Always a Learning Experience

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Having an 8 yr. old boy is always interesting.  Since I am not a boy (obviously) and didn’t grow up one, it is a learning experience.  I have learned from my son….

~ Changing your socks isn’t important

~Changing and/or wearing underwear is and will always be optional

~ Nothing is more funny than talking about bodily functions especially farting

~ Simply getting wet in the shower is considered bathing (soap is optional)

~ Any movie that has “bad words” in it will make them laugh uncontrollably

~ Robin Williams and Jim Carey can make my son laugh uncontrollably to the point he is gasping for air

~ The ideal wardrobe is anything made of sportswear

~ Lifting up the seat is optional

~ Putting the seat down is optional as well

~ Sports should be a major subject in school

~ Burgers and fries are a major food group

~ Sweets are too

~ Drinking “beer” (root beer or birch beer) is just like an adult beverage especially when it is in the bottle

~ Air fresheners are a must and should be bought in bulk

~ Sitting still…what is that?

~ Dress the part

~ He wants to be a “guy” but is still a little boy

~ Kissing your mom becomes fist pumping your mom

~ Will occasionally still grab your hand when walking

~ Loves me and his sisters more than anything but shhhhh….don’t let his sisters know

What have you learned from your child(ren) lately?

Weekly Dates

As my kids get older, the quality time we have as a family and even just alone is a minimum.  Each day someone has something going on that takes away from the other two.  After a whirlwind first month of school and getting into our crazy schedule, I am seeing little lights at the end of little tunnels that were once very dark.

I love the time each week I get to have one-on-one time with each of my kids.  By far my youngest gets the best quantity of my time since she has me to herself every afternoon.  But it is during this time I get to see how she is maturing and changing each day.  It is during these afternoons that I love to snuggle with her and let her be her.

I love my weekly dinner dates with my son.  Yes it is usually McDonald’s but I will take a burger and fries with him over anything any day of the week.  He is the only male in the house.  He is the middle child.  He is the one I feel I need to learn how to connect with the most since I am obviously not a male myself…ha!  In our short little date, I find out so much about what is going on in his mind and his world.  This is where I am hoping the lines of communication begins and he knows he can tell me anything.

And as my oldest is changing and trying to find her way as an almost “tween”, I live for our late night drive to and from her one dance class.  I put my pride and guilt aside and recruited help on one night where it is just her and I.  It gives us a chance to just have girl talk.  I am not just mom but a confidant.  I hesitate to use the word “friend” here.  It is such a fine line to walk with any child.  But I think (or hope) that keeping that line drawn will create a special and unique bond that is even better than a friendship.  I see how she is entering into the years of struggling to find herself and to find where she fits in on top of peer pressure and everything else that comes with growing up and I am scared for her.  I know I wouldn’t want to be growing up in this day and age.  It is during this time, I see the amazing young lady she is and this is when she truly confides in me.

I am very proud of myself that I have been able to put aside my guilt, my pride, my desire to do it all aside.  Because let’s face it I can’t and no one can.  I am taking full advantage of my weekly dates more and more as each week passes because I see the small changes they make for each of them and for me.

The Flipside of Parenting

I was fortunate to go away with just my son this past weekend.  It is very rare that I get an opportunity to get away with one of my children for longer than a few hours at a time yet alone an entire weekend and twice in a 6 month period.  Back in April was the first time when my oldest daughter’s dance team had an amazing opportunity to travel to Disney World and perform as well as take an exclusive workshop with cast members.  For the first time, I packed up myself and just one of my kids to take a trip together.

Just me and ONE child!

Let me say that again….Just me and ONE child!

I forgot what it was like to have just one little person attached to you.  It is so peaceful.  No one is competing for your attention.  There was no fighting.  There was no one saying something wasn’t fair.  I wasn’t being pulled in so many directions at once.  I was enjoying my child.

I find it very hard to say the words “enjoying my child(ren)” on a regular basis.  It has been something I have struggled with for some time. It has been something that has made me feel like I am failing them.  When you are the one person that more than one little person depends upon, you often find yourself being pulled in so many directions.  And when you are pulled in so many directions it is so hard to find the enjoyment in this crazy world called parenthood.

I mean think about it, what is there to enjoy about being the disciplinarian or being talked to with an attitude?  What pleasure do you get from having to repeat yourself 100x’s to get someone to pick up their belongings, throw their trash away, or flush the toilet?  Where is the enjoyment of running like a mad person to get everything together-dinner, lunches, laundry?  No one likes to be the person who does so much with so little in return.  This is the side of parenting that is not fun and you can never fully prepare yourself for.

But then there is the side of parenting you experienced what seemed to be so long ago.  The side that is always there but as your kids get older seems to be rare.  The side when you enjoy your kids.  You enjoy their snuggles.  You enjoy their little voices saying “Mommy/Daddy you’re the best!”. The side where you make everything right in their little world and they are so grateful.  The side where you can do no wrong in their eyes. The side where one hug just seems to take the weight of the world off your shoulders for a brief moment.

I am in the midst of parenthood where the “enjoying my children” feeling is very hard to find some days.  I KNOW it’s there.  On the tough days, I just wish there were more of those moments.  I think the only way to have them is to make sure I am present and I am looking for them when it gets to the point of feeling so beaten down by the daily demands of parenting.  There are no books or articles that can really prepare you for this flipside of parenting.  I think the one thing that can help us all is sharing the days of “not enjoying” our kids and how we got through them.

 

I Simply…

Days are hard being a single parent.  You constantly think about all you do wrong.  You are always struggling with the decisions you make.  You want to make sure you are present for each child yet you are one person and you are human.  In your mind you know your children will appreciate you and everything you have done and will do for them.  You know they will look back and see all the sacrifices you made for them.

As a single parent you make choices every single day alone.  You make choices that ultimately put your needs on the back burner.  You put your children first.  You are not available to give much more to anything or anyone.  You are stretched thin.

Are you trying to be a martyr?

Are you trying to prove you can do it all?

Are you trying to be put on a pedestal?

Are you looking for pity?

Are you looking for approval?

I can only speak for myself but I am not looking for any of the above.  The only thing I am striving to be is the best parent I can be for my children.  I simply want them to know they are loved.  I simply want them to know I have their best interests at heart.  I simply want them to know I am here for them.  I simply want to get through a single day without my frustrations with life getting in the way.

Although I know what I strive for each and every day with my life and being a single parent, I know not every day will be the best day.  I know there may be a stretch of time when everything seems to be pure chaos and I feel like I am failing them.  But single parent or not, this is parenthood.  I simply just want to be what my children need me to be.

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I Can’t Do It All

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I keep telling myself this but I still struggle with it.

I have been struggling with making a decision on whether or not to give my youngest the same opportunity as I did for my oldest.  And the same opportunity I denied my middle child.  I denied the opportunity to him because, just as the above quote says, I can’t do everything.  The difference and why I am struggling with my decision is the commitment factor.  I denied a similar opportunity to my son because the commitment level was so involved~ all day events EVERY week in addition to the one evening a week requirement. For my youngest it is simply a one evening commitment.  But her temperament can’t handle two evenings in a row doing an activity.

So why do I feel such guilt with knowing it would be a bad decision?

I simply need to face the fact that I am not super woman.  I can barely keep up with the everyday things I need to get done.  Adding another commitment will seriously add more stress than good.  So I need to keep repeating and accepting the above quote.  I need to know that saying no to things isn’t going to scar them (I really do know this).  I need to know my children are very fortunate to do the things they do and they don’t need to be over-scheduled.  It will not benefit them, me, or our family.  I need to know “mommy guilt” needs to be squashed and not part of decision-making.

No one can do it all.

The Great Bedtime Debate

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Right now we are having some adjustments to bedtimes.  Up until now, I was VERY fortunate to have all 3 of my kids go up to bed at the same time.  I slowly began toward mid-spring last school year extend my oldest’s by 30 minutes.  However she still went up to her room at the same time as the other two but was able to be on her iPad for 30 minutes.  So it really wasn’t that much change for me.  I still had my time.  But now I am faced once again with adjusting bedtimes and this time I don’t think I will be so fortunate.

It is a 3 shift process and a process that leaves me on edge because as a single parent, I am D-O-N-E before they are ready for bed!  I simply long for me time which includes my brainless shows, a glass of wine (or 2), my iPad, and a cozy blanket.  Up until now it was all working so well.  EVERYONE was retired to their beds by 8pm~ again I know how fortunate I was.  But now, it isn’t until 9:00-9:30 pm when I have my much-needed me time.  Is it bad that I am longing for the days when they all went to bed at the same time?!??

I do take advantage of this time.  They don’t want to go to bed so they will spill every last detail of their day to me when I take them up to bed. So this is definitely the plus side.  But they are definitely benefiting from this.  They gain extra time and I seem to be losing my time because by the time they are all snuggled in, I look at the clock and pretty much am ready for bed myself.  I keep reminding myself that these days are limited and I need to take advantage of every minute.  Before I know it, this too will pass and I will be faced with yet another great debate.

 

Throwing in the towel

As parents I feel we all have days where we just want to throw in the towel and say “I’m done!”.

We do so much during the early years to teach our children manners, how to be nice, how to be helpful, and become good people in the world.  We know all our hard work is paying off when we are fortunate enough to hear another adult, who is not a family member, compliment on their behavior.  It is like a much-needed ego boost for us.  Or when you go to your child’s very first parent-teacher conference and you are told all the wonderful behaviors your child displays in school.  Isn’t this the point of all our hard work?

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Then they are home with us, where they feel safe, they become the polar opposites.  Yes this is a good thing.  They save up for us. They feel safe enough to let their frustrations out on us.  It shows us they care the most about us~well according to a lot of professionals anyway.  But I know I not only speak for myself, but for a lot of parents out there, we want that great behavior we taught them to be used at home too!

I am going to be honest~ real honest~ the past few months (maybe even longer) I have been feeling like throwing in the towel more times than I care to admit or ways I care to admit.  I can see how some parents just give up for a lack of better words.  When most of the days are spent redirecting then yelling at your children to do simple tasks that you know they are very much capable of doing and actually used to do when they were younger, you start to doubt your ability of being a good parent.

I hit rock bottom this past weekend.  After weeks of my children being down right bratty and slobs on top of it, I was ready to throw in the towel in more ways than one.  After one of my not so proud mommy moments of yelling at them, I finally stopped.  I sat on the arm of the couch looking at their little faces and started to cry.  I simply said, calmly, I’m done.  I can’t do this anymore.” They just looked at me.  I started to cry even harder.  I pointed out to them how the simple task of throwing out a napkin or a juice box straw wrapper has seemed to be impossible for them to manage.  Or the simple task of flushing the toilet (yes flushing the toilet) seems to be a concept they never heard before.  I pointed out how I am unable to shower without someone running into my bathroom crying or coming out to screaming, barking, or finding food in places it shouldn’t be.  I told them how they have no idea how hard it is for me anymore to get out of bed every morning.  I told them I am beyond done.  I said I could no longer live like this because I made it a mission to make their lives as happy as they possibly can despite everything.  I told them I fear they will now grow up and all they will remember is this~ yelling, crying, and just miserable moments in their childhood.  They just looked at me.

I went up to my bedroom and sobbed….hard.  Every ounce of me hurt.  I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt (I still do) feel like I am failing at this parenting thing.  I just didn’t want to deal with any of it.  The fighting, the yelling, the messes everywhere, just all of it…just done with it.  I kept thinking and even saying it out loud:

“How am I going to keep doing this?”

“I can’t do it anymore!”

“I am done.”

I know how all of this is age appropriate.  I know that everyone deals with it.  I know it will pass.  I know I am a good parent.  I know my kids are good kids.  I know.  I know.  I know.  But sometimes knowing it and dealing with it doesn’t help.  I was (still am) beat down.  I am exhausted with this parenting thing.  I don’t want to fail.  I don’t want to fail them.  I want a happy home.  I want happy memories.  I want to do this.  But when you struggle on a daily basis with your own battles, some days it is just hard to be the best you can be or need to be.  Some days, I want to just sleep.  I don’t want to be happy and smiley.  I don’t want to get out of the bed and feed the kids or get them to where they need to be.  But I do it.  I will continue to do it.  But throwing in the towel some days, just looks like the best answer.

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So after 20 minutes of sobbing, I came down.  They looked at me.  They knew I was broken.  And for the moment, they tried.  They know they need to step up.  Will it happen overnight?  I so desperately wish it would but I know it will be a continuous battle.  But it is a battle I am not going to lose or surrender to.  Although I wish I didn’t hit rock bottom in front of them, I am glad it happened because it probably needed to in order for some progress to be made.

Am I ready for another battle?  No.  But I will show up.  I am a fighter.  I will not throw in the towel and I will teach them to be their best with me not just with others.