Please Excuse the Mess

I would like to take you back to 2 B.C (Before Children). I was 25 years old, been married 3 years, had just decided it was time to have kids,  and  had everything about what I would be like as a parent figured out.  Here are 3 things the 25 year old LibertyDee knew she would be like as a mom.

  1. I would never lose my patience – why would I? I was going to raise my kids with all the love in the world and give them all they needed and wanted. I was going to speak to them reasonably and explain things to them and they therefore be very well behaved.

 

  1. I would never give them junk food – why would I? These small beings deserved nothing but the best and as long as I only served healthy foods from day one they would never want anything but. I would come home every night and assure there was a freshly cooked meal on my families table.

 

  1. I would never choose tidying and cleaning over spending time with my kids – why would I? after all my kids are perfectly behaved so they will pick up after themselves and understand the importance of pitching in as a family and help with the chores and how much time really do they really want to play with me if they have their toys and books and siblings

 

Let’s fast forward now to the present 14 A.C (After Children). I am 40 years old, been married 18 years and know that I knew nothing about being a parent.  Here is how the 3 things that 25 year old LibertyDee knew she would be like as a mom have turned out.

 

  1. I would never lose my patience – How could I not? As it turns out no matter how much you love your children or how much you give them or how reasonably you think your speaking to them. They are by nature unreasonable, demanding, stubborn little beings that will try your patience on a regular basis just because they can. IT turns out that they are their own person, they think differently than you do and what you think will make them happy is the absolutely craziest thing you could have thought of. It starts off small like throwing toys all over their room and then refusing to pick them up. It then moves into the ability to lose one shoe right before you need to leave the house. _ yes one shoe. One! And if you think I’m making this up you likely don’t have kids. And as I’m learning now that I have a teenager in the house it escalates to dealing with mood swings when you suggest they get help on a subject afterschool and their eye roll up, around and back up again followed by stomping out of the room and locking themselves in their bedroom for hours at a time.

 

  1. I would never give them junk food –How could I not? Ok. So maybe there is no real “excuse” for offering your kids junk and yes home cooked meals are the way to go but… yes but. It turn out that even though I’m a mom I also want a life of my own, I want to do things that I enjoy, things that I love, things that have nothing to do with my family and kids (unthinkable right) Well, the consequence of doing things for myself is that they cut into “mom” time and many a dinner has been sacrificed to appease the “mom needs her own life” gods. This means Pizza, takeout Chinese, and dare I say it……McDonalds.

 

  1. I would never choose tidying and cleaning over spending time with my kids – How could I not? Ok. So this one I really truly thought would be easy because I don’t even like cleaning so given the option of playing with the kids or cleaning, it would be a no brainer right? Think again. There are two big reasons why this didn’t quite work out:

 

  • I Live Here – The mess to tidying up ratio is HUGE. We are now a family of 5 and if I was not constantly tidying and/or cleaning something up the house would quickly look like something out of Hoarders. This too has changes over the years, it starts with toys and the endless crumbs from endless snacks and evolves to cups and plates by the TV & their bed, shoes in strange places ( one on its side by the front door and the other at the bottom of the basement stairs) and piles and piles of laundry – And to be fair this includes that my kids are actually pretty good at doing their chores (after some reminding)

 

  • They want to play ALL the time and it’s NOT fun (all the time) – So remember how I said “how much time really do they really want to play with me if they have their toys and books and siblings” – the answer is ALL THE TIME. I frequently haven’t even taken my coat off before my daughter is already upset that I haven’t started playing with her. And yes there have been MANY beautiful moments and memories made while we play Shopkins, make forts, tag, and even video games together but there is one thing that is rarely fun (I’m using rarely instead of never simply because I can’t bring myself to believe that it’s never been fun but honestly I can’t remember the last time) BOARD GAMES. Aughghghghghgh. From Dora Candy Land to Connect Four to The Game of Life it always turns into an argument, whining and even crying and I get stuck in the middle , playing referee and being accused of picking ”favourites”  It   I rather be cleaning ( yuppp that’s how bad it is) but usually I suck it up because ”this time will be different” – ( Enter crazy laugh here)

 

I now know that anything I think I know is only temporary. Everything I have learned as a parent is only applicable to my kids and even then only applicable to the child that I learned it about because all though they were born to the same parents and live in the same house an went to the same schools they are nothing like one another. More importantly I have learned that 25 year old LibertyDee was a sweet, well intentioned young woman who knew nothing about being a parent and owes an apology to all those young moms she had the audacity to give “advice” to.

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Step Moms Aren’t Spies

I have been amazed by how much Baby Girl has learned in her year at Junior Kindergarten.  We find ourselves at the dinner table on a nightly basis having conversations about science, religion and current events with the boys but Baby Girl always has something to contribute.  I love her view on all things. She reminds me of how complicated I have made the world for myself and how simple it really is.

For example, she explained the skeletal system to me.

“Mom, Mom, MOM!”

“Yes baby girl? “

“The Skeletal system is all our bones put together.”

 “Yes it is sweetie.”

“Do you know why it’s important?”

“Tell me. Why is the skeletal system important?”

“Because if we didn’t have it, we would be all squishy on the floor.”

That’s it. That’s really all there is to it. Now, if you are in the medical profession you may need to know a little more than that, but for me, your run of the mill HR professional, that’s about all I need to know.

She also explained the Circulatory system.

“Mom, Mom, MOM!”

“Yes baby girl.”

 “Do you know what the circulatory system is?”

“I think so.”

“It’s all the veins in your body that carry blood everywhere and your heart pumps it boom..boom..boom.”

(I wish Baby Girl had been my grade 5 science teacher.)

The other night she also gave us a big talking to about how Pontius Pilot killed Jesus because he didn’t want Jesus to be King and she thinks Jesus shouldn’t have trusted him.

I love the fact that she is learning so much in school and that she is eager to share that information. Where I do have a concern is that if she’s absorbing and learning this much at school, she is obviously absorbing and learning at the same rate from the environment round her.

So far, the facts she has brought home from school are pretty accurate, she seems to have a good memory for the words the teachers use as I can hear their language when she tell us about the Dinosaurs,  the Solar system and a myriad of other topics.

Yesterday as Baby Girl and I were waiting for The Life to get a haircut she suddenly asks.

“Mom when you die will I get a new mom?”

“Sweetie, when I die I’ll still be your mom but if Daddy gets married again that lady would be your step mom.”

She looks pensive for a bit.

“So if you die, I would have a spy mom?”

“No honey not a spy mom, it’s called a step mom?”

“But in the movie Spy Kids, their step mom is a spy. Right?”

“Yes, but not all step moms are spies”

“Oh” she said looking very disappointed.

I have to remember that baby girl is only 5 and that her brain is absorbing all kinds of information around her both formally (in school and in books) and mostly informally (what she watches on TV, hears on the radio and listens to other say) She is not yet aware of the difference between the resources that are teaching her facts and those that are purely for entertainment purposes.  Based on her thinking, the idea that step moms are spies is equal to the fact that the earth revolves around the sun.

Although I have to be more aware of what she’s “learning” and assuring that I help her to sort out fact from fiction I can’t help but think, wouldn’t life in general be more fun and so much less complicated if we could keep the simplicity of a 5 year old? And wouldn’t  the world just be a much more interesting place if all step moms were indeed spies?  

We Yell, We Cry….. Part 1

Saturday was a really sucky parenting day. The kind of day that had me just sitting there, completely defeated, like a child whose mom has just told them they’re not going to the amusement park tomorrow after all.

The day started off ok. I got up just after 7:00am (which is sleeping in for me) and I got the kids out of the house on time for the skating lessons scheduled for 9:30am. That’s when it started. The bickering, the insistent bickering, the “he touched me”, the “he started it”, the “she always get her way”. All this noise is happening behind me while I’m driving and I was doing well. I had decided to stay out of it. I decided to let them work it out. I took deep breaths and just kept driving.

After skating we had only half an hour to be home before we were off to guitar lessons.  I gave the kids some clear instructions (at least I thought they were clear)  “When we get home, don’ t bother taking off your shoes, you can have free time to watch TV, play video games, or go outside if you want.  Please make sure the guitar is downstairs by the door so that we can leave in exactly half an hour. I need to do our meal plan for the week and the grocery list.”

We got inside and I went straight to the computer, created the meal plan, made the grocery list and download my coupons.  BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! (I use the stove timer to keep me on track and the beeping meant the half hour had passed and we had 15 minutes to get to guitar lessons) I closed the laptop and bellowed “Time to go!”  The Life was the only one ready to go, Baby Girl had taken off her shoes and had set herself up to colour, she was terribly upset that it was time to go and couldn’t finish her picture. The whinnying started and then the crying. I was able to talk her down, get her shoes on and to the door in record time.  The Plan was outside playing basketball, the guitar was nowhere to be found.” Where’s the guitar?” I asked (I don’t know why I ask these stupid questions, I knew there was only one place the guitar could be. It was upstairs in his room.)” Hum..? The guitar…? What…?”  This has become his go to response when he’s trying to buy time to think of some B.S to feed me. I.e. Hum..? homework …? What… ?, Hum..? Shower…? what..? This time I put my whispering technique into action. I keep trying to yell less and I have found that whispering sometimes has the same effect.

I dropped The Plan off at guitar lessons 8 minutes late and headed to the grocery store right next door with baby Girl and The Life.  I was happy to have scored a “Parents With Children” parking spot ( it’s all about the small wins) but before I really got to bask in my parking spot win I found myself in an argument with Baby Girl in regards to why she shouldn’t bring in her pink princess cup to the grocery store. Where the cup came from? I don’t know. But there it was, and she wanted to bring it into the store.  All of you moms know that a five year old bringing something into the grocery store can only have one of 2 outcomes:

  1. The cup will be lost and there will be crying
  2. The child will grow tired of holding the cup and you will end up carrying it or worse you will put it in your purse where it will remain until the end of time

This time I put my natural consequences tactic into effect. The concept is you let them do what they want, and then allow them to suffer the consequences and so I explained there was a good chance the cup would be lost and that I would not be carrying the cup if she grew tired of it. She chose to bring the cup anyway.

We got to the grocery store and not ten minutes had gone by and already the following had happened:

  1. Baby Girl and The Life had a heated argument over who would put the cucumbers in the cart
  2. Baby Girl and The Life had a heated argument over who would put the pears in the bag
  3. Bay Girl and the Life had a heated argument over whose fault it was that there were 7 pears on the floor
  4. Baby girl knocked over an apple display which sent me chasing apples in the aisle
  5. An old lady paid the price for my natural consequences technique when I gave in a let Baby Girl push the cart.

I kept it together though, I really did. Yes there was some speaking through clenched teeth, but overall I really did remain composed.

The Plan joined us after his guitar lessons “Do I have to stay here? How much more do you have to buy? Can I wait in the car? “This is where I started to lose it. Not so much outwardly but I did feel something snap inside me.

We were able to finish the shopping and make it back to the car without much further incident, until of course all the bags were in the car and baby girl asks “Where is my cup?” AUGHHGHGHGHG. The cup was gone. She blamed The Life because she remembered him having it by the pears, but after sending the boys back inside to look around, the cup was nowhere to be found. The crying started, not the regular I’m sad, I scraped my knee crying but the “I’m mad and I want the world to hear it” crying with the intermittent whining and the boogers and the name calling targeted at her brothers.

This time I snapped. I had everyone in the car; I finished putting on my seat belt and snapped. At the top of my lungs I told her how I had warned her this would happen, how she should trust me, how she shouldn’t blame others and I went on and on and on and on.

To be continued………….

Turns Out I’m the Problem

It has been 7 days since I last raised my voice (in anger) to any of my kids. It turns out that they are perfect little angels and that I am the one with the problem. Who would have thought? All this time I’ve been placing the blame on them. THEY are driving me crazy. THEY are too loud. THEY are too demanding. THEY never do what they are told. THEY complain about everything.

Turns out that THEY are not the problem at all. THEY are kids. Perfect, fragile, kids. I, LibertyDee, I am the problem.

It’s only been seven days but what I have learned in that short time about the kids and more importantly about myself is tremendous. Let me break it down:

What I have learned about my kids:

  1. They will get in the car if I get in and turn it on.
  2. Just because they roll their eyes doesn’t mean they are not going to help anyway.
  3. They will yell less at each other if I am not yelling at them.
  4. They are willing to listen and are even more attentive when I explain something in a normal tone.
  5. They really, truly appreciate that I’m trying not to yell. My boys actually thanked me!

What I have learned about myself

  1. I’m a control freak. I didn’t know this about myself but when I have caught myself getting angry with the kids it has been because I’m not getting what I want, when I want it, how I want it.
  2. I’m more likely to snap when I’m tired. I find the most challenging times have been right after dinner when all I really want is some peace and quiet but there’s none in sight.
  3.  I am capable of dealing with issues without raising my voice.
  4.  Being respected and being feared are two very different things. By yelling I am teaching the kids to fear me.
  5. Yelling had become habit. I was yelling without even thinking about it. Now that I am aware of it, it seems unreasonable to raise my voice in the daily scenarios I find myself in with the kids.

As you can see from the list above, They did not need to change, it was not them that was the problem, it was I who needed to make a change and it was I who was the problem.

I know that this does not mean that I have been miraculously cured from yelling and that this doesn’t mean that I will never raise my voice ever again. But if I can do it for seven days why not do it for seven more?

Nothing-you-do-for

Down the Toilet

“MOM! We have a problem”
I ran upstairs to find my son pointing at the toilet. “Oh dear Lord, please please please let that toilet bowl be empty” I thought to myself. I slowly crept closer to the toilet and looked inside. There, submerged in the water was a red Hot Wheels car. “Sowy mama” my three year old was confessing.
“I gotta go, I gotta go..” my son was starting to dance.
We are down to just the one toilet at our house bescause the powder room is being renovated so I needed to get the car out NOW. I had the bright idea that I could scoop the car out with the toilet brush, you’re probably shaking your head because you know exactly what happed next. I pushed the car farther down the toilet.

“I gotta go…I gotta go now” the dance was becoming a little more elaborate with some hopping from foot to foot.

“Go get my rubber gloves” I barked at my other son.

” I gotta go mom, I gotta go now mom, you don’t understand . I GOTTA GO!

“I can’t find the gloves!” Comes a voice from downstairs. “I gotta go!” Says my dancing son. “You’re going to have to go in there you know” said the voice in my head.

I took a deep breath, bent over and reached in. Way in. I felt the car, pulled it out quickly and threw it into the sink.

“Get out..get out..” my son was saying. But I had to wash my hands. And wash them again and again and again and again and again and again………

You know who I blame this gross experience on? My husband. If the powder room was finished I could have just waited for him to scoop it out.