Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Me and the Kids..and Strangers

I feel constant pressure, constant gazes, constant spoken and unspoken opinions about what I'm doing as a mother.  There's news articles, entire magazines, blogs, and forums all about how to be the best mom.  How to throw the best party.  How to "do it all."  How to cook gourmet with toddlers.  How to paint murals with the help of your kids.
They'll tell you what to put it your diaper bag.  What NOT to put in your diaper bag.  The optimum speed to drive for kids to sleep in the car.  The perfect age for potty training.  The best time to start play dates.  The minimum and maximum time limits for sleep, reading, TV, and learning.
How long meals should last.  How to effectively use time-out. How to decorate dinner to make it look like a clown face.  How to make your own Halloween costume and host a neighborhood costume party for 300+ people.  
Then there are humans with their advices. "You're so smart for bringing toys to the sandbox."  "Oooo, you should have brought more water."  "Oh, you let your kids pick their own outfits?"  "If he were my kid I wouldn't let him use markers yet."  "Trust me, counting to 3 never works."  "Your kids are so well behaved."  "Church is really hard with little ones, you are so brave."  "You can let him play with your iPhone, you know."  "You need to read more to them."  "They should be outside more."  "You need to spend more time teaching." "Take more time for yourself."  "You're playing with them too much.  Make them play alone." "You should put his shoes on him if he's going to play outside."

I don't know if it's because I'm young.  (Not that young peeps.)  Or because I look like I need advice on rearing children minute by minute.  Or if people just know I'm polite and am good at making them feel good about themselves at the cost of my own feelings being hurt.  But this is alllllll the time.  And I just want to say, "It's my OWN backyard!  I know where all the broken glass and used needles are!  He doesn't need shoes!  Lee-me-alone!"

I've had enough of it.

My kids are well-loved.  They feel love all day and all night.  They like being close to me.  They like being held and snuggled.  Kole will pick 15 books, snuggle on my lap, and not move until all 15 are read.  Joey smiles every time we make eye contact.  He rubs his head against my leg like a little puppy when he wants picked up.  I know when their cries means hungry, tired, there's been an injustice, or finger stuck in drawer, respond quickly.  I know that Koley needs physical touch, lots of hugs and smooches, and chuggy chuggies and cuddles to feel loved.  I know Joey needs one on one play time to feel loved.  Well, ha, that and applause.  He's such a lime-light lover. 

And you know what I just figured out?

Kole and Joey love me.  That's why they are always smiling at me and laughing at me when I fall off of my chair on purpose.  That's why they want to be as close to me as they can be.  That's why they are always handing me things... trains, trucks, things they broke, garbage they found, crusty old food pieces.  They are sharing with me because they love me.  They copy my dance moves out of love.  Kole corrects me when I call a backhoe an excavator because he loves me. 

That's what matters.

I don't care what your opinion is of how I raise my children.  I'll listen to it because you'll say it loudly and to my face (and because I am a moral giant).  But it's not going to sink in.

My boys love me. 
They think I am the best Mom ever.
And they are what matters to me.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Night Swimming

Night swims are the coolest.
Even when "night" is 7:00.


Joey loves to Belly Flop.

The splashed as big as they could,  laughed  as hard as they could, and swam until they were purple.
They acted like it was their last 30 minutes of life.
Last night I was the coolest mom.

Julie and Andi- night swims?  Eh? Eh?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bad Moms at the Fair

This was Kole's first time riding rides.  He wanted to ride the cars.  No surprise.  At all.  He was really excited to give the man his tickets.  Really excited to pick his own car.  Really excited to get buckled in.  Really excited to honk the horn.  Really excited when the ride started moving.

Then some bratty girl started crying.
The ride went three-quarters of a time around before the girl was screaming so badly she had nearly slid off her seat.  The ride got stopped.  Her dad pulled her off.  The crowd gave some nods and shrugs and courtesy smiles.
The ride went the last quarter of a turn before...

...the girl's mom was climbing over the fence to put her BACK on the ride.

I raise my hands to Ken (who is across the ride ready to wave to Koley), gently shake my head, and mouth, What the heck?

This girl was still screaming.  Red in the face.  Real tears.  Not wanting on.  And her mom was screaming.  Red in the face.  Thong doing the whale tail thing as she wrestled her daughter back onto the ride.  Over the screams of her tot the mom says, "Just keep going!  I know she'll like it!  Just keep it going!  I wanna get a picture!"

So the ride goes.
The crying and screaming really amp up.

Soon, none of the kids are smiling.
They aren't sure if they are having fun or not.
We're on a ride... that's fun.
It's sunny and warm... that's fun.
Our moms and dads are here... that's fun.
We just ate funnel cake... that's fun.
Yet, there is this crazy girl.  And she is screaming that this is not fun....Hmm. That's puzzling.

The man stops the ride and tells the mom to get her daughter.
Kole yells, "Come on!  I want to ride, man!"

My thoughts exactly, kiddo.
I'm so glad I have a three year old to say the tactless things I am thinking.
The girl's mom straddles the fence yet again (use the gate, lady),scoops down (really letting that white-trash cleavage get a good jiggle),yanks her daughter off the ride, and storms off.  Like it's her daughter's fault.

In my head I was saying:
 Finally!  Geez! Put your kid first!  Gosh.  Forget about the picture already.  She obviously was hating it.  Some mom YOU are!  Ugh.  I hate moms like you.  Anything for that picture.  This is real life.  Not Instagram-ville or -town.  Quit thinking of yourself, put your camera away, and care for your child!  I sure hope you buy her a cotton candy and say sorry.  GOSH!  And pull your pants up for crying out loud.  You're not 19 anymore.  No one wants to see your thong.  "Keep it going?"  Pa-lease.

I really let her have it.  In my head.  For the record:  I apologized in my head shortly after.  Guilt just eats me up.  Even when it's imaginary.

The ride started up again... things were looking good.
 Then he started getting a little worried...

 and then a little more....
and then... it was that little crying girl all over. 
Except it was my kid begging to get off.  Screaming that he didn't like it.  And yelling for me to come save him.

Kole was red in the face.  Real tears.  Not wanting on.  At all.

And I was screaming.  Red in the face. Swinging one hand at the ride operator, "Keep it going!  I know he'll like it! Keep it going!  Keep it going!" while my other hand was trying to snap the perfect picture.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Fundamental Code

"[Their] instant liking for each other had been rooted in their mutual recognition that the other was a woman like herself....  They shared a fundamental code, and were therefore secure in each other's company in a way that they were not with other women."
-A Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling

I've just experienced this in my life.

It doesn't matter that you like chocolate and candy in your icecream and she prefers fruit.
It doesn't matter that you're 4 or 9 or 13 years younger.
It doesn't matter that you never exercise and she runs marathons. (And halfs.)(And 5ks.)

It doesn't matter that you recommend book after book and she doesn't read.  Ever.
It doesn't matter that you root for opposing teams in sports, politics, and Twilight.
It doesn't matter that you don't like any of her favorite TV shows.
It doesn't matter that your kids are different ages and genders.
It doesn't matter that you love the smell of cigarettes and she is appalled by them.
It doesn't matter that your house is smaller, your car is older, and your bank account is tinier.

It doesn't matter.

She is like me.
And realizing that means I'm like her...(sigh) made my heart explode.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Birthday Eve Thoughts.

Tomorrow I turn 29.
29 seems like a perfect age.
Every year Vicky tells me that the age I am turning was the best year of her life.
She's that way.
Always makes me feel like I am on the brink of something incredible.

29 does seem pretty kick ass.
But 30.  30 seems solid.
30 is like I already kicked a lot of asses so don't mess with me.
It's gonna be a busy year for me with that slogan.
Eh, live in the moment.
That's cliche.
To tell you the truth...I'm not that good at living in the moment.
I mean I think I used to be and I think I will be again.
There are just so many moments of kids crying.
Not wanting to live in those moments so much.
I've never really felt like any one certain age.

Or any certain size.  Clothing wise.
Numbers don't matter all that much to me.
Good thing I didn't follow through with that Accounting degree.
I love, love, love birthdays.
My mom used to tell us we were the Queen on our birthdays.
Everyone had to do what we said.
We could have whatever we wanted for dinner.
I thought... This is what it'll be like when I'm a Mom.
It'll be like my birthday everyday.
Every one will listen to me.
I can make whatever I want for dinner.
I'll be Queen everyday.
Sometimes I pretend I'm Cora from Downton Abby when I'm talking to Koley.
That makes me feel like a queen.
I do it a lot.
The secret is to speak softly and use "very" a lot while gently turning your head.
Do you think it's better to be a queen or a princess?
I've always been Patty Patty Princess.
(There's a whole song.)
Queens do seem to be stereotyped as old.
I wonder what my stereotype is?
Not old.
I've been just awful at stereotyping people lately.
I can't break the habit.
I'm stereotyping them as characters from Thomas the Tank Engine.
So maybe that's type-casting?
If someone is really showing off their smarts...
Ugh... SHE'S an Emily.
If someone is obsessing about their looks...
Talk about being a JAMES!
If someone is worrying about nothing for no reason.
Tooo-tal Percy.
People are always making that joke to old people on their birthdays "Turning 29, right?  BAHAHAHA!"
Does that mean this is my last birthday?
From now on I just repeat 29 over and over?
What were you doing when you were 29?
What do you wish you were doing when you were 29?
This is a chance to live vicariously through me, here.
I've got some plans for this year.
Graduate from college.
Read a ton more books.
Jim Gaffigan wrote a book and I was laughing a-loud reading it at Barnes and Noble today.
Putting it on the Amazon Wish List.  Stat.
There's something to do this year!
Knock some items off the ol' wish list.
Treat cho-self.
I'm going to ride my bike more.
And take more pictures with me in them.
Not in a conceited way.
But I have, what, 2500 pictures of Kole and Joey?
Ken's in about a third of those.
And I'm in like 2.
With no makeup and an ugly pink flannel robe on.
I deserve a little better.
I'm 29!
Treat cho-self.
I am going to learn to do more with my hair too.
And finally crack open that fly rod I got for Christmas back in 2010.
I'm feeling good.
I feel settled.
I feel like me.