The Realizations of Motherhood

At this very moment I am sitting on my bed typing away on my laptop. I attempted to organize parts of my house today, which resulted in even more piles of stuff. As I look back on the day that has passed, I fondly think back to this morning when I was laughing and wrestling and goofing around with Bean while attempting to not get out of bed so early. I made her favorite breakfast and I enjoyed my coffee with her while she happily ate it. And then a terrifying question occurred to me. What am I teaching my child? What am I teaching my daughter? Those questions were fiercely reinforced just a few minutes later when she asked me if I was going to wear jeans today because if I was wearing jeans she wanted wear jeans too. There’s no denying it, she is proud that I am her Mommy. I am proud to be her Mommy. She emulates me in almost every way possible. She wears fake glasses, she lets me teach her yoga poses and we even share a love of the same Starbucks beverage (Shaken Passion Tea with ½ a pump of sweetener). It’s so obvious that she looks up to me. And what mother wouldn’t be over the moon to realize that?! As overjoyed as I am to have passed on my love of the written word and all things nerdy, I have to worry about what other examples I am setting for her.

Clothes: As females, we become very aware of our bodies and the power they possess at a young age. Our bodies wield a strange power over us, they can make us self conscious, and they can make feel like we rule the world. They sometimes determine our self worth in this screwed up world we live in. Sometimes I wear jeans in the summer heat in Florida because I didn’t shave my legs. Other times I wear jeans because I don’t like the way my legs look. Yesterday after school Bean put jeans on because I had jeans on. She was visibly hot and sweaty, but wanted to be like me. She had no idea why I was wearing them, but I’m afraid one day she will. She probably sees me twisting and turning when I try on certain things. No doubt she has seen me adjusting my bra or swimsuit top. She sees my hesitation to shed my tank top at the beach. This isn’t an intentional message. I never criticize my body in front of her and I never will. But she sees everything with those soulful eyes. In an age of rampant female body-shaming, this is not the message that I want to send to my daughter. I want her to see a confident person who has earned every scar. A person who a proverbially fought hard to get to wear she is. I may not have skinny legs, but I have strong legs. That strength comes from years as a soccer player and a childhood of swimming for hours on end. Muscles made from what seemed like never ending shifts at the bar. I have legs that allow me to move quickly at work, or move even quicker should I hear my child scream. I have thighs that have helped me move kegs and lift my sweet child when she was an infant. Walked her for hours and hours and nights and days around the neighborhood or pacing the house in the middle of the night to get her to go back to sleep. My shoulders are strong. They aren’t lithe or petite. I’m just not built that way. I have arms that can carry in all the grocery bags in one trip. I have scars. Some are from childhood, some are from adulthood. Each one has a story and I am proud to retell them.  I was built to survive. I was built to live and never quit.

Food: I sit with Bean every morning while she eats breakfast. I drink my coffee and we chat. But I very rarely eat breakfast with her. Not because I don’t want to, but honestly I am just not hungry that early. And I really dislike most breakfast foods that aren’t bacon. But I’m afraid I’m teaching her that nourishing yourself isn’t important. I always eat dinner with her, but even lunch sometimes is hard. I’m always trying to accomplish so much in a day, that I make lunch for her and then begin another task. Again, it’s not intentional, but what is she seeing? Is she seeing that life’s menial tasks are more important than eating a good lunch? Is she interpreting it to mean that coffee is a food group? Wait, it’s not? It should be.

Relationships: D and I have a great relationship now. But we didn’t always. For a time it was downright unhealthy. He and I were both in bad places mentally and as they say “You always hurt the ones you love.” We broke up for a time when Bean was 3. I would’ve rather her see a person willing to recognize her own self worth than remain in a relationship that was making her miserable. And it took time for us to find our way back to each other. But we did. And we worked every day to be better people, as a couple and as individuals. I want her to see that you have to hold on to your sense of self. Just because you love someone, doesn’t mean you give up who you are and what you love and what you believe. She has seen her parents argue. She has seen her parents madly in love. Every day she sees 2 people who love each other enough to make an effort. She doesn’t see a woman who doesn’t speak up for herself anymore. No matter how much I love D, I will always be who I was before we met. I hope that I’m teaching Bean that a good healthy relationship is one that lets you be who you are, together.

Technology:  Ugh….sometimes I hate technology. As Bean has gotten older, I am more aware of the presence of technology in our lives. In our home we have 2 tablets, 2 iPhones, 1 iPod, a couple gaming consoles and a TV in each room.  I am a big offender of having the TV on for background noise. D is notorious for playing games on his phone as soon as he wakes up. We have been at dinner several times and seen other parents so involved with their smart phones that they seem to have forgotten they have kids desperate for their attention. I have recently made the deliberate decision to set my phone down and walk away. It gets put away when I drive because A) its safer and B) I want Riley to know that her safety is more important than anything else and C) conversation and car singing are much more fun anyway. The people physically in front of me are more important than the screen in my hand. One of those tablets in our home is Bean’s and I’m totally 100% good with that. She might spend a grand total of 45 minutes on it a week. But it allows her to learn the up to date technology and I monitor what she is able to access. She’s been able to use an iPhone since she was 18 months old. I let her play on my laptop. All she does is type, but she has fun.  At the end of the day there is nothing on any of those screens that is more important than the people in front of you. I recently told a friend that I don’t get any alerts for the games on my phone. I don’t get any Facebook or Pinterest alerts either. Most of the time my phone is on silent for the simple fact that I don’t want to be interrupted by it if I’m doing something cool like building the Great Wall of China out of Legos. This blew her mind. The fact that I could conceivably go a whole day without being bothered by this tiny technological thorn in my side was unheard of to her.

Interests: This is a big one because she is in school now and there are 18 other kids in her class, each as judgmental as the last. Kids can be mean. Bean is an only child, has a great home life, a strong sense of family and is given the freedom to be herself. But not every kid has that. Some of the kids in her class have older or younger siblings. Some of the kids in her class are so starved for their parents’ attention that they manifest it by putting other kids down or having to one up them.  Some kids, even at this tender young age have shown a propensity for lying in order to gain popularity or admiration from the other kids. A few times Bean has asked if it’s “okay” for her to like a certain thing, be it Harry Potter or Legos. I have made it a point to show her that I unapologetically love what I love. I am a nerd. And I own it. I read like it’s going out of style, because sadly it seems to be doing exactly that. I’m an 80s kid, Jem & the Holograms, Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock. Bean knows what these things are, and more importantly she likes them. She also loves science. She loves to come up with new experiments that we can try. She loves Star Wars and wants to learn how to surf. I want her to see that no matter what happens in her life, her favorite things will never abandon her. And her favorite things will often lead her to the best of friends. The kind of people who will share her interests and share in late night movie marathons and inside jokes. The kinds of friends who will have entire conversations comprised of movie quotes. Those are the best kind of friends. The keepers.

My child has made me realize that I need to be more aware of the examples that I’m setting for her. We become so caught up in making sure that they are doing the right thing at the right time and in the right way, that we forget that old adage “Monkey see, Monkey do” What do you want your monkey to do? Would eating breakfast really hurt me? No. It would probably be good for me.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll wear shorts……

Keep those toes in the sand!

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MINE!!!! The Selfishness of Motherhood

There was a time in every mom’s life when every thing she had belonged to her. That time was before Pre Child (P.C.). Now there is not one single iota of a mother’s life that belongs solely to her. Her days and thoughts are consumed by other people’s needs and wants. Sure she still has things to take care of, but they often get pushed to the back burner in an effort to take care of the needs of everyone else before her own. Every mother, at one time or another, has dreamed of a life long gone and fantasized about what her life would be like without the daily responsibilities of Snack days, her husband’s work schedule, play dates, walking the dog and all these other things that actually have nothing to do what she so desperately needs……time to be selfish.
Yeah I said it. The most selfless job in the world should come with built in Selfish Time. Time just for us. We make sure our husbands have it; we make sure our kids have their time. But at the end of the day, after we have put away the laundry, the leftovers and prepared for the next day looming on the horizon, the small amount of time we have is spent brushing our teeth and climbing into our much anticipated bed…..only to end up with a 6 year old foot in the back because our loving child has crawled into bed with us. Not even sleep is ours! Sweet blissful sleep has been stolen from us. If you’re new to the motherhood game, let me break it down for you:
Your body:
Yeah this stopped being yours the moment you found out you were expecting. You can longer eat what you’d like, especially if you’re a big sushi fan. You can no longer drink what you’d like, be it a frosty adult beverage or a soda. You have to be mindful of everything you eat. You suddenly have to be aware of your caffeine intake. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
You may be a fitness fanatic or you may not be, but suddenly no matter how hard you try not to gain weight, it’s there, staring you in the mirror as you try desperately to get your favorite jeans over your thighs. Your belly is beyond your control. Your breasts have taken on a life all their own. And as your impending due date approaches, the really weird shit starts to happen. My hips shifted. Like moved and will never return to their original position. I will never be the size I was before I had Bean, no matter how much I work out or diet, because my bones moved! I had been told once that I had child bearing hips (apparently that’s a compliment?) but it would seem that they weren’t quite up to the task after all.
Then after you bring your little cherub into the world, your body becomes even less yours, if that’s even possible. You are now a walking food source, at the beckoning of a 9lb tyrant who screams and you come running. Were you sleeping? Too bad! Were you foolishly trying to make a phone call? HA!! Shower? Good Luck. Just make peace with your new role. It’s easier that way. And sadly it doesn’t decrease with time. The role just adapts much like other creatures in the animal kingdom. From now until this person is 18 years old you are legally responsible for feeding them, clothing them and enriching them.

Your house:
Remember P.C. (Pre Child)? You thoughtfully picked out your decor. Cleaning your house was easy because it was either just you or maybe your significant other or maybe roommates. Now there is a minefield of toys spread across your living room. You will learn to hate legos. There are small dishes and utensils in your kitchen. There are brightly colored cups in your cabinet. There are hand prints on the walls that will probably never come off. Remember when you did laundry and the only cute things in there were your unmentionables. Now you fold little panties with My Little Pony on them. So many onesies in so many colors. Little shoes to trip over. At one point you may actually think that your toddler is trying to booby trap the house and send you to an early grave. Little does he know that if you go, his food source goes? Don’t bite the hand little man.
Your Day:
Ok, my day to day is pretty mellow. I try to be as organized as I can. The most hectic days for me used to be if I had class and work on the same day. Then I had a child and got married. I suddenly became responsible for 2 other people. My hubs is not an organized person. He needs a planner. He needs to write stuff down in the same place instead of on envelopes and scrap pieces of paper. He will say something to me and then 6 days later ask me about it, the whole time I was unaware that I was responsible for cataloging said information. He will set down a piece of paper with vital information on it, then go on a rant about clutter, so the paper gets inadvertently moved because it is on a surface with dozens of other pieces of paper and then suddenly its my responsibility to find it. Apparently he thinks I have some super power in the form of being able to recall the exact location of 1 piece of paper. So on top of my own schedule, I now have to incorporate Bean’s and D’s. No wonder I feel confused all the time! I’m blonde…..people need to stop expecting so much from me 🙂  It will be interesting when I go back to school, we may need to hire an actual secretary. I wonder if she will work for Goldfish Crackers.
Your vehicle:
Before I had Bean I drove the cutest little VW Beetle. I loved it. It was the epitome of cute girl beach bum cars. I was sad when I sold it. At times I really want to get another one. But based on the amount of crap that accumulates in my SUV on a weekly basis, the Beetle wouldn’t be able to handle my life. It used to be that my car only had my stuff in it; a bikini, a towel, flip flops, my iPod, and some books. Now? A booster seat, several My Little Ponies, markers, flip flops that don’t belong to me, empty water bottles, not so empty water bottles, so many school papers that I could easily be responsible for the death of a forest. The list goes on and on. My husband constantly asks me how my truck gets so cluttered. Well for starters it’s the primary family vehicle. It does the grocery shopping; the school drops offs and pick ups, the play dates, the trips to the beach and road trips. I challenged my husband to have his car be the family vehicle for 1 month just to see what his looks like. He declined. Its not that I’m a messy person, I am somewhat scatter brained, but in all honesty I HATE clutter. But at the end of the day, I’m just too damn tired to do anything about it.
Your Relationship:
This is a big one. P.C. your relationship was all fun and games. It didn’t have to be serious. Even though you’re adults with adult responsibilities like bills and a career, you still had to option to be irresponsible and party and go on vacation on a whim. You had the ability to be spontaneous, which helped keep the romance alive and thriving. Now, between middle of the night feedings, sharing your bed with a 6 year old, PTA meetings, play dates, and trying to contain the hurricane that sweeps through your house on a daily basis, your relationship may feel more like a business arrangement than a marriage. And that’s OK! Kids are exhausting. Especially if you’re doing your job as a parent. After I have gotten her off to school (which means dressed in matching clothes, lunch packed and hair done), I either run errands like grocery shopping or taking the dog to the vet or do some much needed laundry. And there are some days I even volunteer in her classroom, as if I don’t see her enough. Then when its time to pick her up, I have to start thinking about what to make for dinner. I help her with her homework, I build legos with her; draw on the driveway with chalk with her. Then its dinner, cleaning up from dinner, bath time, wind-down time, and then stories and bedtime. After that, it’s usually my bedtime. My hubs will get home and wonder why I’m so tired. He often feels neglected. I do my best to reassure him that I love him and only have eyes for him, but in all honesty, I’ve been checking out our new tempur-pedic bed pretty hard  and when the planets align and we do get child free time together, its usually a redbox movie, some “quality time” and then I’m still asleep by 11:00, 11:30 if I’m feeling adventurous. My relationship no longer belongs to me. It belongs to my child. She’s the variable in the equation. I love her and I wouldn’t trade her for anything, but sometimes I feel like our child is killing our relationship.
I used to go on a yearly Girls’ trip to Vegas. All moms and wives. No kids or husbands. Just 3 days. Just long enough to recharge from all of life’s demands. I would come back a better mom and a better wife. My body and mind know when this trip is coming. I can feel the desperation in my bones. I force myself to pull it together for a few more days until I get on the plane and turn off my phone. Of course while I’m there I miss my little family, I check in with them often and send and receive pics. But no one needs anything from me. I can fall asleep by the pool and not have a care in the world. That is an amazing feeling for a mom to experience. Sometimes my hubs gets jealous of this yearly trip. I understand it. I have offered to send him, but his friends can’t seem to get their act together. I have offered that just he and I go, but his work interfered. But I am not willing to give up my trip. This year I can’t go because of extenuating circumstances, and my subconscious knows something is wrong. It knows that normally a few days from now I would be boarding a plane to peace, tranquility, neon lights and free drinks.
I may sound like I don’t love my life, but astonishingly that is not the case. I love my life. I love the many hand drawn pictures adorning my home. I love the little Reefs sitting next to the stairs. I would just love them more if they were in the closet where they belong. I love that my life is charged with the enrichment of such an awesome person, but every once in a while I would like…..NO, I DEMAND Selfish time. A time where no one needs anything from me. Not my child, not my husband, not work, not school. No one. A time when someone else brings ME food and drinks. Someone else will walk the dog and do the laundry. Just a few days. Every mother should get this. There should be a government kick back to each Mom that allows here to do this. It is essential to our ability to be a functioning mother and wife.
My point is, it’s ok to get frustrated with life and feel like you are being pulled in several directions at once, because in all honesty you are. Just try to carve out a little time here and there for you. You will thank yourself for it down the road. Don’t let your “mom guilt” override your sense of self preservation. The kids will survive if you go to lunch with a friend. They will be ok if they spend the weekend at grandma’s and you and the husband sneak off to a hotel for a day or 2. Don’t forget that you are a person too and you deserve the same things you are working so hard to provide for your family.

My Shitty Life & Why its Awesome!

  
I don’t mean that as a metaphor. Its not meant figuratively. My life is full of shit, literally. And it’s better for it 🙂

My approach to relationships has always been pretty straight-forward. Life is messy. Life can be gross sometimes. Add kids and pets and stomach ailments into that equation and it has a tendency to get even messier. And being a person who is infinitely entertained by potty humor, Life’s messes keep me laughing, and laughter is the key to any strong relationship.

Bean is gross. Just this morning she sat at the table and let out a fart that would’ve made a grown man proud, the whole time giggling into her bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats. Some mornings she wakes me up by backing up to me in bed under the pretense of “snuggling” and then sweetly whispers “the cannon’s loaded” before unleashing enough methane gas to kill a cow. When she was younger we made the mistake of laughing at one of her farts. Now it will be funny forever. Then there’s the poop. Even at the age of 6 she screams across the house to wipe her butt if its a “Slimy one”. There is no escaping this. She would rather subject her poor mother to the smell of toxic fumes than risk getting an itching butt. I guess I should be thankful. A few weeks ago she sharted herself and I honestly couldn’t hold in my laughter. I felt like the worst parent in the world, because my laughter upset her. But I couldn’t help it. Eventually I got her to see the humor in it, and she understands how important it is to be able to laugh at yourself too, but oh good lord, I was giggling about that all night. Even when I was texting D to let him know what happened, I was laughing. If I don’t laugh than the fact that I am constantly dealing with shit, literally and figuratively, it will depress me beyond the limits of my medication.

When she was an infant, she shit on me. Several times. D and I have both had feces on our hands. We’ve had to drain the bathtub, disinfect it and give her another bath because she unleashed a mushroom cloud of epic proportion considering she was so small at the time. It’s a good practice to make sure you don’t bounce a baby on your knee until you’re absolutely sure they have nothing left in their tiny little bowels. And even then…..there’s no guarantee.

The dog. It seems there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t ask D if the dog pooped, either on a walk or in the house, because sometimes he’s a spiteful little creature. I mean it. Every day. Sometimes twice a day. And when he doesn’t poop, we have detailed conversations about the last time he did; consistency, frequency, color. My old hound dog used to scare himself when he farted and I found it unbelievably hilarious. I’ve also had to express my dog’s anal glands. If you aren’t sure what this entails, you can YouTube in. i had to do this to my own dog on Christmas morning. I never thought I’d be able to say I anally violated a dog. And I had to do it because D “didn’t have the heart to do that to the old dog.” Let me just say thank god for latex gloves and my poor dog wouldn’t come near me for days after that. These are actual conversations and events 2 grown adults have had more after than we would like to admit.

Then there’s the adults. I have had conversations with my husband that would make any sane person cringe. And not just about poop. About several bodily functions. My husband has literally seen my vital organs,  laid out like a human jigsaw puzzle. I warned him not to look over the sheet when I was having my C-section done, but he did, because he’s a man. And now he will die knowing what his wife’s intestines look like. I hope he’s pleased with himself.

We have had our share of stomach bugs, each more colorful and visceral than the last. We have had our share of drunken nights. I affectionately refer to it as D trying to call some dinosaurs. And we have shared these gastrointestinal pyrotechnics, usually in the form of one taking care of the other, or picking the lock on the bathroom door to make sure that the other isn’t drowning in his own stomach contents. And just so you don’t think I’m being unfair to D, he’s found me in different levels of shame throughout our relationship, the most recent being a combo of intoxication and food poisoning. I honestly thought I was dying. I wished I was dying. Death would’ve been easier. Death would’ve cleaner. Death would’ve smelled better.

I was raised with 2 brothers. 1 older, 1 younger. Can you imagine the hell I endured. I even had to share a bathroom with them at one point. My older brother has a gift. A very specific set of skills. He has the ability to unleash his noxious fumes at his convenience. Often, sometimes while trapped in a car on Alligator Alley with extended family, firing off butt shots like a machine gun. He made the mistake of doing this with our very Irish grandmother in the car. That was over 20 years ago and he still won’t pass gas in the presence of this woman. But as brother and sister, farts will always be funny. Even his kid thinks they are funny.

Then there’s my friends. I’ve been in the Food & Beverage industry for the better part of my adult life. People who work in Food & Beverage are gross. We have gross senses of humor. We play gross jokes on each other. We talk about disgusting things. We even crop dust tables or sections we don’t like. One of my best friends is a nurse. Part of her job is to literally make sure people shit after surgery. All day she talks about shit and farts. Thank god she has a boy 🙂 When we go on our annual Vegas Girls trip, It’s a bunch of girls sharing a hotel room. If you thought guys were gross, try going on vacation with a bunch of moms, a nurse, wives, and people who generally accept the fact that life is gross and smelly sometimes.

Someone who I am closely related to has never farted in front of her husband. 30 years, not one single fart. While I admire her dedication to the upkeep of this side of their relationship, I can assure you that is a one-way street. He happens to think farts are infinitely funny. She thinks they are funny, disgusting but funny, but refuses to cross that line in their marriage. Kudos to her!! I personally like to see how many times I can get my husband to blame mine on the dog, cat or child before he finally looks at me with a look that can only be absolute love and devotion. Otherwise I’m pretty sure he’d leave me. He faithfully(and figuratively) stood by my side while I anxiously awaited that first post surgery poop, well aware of the agony I would inevitably succumb to.

My point in all this is simple. Everyone has a picture of a life that’s all roses and rainbows. But life is messy and gross. And being able to admit that and take it in stride makes it that much easier. If at the end of the day you can’t laugh at the fact that you were shat on, farted on, or even sharted yourself, then you going to lead a pretty sad life. My marriage is better because we acknowledge the gross. It doesn’t overtake the awesome parts of our relationship, but it does bring a certain levity that only fart jokes can bring to the table. Or the bed. In the form of a “dutch oven”. I’ve never known such fear as waking up with the blankets pulled over my head. One day I’ll get him back. One day.

Sometimes I get defeated by the fact that there are so many unsavory aspects to my life. but then I rememeber…..”Shit Happens”. And it’s best for all involved if you can laugh at it. i have literally been up to my elbows in shit. And been laughing the whole time. Why? How? Because it’s funny. My husband loves me because I’m gross sometimes. My kid thinks I’m awesome because I laugh at her farts. My dog’s farts make me laugh. If I can’t laugh at the gross stuff Life throws at me…..what’s the point.

Until next time, keep those toes in the sand and some air freshener close by!