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What motherhood has taught me….

A mom shares lessons learned as she juggles her family and career….

Month

August 2015

Six Word Story Challenge….

Six Word Story Challenge courtesy of Sometimes Stellar Storyteller

Today’s Prompt – Regret

If only she cried, he might’ve…..

http://www.nicolaauckland.wordpress.com

To those that read this please feel free to write an ending….I would love to see how you would finish this!

Recognition for those who have recognized my blog…

I have been a little behind in my blogging as of recent, due in part to the craziness of my life, but I did want to give a shout out to those who have recognized my blog and had the graciousness to nominate me for a Liebster award on three different occasions.  I hope you will check out their sites and offer support to their creative efforts….

https://unperfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com

https://adriennea3.wordpress.com

https://momneedstovent.wordpress.com

Some days….

Some days I just want to let out a scream of frustration at the lack of cooperation I get from my kids. But then I think that a temper tantrum at my age is highly frowned upon and might land me in some type of mental health observation unit. Of course, the more my frustration builds and the closer I am to screaming, the less I stop worrying about this and figure what the hell….I might need just need a little rest.

But in all seriousness, as moms we do our best to have patience with our children and some days lets face it – the well is very low, if not empty.  These are usually the days when I swear my  kids have a running bet as to who is going to send me over the edge first.  Between the “I’m bored” claims or the whining when asked to help out or even the general grumpiness it’s enough to drive a mom to madness.  Where’s the ingenuity to be creative and play with the toys you own?  Where’s the desire to be helpful and pleasant so that I don’t have to lose my cool and become “That Mom” who is viewed both others as “The Crazy Mom.” Maybe it’s the end of summer boredom that has set in for all of us as we are transitioning into the new and impending school year.  Pool days are just about over, football is in full swing, and the opportunities for summer fun have just about come to an end.  With the changing of tide there is bound to be some angst among the troops – at least I tell myself that.  But at some point, when will the overall atmosphere shift into one of helpfulness, resourcefulness, and pleasantry more often than crankiness, resistance and helplessness?

Some days being a mom is frustrating….

But, beneath all of the frustration that comes with the parenting territory, there are three loving kids who still need me to keep it together on all fronts and be the mom that they need me to be.  Some days it’s hard.  Some days I need to remind myself that despite it all, it will always be worth it….

I swear I just cleaned my house….

  

Every night before I head to bed I clean my house.  There is something both therapeutic and OCD about my evening ritual; however truth be told, I just can’t sleep knowing that there is a mess lurking downstairs.  While I would love to clean during the day, there is just no sense in trying because my kids are just mini-tornadoes, undoing my efforts and leaving in their path a wake of destruction.  So I wait until I have put my toddler to bed and the boys are winding down for the night.  Then I get started.  Usually it’s not too major an endeavor, a quick sweep of the hardwood floors, a pass or two with the vacuum, and a quick wipe-down of both the kitchen and bathroom – but it’s just enough to take my anxiety level down a few notches and make everything look presentable.  I go to bed feeling fairly relaxed and accomplished only to wake up in the morning and think – what the heck happened while I was sleeping?  There are dust bunnies rolling across the floor like tumbleweeds – thanks in part to our dogs who are currently shedding like crazy.  Our yellow lab has managed to climb up on the sofa and displace every existing pillow right onto the floor.  The kids, who are usually up before me already have toys pulled out and all over.  And somehow, very magically, dishes have appeared in my sink that were not there the night before.  I stand there and think – I just cleaned this house not less that 8 hours ago – how? why?  Oh wait, I have three children, two dogs and a cat – the house is supposed to look like a bomb went off in it….. but – to anyone who asks, “I swear I just cleaned my house.”

P.S.  My husband’s biggest offense is toothpaste in the bathroom sink – otherwise he is relatively blameless in this whole mess making situation – just don’t look on his side of the bed…

Today I was your wife….

Today I wasn’t the nurse but rather the wife, who took the phone call from you saying that something was wrong and you were going to the emergency room.  Today I felt my heart stop, when you, usually so disinterested in your health took pause and then took action.  Was it fate that intervened on your way home from work and set in motion these chain of events?  Because if it had not been for fate, you might never have changed your homeward course and the ending of this story might have been different.

Today I wasn’t the nurse but he wife who watched her husband enter the emergency room, our daughter in tow, pale and diaphoretic.  I had to swallow hard but hide my fears as I helped you get checked in.  I then went to wrap up my own nursing shift with our daughter in my arms (since ironically I was working when this all occurred) and met back up with you over in the ER.  There I listened to them initiate the proper code for the symptoms you were experiencing; and as staff entered your room an overwhelming sense of helplessness set in.  I watched them draw blood, send you off for a test, and then do a very thorough physical exam on you – all part of the protocol but scary none-the-less.  In the midst of all of this your mom came and got our daughter so that I could focus my attention on you.  I used humor to mask the uncertainty and listened intently to what the nurse and physician were saying.  Today I was not the nurse with over 17 years experience, but rather the wife who wanted to hear the plan of care, the test results, and all pertinent information as if I had no medical knowledge of any of it at all.  Today I was your wife who, when you were presented with different treatment options, didn’t know what to tell you when you looked at me for answers.  Today I had no answers and wanted someone else to provide them for me.

Today I watched you be tolerant of a situation beyond your control, especially since I know how much you hate hospitals.  I tried to make some jokes to put you at ease, especially when they told you that they were going to admit you for observation – despite the fact that all test results were coming back negative (thank god).  I offered to get you anything you needed on multiple occasions.  Maybe at times I rambled when I tried to find something that would make this whole experience a little less lousy for you, but I just wanted to make you comfortable and help you any way I could.

Today I watched them admit you to a hospital room for the first time in your life.  You were less than thrilled but I knew you were in the hands of good nurses who were knowledgable about the protocols for your diagnosis.  As your wife I felt a little more relaxed and extremely grateful that whatever was going on had subsided and by all accounts you were now stable and would be fine.

Today as your wife I prayed that God would protect you, my husband, my best friend, and love of my life.  Today, God came through and he sent an angel to watch over you…..

A lie by omission is still a lie…..

As a mom lately I have been coming up short in many areas.  I have been short on patience, short on time, and short on enthusiasm.  I am not sure what it is with my boys.  Maybe it’s the end of the summer boredom that has set in, which has left them irritable and cranky, but every day lately has been a battle of attitudes and tones which has pushed me to the edge of my sanity.  My daughter hasn’t gotten to the age of the attitude, but her curiosity and dare-devilish nature has zapped me of my energy and some days left me feeling exhausted.  My saving grace has been my husband, who lately has shown extreme patience with all of the kids, especially the boys.  As a blended family, we have not been without our bonding challenges and growing pains, but this past week it was as if something in him changed and he was finding that extra deep pocket of parenting patience that I could only have hoped for.  Last night I found out why….

I never shared with my husband that I had begun blogging.  The truth is that when I began this journey, I didn’t know how to tell him what I was doing, and quite frankly I thought he might find it silly or stupid.  I was afraid I might fail at my attempt and if I did, no one had to know.  Funny how we rationalize our choices.  I let my own insecurities about wanting to write prevent me from sharing something that mattered to me with him; and I unfairly never allowed him the opportunity to weigh in on my endeavor.  As the last few weeks have unfolded I wanted to say, “Hey guess what I started?” but I couldn’t find a way to broach the subject without sounding like a complete ass for not having shared this with him from the beginning.  Last night he asked me if there was something I had been hiding from him.  I told him no and in my mind I certainly wasn’t even thinking about my blog.  I hadn’t blogged in a few days, I had had a crazy day with work, the kids, and the dog and it never entered my mind.  Well he then asked me about my blog.  It seems that an alert had come across my phone which caught his eye (no he wasn’t snooping) and he had decided to check out what I’d been up to.   The irony is that not only did he like what I had been writing about regarding our family, but it was the reason lately he had been so patient with the kids and was really trying to establish some common ground with the  boys. My words were his motivation to ease those growing pains and really work on us a family. He told me that it made him act differently and think about me because he could see how I felt.

I wish I could have found some joy in this.  Unfortunately it was clouded in his hurt and disappointment that I never chose to share this with him, and that to him I lied about it when I told him I had nothing to hide.  His words to me went something like, “You never gave me a chance to respond but rather you responded for me.”  Now before you get ready to pounce on him for being upset with me, you have to think about this from a black and white perspective.  There are no gray areas with my husband.   A lie, is just that, a lie.  It doesn’t matter that this was a lie of omission, or what my intent was as to why I never shared this with him – to him it was still a lie.  And you know what, he is right. If we can’t be honest about our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings – especially with our spouses – regardless of how we rationalize it in our heads, then what does that say about us as individuals, or even our relationship?  Am I being too hard on myself, maybe, maybe not.  I guess that will depend on whether or not you are of a black and white perspective, or come from a gray area of thought.  However, I have come to the realization that for me, it is this gray area culture which so easily has enabled excuses to rationalize out our every move.  And for me personally, I need to change.

As a wife, I let down the one person who has always been invested in me and been supportive of me.  It took a lot for me to write this blog because it highlights for me, my own weakness as a person; and that leaves me feeling very vulnerable.  Am I being hard on myself – to some maybe, to me – not so much.  If you consider for a moment what the foundation of a solid relationship is, it is truth and honesty.  Doesn’t my husband deserve this all the time?  And how can I be an example to my children and teach them to always be honest, if I myself can’t lead by that example?  The mirror of truth has been held up and I don’t like what I see…..

Falling short and falling apart.

If only for a moment we could undue our mistakes, atone for our omissions, and seek true forgiveness and understanding for how we rationalized our actions.  Then maybe, just maybe we could find some peace amongst the voices in our head and dry the tears in our eyes.  We live our lives moment to moment, making decisions and choices based on our values, knowledge, needs, wants, and impulses.  Many times those choices will be to our benefit, yet sometimes the reality is that they will hurt us or those around us –  regardless of what our intentions were.

In our lives, if we are to achieve a level of self-fulfillment while growing and nurturing our relationships, we must be willing to face our shortcomings, accept that our thought-processes may be viewed by others as flawed, and learn to be honest and forthcoming despite our fears that another will react less than favorably to what we have done or said.  There must be the element of truth imbedded in our relationships otherwise they are doomed to fail, for we cannot grow love upon a lie.  There must be a cornerstone of communication or we might as we remain mute and alone.  There must be the ability to accept our imperfections and the conscious effort to learn from them, for only a fool walks down the wrong path twice.  There must be the ability to ask for forgiveness, and the grace to receive it in return.

The participation trophy issue…..A mom speaks out….

  

As parents we all want the best for our children.  We want them to try their best and as we encourage their efforts.  We want them to be successful and well-rounded.  We want them to have a sense of accomplishment as we build up their self-esteem.  We want them to dream big and believe that all things are possible with hard work.  We applaud their participation and we reward their efforts – but are we doing so at an unforeseen cost if we do not balance out all of this positive with lessons regarding disappointment and the fact that sometimes your best will not be good enough?  There is a very hot-button issue currently online regarding Steelers linebacker James Harrison stripping his children of their “participation trophies”.  His actions have sparked a much heated online debate in which people are weighing in to voice their opinions.

  
This purpose of this blog is to ask the thought-provoking question as to whether such participation trophies are of a benefit or a detriment to our children.

From personal experience, my younger son received a participation trophy for playing flag football.  While he was thrilled, I was less than happy, mainly because he did not complete the season.  In fact he was so ambivalent to the experience that he would only participate in the practices, refusing to play in any games.  He wouldn’t even sit on the bench in support of his teammates.  His lousy attitude made it necessary for me to remove him from the team.  This was very difficult for me as there were two lessons I had hope to instill within him.  The first was the lesson of commitment – that being, you finish what you start, especially when others are depending on you.  If at the end of the season he chose not to play the next year then that was fine because he had finished what he had committed to.  The second lesson was that just because things were hard didn’t mean you could just quit and move on.  Life doesn’t work like that and I didn’t want to be raising a quitter who never gave things a chance or saw them through just because “they were hard.”  Despite my best efforts both lessons seemed to fall on little deaf ears.  And to add insult to injury, at the end of the season when we went to the awards assembly in support of my older son who also played and was being recognized for his participation; to my utter shock, (and embarrassment) when they got to my younger son’s team his name was called out to receive a trophy for participating.  Now in addition to failing to complete the season, he was being rewarded for it.  And to make matters worse, he was grinning from ear to ear and so happy that he got his first trophy for “playing”.  What message was this sending to my child? As a parent I felt it sent the completely wrong one.

As a parent who is speaking solely from my own personal experiences regarding my children, I am wary of participation trophies.  In fact I am wary of any participation awards as I am concerned they will and have already have created a sense of entitlement with my children.  More often than not it seems as if my children are looking for a tangible reward for their efforts rather than recognizing that doing their best should be enough for foster a sense of pride and accomplishment.  I worry based off of what I have already witnessed, that my children don’t know how to handle simple disappointments because of the constant mentality that “everyone’s a winner.”  Case in point, board games often result in meltdowns when one of them truly wins and the other one does not.  The reality of life is that not everyone can be a winner; that even when you do your best, your best might not be good enough to prevail in certain circumstances.  How will my children handle the rejections that life has in store for them if they are under the misguided notion that just showing up is good enough?

I personally believe that there needs to be a balance between rewarding my children at those times deemed appropriate while still  ensuring that they are prepared to handle life’s challenges and disappointments.   I also believe that if my children are handed things in their life that they will be unable to truly appreciate what comes from hard work.  And finally, I believe that it is life’s disappointments that can offer my children the best lessons by challenging them to try harder, to refocus their vision, and re-evaluate the direction in which they are looking to aspire.

I’d rather be a guest…..

Growing up I couldn’t wait to have a home of my own so that I could host family dinners, parties and holiday events.  It all seemed so elegant and glamorous to have people gathered together socializing, laughing, and having a great time.  Such a ridiculous misconception on my part as the reality of being the hostess is nothing like the idyllic picture that I had created in my head off my obviously skewed childhood memories.  Clearly I had never ventured into and spent time in the kitchen with either my mother or my grandmother to learn the truth behind what it took to pull off one of these events.

Anyone who has hosted any sort of family get-together knows that it is work, and a lot of it.  I experienced this first hand again just yesterday when we had a birthday celebration for my eldest son.  There is little enjoyment for the hostess whose hostessing role begins long before the event itself, and ends way after everyone leaves. First, there is the preparation phase which includes cleaning your house from top to bottom.  Quite often this phase starts several days prior to the event and may even continue right up until the moment before people start walking through your door.  Depending on who you are having over will often influence the degree of cleanliness you are aiming for.  That is, if you are having guests over who have been to your home before, you will do the “basic” cleaning – you will make sure everything is neat and in order, you will vacuum, straighten up your bathroom(s), mow the lawn, and in general make sure everything is as presentable as possible.  If you are having a mix of guests, that is, some who have seen your house before and others who have not, (or even all guests who have never been to your house before) you most likely will step it up a notch and attempt the supreme cleaning effort.  You’ll still vacuum, clean the bathroom(s), mow the lawn, and make everything presentable; however now you’ll dust everything in sight, scrub toilets and bathtubs, mop floors, make beds, put away any stray baskets of laundry, and clean bedrooms (just in case someone wants a house tour – and god forbid your house look like you actually live in it).

The prep phase also includes deciding on a menu; which is most likely influenced both by who is coming and what the occasions is.  Do you cook, do you order food, do you do a potluck?  How much do you make or order?  Do you do a little bit of everything?

Then there is the day of the event itself.  As I already stated there is a good chance that while you are in food prep mode you are also still in “last-minute” cleaning mode in those final hours before guests arrive.  If you are anything like me, children are ordered outside or into the basement play area so as to keep any upstairs messes at a minimum and my husbands opportunity to shave ends if I have already cleaned the bathroom sink (the problem when you only have one bathroom in your house).

As guests begin to arrive you are putting on a smile and moving into service mode.  Offering drinks and hors d’Oeuvres – who needs what?  Exchanging pleasantries as people file through the door…  You gently steer people to those certain areas of your house which you are hoping they will congregate in, knowing all too well that despite your best efforts you’ll have 15 people crammed in your kitchen while you are attempting to assemble the main course.  And simultaneously, while you are attempting to maintain the flow of the day you also are constantly scanning each room for potential problems and asking yourself….  “Is there enough toilet paper?  Why are the bathroom hand towels missing ?  How did dip get on the floor?  Who takes a who bottle of water, opens it, drinks 1/4 and then leaves it unattended and later unclaimed?  Why are my  children running through the house when its beautiful outside?” You get my point.

While you are doing your best to enjoy yourself, you remember that as the hostess there is little time to relax as you need to clear out those hors d’Oeuvres trays and move on with the main course – which may or may not be a formal sit-down depending on the occasion. Dishes are collected and meals are swapped out.  If you are lucky you will eat with the group and the food will still be hot, but depending on the flow of your event chances are that you might never make it out of the kitchen.  The good news is usually you are stuck in there with a few close relatives or friends who, because they love you and feel your “hostessing pain” offer to eat with you and then help with the dishes and clean-up – which out of necessity must be started as each prior course ends – otherwise your kitchen will look like a bomb went off in it (even though the reality is that it still will look like that – but on a smaller scale)

You muddle through your event, stealing away moments to visit with your guests, have a few laughs, probably have a cocktail or two just because your bound and determined to get some type of socialization in….and then before your know it people start to leave.  You thank everyone for coming and glance around your home thinking how you are so not forward to cleaning up.  Once everyone leaves, you go into full cleaning mode once again.  Re-vacuuming, re-cleaning the bathrooms, scrubbing down your kitchen after washing and drying the dishes (even if you used paper plates there is still a mess to be cleaned up), and taking out the overflowing garbage that no one else seemed to notice throughout the day.   And while you are doing all of this you think to yourself “I’d rather be a guest.”

P.S.

My Disclaimer….If you read this and wondered where my husband was throughout this whole day, to his credit he was very helpful in other ways both before, during, and after the party.  I didn’t write this to in anyway diminish his efforts; however as most women know, the hostessing role for women takes on a very different connotation as we (or at least I know for myself) want to ensure a certain level of perfection that most men will never quite understand.  And in doing so we often set the bar of expectation very high.

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