Category Archives: Parenting

Calgon, Take Me Away

teenagers

I often brag to people about my teenager. You know, when they ask me if I have any kids and I say, “why yes I do, I have a 16 year old daughter.” What inevitably follows is, “ooh, I’m so sorry about that. How’s it going?” And I honestly can tell them that really, she’s pretty cool. She’s pretty good with holding back what she’s really thinking, rolling her eyes at me or bringing on too much sass.

But, like anything else, there is the exception. And that exception was today. No, today was not the only exception. Because as much as I would like to think I birthed the perfect child, I did not.

I had just gotten home from My Job and I wanted to jump on the elliptical for 30 minutes before I had to take her to her orthodontist appointment. Since I wore my work-out clothes to My Job (one of many awesome perks), I only had to grab a bottle of water and inform The Kid of my plan.

The night before she had a friend sleep over (really her cousin so if she acted like a piss ant and I acted like a piss ant back it was family and it’s not as embarrassing, it’s just not. My niece already knows I have a screw loose, no surprise there). I peeked in her room before heading off to my elliptical.

Me: OMG you lazy girls are still in bed (it was 1:22pm)???

The Kid: Yeah.

Me: Okay, I want to leave here at 2:10 for your appointment.

So, I’m huffing and puffing, sweating to some Al Green 29 minutes and 30 seconds into my workout and I hear this:

The Kid: MOM, WE DIDN’T EAT LUNCH!

But it wasn’t said in the, “oh my goodness silly us, we forgot to get up and have some lunch so now we’re hungry but since we were just being silly lazy people and didn’t feel like getting up even though we had like 5 hours to do so, we’ll just have to wait until after my appointment since we are, after all, leaving in approximately 16 minutes” kind of way.

It was said in the “OH MY GOD DON’T YOU KNOW WE DIDN’T EAT LUNCH AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT BECAUSE THERE IS JUST NO FOOD IN THIS HOUSE??” kind of way. Just so you all know, I grocery shopped the day before so whatever.

Insert a very deep breath here. Or some wine. Better yet, an IV of tequilla and keep it going until midnight. Because everyone who knows me knows I have very little patience to begin with. Throw in a PMS’ing or whatever happens to be the problem of the moment teenager into the mix? Not a very good combination to say the least.

Through gritted teeth, my reply was, “you are 16 years old, make yourself some lunch.” But of course, I cannot just stop there. I have to vomit all the venomous shit out of my mouth as I possibly can so that I may feel better.  Things like, “don’t you know where the kitchen is?” and “open your eyes and look for food” and “give me a break you aren’t five” and “wanna knuckle sandwich?” Actually, I didn’t say that last one but I came close to it. And I also really wasn’t as kind as all that sounds.

The afternoon just kind of got worse from there on out. Let’s just say that now she’s not allowed to watch television or anything until she’s married. Or finishes her reading assignment for the summer. It will be interesting to see what comes first.

One Side of Empty Nest Coming Up

empty nestIn two years, DH and I will become empty nesters. The Kid will be going off to college. Because she is an only child, there is no other kid left behind to help retain our status of Full Nesters. Is that what they call that? If not, I just made it up. Catchy, isn’t it? Feel free to use it.

First of all I have this to say: WHERE THE HELL DID THE TIME GO? That cute little girl who looked up at me with those adorable blue eyes and blonde ponytails now looks down at me (yes, she is nearly 2 inches taller than I am) with now beautiful blue eyes. Gone are the ponytails, replaced by long blonde locks.

Needless to say, I pretty much blinked three times and here we stand. I was warned about children making time go by, but I never fully appreciated it until it happened to us.

Last week, as you know, The Kid went off for a week on a mission trip far away. I cried as I was hugging her good-bye because all I could think of was, “what am I going to do without you? How am I going to manage not seeing you around for a whole, entire week? Not able to communicate because cell phones are off-limits during the day? Who will empty the dishwasher?” That last one is particularly true, because quite honestly, I really hate emptying the dishwasher. I just do.

She will be back in a couple of hours. Yes, it was odd not having her around. I missed her. I did. But there was one thing I realized as the week went by…I am going to be just fine. I spent a couple of days with a dear friend of mine who I don’t have the chance to see very often because she lives a couple of hours away. That was a bonus.

But what was even better was spending one-on-one time with DH. Although I always pretty much have known this, we have something in common besides love. It’s called like. We like each other and had a great time tooling around in the jeep, or on the boat, having dinner together whether it was at home or out. We could canoodle without closing and locking the door as if it were Fort Knox. Walk around in the nude if we so chose to.

I will be so happy to see her when she gets home. I can’t wait to spend time catching up with her on her week and ours. I’m not sure I’m completely 100% ready for her to leave for good, but I do know this: I will be just fine. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get dressed. 😉

Growing Up Too Fast

“BZZZZZZZZZZZ,” went my alarm clock at 3am yesterday morning, followed up by the alarm on my iPhone.  Because when you have to wake up at 3am, you take all the backup you can get. Why did my alarm go off at 3am?  Because The Kid was flying the coop.  Spreading her wings.  Leaving for a mission trip with her senior youth group for a full week.  Off to South Dakota to help build some houses for the poor. This chick will be wielding a hammer, planing some wood, caulking windows perhaps.  All for the good of humanity.

It will be a great experience.  But this is the first time she will be this far away from home for this long without me.  Well, last year she flew down south to visit my parents, but she was with family. That was different.

Sure, there are chaperones going.  One being the pastor of our church who is totally cool and just loves the kids. Still.  I won’t be there to remind her about stuff.  You know, to put on sunscreen, drink plenty of water, wear a hat, eat her vegetables.

I won’t be there.  Period.  I am relinquishing control.  I knew this day was coming, but I’m just not ready.  What happened to my little baby? The baby who depended on me for everything?

I guess DH and I did good.  She’s off for a week to do great work in a place that she’s never been.  She’s going to see how people live who don’t have everything, or even anything. This will be a humbling experience for her. We are so proud. It’s pretty brave of her, going somewhere so foreign without us.

So, as DH and I are standing there saying goodbye, hugging her for dear life, I start to cry.  I hear her say, “gawd mom” as I’m squeezing the life out of her.  My baby is growing up.  In exactly 2 years from right now, we will be getting her prepared for college.  I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

So, should I turn her room into a spa or a mom cave? Ooh, I’ve always wanted my own luxurious bathroom. Decisions, decisions.

This one will do just fine.

This one will do just fine.

Glad I Didn’t Name Her Fern

You know, I wonder from time to time how it is I was able to raise a person.  Then I saw this on Facebook a while back and knew I couldn’t be alone:

raising a kid

Seriously.  How true is this?  Besides the fact that I don’t have one single plant inside or outside of this house because I do totally kill them, a whole, live, real person exits our bodies through our vaginas or through a hole that is cut in our stomachs and then we have to keep this real person alive.  Same thing goes for people who adopt, have a surrogate and/or are a guardian.  However you achieve one of these little people, we have to keep them alive.  We also have to keep them from turning into total assholes.

We have to do all that for at least 18 years.  Because after that, it’s totally up to the person/people that we raised to keep it going.  Hoping for the best.  Hoping they learned something from us.  Us.  People who were totally thrown into the fire.  I mean, I babysat when I was 12, but does that really count?  How can it?  Watching some rug rats that weren’t even mine for a few hours a month hardly gives me the credentials to raise actual humans.

And when I ran into an old friend or acquaintance and they asked me what I had been up to, I wish I had the wherewithal to answer, “keeping a person alive.”  That is totally compelling and sounds a little more intriguing than, “oh, I walked around the mall with the stroller brigade and bought crap off the clearance rack at Gap because I hate to pay full price,” don’t you think?

I also believe that this raising a person business should be a major bullet point on our resumes.  Damn.  I should be able to run an entire corporation based on that skill-set alone.  And I couldn’t find a job when I was looking for one because I didn’t have a degree?  Pfft.

Here is how my resume will look:

Past Experience: 

1998-Present – Kept a person living from infancy through the present time.  She knows how to walk, talk, use her manners and is fully toilet trained because of my persistence, hard work and dedication.  She has grown into someone others seem to like, which I feel is a strong accomplishment considering all the total buttheads out there.

I expect the phone to start ringing any time now.

 

Generation Bad News

love-poster-quote_1800-2What is it about this generation?  When I was a kid, all we worried about was if Maria wanted to fight you because you kissed her boyfriend.  “Meet me behind the school after the last bell.”  So, we might go home with a black eye or get punched in the stomach and forced to vomit the meatball sandwich we ate for lunch, but so what?  We had our life intact.  No one thought to bring a gun or a knife to school.  I’m not saying it didn’t happen, I’m just saying it didn’t happen often.

Last Friday a bright young woman’s life was snuffed out.  For no reason.  She said “no” to a boy who asked her to prom and he didn’t like that answer.  So instead of being a man and walk away with his head held high, he decided to be a coward instead.  He took out a knife.  And without thinking about the repercussions, he took her life.  Just like that.

Last month, a teenage boy choked his girlfriend to death, then threw her in a stream.  All because they got into a fight.  This happened in my parent’s town in North Carolina.  In another part of the state, a teenage girl poisoned her grandmother because this grandmother took her cell phone away from her.

A year and a half ago, a young man went into an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 others.  Then there’s Columbine.  Virginia Tech.  And this isn’t all.  Google “violent crimes committed by a minor.”  You will be shocked.  Children as young as 12 are on this list.  It’s disgusting.

So, here are my questions:  What are we doing wrong?  Why are our children killing others?  Why is there such total disrespect for human life?  Where is the fear of God?  Or morals?  Are we being too permissive?  Are we not imposing enough boundaries?  Are there too many outside influences beyond our control?  Too many violent video games?  Too much social media? 

I am in an outrage, as I’m sure many of you are.  I’m not happy that I can no longer feel that my child is safe at school.  That every morning there is a police officer standing at the entrance of the school in the event that some kid may lose his crap and start shooting at people.  I’m not saying that I’m not grateful for this police officer.  I am.  I understand that this is the new normal.  It still doesn’t make it right.

How did it get out of control?  I’m not judging.  We allow our teenage daughter to have her head in her phone way too long.  We give her not only what she needs, but what she wants more times than we probably should.  Maybe she doesn’t have enough chores around here.  But she has boundaries.  She knows right from wrong.  We took the time to show her the importance of compassion, how to love others.  We taught her to be strong and confident.  How to handle rejection.  How to be a good sport.  Respect human life.

We, as parents, need to step up and raise our children.  Don’t you have conversations with your friends that sound something like this:  “Geez, when I was a kid if I talked to my mother the way some of these kids speak to their mothers, I’d get an ass-whooping.”?

I don’t condone hitting your child.  I don’t agree with that.  But something is lacking.  Somewhere along the way, we messed up.  I could be wrong, but doesn’t it start in the home?  So, people, let’s fix this thing.  I can’t take another news story of a child taking someone else’s life.  There is something so wrong about that.  We need to stop the violence.  And we need to stop it today.  Who’s with me?

 

I Beg Your Postpartum?

“Holy crap.  I just pushed a human being out of my vagina, my nether area, my unmentionables.  A freaking living, breathing human being.”  That was my thought after I gave birth to my 8 pound sweet baby girl.

I ripped stuff that doesn’t seem natural to rip (when I was in my way early twenties, a woman told me about this happening and I walked around with my rectum clenched for a year.  It traumatized me so much that I prayed to the birthing gods for 9 months for this to NOT happen to me, but alas).

What happened next?  Nothing.  As soon as that last bit of after-birth fell onto the hospital floor, my feelings were as cold as one of those sub-zero freezers.  I assume (I never was professionally diagnosed) I had what the experts would call Postpartum Depression.

I pretty much self-diagnosed myself.  But not until months later, after I felt better.  How do I know I was suffering from this condition?  It was really just a guess but here you go:

  1. After they handed her to me, I nearly dropped her on the ground.  As if she were a piece of luggage that I carried across the country and just couldn’t go another step with.  I actually hallucinated “Samsonite” written across her forehead.

    samsonite

    See her forehead? I knew it.

  2. When the nurses wheeled her in my room at 2am, I ripped their heads off.  It’s true because they were nice and round and rolled like a couple of bowling balls.  Strike!
  3. I would cry on my sitz-bath while speaking to my pediatrician every day for 2 weeks.  Yes, my pediatrician.  Hey, it saved me a hell of a lot of money on therapy bills — I highly recommend it.
  4. During middle-of-the-night feedings I feared that her head was going to spin on her shoulders like Regan in The Exorcist.  That’s normal, right?
  5. Besides breastfeeding, I didn’t have a desire to hold her.  I had a full out temper tantrum when DH went back to work.  Seriously.  I behaved more like a baby than my baby did.
  6. I had The Kid in June.  It was a hot summer so I rarely left the house.  For nearly 3 months.  It was hot.  Besides it meant I would have had to have gotten dressed.  And clearly that wasn’t happening.
  7. I wore the same clothes for 6 weeks.  Except my underwear.  I changed them at least weekly.  Well, someone did anyway.

    This is what I wore for weeks.  No lie.  Notice the attractive milk stain?

    This is what I wore for weeks. No lie. And my boobs were always leaking.

No one seemed to notice, especially me.  DH thought I was a little off, but no one told us about this possibility so it didn’t enter our minds.  Maybe we thought it was normal?  Well, I remember thinking it was normal.  I felt sad.  But don’t all new mothers feel sad?  I mean, our bodies were practically ripped in half and we had to take care of these people.

Luckily, after about 3 months, I got the spring back in my step.  They really should tell you about this stuff in Lamaze class.  Or somewhere along the line.  I mean, geez.  I was pregnant for 9 months.  There was plenty of time for a warning.  Although, I do have an extremely short attention span so maybe they did and I missed it?

I doubt it.  Anyway, my sweet baby girl is pushing the ripe old age of 16 and all is well.  I fell head-over-heels in love with her in spite of it all.  But I stopped there, at one child.

Would I have done it again?  Sure.  If you take out the blood, ass ripping, blood curdling pain and Cruella de Vil emotions.  Maybe.  But no one could promise me anything so it didn’t happen.  And I’m a better person because of it.  I’m sure.

This Helicopter Needs to Go Down

Have you ever seen that movie “Terms of Endearment?”  It’s on my top 5 list.  I laugh (you can’t actually see me, but I am laughing) because you know that scene where young mama Aurora checks on baby Emma with a mirror to see if she is breathing?  That was me.  Okay, that is me.  Still.  Well, only sometimes.

I know.  I’m nuts.  I have gotten better over the last couple of years, but I do periodically check on The Kid to make sure her blankets are going up and down with her breathing.  When she was a baby, sometimes I would poke at her while she lay sleeping in her crib.  You know, stir her.  If she woke up, it was okay.  Because I knew she was alive.  And I would breathe a huge sigh of relief and go to sleep.  You know, for at least 20 minutes.

I was a young child in the 70’s.  A time when our parents didn’t worry about child snatchers or concussions from falling on a bike without a helmet.  Damn, if I cut my face open, my mother’s response would be, “get up, brush it off and go outside to play.”

Once when The Kid was about 4, she fell because she was running on cement in flip flops.  I knew she was going down.  I got that weird prickly feeling in my shins.  You know what I’m talking about?  Well, I swooped her up and ran her to the first aid station in complete hysterics.  I had one finger on my phone to dial 911.  What’s the matter?  She scraped her knee.  And there was blood.  What did you expect?

I was neurotic (you know, in case you haven’t figured that out yet).  “Don’t run too fast, don’t walk backwards, don’t skip, don’t climb on that, don’t jump on the bed, don’t look at the sun too long…”  I could smack myself just listening to that me.  I was secretly happy when she didn’t quite get the concept of riding a bike the first time DH tried to teach her.

I’m not totally afraid of too much.  Most of the time anyway.  Like you won’t catch me dead on a pair of skis because I like my appendages where they are.  But I have no problem driving to places I’ve never been, or doing something I’ve never done (except skiing, sky diving and heroin), tasting food that is off the wall and going on roller coasters with the double loop-de-loop.

So, why am I such a nut job?  Overprotective and overbearing at times?  Is it because I only have one child? People always told me to have another.  That my neurotic behavior would lesson.  But that’s hard for me to believe.

Now, she’s getting ready to learn how to drive.  I thought I was worried before.  What the hell?  I guess I am the quintessential Helicopter Parent.  But I don’t want to be one of those.  I make fun of those people.  There’s no way I am.  So I looked it up:

A parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.

Oops.  Well, I’m the first part anyway.  Because taking an excessive interest in the life of your child?  Well, that’s just plain, old, dang nuts.  Pffft.  And that car thing?  Does anyone know how to pull out some wires so it doesn’t start?  Inbox me with instructions.  Thankyouverymuch.

Linking up with Shell

Good Bye Dr. Suess

Except this.  This was her favorite.  Or was it mine?

Except this. This was her favorite. Or was it mine?

I was one of those weird pregnant ladies who would read poetry to my womb.  Every morning.  Before work, I would toast myself 2 frozen waffles loaded with butter and syrup and sit down to read a few chapters from a book of Mother Goose collections.  Don’t judge me.  I had to eat waffles because they were the only thing that didn’t make me feel like I had to hurl.  Besides, she was getting some nursery rhymes in return.  Swapping brain food for umm, brain food?  What’s so bad about that?

Why did I do it?  Not the waffle thing, but the poetry thing.  Because I had read somewhere that if you start reading rhymes to your fetus, they will turn out brilliant.  Brains courtesy of Little Boy Blue.  Who would have thunk?  This habit of reading to her continued on from the day she was born until she just didn’t want me to read to her any more.  When was that?  I can’t pinpoint a date.  I  will wager a guess at somewhere right around tween-dom.

Needless to say, we had accumulated about a million books throughout the years.  A million.  And now here I am almost 16 years later with them all over the house.  In her room, on shelves, in closets, in the playroom that is no longer the playroom.  Everywhere.  It was time.

So, with all the energy I could muster, I got myself a couple of cardboard boxes and started neatly piling children’s books into them.  One by one.  Each one a memory.  Angelina Ballerina, Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, Tomie dePaola, just to name a few.  I gave them to a friend of mine who has a bunch (yes, a bunch…no lie) of young children.  I knew they were going to a good home.  Why should I be selfish and keep them to myself, allowing them to collect dust?  Not being touched by anyone?  It was time to share the love.

I was surprised by my emotions.  I know I sound sappy.  But it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time.  So many memories.  I used to love bedtime.  Not only so that I could have quality time with my glass of wine, but because The Kid and I would snuggle up in her bed and I would read to her (no, I didn’t drink wine while reading to her).  Three books.  That was the limit.  Three books of her choosing.  Every night no matter what.  Well, I would swap with DH but he read to her too.  Every single night.

Aaah, those were the days.  Now I have to worry about her driving in a couple of months and going out with boys and hoping she doesn’t try marijuana.  Oh Lord.  I’m having a panic attack.  I think I want my books back.  Or at the very least, visitation rights.  Think my friend will mind?

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

Warning:  Spoiler Alert.  Send your gullible children out of the room before going any further.

We all raise our children to be truthful. To not lie. To be honest. They are learning these ideals from traitors — mommy and daddy. From the moment they are pretty much born, we start in with the lies. One right after the other.

  • A jolly, fat man enters your home through the chimney bearing gifts? Sounds great, but come on. Oh, and he flies in a sled led by 8 or 9 reindeer (is Rudolph part of the team, or what?). A sled that is chock-full of gifts for every child in the world. What’s even better is he does it all in about 8 hours, give or take. Do you know how much time I wasted looking for that damn man up in the sky when I was a kid? I should sue.
  • A life-size rabbit who hops from home to home bringing chocolates and plastic eggs. Comes from the same planet as the man in the red suit. This crap is what nightmares are made of.
  • Eyes in the back of our heads. I wish I had a dime for every time my kid asked me if she could see these eyes. We only perpetuate our lie with more lies because, of course, children don’t have “The Special Magic Power” to see them.
  • How about the chick who flies in the night collecting missing teeth and leaving money? I got caught once. The lie I told her to get out of it? “The Tooth Fairy makes herself look like mommy so you don’t get scared.” I know. Total Oscar worthy moment.
  • The word “Liar” appears across your forehead when, well, you lie.  It worked like magic. It got to the point where if she lied, she would cover her forehead and run from the room screaming. Classic bullshit with a capital “B.” I should be ashamed of myself. But I’m not.
  • I would terrorize my kid by telling her that Santa was watching through the ceiling light fixture whenever she misbehaved. Surely she didn’t want to be on his “Naughty” list. There’s no greater satisfaction than watching your 5 year old look with her little doe eyes up at the ceiling trying to catch a glimpse and then whimper because she got caught.  Kinda makes me feel like crap. Just kinda. Ok, not really.

Children have been falling for these lies for decades. Can they really be that dumb? Okay, dumb may be a strong word here. I’ll be kind and use the word “Naive.” We grown, mature adults, prey on our naive children for our benefit. It’s not a surprise that so many kids grow up and need therapy.

Well, the Santa and Easter Bunny lie is not completely for our benefit. Actually, it kind of pisses me off that those SOB’s get the credit for all the crazy-ass work we did prepping for those holidays. The shopping, the crowds, the money, the pushing, the shoving. I gotta go. I think I need to call my shrink.

Picasso Is In the House

photo

I love DH’s hair. I always wanted a man with a ‘fro.

I have saved enough of the kids’ art and school work to paper every wall and ceiling in our house, with enough left over for the neighbor.  I have a large Rubbermaid bin for every single year from pre-school through 5th grade.  Why only through 5th grade?  I’ll get to that.

I just have to preface what I am about to say with this:  I absolutely adore her stick figure people with a head, arms and legs.  Even if they don’t have a body.  I love them even more in spite of it.  And her elephant with the trunk coming out of its eye.  Priceless.  I will cherish them forever.

I was completely obsessed about making sure her homework, teachers notes, report cards and art was filed away in the correct bin.  Everything.  If something wasn’t dated, I would break out in a major sweat and have to down a fifth of scotch to calm my nerves.

But all that changed a few years ago when my mother gave me a small cardboard box.  What it contained was some artwork and odds and ends from my childhood.  She was smart enough to pick and choose the best of my work and toss the rest.  If she had showed up on my doorstep with 15 plastic bins, I would have had her arrested for trespassing.

That is why the kid’s middle school bin is light.  Bin.  Singular.  Because when DH and I go into retirement and move to some little place down south or travel the world, where will I house it all?  I won’t.  I’ll most likely give it to her as my mother gave mine to me.  At the rate I was going, I would have had to rent a U-Haul to get it all to her house.  I’m sure that would go over as well as a monk farting in church.

So, if you are going to take my advice and downsize, hear this: while tossing some of your children’s artwork, make sure you remove it from the house.  Like into the next town.  While she/he is away at summer camp.  Because I got caught.  She melted down so badly I needed a mop.  Then she claimed I didn’t love her any more.  Trying to do damage control with an 8 year old is not fun.  And the disposed artwork?  You will find it in bin #6.   Dial 1-800-UHAUL for a good time.