We went and had “Breakfast with the Butterflies” at our Botanical Gardens last weekend. We ate a nice breakfast in one of the classrooms and then the kids got to release butterflies. Evidently, when it’s sunny outside, the butterflies are excited about their release and escape the box the second it’s open. However, since it was rainy that day, the butterflies needed a bit of encouragement. AndyZ’s saw no need to fly any further than his chest since there were copious amounts of sweet goodies on his shirt from breakfast.
After a few seconds he got a little freaked out about his new companion and we gently encourage the butterfly to find a location to acclimate not attached to another creature.
The flusher on the toilet in our bathroom broke and NikkiZ and I took a trip to Home Depot to buy a replacement. We also bought a new toilet seat and she found the prospect of an afternoon of toilet repairs to be the MOST EXCITING THING EVER. She took the job very seriously and pretty much did everything herself. She was overly proud of her achievement and when I pointed out that we bought the wrong size seat (no big deal, I bought the cheap-o variety anyway) she said, “That’s okay. It still works. Watch.” And she promptly used the toilet proving the effectiveness of the wrong-sized seat and the newly-installed flusher. All while wearing her sequined dress and her hot-pink leggings. My kid is pretty damn cool.
The two small kids joined me at our local art festival last weekend for crafts and entertainment. After we hit all of the kids tents, got our faces painted, and scored some balloons – we went for some Italian Ice. Of course they picked out red because why pick out something docile like white? While we were eating a Dad and his son sat on the sidewalk next to us. That boy was one of the coolest kids I’ve ever met. He got right close to me and just started chatting away. His Dad tried to pull him back at first but I guess gave up once he realized I didn’t mind the invasion into my personal space. He offered me some of his Italian Ice (I declined) and he asked me what my name was. “Kim,” I said, “and your name’s Hunter…right?” I had heard his Dad use his name when they first sat down. Hunter then proceeded to ask me my kid’s names (They were being unusually shy.) and then said to me, “Kim…this is my Dad, Paul” while gesturing to his Father sitting on the sidewalk. Most AWESOME kid ever. Turns out he’s four, has an older brother who is 8, and was on his way to a birthday party at Pump It Up after the art festival. I’m telling you – kids like Hunter? Are the type that make me wish I could have fifty. Entertaining, polite and all around good natured. I kinda wanted to take him home with me. But I think Paul might have not been pleased.
I often find myself getting down and disappointed about myself as a mother. (I know! Shocking!) I’ll catch myself comparing my inadequacies to people online or in the real world that appear so much more awesome at everything. I use my blog to vent about my failures in an effort to make myself feel better while other mothers say,”I feel bad about that too!” I think all of us who write about parenting find ourselves doing the same thing. Using our blogs as a way to let out the guilt and stress over our inadequacies.
For example, lately I’ve noticed a trend of parents out writing about how they don’t like certain stereotypical kids activities. Things like coloring, watching cartoons, or playing Hide-n-Go seek. You see parents on blogs shamefully admit to hating some of these activities like those admissions should be paired with “Beats Children” or “Starves Puppies.” One of the many examples about how we sometimes use our platform to get down on ourselves about something.
But you know what? We all hate something about parenting. I’m not a big fan of most cartoons, but Pinky Dinky Do? I can’t get enough of her. I don’t really like scissors or glue projects, but I’m all for chalk on the sidewalk and body painting. Outdoor crafts! I don’t like swimming pools, but I’m all for trips to the fountains around town.
I think we sometimes worry too much about what we don’t do as a parent. The things we often feel are required – but that we avoid like the plague. Or things we feel should be concerns but we just can’t seem to work up the energy to care about. But in reality? We should instead focus on the things we do differently. I post pictures like the one above and someone will twitch over the potential mess. But to me? I’m all for kids making messes outside where it just requires a squirt from the hose and their clean. Puzzles in the bedroom? Make me twitch because it takes NINETY MILLION YEARS to clean all of that up. So…those of you who let your kids do puzzles? You don’t even realize how awesome you are for that because I can think of nothing worse and only break out the puzzles if there is NO OTHER OPTION.
I wish that we would talk less about our flaws and more about our discoveries. Maybe someone who hates cleaning up puzzles will see my body paint project and think, “Holy Crap! An activity to entertain the kids that doesn’t make me lose my effin’ mind!” Instead of talking about how bad I feel for not forcing my kid to eat right…I’m going to try to focus on how awesome I am for hosting daily dance parties. I am always inspired by you parents out there who write about new activities or techniques or methods that work for you and your family. Almost 90% of what I do with my children I learned from you. But for some reason I still often write about how I feel like I suck and the guilt I have for sucking. And I notice some of the parents I love the most online? Do the same thing. Get way too down on ourselves.
So…I’m taking this moment to tell each of you I think you’re amazing. Don’t worry about how you hate craft time because you love story time and sometimes story time makes me want to punch myself in the face. Don’t get down on yourself for not having the energy to force your kid to eat vegetables…you only got 4 hours sleep in a row for an entire week during the Flu outbreak of 2008. Don’t punish yourself for not potty training until after age 3, you’ve bandaged enough boo-boos and cleaned up enough macaroni from the couch to be allowed to pass on potty-training for awhile. We are all doing the best we can and when you write about your successes? You inspire me to be a better Mom. Yes, YOU. You may think your kids are always filthy and that you are a crappy Mom for not making sure their faces are clean before you walk out the door…but you let them sing their songs in the car at the top of their lungs. Many of us force our kids to listen to our music because their singing kinda sucks. (What?)
I guess I just worry that we use our blogs to voice our inadequacies too much. (AND OH MY GOD – I’m talking to me too! Don’t worry! I do it all the time!) It puts the spotlight on our failures for too long. We are all doing the best we can for ourselves and our kids. Don’t forget that for every failure you’re thinking about as a Mother? You have at least TWENTY successes that the rest of us hate you for. If your kids look clean for more than five minutes? I’m kinda jealous. If you drag your kids to the pool every warm weekend? I admire you and don’t even care if you hate glitter. If you manage to wrangle three kids in all of their different afternoon activities? I can’t even muster up any interest in whether or not their eating healthy dinner. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are more amazing than you ever give yourself credit for and you inspire me with all of your stories and photos and tweets. Keep up the good work, you’re making the world a better place by inspiring all of the mothers around you. I promise.
LilZ had a theatre event that required him to sign up for me to provide baked goods. Of course he chose his fave: cake poppers. I knew I’d need two batches, one for Monday and one for Tuesday evening. However, the driving and chaos of the previous week had me doing my usual procrastinating and I found myself just cooking the first cake Sunday night. The cake has to cool completely before you make the poppers so I knew I’d have to make them early Monday to get the first batch done by the time of the performance. Well…little did I know that LilZ roped his friend who is staying with us for the week into helping him at the event. This meant she needed baked goods so he signed her up for Rice Krispy treats with the good intentions of making them for her since he convinced her to help him. Can you guess what happened next? He forgot until Sunday night. He begged me to help so I spent all day Monday doing goodies for this event and OH MY GOD. I am so proud of myself. SERIOUSLY. Do you see these things? The labels? The bags? The yumminess? Yes. This post serves no other purpose but to show off HOW AWESOME I AM.
(I am aware that many of you do this type of thing several times a week. Humor me as I praise myself since I never do this stuff EVER. Thanks.)
I read something this week where someone complained about the perfection of the photos of other blogger’s lives that document their baking beauties and their crafting creations. I subscribe to a lot of blogs that do the same thing and I find myself jealous and insecure looking at their photos in their perfect kitchens in their fancy homes. I do NOT want you make the mistake of thinking I might come even close to being that cool. Nothing I do is ever as pretty as my photos look. My house is always a disaster millimeters out of the focus and I intentionally choose photos to show you that don’t spotlight the cat puke on my carpet or the diet coke cans on my counters. So…here is a glimpse of what my kitchen looked like during BakeFest 2010.
These towels stayed on the floor all day, I just slid them around the cover up the newest spill.
I assure you my messes would be worse if I didn’t have the luxury of dogs to eat all of my crumbs and splatters.
What? Should I not admit that out loud?
LilZ reported back that the cake poppers went too fast to even document. They were gone in MILLISECONDS. I wear that like a badge of honor bestowed upon the bravest heroes. It’s a lot for a newbie in the kitchen, you know. If only I could bask in the glory of my achievements instead of doing it all again for tomorrow.
LilZ broke his arm when he was four and he required a surgery to insert pins to assure proper healing. After the surgery he was given morphine – and we learned he was allergic as he spent the next several hours puking violently. They admitted us overnight to make sure he got enough fluids. I was quite scared, that being my first hospital experience with my child. They put us in the pediatric wing and I curled up into bed with my child who had one arm in a sling and cast and another attached to an IV. I wrapped him as carefully as I could in my arms and dozed off an on between checks of his vitals. I remember thinking that – in that moment – I was feeling several extremes of motherhood. The fear that comes with a sick child and the associated shocking vulnerability that comes with loving someone unconditionally. But you also feel the strength in yourself as a parent when your child needs you. The relief in knowing it will be okay. I had been running on little sleep as I was in the middle of a semester at school and had been organizing big events at my part-time job. Yet there I was…giving my child what little energy I had left…and digging deep in the reserves saved just for him. To give him as much as he needed. Motherhood to the extreme in a moment.
NikkiZ had a bad stomach bug once. She was up puking all night but was too young to control the when or the where of the vomiting. She and I slept on the floor of the kitchen so that no beds or carpet would be ruined with each spew. Once or twice early on, I let her vomit on me, knowing my clothes would be easy to change. She liked the feel of the cool tile so I slept beside her and took advantage of the proximity of the sink to wipe her head with fresh towels whenever she needed. Again: Simultaneous Extremes. The feeling of helplessness as I could do nothing to stop the puking, nothing to make her feel better, knowing in that misery I could do nothing but be there for her. But there was also the pride that comes with the feeling of sacrifice as I gave up every comfort I could possibly want in order to give my daughter just a minuscule of her own comfort. Seeing in myself the ability to put her needs so far ahead of mine that I was willingly letting her puke on me while sleeping on a tile floor. That is a shocking selflessness I often forget is there in the day-to-day motherhood, but I was proud it was there so that I could be what my daughter needed in those moments…pushing the needs of my own body aside.
This weekend, AndyZ found himself suffering from leg cramps/growing pains. He was inconsolable and just whined and moaned and rubbed his leg for large chunks of time. While I found myself partially wanting him to JUST BE QUIET ALREADY…I still tried whatever I could to soothe him. I carried him everywhere. We bounched. We sang. Eventually, I discovered that rocking in the rocking chair on the front porch calmed his frantic screaming. We rocked back and forth listening to the soothing rain. Then, the rain got harder and harder and within minutes I found myself getting soaked from the knees down as every time we rocked backwards, the bottom half of my legs stretched just enough out form under the awning that the rain would get me. Did I move? No. Did I stop? Of course not. Simultaneous Extremes: The feeling of bitterness as your child’s needs get met before your own (AGAIN), alongside the feeling of pride in self that I could so easily put his feelings before my own. The helplessness knowing you are unable to really make the pain go away, but pride in finding at least a few peaceful motions can give momentary peace. And giggling at how silly I must look getting half soaked while rocking my child and singing in my god-given dreadful voice. I thought about the symbolism in the dichotomy of the moment. Rocking back and forth…wet and dry…kissing his head and rubbing his leg the entire time. Thinking about how blessed I am to feel those extremes. Thinking about the lessons those extremes teach me both about how vulnerable and helpless I am – but also how strong and selfless I can be.
(I was going to title this blog entry “Funk” but then a certain song popped into my head and I wanted to make sure you were hearing the same thing I was.)
So…there’s a lot of stressers in my life right now. Stressers? Stressors? Stressars? Firefox has no suggestions and I’m too lazy to see whether or not I just made up a word. STRESSERS. It’s a word for now, okay?
There’s my Mom who is still in the hospital in Knoxville post-surgery. They removed the malignant tumor but had to take more than just a bit of her colon as it had grown outside the colon and into her bladder and reproductive organs. No biggie…just a longer recovery. But we still haven’t gotten the pathology back from the biopsies and tumor so we’re still waiting on any future treatment information. Waiting for pathology reports is the most annoying thing about medical situations because they always hold that vital information that will change the outlook of your immediate future. YET THEY TAKE FOREVER. Don’t let the medical dramas fool you, there is no magic room down the hall that allows you to immediately look at test results. Just like there’s probably no real CSI unit that can get DNA results back in four minutes.
There’s LilGirl, our alpha bitch in the family who has always had some cataracts in her eyes but now has one eyeball that is swollen because they think the cataract has caused glaucoma. She has to be taken to Birmingham today to see a specialist. MrZ has one day off between switching jobs (Look! Another stresser!) and he’ll be using it taking her on a road trip. She’s an old dog so I’m not sure what the options will be for her but she’s been going blind for awhile and is very pitiful now that she’s in pain. Last night she was scratching at the wall in the hallway trying to get into our bedroom. SO SAD.
Then there’s my damn allergies. While Knoxville definitely makes them worse, they are not easy to deal with here at home. Alavert does me okay for most of the day but, like last night, it seems to wear off a bit while I sleep. Damn you and your 18-hour effectiveness! I was up since about midnight sneezing. I’d show you the pile of tissues I accumulated by the couch but that might be gross. My eyes do better with eyedrops but I still have huge bags under them partnered with dark circles. My nose skin is raw and my throat is constantly tickled. Allergies and allergy medicines keep me in a fog anyway, add lack of sleep to all of that and I’m bound to be a huge MESS today.
In case you were wondering…those three paragraphs were me trying to gain a bit of sympathy from the interwebs because I am in SUCH A FUNK. I’m just down and grumpy and sad and tired and angry and frustrated and every other negative emotion you can think of. I’m trying my best to force some sun into my outlook as that has been part of my attempt handling my own anxiety: THINK POSITIVE. I feel like I’m doing better with that mentality, it kept me sane at the dealership yesterday when I was stuck with AndyZ for 2.5 hours. I actually handled that situation well considering a few months ago I would have lost it the second I realized they had NO changing table in the bathroom. (This place is BRAND NEW and NO ONE thought of that?) So…I did okay yesterday during a high-stress period of time. But in general? I’m just having trouble ditching the funk. I have met so many people who fight way grander stressers than mine with positive outlooks, and I would love to be like them someday. But obviously – by the gray cloud in my heart today? I’m not there yet.
So…I’m going to include a cute little video MrZ took of AndyZ the other night doing his version of a Jumping Jack. Every time I watch this I smile. I hope you do to.