Kids need kudos, too.

Sunday morning I let Dading sleep in and took the kids to church. And by church I mean Starbucks. They were actually behaving themselves. I realize I should have captured it on video as proof that a miracle happened. There was an older couple sitting at the table next to us and when they got up to leave they came over to say hi to the kids. He asked Biggie if he was the big brother. I responded “he isn’t just a big brother, he is the BEST big brother.” The look on his little face, how he beamed with pride across the table. It made me realize that in those little moments when you have the chance to make them feel special and important, do it. Adults need their egos stroked, and so do our little spawn. It reminded me to take the time to support him and compliment him. I went home and told Dading how his face lit up, and he told me I was a rockstar mom for doing that, because he probably wouldn’t have thought to say something like that as a response. And so the circle of inflated egos was completed. I will remember this, and try to find little ways more often to cause Biggie to flash that million dollar smile 🙂

Being real with your kids.

I recently had a discussion in therapy about whether it was ok to let your kids see you cry. Especially when my anxiety was not monitored, Biggie used to see me cry all the time because the waterworks were real and frequent. Now that he is older, he understands emotions better and will hug me, and snuggle with me, and tell me he will make me feel better. We think it’s important for the boys to see that we aren’t some emotionless dictators that run their life. (Dictators for sure, but not emotionless ones).

I want the boys to be able to tell us and show us how they feel, and not to be uncomfortable doing so. So we try to set a good example. I want to be relatable and approachable to them. My therapist agreed, and said they would be more emotionally healthy than if we didn’t talk to them.

There is no talking to Smalls about anything, he is a little baby grinch monster who makes us all insane. I’m thinking of letting him audition for the next Omen movie, as he has the maniacal laughter and evil stares on lock already. But we do talk to Biggie as much as you can without imploding a 5 year old brain. We use the new house as a way to talk about money- how Daddy works overtime so we can buy things for the new house. How we cancelled swimming for him because we felt he was ready, and now that he is doing soccer we needed to downsize our activities. We explain the bigger emotions- like feeling embarrassed when you act like a little shit at school, and being disappointed in yourself for not having good listening and doing your best. I hope by doing this he is learning that he is responsible for how he acts and talks, and that maybe he feels like a contributing member of the family.

Biggie is definitely transitioning from toddler to little boy. His emotions are bigger, his attitude is bigger (FML). But with this comes his eagerness to help out. Yesterday he helped me take out the trash and recycle, dry dishes and clean up after dinner. We give him responsibility, and then show him how proud we are of him when he rises to the challenge.

We let him see us make mistakes. We apologize when we lose our temper. He sees us forget things. He sees us not get it right sometimes. I hope all these things give him the grace to make his own mistakes, and maybe not be as hard on himself as I am on me. Hopefully this method of parenting fucks him up just a little bit less in the end 🙂

Things I learned on Christmas vacation.

We just got home from a two-week vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. We spent Christmas and New Year’s out of town. Nothing gets you to re-evaluate your life more than coming home from vacation and getting back to the real world. Here’s a few of the tidbits of knowledge I acquired while we were away:

1. Taking kids on vacation is a FUCKING nightmare. They are out of their routine and sleeping in a strange place. Nap time and bedtime get thrown off track. They are over stimulated after long days hiking and playing in the snow. And even though you plan amazing adventures every day, they still get fucking bored and drive you batshit crazy. I swear to god I have never yelled more in my fucking life. Their lives have never been in more danger than they were for these past two weeks.

2. Something ALWAYS goes wrong. Two weeks of fresh mountain air and NO sickness and we were living the high life, forgetting that parents don’t ever get that lucky. Idiots. Biggie’s breakfast didn’t agree with him on the 12 HOUR car ride home, and he spent the first few hours throwing up. By the third time I didn’t even bother putting pants back on him so I wouldn’t have to do a highway-side wardrobe change again.

3. Getting out of town is critical for mental health. Guess who didn’t have a single anxiety attack for these past two weeks? Yep- this mama. No work and no stress about living conditions made for a healthy mental health cleanse. My biggest stress was trying to survive the assload of stairs this Airbnb had- I better have J Lo calves now or WTF. A bazillion stairs plus adjusting to high altitude (we live in South Florida the only altitude we get is speed bumps) literally had me huffing and puffing like an asthmatic with COPD. This and trying not to abandon my children on a hiking trail was all I had to worry about. It was so needed and so worth it. Please remind me of this when I go back to work on Monday and question my entire existence again.

4. Experiences and memories don’t have to be made at Disney. Our kids were totally pumped when we reached the waterfall at the end of our multiple hikes. They were blown away by the nearly hand-tame deer that lived on the property, and how close they could get to them while feeding them. Hearing Smalls say “where deer?” And “waterfall” was awesome. Biggie got to go ATV’ing up the side of a mountain through the mud with Daddy, and got to go fishing in a trout pond. They got to breath two weeks of clean, fresh air. They got to see friends and family they don’t get to see very often because they live so far away. Dading and I aren’t big on theme park experiences, so these are the kinds of things we want our kids to do and remember.

5. Not being in town for the holidays makes them so stress free. The expectation that you have to see everyone you know and buy gifts for every person you’ve ever come into contact with gets tossed right out the window when you aren’t actually going to see anyone or spend the holidays with them. It really lets you focus on what’s important, and hopefully we passed some of that down to the boys. Instead of spending a fortune on Christmas cards, we sent a text to all our tribe with a picture of us on vacation. Honestly, I loved that more than the cards I print from Walgreens or Shutterfly every year. You realize who and what’s important when you take a step back and look at it from a distance (in this case 2000 miles and 5000 feet above sea level).

6. Traditions are made in the quiet places. We decided we are going to try and do this every other year. And we decided we would get refrigerator magnets from all the cool places we go, so our new house can tell the story of our adventures every time anyone goes in the kitchen. 2019 was the year our little family really started creating our own traditions.

So here I am, sitting at the kitchen in the house that isn’t mine, preparing to go back to work on Monday, blogging. You don’t have to drive 3 states away and risk certain death by a thousand stairs like we did for it to count. If you need to get away, do it. No matter what that means or where that takes you. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff online about how you don’t owe anyone anything for the holidays, and that you are allowed to do what makes you happy. The holidays are hard on everyone, some more than most. You do you. #NewYearNewMe.

Here’s to all our adventures for 2020.

Milestones, how I loathe thee.

I have been feeling lately that there are like a thousand things the kids still don’t know how to do that they should. Biggie is 5 and can’t ride a bike without training wheels yet. We haven’t taught him how to tie his shoes. Smalls is 2 and isn’t potty trained yet and we should have handled that shit already. Biggie hasn’t started any sports yet because swimming is endless and expensive. I don’t read to them like I want to. Biggie and I haven’t worked on his reading in weeks.

Why do I always feel behind with them? There are not enough hours in the day to teach them everything that they need to know. We both work full time outside our house, and we are always running around. After working all day who has the patience to teach a 5 year old how to tie his shoes? If you disagree you’re a liar because that level of patience does not exist.

But the last week we have stepped up our game with Smalls and going on the potty and he is having more dry pull ups than wet ones. This progress in him has really helped me see that maybe we aren’t as behind as I thought. I feel like we should be doing all the things, but physically and emotionally and the laws of space and time don’t allow for that.

Does this make me a good mom, trying to give my kids every skill they need? Or does this make me a crazy person who is worrying too much? I think the answer is both. I’m a female, and we are all crazy. Accept and embrace this because I speak in truths. But this goes back to my earlier post about being a good mom, and how you never feel you are getting it right. I guess there is always room for improvement- in life and in parenting. But then the beasties hit a milestone when they are ready and remind you that maybe things are gonna work out.

But those training wheels gotta go- please send positive vibes cuz Biggie is NOT about that change at all. Sometimes, you do have to push them 🙂

Attitude of gratitude: epilogue.

Thanksgiving was a bit of a shit show. Toddlers have a sixth sense for holidays and choose those days to wake up on the wrong side of humanity. Smalls was in a mood all day. Trying to entertain your kids all day is like walking on a pile of legos that have been set on fire. It is painful and there is no end in sight. Seriously, I don’t know how preschool teachers do it. Ya’ll are saints and the world doesn’t deserve you.

So then the cousins show up and Biggie is all jacked up the companionship of people his own age that he doesn’t get to see often. Which translates into screaming and jumping on my goddamn couch HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU?

Next year we are making chicken nuggets and mac n cheese for these monsters. Why do we, as parents, think these little shits are going to eat anything that isn’t dessert on Thanksgiving? Denial- that’s what that is. I put exactly 2 bites of green bean casserole on Biggie’s plate. Which was the equivalent of extreme torture in his mind. He started to cry, I started to lose my shit (again). If you didn’t spend Thanksgiving yelling at your kids an ungodly amount are you even a parent?

I have also not been myself lately. Moody and impatient. So basically I felt like a psycho-momster in front of family. The kids could not go to bed quickly enough.

I am thankful I still had 2 kids at the end of the day (they should be too it was a close one there), I am thankful for all the delicious food that helped ease the pain, and I am thankful that Thanksgiving is over so I can recover- until Christmas.

Even psychos (toddlers) can be taught empathy.

Toddlers are psychopaths. They have half your DNA and none of your humanity. That’s why being a parent is so fucking exhausting- you have to teach those little fuckers how to be a human being. I saw something on the internet once that went something like “kids are great, and maybe even the best, but they are learning to be human beings through trial and error.” Which basically sums it up.

Biggie is 5, so that’s 5 years of us teaching him manners, and feelings, and putting in the fucking work. And now I am happy to say we have an extremely well mannered and sweet little man who is only a dick to his little brother like 3 times a day on average. Speaking of the little one- he yells at you to stop it, and thinks slapping the shit out of you is playing. Also he tantrums whenever you tell him something he doesn’t want to hear- so let’s just call him a work in progress.

We’ve always drilled into them manners, and the meaning of family, and being nice. Within the last year or so we began teaching Biggie about not judging someone based on how they look. (The Greatest Showman gets like half the street cred for this). He knows we treat people based on who they are on the inside. It can be hard to give them diversity in life sometimes, but we try to give them experiences and interactions that show them all the color that the world can offer.

This year though, for me, it’s also about teaching them about protecting the environment and giving back. Dading and I had a charity softball tournament yesterday, and we did the Walk to End Alzheimer’s today. The kids did the walk with us, and I explained to Biggie in 5 year old terms what the walk represented. I told him how much money we raised and what it went to. I want the boys to grow up knowing what it means to get involved and give back. I told Biggie to take a water bottle to the officer that was directing traffic today. He knows not to litter because it’s bad for the environment AND someone else will have to pick it up, which isn’t cool. He knows plastic ends up in the ocean and hurts sea turtles. He knows about recycling.

Look, we aren’t perfect. I still use plastic straws at restaurants and forget my reusable bags at Publix. But they see us try, and they understand why. Raising kids is about so much more than trying not to kill them (it makes total sense why animals eat their young) and getting them to adulthood semi-successfully. I want them to grow up to be human fucking beings who believe that love is love and who a person is lives on the inside. That family watches out for each other. That GIVE YOUR BROTHER THE FUCKING TOY HE WAS PLAYING WITH DON’T BE A DICK.

And as I’m writing this next to Biggie, he just said to me “You know how much I love you? Double super much.” So yeah, pretty much crushing it at this parenting thing 😉

The Pandora’s box of family vacation.

So this past weekend we took a last minute trip to the Georgia Aquarium. We packed everyone up and left at the crack of dawn for the nearly 9 hour drive. Honestly, when you take car trips with kids tack on like an extra 2 hours for snacks, pee breaks and the baby blowing out the car with farts and faking you out thinking it’s a code brown.

The boys did great in the car, true story. They are good car travelers. They have that going for them, at least. When we got to the hotel that afternoon they were jacked from being cooped up in the car and the excitement of staying in a hotel which is a rare occasion. When it was time for bed, they were so excited at sleeping on the pull out couch that all we heard was fits of giggles and playing. Which is adorable- for like 5 minutes. There’s no way at least 2 neighbors on either side didn’t hear me unhinging my jaw at them. No one filed a noise complaint, probably out of pity.

This thriller non-fiction continues at 4:45 am, when Biggie woke up crying that he was thirsty. And again at 6am, same deal. He said his throat hurt. Then when we head down to the hotel lobby for breakfast, he proceeds to barf in the trash. He also feels hot as fuck. Dading makes a morning run to CVS to get Motrin. When I say run, I mean literally run. It’s downtown Atlanta people- you don’t drive if you value your sanity. Running was the faster option.

We finally make it to the Aquarium- which if you haven’t gone it’s a must. With or without offspring. If you think this story now has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention. Smalls is in full meltdown mode at the aquarium. Will he let anyone but me hold him? Fuck that. Does he stop screaming when I do pick him up? Bitch, please. I am in full mom stress sweat mode at this point. Literally sweating like climate change has just punched me in the face. We get hand stamped and head back to the hotel for lunch and a nap. After that back to the aquarium until they close. Annnnd back to baby meltdown mode until he gets food. The kid gives new meaning to the word “hangry.”

Once we get back to the hotel for the night the story takes a more sinister and smelly turn. Put baby on potty to poop, baby goes. Then Biggie goes. Before he can flush the baby is trying to shit on the hotel floor. Cue mom panic yelling. Biggie jumps off the potty, Smalls gets on. After that fiasco, and me checking the now sewer smelling room for any stray deposits, Biggie yells that Smalls is shitting on the floor in the bathroom. Put baby back on potty. End chapter.

Did we have an amazing family vacation? Absolutely. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. Did we think about donating them to the aquarium? More than once. (I wonder if that would be considered tax deductible?) We were reminded that this is why we won’t take them to Disney for the foreseeable (or ever) future. In all, an amazing, stressful, super fun and chaotic car trip with two little kids. So fun that tonight they are with my parents so we can recover from it. 😉

The parroting of parenting.

Think you’re ready for parenting? Repeat everything you say at least 4 times in an increasingly more annoyed tone until you don’t even give a fuck anymore. If that sounds good, parenting might be right for you. 90% of parenting is just repeating yourself over and over until you die inside. (More than you already are as a sleep deprived adult responsible for keeping little monsters alive).

Why do we have to repeat ourselves so much? I know I tend to rapid fire directives at the kids, so I try to slow down and give one instruction at a time. Does it help? Depends on the day. Does it make me homicidal? Abso-fucking-lutely. And don’t even get me started on the distraction of TV or iPad. The house could burn down around Biggie and if he’s on his iPad he wouldn’t even look up. I have caught the dog having an Iron Man action figure lunch on the carpet right in front of him and he was totally clueless. Listen dude, we give you the electronics so we, and you, can check out, but don’t you dare ignore me when I talk to you.

I know for a fact if I mentioned ice cream, or pizza, or something along those lines they would hear me. Or god forbid Dading and I even THINK about having a conversation- the needs and demands come out of the woodwork. So obviously it’s selective hearing.

One of my pet peeves in life is having to repeat myself…. so yeah. This is not where I thrive in the parenting department. Polly wants a glass of wine, not a cracker.

Momster.

I lost my SHIT on Biggie yesterday afternoon. He got a splinter in his toe at the park, a pain more excruciating than being eaten alive by a gator, if his reaction was any indication. When we got home and attempted to remove it, he went crazy. Blood curdling screaming, fighting and crying. This is why people get put under for surgery. I think what got me was the screaming. We had the boys birthday party the day before and I was tired, people. I was trying to get down for a nap with Biggie but this damn splinter was preventing that. I was so angry with him, and I said angry words and things I shouldn’t. I lost control of myself. We had to hold him down like a screaming banshee (literally what he was) and finally got it out. I was so white hot angry that he was carrying on about something so small.

After calming down, we talked. About how mommy’s and daddy’s lose their temper, and make mistakes. About how he was being very dramatic and making things difficult when we were trying to help him. About how he didn’t need to be scared because we would never hurt him or let anything happen to him. We explained what forgiveness was as the three of us snuggled in bed, and we forgave each other. And I cried. And I let him see me cry. I hope that by seeing that we make mistakes he will give himself the grace to make his own. And I want him to see us say we are sorry, too. When we woke up, the first thing he said was he was sorry for how he acted.

I was stuck between feeling like a shitty parent and forgiving myself for being human. It wasn’t the first time I had lost my temper, and lets be serious, it won’t be the last. Kids and cool heads don’t always mix. The amount of pressure on parents in today’s society is huge. We are expected to do it all, all the time. And kids I’m here to tell you, I don’t always measure up. And dammit that has to be ok because I am a human fucking being, and I am doing the best I can. I hope my kids see that, even when Momster rears her sleep deprived head.

The day my 4 year old killed me.

Yesterday was the first day of VPK for Biggie. He was so excited and we were so proud. (And overjoyed at the drop in tuition!) We have an app for school where we get sent pictures and updates throughout the day. As I am headed to the bank on my lunch break, I see that they took pictures with a board with their age, their teacher’s names, and what they want to be when they grow up. And when I read what Biggie said he wanted to be when he grew up, I almost cried.

He said he wanted to do what I did when he grew up.

I thought my heart was going to explode. We always tell them about our jobs, but the fact that he remembered and said it on his own when asked was such a big deal. Because Daddy has a cool AF job too- but he wants to do what Mommy does- that floored me.

I spend so much time wondering if I am getting it right, if Biggie will get anxiety from me, if I yell too much or lose my patience too much with them. And I guess that one picture tells me that I am getting it right. Something else he learns from me is that Mommy’s work too, that they have important jobs and work hard for their families. My kids will only ever know a dual income family, and I hope that teaches them so much about gender equality, and team parenting. They listen guys, and they see our efforts.

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.