Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"I liken my marriage to a once-great civilization that was sacked when a horde of Viking dwarves came ashore and had their way with us"
-- from Blindsided by a Diaper

Stimulating Young Minds

Since I’m a sentient mom I feel guilty for not constantly stimulating El Guille’s learning. He’s a smart kid, though, I’m sure he’ll learn to read eventually even if I’m not practicing letters and sounding out words. I think that’s why I married one of the smartest men on earth, so that I could just count on genes to make up for the gap of not constantly working with my preschooler on his learning. It would be a violation of genetic law for El Guille to turn out stupid.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Week in Review

I just noticed a good mommy being too hard on herself, so I decided it was time to get real about the kind of mommy I was this past week:

Signs I have been a bad Mommy this week:

I just noticed a plate from Sunday dinner at the bottom of the stack of dishes I'm finally getting a chance to finish up.

There are also, on my table, paper bags and disposable cups from both Wendy's and McDonald's. Not only that: After I picked up McDonald's for the two little ones last night Melody and I got take-out salads and hazelnut 12-grain bread from Kneaders and ate them ourselves.

I did not have a night home the entire past week. Until last night. When I finally picked up my kids at nine and took them over to Melody's to eat on her front lawn. We got home home at quarter to ten.

My children have no clean clothes. (Except for the boys, who do their own laundry. The fact that they do their own laundry should go under the good mommy category.)

There have been times this week when I didn't know where my children were. I had a good idea what friends they were with and of course they were fine, but I honestly didn't know.

Signs I have been a good Mommy this week:

When my daughter got mad at me (because I am trying to teach her she cannot take other people's things--her brother's longboard--without asking) and ran away to the stripper's ex-family again I followed her and brought her home. Even though that was the hard thing to do and I often think she'd be better off with someone else anyway (just not that someone else).

When my daughter screamed at me that she hadn't left her flip-flops at a friend's house because she hasn't done that for 4 billion years and then not five minutes later asked me to drive her to her friend's house so she could get her flip-flops I did not slap her. In fact I didn't even want to slap her. Without yelling myself I calmly told her she owed me a HUGE apology and said that whether or not she chose to give it she still knew she was out of line and being completely unfair. And I actually meant it when I told her I loved her as she got out of the car when I dropped her off at school after she had made us both late.

I managed to attend two more concerts on the the third week in the first half of May in which my presence was required at Provo High on consecutive nights. And I enjoyed them without thinking too much about Sunday's dishes still on the table. I also managed to make it to as many softball games each week and cheer on a daughter who loathes me. (Not to mention sit through some patheticly sorry softball).

I paid $25 of my own money to protect my son from buying a car that although it appeared to be a sweet deal would really have been more of a liability than an asset. I am still trying to believe him when he told me he wasn't disappointed.

It's 9:30 Saturday morning and although I have been invited to a Pampered Chef party I'd like to attend (and after which I really wanted to go visit b.) I am going to stay home and try to put some of the pieces of my crazy busy life back together. Not so much for me, but for my kids who deserve a little sanity as they enter the last week of school and get ready for "summer vacation." (Even though a good part of the insanity around here is a direct result of my trying to be everywhere and everything for them.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

she made us all disappear

A few weeks ago, I had to take my oldest, 8 years old, to the ER. Turns out she had an ear infection. While not contagious, I kept her home from school the next day, as we had been out until 2:am (what with the waiting room, and the...well, I saw a dead body, and also having to go to the Rite Aid for the Bubble Gum Medicine).

On that Friday, however, I had to attend Kindergarten Orientation for the 5 & 1/2 year old, who I was supposed to bring with me so that she could play in the classroom. The 3-year-old and the 6-month-old would have to just manage in the double stroller, not that I was looking forward to that, but it had to be done. I had asked my husband to come home, but he has a standing engagement at the school that on Fridays, during his lunch hour, he plays lunch-lady and volunteers at the school.

But what to do with the oldest? I couldn't ask a friend to watch her ("Hi, my daughter isn't sick, but she's not well enough to be at school; can she come to your house?"), and I couldn't bring her to the school with me, since I had called her in as being sick.

*Big breath. Gulp.*

"Sweetie, how would you feel about staying home by yourself?"

"Hmmm? Okay, Mom."

"Here's a paper with our neighbor's phone number and her cell number. She knows you'll be here, and she's ready to help you with whatever you may need."


"And don't answer the door. And don't answer the phone unless it's my cell number, got it?"


"But you won't need to call the neighbor because if you call my cell phone I promise to pick up right away."

"Okay, Mom."

"But don't answer any other calls, just from me. Or from the neighbor. And if it's an emergency, call her because she'll be closer."

"Okay, Mom."

Backing out of the garage, my 5 & 1/2 year old asked where her big sister was. "She's staying home."

"By herself?!"


I rationalized that at her age, I had to do things like cook dinner for my two younger siblings and then put them to bed because my mom was at work and my dad was too drunk to feed us, so certainly my own daughter's being able to reach me by cell phone and our neighbor as well wasn't too terrible a position for me to put her in.

Sitting at the school, listening to information I already knew, my phone in my pocket started to vibrate. I quickly excused myself to the back of the room, all the while fearing the worst and at-the-ready to speed home if needed. I loudly whispered, "Hello?"

"Mom, it's me."

"Is everything okay?"

My panic started to melt away:

"Mom, I'm bored! There's nothing good on t.v. - just baby shows..."

Is this what A Good Mommy does?
What would you have done?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mommy in a Panic

I had no idea when I was reading this post that I'd be in a similar place just weeks later.

Yup, that's my kid, the one I'm supposed to protect at all costs, wrapped in a sheet to prevent him from moving as they sew 16 stitches into his foot. Of course it wasn't my fault that he pushed the chair up to the counter to reach for something on the top of the microwave. It wasn't my fault that he knocked over a dinner plate and broke it. When he heard Joe coming to investigate, the kid jumped to the floor to escape the scene of the crime. That's when he lacerated his foot; sliced it right open.

I'm calm under pressure, that makes me a good mommy. I shut down, assess the situation, form a plan, and put it into action. When Joe reached for one of my new dishtowels to wrap the wound, I balked. "NO," I said loudly, "Let me get a rag." I didn't want my towel to end up in a medical waste basket. I hope that doesn't make me a bad mommy.

Good mommy stayed right next to her kid as the doctor and nurse wrapped him in restraints. The poor kid cried until his lips and nose swelled. Good mommy put her face three inches from her child and talked to him--eye to eye. She was the only one who got him to focus on something other than his foot and the restraints. Daddy can't do it like mommy can.

Here's what I think: we're all that kind of mommy. If you are a mom than you're a mom that can reacts calmly to the situation, more calmly than you knew you were capable of. You will make decisions and a plan in the middle of chaos. It's not even about being good or bad, it's just about being a mommy.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people try to justify my choice to stay at home.
"It's the hardest job in the world!"
Actually, I found that teaching English to apathetic sophomores was much harder. It would be harder, I think, to be a fireman on an oil field. Or to be a janitor at Union Station. Or to be the President. It would be much more difficult to be a work-outside-the-home mommy who supported her kids by slinging burgers. Or to be a stay-in-the-shelter mommy. Point being, it is not the hardest job in the world.

I have found that people say this as some sort of PC instinct to be supportive, while not actually having to do anything else.

Attention to these people: Please stop.

It was my choice, and it can be difficult at times, but you don't need to tell me that. (Especially Oprah. Don't try to get rid of your non-parent guilt by telling the audience that it is just too hard a job for you. )

If you want to be helpful, how about trying to help? For example:

The other day I received a notice that a package was ready for me to pick up at the post office. Normally, I would put this off, because I would rather teach Sophomore English than go to the post office with Jooj, but it was her birthday, and I was hoping that someone had sent her some cash. (For me.)

So I loaded up, drove, unloaded, and realized that I had left the stroller at home. Frick.
Holding her hand, I carted Jooj into the post office, and stood in the package retrieval line (which is always at least fifteen minutes long.)
The people behind me watched me wrestle with her, restrain her, run after her, discipline her, and finally retrieve a large package along with her.
Frickety Frack.
As I turned to go, the gentleman waiting behind me said "It's the hardest job in the world."

As I turned onto my street ten minutes later, I noticed that the mailman was delivering the mail, and so pulled over. (I have a pretty cordial relationship with our mail carrier, being that, according to him, I get more catalogs than anyone in El Paso. So he knows me and my mail.) He handed me another package for the Jooj, and I mentioned to him that I had just been to the post office to get a package and he said "What? I am so sorry! I was off on Monday and had a substitute. The bare minimum we are required to do is leave you a note. I know that you have a toddler--I would have just brought it to you door and left it there. It can't be easy to go to the post office with her!"

It's-the-hardest-job-in-the-worlders: Do you see the difference? Do you see how one is not helpful, and kind of insulting, while the other scenario was thoughtful and proved to me that motherhood was valued by this gentleman? Don't feel comfortable being that "involved?" That's okay, too. Here are some other ways that you can put your money where your foot was:

Smiling at a kid while his mom writes a check at the grocery store.
Keeping your grumbling to yourself when a mother of three boys is unable to make them sit perfectly still at the Chick Fil A.
Emailing your representatives in support of issues that will help mothers to better take care of their children
Holding open a door for a woman with a stroller
Turning down your car stereo when the song has profanity and your windows are down

These are just suggestions. You don't have to do anything at all. Just please stop trying to make me feel better about my choices to be a mom and be at home; I have already made peace with them.