Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Price of Freedom

The kids are back in school - both of them - YAY!!!! I have my life back!

I just had to yell that out. Yippee! Not much else to say. I realize that this freedom comes at a cost - that is, homework whining, not wanting to get up, making lunches, nagging - but hey, it's a small price to pay for my daily dose of freedom. And isn't it ironic that I'll miss them so badly when they're gone? What's up with that?!

Well, things are OK today. I guess that's why this is a short entry.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Peeking At The Empty Nest

We've seen the future and it's going to be OK. Yesterday, my husband and I had to spend all day (from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm) out of the house while our floors were being refinished. We hadn't made many plans but had a few ideas. At first glance, it looked like a long, boring day. It turned out really nice. We ate, we shopped, we talked, we read, sometimes we bickered but all in all, we rediscovered what it was like before we had kids...but better. (We have a little more money now.)

Sometimes I worry about what our life will be like after our daughter leaves for college. So much of our life is wrapped up in our kids that it's hard to imagine or plan for life when they're not around. I see other parents whose lives are even more wrapped up in their kids. For instance, the mom whose children are so overscheduled and who are involved in so many sports that she never talks to me, she mainly just whines at me. I wonder what they'll do when their kids aren't around. (My guess is that they'll travel to their kids' colleges and watch them play collegiate sports.) Since our kids don't play sports at high levels, this isn't a likely scenario for us. Sure, we'll go and visit them, but I'm sure we'll mostly leave them alone and let them experience the joy of life without us.

So this leaves the two us. Back where we started, but only better. We won't worry about how many or what kinds of kids we'll have. We won't stress out over climbing corporate ladders and trying to prove our worth or moving forward on our career paths. We won't dream about the nice home that we'll live in once we've worked hard to earn it - we'll be living in it. Our dreams will be about travel and new experiences now that we're older and wiser. Sure there will be new challenges like health and aging but we'll meet these challenges from a new perspective, knowing that we've weathered a few storms along the way.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Fish Tales

I am the salmon swimming upstream. Surrounding me and working against my will are the waters that carry my children - spaciness, messiness, carelessness, disrespect. The waters are crowded with negative traits. Occasionally there is kindness and love and humor, but those are the size of minnows. The waters seem to be winning. My kids and my husband tell me that I'm wasting my time, my breath and my efforts. I know that at the end of my swim is, at the very least, sheer exhaustion. And yet I swim on in hopes that someday, the package of bagels will actually end up back in the freezer or that a request to clean a room won't be met with a sneer. I swim on because I worry. I worry that the misplaced bagel might someday be a misplaced checkbook or that the anti-cleaning sneer might someday be an entry-level job task not well-accepted. I realize they can't see this - the waters are transparent yet I've been through them before and I know the shallow and painful areas that contain hidden rocks and dangers. My instinct is to protect my children from this, all the while knowing that they'll need to navigate their own way. Yet I'm not the only insane salmon. There are many of us, a school of mothers, you might say. And we're all trying different and sometimes creative ways to get through the waters. We're crazy optimists, we mother salmon. We rarely know when to quit. Perhaps our children will somehow inherit perseverance, if nothing else.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Melancholy Baby

Last night we went to dinner together - the four of us - and had a blast. Really. We laughed and poked fun at each other, but nobody was crying or whining. It was just really fun. I loved it and it made me a little sad. Next year our son leaves for college and we won't have so many of those dinners. Little by little he's slipping away. I know this is good and it's what I hope and pray for, but still, I hope it goes slowly. Next year at this time I'll be sitting here hoping to hear from him. Thank heavens for e-mail. Since today's college students all have high-speed internet access, I can leave lots of e-mail messages for him and he can chose to respond - I think he will - he seems to be a good writer, but not a good phone person. He gets that from me. I'm much more of a passive communicator. I feel much more comfortable writing than speaking which is why I hate cocktail parties.

Anyway, I'm feeling sort of melancholy. Tonight we go to his high school and they'll freak us out about how we're already way behind in the college application process. I must try and not take the bait. I know we'll get it done and he'll find a college and hopefully he'll like it. If he doesn't, he can do what I did - transfer. It's not the end of the world. We'll all get through this, somehow.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Losing It

Someone please explain to me what it is inside kids' minds that makes them think that it's OK to blame their mother for losing their belongings? Today, I'm at the doctor's office with my daughter and my cell phone rings. It's my son, practically screaming in the phone: "MOM! I CAN'T FIND MY CAR KEYS! I'VE LOOKED EVERYWHERE! GREAT! NOW I'M GOING TO MISS CROSS-COUNTRY PRACTICE." What you can't hear is the implication in his voice that I lost his keys. I wasn't the last one in his car - he was. I have no idea where he put them, but suddenly it's my problem and I have to stand in the office and try to silently scream back at him: "There's nothing I can do right now. I have no idea where they are." And then get hung up on. These are the days when motherhood sucks. When nobody likes me. When my daughter thinks I'm ruining her life because I won't let her read a book that includes the line of dialogue: "Can sperm survive in a swimming pool?" This is the same daughter that last week screamed: "MOM, WHERE'S MY ASHLEE SIMPSON CD?" Could it be that they wouldn't lose things if they ever picked up after themselves? No, that's MY job because I'm home all day and I don't really have anything else to do. And because it's my job, well then, I must be the person losing everything.

Yeah, that's me - professional life-wrecker and key loser. F*#k it. I give my two-week notice. They can find someone else. Somebody else who will know which one doesn't eat vegetables and which one hates Rice Krispy Treats because it gives her a tummyache. Maybe the new mom who won't be so "controlling" and "crabby" will figure out which pop stars they love and find tickets to their concert and sit through the incessant screaming so their child can have a great memory. Or perhaps Mom #2 will camp out overnight outside Best Buy to get one of only 100 new video gaming systems for their birthday.

See, this is what bugs me - they NEVER remember the times I went above-and-beyond the call of duty. EVER. Well, I do and boy will I remind them of it when they have children that are unbearable, because they will. In fact, maybe I'll even coach their children to be unbearable. Wouldn't that be sweet revenge? Ahh, just the thought of it makes me smile.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the signs?!

So I snapped yesterday. I couldn't help it. Because of the fact that we're remodeling the kitchen, I've been in rooms that I usually don't visit, such as the basement, the kids' rooms, the kids' bathroom. Consequently, I have more opportunities to see the sweet little messes they leave...everywhere. Add to this the fact that the house is just a mess - dust and crap everywhere. And so several times yesterday I wanted to yell at them. I was really, really pissed off, but of course they were gone - this is probably a good thing. So what did I do instead? I created a sign that reads (in 28 point type, no less) Pick up after yourself! Put things away! Put away your clothes! Turn off the lights! If it needs doing, THEN DO IT!! Even if it's not yours!!! Don't be selfish - do your part. Look for ways to help! I made 10 copies of this on bright yellow paper and posted it in the kids' rooms, bathroom and basement to the computer. Yeah, it's pretty anal and whiny and goody-two-shoes, but I wasn't sure what else to do short of throwing their crap out on our front lawn.

Did it work? Well, put it this way - absolutely nobody mentioned it. Not the kids or my husband. (It was really meant for the kids, but if it sparked any ideas in my hubby, hey - bonus!) On the other hand, my daughter specifically told me that she picked up something after my son and his girlfriend and I praised her lavishly.

I feel like I'm at my wit's end. I really don't think I'm being unreasonable and this seemed to me to be a creative attempt at some results. Sadly, it's done nothing. My son still leaves absolutely everything that he touches where he used it, whether it's guitar picks, cream cheese, CDs. My daughter, who I know has the potential to be a relatively neat person, simply chooses not to and goes by the idea of out of sight, out of mind.

I'd give up, but it really matters to me because for some strange reason, God programmed me in such a way that I get really crabby when the house is messy. I understand this and I accept it and so I know that often, I will be the only one that cares about putting things away. OK, maybe I don't accept it because here I am whining about it. I guess the problem is that I take it personally. I feel like if the kids cared at all about me (and I think I have really thoughtful kids, in general), then they'd at least try.

But alas, it's an age-old problem. What I can't tell the kids is that I was also a slob as a child, at least I remember being that way. Now I just have lots of pride and get embarassed when the house is a mess. So maybe there's hope for them too.

Perhaps they'll see a sign that will inspire them....

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Letting go....

Oh, ugh. Tonight I experienced total pre-teenhood circa 2004. I stood in American Eagle for 30 minutes. Long enough to know that I hate it. Long enough to get a raging headache from the overblown bass beat coming from the pseudo rap tunes blasting throughout the store. (Not to sound racist, but these are white surburban kids in this store. They know NOTHING about 'chillin' in da 'hood' unless it includes renting movies at Blockbuster.) Long enough to see how overpriced their crappy clothes are and long enough to see how spellbound this store has made my daughter. I wanted to grab her and scream: "BE YOURSELF! YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A SHEEP!" But it's pointless and not really fair. She deserves to be like the other girls and wear those stupid t-shirts. I did the same thing. But dammit - I want to save her from my past stupidity. I want her to know that quite often the cute, popular and mean girls get what they deserve and so will she if she just studies a fair amount and remains a nice person. I want her to know that clothes do not make the man or the woman and that she'd be better off spending that 30 minutes at the library or the museum instead of American Eagle. But it's a losing battle and probably one that I shouldn't win. It's the hardest damn part of being a parent - sitting back and letting your kids make mistakes and making sure they endure or survive the consequences.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Daddy's Little Girl

My kids have always flocked to me more than my husband. When they were babies, he just wanted to hold them while they slept. They just wanted to wriggle free and then glom onto me. I've noticed that happening less and less as I'm around more and more. My daughter, especially, was never a "daddy's little girl." She and my husband could never really see eye to eye. Last night, I think they finally found common ground. She wanted to see a movie - one that I was too chicken to see. I was perfectly happy sitting at home alone reading my book. So I suggested that she and my husband go to the movie - they both wanted to see it - I didn't. They loved it - I loved it. Perhaps they can now bridge that gap that's been between them. No, he'll never want to sit through The Princess Diaries II, but perhaps they can begin to establish that ever-important father-daughter relationship in their own unique way. This is a good thing.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A Maternal Stuckeys

"Stop talking to me! If you think you're earning points, you're not. You're just annoying me."

How's that for a great way to start your day? Gee whiz - what did I do to deserve that from my child? I guess by trying to be pleasant and asking questions about a camp she is in - a camp she seems to enjoy. Apparently she enjoys the camp, but not the person that paid for it. Oh well. I know that motherhood isn't a popularity contest, but don't I get any "points" for being Mrs. Congeniality? I try and I ignore. It's definitely a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Sometimes I can break through and have a nice conversation, but lately that's few and far between. I'm sad. The child that used to lovingly call me "mama" and hug me a lot, now finds me to be a necessary evil. She doesn't really want to do away with me entirely - she wants what I can give her. But she doesn't like me. That's a bitter pill to swallow. I always thought I was quite likeable - apparently I was wrong. I'm merely a service station along the highway of her life. Sometimes I'm pleasant to visit - in fact, it may even be a relief to see me some times - but generally, it's "fill 'er up" and drive away. That pretty much sucks.