School projects are nothing more than parental psychological tests of mental endurance; secretly designed to measure both the precise moment when parents hit their breaking point and the subsequent coping mechanisms utilized to see the project through….
Always try to put off cleaning your bathroom to last; while at the same time encouraging (or rather demanding) that all of the members of your household do whatever it is they need to do in there prior to your impending scrubbing session. Doing so will hopefully minimize the potential that your husband will suddenly decide to shave off his scruffy beard over those nice sparkling clean spigots… or that one of your children will inevitably smear toothpaste all over your spotless sink…. or better yet that someone will conveniently have to take the poop of their lives in your newly disinfected bowl. Just saying because you know it never fails…..
Whoever coined this phrase was seriously delusional. While I can only speak for myself, if my house embodied these verbal statements I wouldn’t consider myself a good mom but rather one who clearly wasn’t utilizing all of her resources (hello….the kids need to pitch in and help to keep things clean – I am not a maid service and the last time I checked there my magic cleaning wand was on the fritz). And knowing how messes make me crazy (that’s my OCD kicking in) I am pretty sure that such a scenario would result in a crazy mommy, not a good one.
While I understand the importance of the message – that of leaving the housework til later or putting aside chores in general so that you can spend time with and enjoy your children now while they are kids, there needs to be a happy medium. And sometimes that happy medium actually means getting the kids involved in the cleaning process so that at the end of the day everyone can sit down together and enjoy each other’s company. I believe it’s important for children to have chores and a stake in maintaining the household. It teaches them responsibility and fosters their growth and maturity. Hell, if they learn to appreciate the efforts it takes to clean up their rooms and toys and maintain some order, maybe they won’t be so inclined to make the monumental messes that they do. I mean, there is no mystical cleaning fairy that comes in after the fact and magically restores our house to a state of “neat and orderly.” It’s just me – plain old mom who is of the belief that instilling within her children a basic understanding of the importance of pitching in is fundamental in their development as human beings.
Now ask me how it’s working out in myself household and I will confess that it’s not without its challenges. I get the moans and groans when I remind them of their responsibilities but they do what is asked of them – eventually – sometimes even with a smile. And it’s not that I ask all that much of them. I ask for them to make their beds, keep their rooms neat, clean up whatever toys they take out, put their dinner plates in the dishwasher, and feed the dogs and cat. We are in the process of discussing adding some other basic chores but haven’t quite gotten to the implementation phase yet. We will get there soon enough, especially since they are getting older and more able to help out. In fact, my older son is already asking to mow the lawn….YES!!!!
So, finding time to clean and maintain your house shouldn’t be as difficult if everyone pitches in on the level that they are capable of ….you’ve just got to use your resources….
Words of wisdom….Pearls to Ponder….
You can tell what kind of day it’s going to be by how many times you have to heat up your morning coffee….I am going on four times right now….
When you are a working mom you struggle to find that delicate balance between family, work obligations, and life’s general challenges. Sometimes (okay who am I kidding), most days I feel like I am a robot with a checklist of chores and responsibilities that need to get done or be fulfilled or else chaos will erupt. And while for the most part each day’s check-list events are very similar, (i.e. get the kids off to school in the morning, do laundry, clean the house, make dinner, assist with homework, get the kids to their sports practices, got to work if it’s a day I am scheduled, etc.) they still aren’t without their unexpected curve balls. Things as simple as having the kids make their beds and get dressed can turn into monumental meltdowns for no other reason than your kids are “tired and not feeling it.” And when that happens it can throw a real kink into your ability to move on to the next task. And forget it if an outside influence occurs that you were not expecting to have to handle that day, or at all, but now you have to respond to and deal with. That can really end up sending your day sideways – especially if it involves phone calls or adding extra errands to your already busy schedule in an effort to take care of what needs to be taken care of. At any point in my day I can end up redirected and when that happens – well I am screwed.
It’s ironic but as a mom working per diem, I can’t figure out how I got all this done when I worked full-time because I feel 20 times busier now, then I did then. And I definitely am about a million times more scattered and disorganized. Granted I have taken on some additional responsibilities as it pertains to being more involved with my kids and their school-activities, but that still doesn’t account for why I feel less organized. Of course, my toddler is also 100 times more active now and the ability to contain her has gone out the window (yep, no more pack-n-play corralling and baby gates have got nothing on her), so I definitely know that accomplishing things around the house is both impeded and not happening until after she goes to bed – I mean there is no point cleaning when she’s coming behind you undoing your efforts. There are days I actually relish working because there is no one in the house to mess it up and my checklist of chores is actually at a minimum. Sad I know, but true.
So in an effort to maintain a minute level of calm – I blog. I view it as my creative outlet for my crazy life. It’s that little bit of time when I can find myself (or at least attempt to find myself) – somewhere between the mommy demands, being a wife, my family needs, my per diem requirements and life’s general nonsense. Lately I haven’t been able to blog as often as I would like – and it’s certainly not for lack of things to blog about. It’s really come down to having a limited amount of time combined with being too tired to collect my thoughts much less get them out in a blog. Yet because of this I am feeling the strain on myself. I need this blog time, if nothing more but then to have a fleeting moment to decompress and regroup because lord knows no one in my family quite understands all that I juggle; and they certainly don’t want to listen to me rant about it. In fact, when I rant my kids look at me as if I am a nuts and my husband just can’t understand why I just can’t relax and deal with it. While I love the man to death, he just doesn’t get that I am just not wired that way. I have a very hard time not getting worked up about things – but that’s a whole other topic to blog about…..
Anyway, I am committed once again to making the time for me…..for having this creative outlet for my crazy….
Well its that time of year….the time of the year that every mom dreads – yes you guessed it, it’s school project time. This year’s project, my son needs to collect three leaves in five select categories. Each category has between four and eight leaf choices. Once he has his fifteen leaves they need to be pressed, laminated (add a laminator to the next Walmart trip), categorized, written about, placed in a binder per a specified order with a table of contents, and finished off with a creative title page. Easy right – WRONG!!!
So in an effort to assist his efforts, I have done what any mom would do. I have spent every moment of the last week walking around town staring at trees and snagging their leaves. I have grabbed leaves off of trees while giving a quick side to side glance so as to ensure no one is watching me. I have tiptoed into people’s yards and scooped leaves up off of their lawns. I have even pretended to tie my shoes while giving a quick tug off of some low-lying greenery. Why you ask? Well I am a mom and that’s what we do. We endure their school projects, we encourage their efforts, and we do our best to foster independence of project completions while gently guiding and helping them from the sidelines. Sometimes however, the enormity of the project, like this such one, requires us to assist more readily. Hence my leaf collecting endeavors.
And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. With his collection almost complete, my son and I have been scouring the internet, googling leaf identification pictures in an attempt to determine what we really have. We have compared, contrasted, and studied leaves til we’ve gone cross-eyed – which begs the questions how a ten-year old would have done this without any assistance? And I’m not the only one who feels this way. One of the other moms who I am friendly with confessed to driving around town staring at trees in the hopes of locating leaves that her son needs. Ahhh the things we do for our children to conquer the dreaded school project…..
So a few months back I blogged about the complete meltdown that I had just prior to my period – which when it arrived explained a lot of where my crazy was coming from. However, it was very disconcerting to me that I could be so emotionally labile and experience such extreme mood shifts for almost a full weeks time. I mean, we weren’t talking about a little irritability and crankiness – we were talking about a full-blown Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde transformation.
Fast forward to now….
So I spoke with my doctor at my annual appointment this week and expressed both my concerns along with a few “for instances” showcasing just how bad my mood swings have become prior to that lovely time of the month. As it turns out, not only am I not crazy, but I actually have a condition known as PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. PMDD (thank you mayoclinic.org) is a severe, sometimes disabling extension of PMS and can cause extreme mood shifts that can include one or all of the following:
- Sadness or hopelessness (check)
- Anxiety or tension (yep)
- Extreme moodiness (uh huh)
- Marked irritability or anger (for sure)
Ding! Ding! Ding! Clearly I have been experiencing all four of these symptom categories. Okay then, I now have a diagnosis for my crazy and it’s by no means the end of the world. In fact, it’s easily treated with medication therapy to combat the hormonal shifts. Easy and simple enough – WRONG!
As both a nurse and an astute health care consumer I know very well how health insurance companies can impact treatment regimens from everything from ordered tests and labs, to medication allotments, hospitalization allowances, and post hospitalization care. And while I understand how this became such an issue, it still boggles my mind that patients and their physicians must often go to battle to provide proof as to why various treatment regimens (whatever they are) are needed. Lets face it, the majority of the population does not usually go around randomly requesting or hoping that their physician is going to order blood-work for them, or a radiologic scan of some sort, or even put them on various medications. But health care is in such a state currently, due in part to long history of overuse of and misuse of treatments, that nowadays insurance companies (based on your plan) do want to verify validity so as to control costs. I get it but…. if my physician feels I need to be on a certain medication (as is now relevant in my situation) then who is my insurance company to question this to the degree that they are currently doing? I can understand needing some basic information to process my prescription, though admittedly I am not thrilled that my insurance company is privy to my own personal health information, but why the full-scale inquisition? This has been ongoing now for days. So as the consumer, I can do nothing but sit and wait for my insurance company to dictate my care….
A few weeks back, my best friend and I were trying to find some time to get together and squeeze in a quick-lunch in between dropping our children off at school and early pick-ups (on her end – not mine) and our overall busy lives. After throwing around a few days we settled on Friday, only to have to put our plans on hold due to a last-minute glitch with my schedule that arose unexpectedly. While attempting to reschedule our conversation on my end went something like this….
“Well this weekend’s out due to the kids sports – Saturday is soccer, Sunday is football, Monday I have the appraiser coming, a doctor’s appointment and Matty has soccer practice, Tuesday I have to teach and then there is football practice, Wednesday I am working (and missing a soccer game), Thursday I have to return my cable modem to the cable company before they end of penalizing me and Jack has practice, Friday and Saturday (missing another soccer game) I work, Sunday Jack has a football game and we have a wedding to go to, Monday I have a meeting and then I have to meet with the kids orthodontist, Tuesday I work – how about Wednesday?….”
When I went per diem I had this grandiose notion that I was gonna have all the time in the world to get things done and have some semblance of a life; that is, my house would be clean, the laundry would be both done and put away, dinner would be ready and on the table at whatever the required time, I would attach homework time with optimism, I would parent my kids with patience and smiles, I would be there to get my kids to all of their school and sports activities, and if I was lucky enough, I would meet my best friend for some occasional lunches while our kids played. Clearly I needed a knock upside the head with the reality stick because I am ten times busier now than I was when I worked full-time. Which of course begs the question “How in the hell did I manage to do all this when I was working full-time?” While I know the answer to this is that I didn’t (or at least I didn’t do it well) – which is why I went per diem – even in my current role as full-time mommy and per diem nurse, the time constraint challenges are often overwhelming. At the rate I am going I am going to have to pencil in time to go to the bathroom because it just seems as if every moment lately has been accounted for in some way. This constant hustle has left me feeling dissatisfied and irritable. There is currently no balance between all the demands in my life, no reprieve, no moment to breathe…. and due to all of this, everyone is suffering. I envision my life currently like a circus act – more specifically the one where there are all sorts of plates spinning in the air and you need to keep running between poles giving them a twist so as to keep them from crashing to the ground. Somehow, someway, I need to re-evaluate my commitments and make the conscious effort to better prioritize their level of importance or I fear I will never achieve the balance I had initially envisioned. Easier said than done but a necessity none-the-less ….
I am beginning to think that I truly didn’t appreciate being a kid when I was one; and ironically am wishing more often than not that I could go back to that time and savor every single moment that wasn’t fraught with adult responsibility. Between running a household and all that that entails (i.e. general maintenance, cleaning, laundry, paying bills, cooking, dishes, etc.), working per diem, juggling the kids homework with their after-school activities, and now refinancing our mortgage – I am hard pressed to find any enjoyment in adulthood. If I don’t maintain the set level of required responsibility, not only will things not get done – but the consequences are far greater now than they were when you were a kid. Back then you might have been grounded or had something you loved taken away if you didn’t finish your chores or got a crappy grade on a test – nowadays shirking your duties puts you at risk for household chaos and financial ruin.
So why was I in such a hurry to grow up? Can someone please remind me what was so great about working, getting mail that solely consists of bills and nothing fun, trying to understand complex financial mumbo jumbo, doing homework with your kids that someone decided to modify to the point that you can’t even seem to do simply math anymore, and checking the same tasks off my imaginary to-do list day in and day out.
And while I certainly know that there are positive things that are truly great about being an adult; sometimes they get lost among all that adulthood is and leave me wishing that I could be that child who played outside all day without a care in the world.