, really, is so very very much an honor.
I also very very much have zero chance to do anything but come in last, but that’s ok. Last isn’t last, right? It’s tenth! Tenth out of all those nominations! And behind wonderful friends like Amy and a magazine I write for Blissfully Domestic so I’m not hurt that I’m last in a race of perfection.
But I will say thank you for those who are new stopping in and checking this ol’ space out. I can introduce myself best as the Mom who clearly wins an award placing her kids precariously on tables and being dumb enough to take away TV as a punishment. You can also get to know my family by reading about my dad, my mom, my husband, my social awkwardness, my daughter and my son.
So thank you, thank you, thank you. For the chance to share who I am here in this small space. For recognizing, in some tiny way, that you enjoy reading and for sticking around all these many years. Tenth isn’t so bad when I think of all the people I adore in this community. I’m proud to be a rockstar tonight, even if my fifteen minutes is just that: I’ll bask in the quarter hour.
*My understanding is that you can vote once every 24 hours. So go find someone you love, click a button, and then find some new reads. This community is amazing and I’d be curled up in my PPD from five years ago to this day without it. So go! Support someone you love! And find more loves to read. XO
*ohyea, this is going to be a sticky post until Jan 12th just in case anyone new stops in. HI! Pick up a chair! I poor strong martinis. Made with love. Look below for new posts.
I’m TRYING to be nice here. As in I AM STILL IN LAST PLACE PEOPLE HOLY HELL. SIgh. In the mean time, have you voted for Jenny and Tanis yet? My friends are also losing. WTF people? Amy deserves more love than that. Meh, if I have to lose, at least I have good company.
20 guests here now.