Monday, February 13, 2012

To All the Amazing Women I know on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is vastly over-rated. It is one of those holidays (as most are) that receives a lot of hype (mostly by retailers hoping to capitalize on guilt and peer pressure) and rarely lives up. Not because we don't try but because things rarely turn out as great as we anticipate. First of all, this year it's on a Tuesday night and who the hell has time on a Tuesday night for a conversation with our spouse let alone romance. And should we miraculously find a babysitter who isn't celebrating their own Valentine's Day, restaurants are booked for months and their menus are suddenly twice as much for the same food.

This year I am not really into it and I am fine with that. I did run out today (yup, the day before when the shelves are picked over and mostly empty) to get a couple goodies for my hubby and the kids, but nothing too extravagant. The crazy thing is, although I don't really care that much about it, I still want to be remembered tomorrow as if somehow to prove my worth to myself. I mean I know how much I give and do for my family, but what I really want is for them to notice and tell me how completely indispensable I am to their lives. (As if that might happen any time in the next 18 years. I have the same wish each year on Mother's Day and my birthday by the way.)

So this year, I wanted to spread the message to all the amazing women (and men) in my life who spend more time worrying and caring about their families than they do themselves. You are truly amazing. You are a fantastic wife and mother, friend, sister, aunt, and more. You are strong and resilient and at the same time loving and kind. You make the world a better place every day. And yes, all the small things you do every day that no one notices like laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and cooking is what makes your family tick and you should be proud of it. You remember what each of your kids (and husband) will not eat, their favorite show, what upset them at school, why they are mad at whoever and yet still manage to get everyone where they need to be when and the birthday card to Aunt Sue. You are a Super Woman and don't ever forget it!

So Happy Valentine's Day to you. I thought I would share the card I bought today for one of my friends, it about sums it up...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being a Good Parent Sucks Part 2

Things are looking much better today but I am still not sure what being a "good parent" entails. Not only did I let my son play in a last minute basketball game last night when he hadn't done his homework for the second night in a row, but I strongly encouraged it. And I am glad I did. It turned out to be a great game for him, pulled him out of his funk and he immediately did his homework when he got home from the game. At first glance I thought, wow - I am a terrible mom! I totally gave in and let him do something fun even though he refused to do his homework. But in the end it worked out and everyone is happier today because of it.

I will say that my four year old is still a challenge but we have noticed that when we limit his electronics (tv, iPad, etc) he is actually a happier and nicer person. So with that being said, I am trying not to be so hard on myself and realizing that I can be a good parent and give in from time to time.

I know the one thing I need to work on is teaching my kids to be more self-sufficient. Let's face it, sometimes it is way easier to do it ourselves than beg and plead for them to do it for themselves. Again, this is me just trying to get through the day. But I know that in the long-run this will be better for them and for me. Here is a great quote that I found today that I think will help me remember. Have a great day and happy parenting!

In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings. ~ Ann Landers

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Being a Good Parent Sucks

Let's face it, being a parent is hard, but being a good parent (aka, doing the right thing as opposed to the easy thing) is almost always shitty. With my first son, life was pretty easy. There was only one of him and for the first four years it was only me (with a lot of help from my family). He was pretty well behaved, very smart and of course spoiled. I had no one to answer to as I was a single mom and I could make any decision I wanted about anything and no one could tell me I was doing it wrong (that I had to listen to anyway). I know I wasn't always as strict with him as I should have been, but he was a good kid and since I was working full time, I admit I took the easy way out a lot. (I look at pictures of me back then and think who cares, look at me all in shape, dressed nice and with my shit together.)

Fast forward 11 years, a marriage, another baby and two step sons and I still tend to take the easy way out, which without also having my shit together is not so great. Who the hell has time to do anything else! Not only do I have someone to answer to now (aka my loving husband with whom I share all my decisions with), but we also have four boys ranging from 4 to 14 who all think they are the boss. Many days (between work, school, homework, 5 basketball practices and games, shuffling kids around, grocery shopping, meals and everything else) all I want to do is just get through the day - never mind make my life more difficult, which is what doing the right things usually offers me. I know that in the long run, being strict and firm will make my life easier, but getting there is shear hell and I am not sure I am strong enough to make that journey.

First let me start by telling you that our 4 year old is amazing. He is cute and funny, super smart and a fantastic dancer. He also never sits still, and his two favorite things in life are TV and candy. Yup, bad mom here confessing that TV has been a great babysitter while trying to make dinner, do laundry or just keep the peace among siblings. And also recognizing that while candy might be a great bargaining chip or bribe, it probably isn't very high on our doctor's recommended list of foods for good behavior. Oh, and did I mention that he likes to swear? And I am not talking 4 year old made up swears, I am talking things that would be offensive if an adult said them to you. We are finally to the point of knowing that something needs to change, but changing it and not killing each other in the process is a huge challenge.

We have been limiting his TV to about an hour or so a day (down from like 6), limiting the shows is watching to educational (think Super Why instead of Supah Ninjas) and trying to be better about his diet. I am pretty sure the results aren't that different than what a crack addict goes through when you take away his crack pipe. Seriously. Picture one of the cutest little boys you have ever seen (picture below to support this statement) turning into a demon child who will spit at you and say F**k You on a dime when you turn the TV off - how the hell is that making my life easier? Not to mention that his listening skills are that of a deaf mute. So when we finally have had enough and go to bring him where we told him to go (usually time out or to his room), he turns into Gumby and makes it impossible to do anything but drop him - to which he screams, "Daddy! Mommy just threw me on the ground!"

As if that wasn't enough fun for one family, we have two tweens and a teenager. I am pretty sure that the only way they know how to communicate is to argue. Honestly, if you tell them that two plus two equals four, they give you ten ways that they can disprove that. And they will stick to that for hours if not days. The most frustrating thing is that they will do things they think they are doing to punish us which inevitably also punishes them. But god forbid you point that out! My husband and I have somehow gotten so stupid that nothing we say is correct. (Funny how if someone else says the same exact thing who isn't us, it is some how right.) Here again is where doing the right thing kicks you in the ass every time. At least with the four year old, he moves on quickly from a tantrum to loving you. With the teenagers, they hate you for days. They dig their heels in and won't budge. If only I was good at the silent treatment and just ignoring them. But no, every time I come up with something I think is witty to say, I open my big stupid mouth and keep everything going for like 3 more days.

Last night was an argument over homework. Apparently my son was so angry that two of his grades weren't As, that he thought not doing his homework was some kind of protest. instead of working harder at getting the As he wants, he spend the night in his room (because no homework no TV, computer or even Kindle - yup, I would not even let him read!) and went to school today having not done his homework. Must have been an interesting conversation with his teachers today. And somehow I know this is my fault, cause in the end it always is.

I never thought I would see the day when Monday would be my favorite day, but lately the workdays are so much better than the weekends. The other day I actually said out loud, "I am not looking to be a good Mom, I am just looking to survive." That about sums it up...