By Heather O.
Much to our husband’s horror, my girlfriends talk about them behind their backs. Nothing too intimate, you understand. We try to keep personal details to a minimum (mostly ), but we do like to whine about our DHs sometimes. We love ‘em, but let’s face-they ain’t perfect.
One friend of mine has a recurrent complaint about her husband. He doesn’t help enough around the house. That’s not a unusual complaint, to be sure. But one of the problems that frustrates her is that she feels that he has a lower tolerance for the amount of mess 2 kids can make, and yet refuses to help bring the chaos up to his higher standards. She feels he expects her to do all the work to meet his demands.
And she blames this problem on his mother.
My friend claims that her DH’s mother was the kind of mother who picked up after her kids all the time, and never expected or even asked anybody to help her. Thus, she has raised a son who expects the same thing of his wife.
I heard all of this before I had a child, and I vowed, in my childless mind and heart, that I would always make my kids pick up after themselves so that no future daughter in law of mine would be cursing my name that I raised a total slob.
My kid is a total slob.
And it’s probably my fault. I really don’t expect him to do anything, other than occasionally make him clear his plate when we are having a sit-down family dinner, and he is tired of the adult talk and wants to play with trains. But due to DH’s work schedule, we sit down as a family erratically at best, so it’s not a consistent command. He loves to spray things, and I let him go wild with the Windex on the days I’m up for deep cleaning, but again, not a consistent command. He just got a new big boy bed, and has had fun making it for the last 3 days, and I thought, “Oh. I guess he’s big enough to make his own bed. Who knew.”
DH has stories of being paid 50 cents to wash the car, 25 cents to weed the garden, etc, etc. He tells me all the time how much his father made him work as a kid, and how good it was for him. And I have say, DH is pretty good at picking up after himself (unless it’s dirty socks–I swear those things have the power of procreation!).
So when and how does one begin training her child for that future daughter-in-law, to be the kind of man women dream of, the kind that knows where the vacuum cleaner is, knows how to use it, and then actually demonstrates that knowledge?
And then the real question:Am I too late? Is my kid already set in his slovenly ways? I’m afraid he might be. While working in the garden the other day, Jacob brought out his small camping chair, set it up on our sidewalk, put on his shades and said, “I’m done with the garden, mom. You do the rest”, and he sat for a good 15 minutes, just watching me do the work. I would hope that if he said something like that to his future wife, she would throw a dirty gardening glove at his head.
My memorial Day
30 May 2005 02:30 pm
By Heather O.
This is the Wiz’s post–she Emailed it to me because she was temporarily unable to access blogger. All the credit goes to her!
So, technically, today is Memorial Day. However, we decided to go visit the graves of our progenitors yesterday instead, due to the fact that we just wanted to. My family hooks up with my brother’s family, and we’re off to the cemetery to memorialize. Now, when I say “hook up”, I mean that they came over to our house, where we changed diapers, made sure all the 4 year olds went potty, and generally took half an hour to leave the house. Between the two families, there are 7 children, with SIL due to deliver any day.
First stop: Wal-Mart. Yes, it was Sunday, and yes, we’re all going to burn, but we had no flowers, and really, what is the point of going to visit graves if you have no flowers to put on them? My brother and I wander through the garden center, looking for mums, because for some reason, mums are the flower of choice when it comes to dead people on Memorial Day.
Brother: Are those mums? I hate Wal-Mart.
Me: No, those are petunias, and this is a nice Wal-Mart.
Bro: Are those mums? Does everybody know that mums are for dead people?
Me: No, those are geraniums, and they’re hanging plants. No hanging plants for the graves. And yes, everyone knows mums are for dead people.
Bro: Yeah, they’re too expensive anyway. Are those mums?
Me: No, those are zinnias. Don’t you know what mums look like? Usually they have a display of mums in the front, right when you walk in.
Bro: I hate Wal-Mart.
So we are walking out, and lo and behold! A display of “Memorial Day Mums” is right in front of our faces. Now, in our defense, we didn’t see them before because there were only two things of mums on the display table, and they were the saddest looking flowers you’ve ever seen. We decide to head to the local grocery store.
We are walking into the store, with flowers displayed everywhere.
Bro: Are those mums?
Me: Again, those are hanging plants, and again, they are geraniums.
Once inside the store, the mums are displayed. Look! 3 for 10! You buy six, and I’ll buy six. We cleared the mum display, and each of went looking for our respective snacks to munch on in the car, with the excuse that we were buying them to keep the children happy.
At the check-out, I see my brother looking at the newspaper.
Me: What are you doing here? I thought you were in the car.
Bro: Abby’s in the bathroom.
Finally, we are off the cemetery! 5 minutes later, I hear “I need to go potty.”
My 6 yr. old: Why didn’t you go before we left?
My 6 yr.old niece: I did. I still need to go.
Well, too bad. We’re going to the cemetery, which is not known, as such, for its toilet facilities. We get there, and immediately begin the search for the graces, since this is the first year we’ve done this without our parents. We find one set of grandparents fairly easily, and have a nice time briefly reminiscing about them. The cries of “I need to go potty” were silenced in the excitement of deciding who got to place the flowers, who got to water them, and where was my toddler going?
As we headed down to the next grave, and the cries began again in earnest, and also began to multiply. “I need to go potty!” “Me too!” “Whose grave is this?” “Hey! Somebody already put flowers here! Can we keep them?” “Look at that grave! It has an angel on it!” “Can I ride in the front?” “Is there a bathroom here?” “Hey, we’re almost out of gas.”
After the next set of graves, we decide to send one set of kids up to Grandma’s house, which is nearby, so that they can visit the potty facilities. Every child except for two decide that Grandma’s house is way more fun than the graveyard. So my SIL leaves, with 5 kids in tow. My DH, my brother and his 4 year old, and me and my toddler set off to find the hard to find graves. Eventually we do, with DH (the only one, technically, not related to these people) being the one to find them. Hurray for him! It’s no wonder my family likes him better than they like me. What’s not to like, really?
At Grandma’s house, my oldest has a bout of diarrhea, and my niece has a potty accident. I’m sure my parents were sad they missed out on the grave visiting this year. Happy Memorial Day, everyone!
A hip blog
28 May 2005 10:57 pm
By Heather O.
Ok, so apparantly Jim Faulconer of T&S fame has a really hip daughter , and this daughter has a really funny blog. I checked it out, and I laughed, so now it’s on our sidebar. I know, it doesn’t take much to entertain me these days, but I really do think it’s a fun blog. Check it out. And if you don’t like it, try looking at it again at 2am (which is when most of us are blogging anyway). Everything is funny then.
By Heather O.
It’s been a while, and who doesn’t like a good poop story?
So last week I went with a friend and her three kids to the new Air and Space museuem, the one with the Enola Gay and the Space Shuttle. It was Space Day, so there were lots of cool things for the kids to do. Next to Superheros, space-ships are Jacob’s favorite things, so he had a good time.
Anyway, coming home, we got stuck in traffic, and my friend’s husband got stuck in traffic, and my friend needed to be somewhere. She asked me, slightly desperately, if I would just stay with her kids at her house until her husband got home. Sure, of course. I mean, how hard can it be to watch a 3 year old, an 20 month old, and a 6 month old for about 20 minutes?
Potty incident #1. While her mom was getting ready, I lost the 3 year old. I looked around the house, caling her name, then went outside. I found her, peeing in the front seat of the car. Luckily she had peed in a spot covered by a sweatshirt, so I just picked up the dripping sweatshirt, pulled off the child’s wet clothes, and tossed them all in the laundry basket.
Potty incident #2. The baby had not been fed the entire time we were at the museum, so then I started with that. Jacob started playing happily with the other 3 year old, and all was well. Then the one and a half year old took off her diaper, brought out a little potty into the living room, and started to go pee. All right, that’s fine, at least she’s on a potty. So, still holding the baby and it’s bottle, I wrestle the child back into a diaper, and dump the pee out into the toilet.
Potty incident #3. Meanwhile, I have lost total track of the 3 year old, and then I hear a plaintive cry, “Heather–Jacob’s Mommy! I need you to wipe my bum!” The potty trained 3 year old had gone potty, and needed some help. Again, still holding the baby, because she is sucking on the bottle as if her life depended on it (which, I guess, in a very real way, it did) and was not about to give it up, I wiped the small child’s bum.
Potty incident #4. Thinking all was good, I settled back down with the baby and the bottle, but realized that in wiping the 3 year old’s bum, I’ve lost track of the one a half year old. Then I hear a yell from the 3 year old, “My sister is pooping on the carpet!”
Me:”She pooped on the carpet?”
3 year old: “Yes, but don’t worry, I’ll clean it up!”
I decided that I needed to rapidly disengage the baby from her bottle and personally investigate. But in the time it took me to position the baby in such a way that she would not roll off, that little bugger of a 3 year old had moved with that incredible speed that only toddlers can acheive, retrieved something from the kitchen, and brought her sisters poop to me ON A SPOON!
Me, holding the poop encrusted spoon, “Um, thanks. Is that all there is?”
3 year old: “I don’t know. She pooped on this carpet”, and she points to an ornate, elaborately designed oriental rug. The design is so elaborate, it’s impossible to locate any suspicious looking brown spots. I’m literally on my hands and knees, trying to sniff out the offending poop, when the baby starts crying.
Potty incident #5. I look over at the baby, and her little fists are waving and she’s waggling her little bum, too.
No way, I thought. Please, no way.
I pick her up, manage a well positioned sniff, and my worst fears are confirmed. The baby has pooped too, a huge, stinky, blow out, the green, runny kind of poop that is particular to breast fed babies, the niagra falls kind that can not be contained by one puny diaper.
I had been in this house for approximately 25 minutes. Seriously, how can three children make so much poop and pee IN 25 FREAKIN’ MINUTES?!
Thankfully, blessedly, the husband came home at that moment. I related the poop and pee sagas in one breath, said, “Oh-and-by-the-way-the-baby-is-poopy-too-here-she-is gotta-go-by,” and Jacob and I high-tailed it out of that poopfest.
Maybe I don’t need any more kids after all. One potty trained little guy could be just right, thank you very much.
Tigers eating goats
25 May 2005 12:28 pm
By Heather O.
Our book group here in D.C. read “Life of Pi” this month. This is a fantastic book, and one that generated some good, exciting, healthy discussion. I recommend it highly. Some thoughts were brought up that I would like to share here, as I’m interested in what even more people think.
The main character of the book is Pi, a boy whose father is a zookeeper. The first part of the book Pi spends most of the time introducing us to his life, including his life among the animals. He describes one scene where his father endeavors to teach him a lesson about these animals that he is so familiar with. Pi’s father puts a live goat in with a tiger that has not been fed for 3 days. You can imagine what short work the tiger made of that goat, and everything was witnessed by the small boy, Piscine, and his brother. Pi’s mother was outraged, saying that surely Pi’s father had scarred his children for life. But Pi’s father wanted his children to learn that tigers were not play things, pets, toys to be patted and hugged. They were wild animals, and dangerous. The lesson stuck.
So we were discussing this scene in our book group, and the question came up about whether or not the father’s lesson was too harsh, if there wasn’t a better way to teach this life saving lesson. We discussed it, and then we started talking about lessons we need to teach our children, the hard ones they need to learn, and how we do it. Do we need to make it as graphic as a tiger eating a goat? Are there other, more subtle ways to teach our kids the important lessons of life, or is raw experience the only way?
I know that for me, I tend to go towards the raw experience side of things. I have let Jacob burn himself when he was young, after telling him it was hot and not to touch the stove. He hasn’t burned himself since. I have let him go and try things out physically, thinking that for sure he would be defeated by something like the diving board at age 2, only to discover that my leniency did not curtail him, but rather let him succeed at something I thought for sure he would fail at. (I know that’s bad grammar, a dangling something or other, but I’m trying to write this while keeping an ear out for 2 3 year olds, so cut me some slack, ok?) I think we can verbally warn our kids about lots of different things, but actual visual or tactile experience is what will drive the lesson home. But I could be underestimating how my child learns. And maybe subtle can be just as effective, too.
Whatever the answer, I’m just glad that I don’t have to teach him using a live goat and a hungry tiger. Although, come to think of it, Jacob would probably think that would be pretty cool! It would most likely be his mother fainting, puking all the way, while he says, “Lookit, Mommy! That’s a mean tiger. Grr!”
24 May 2005 03:20 pm
By The Wiz
OK, this is just a quick post to say….WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY CHILDREN ALL SUMMER?
The end of the school year is approaching quickly, swimming lessons have come to an end, (but they will resume is 5 weeks - what’s that about? I have no idea.) and I have no idea how I am going to entertain my 3 children all summer long.
Finances are tight, so all the little “camps” that pop up in the summer, but are 100-200 dollars/week, are not an option. Why do they call them camps when they are not overnight? This is something I do not understand. Whatever…..
Sit and watch TV all day? Kill me now. Play at the McDonald’s Playland every day? I might as well get them a cardiologist now. Go to the park? Good for the occasional outing, but my toddler is a wild man there, and tends to chase the ducks with no real regard for his own life. I am willing to do this once in a while, because it brings them great joy, but I get tired of The Great Chasing of the Ducks. Read to them? Great. That took up half an hour. Any ideas for the rest of the day?
There is the zoo. That’s fun. One half day covered. Swimming, another hour killed here and there. (Plus, swimming stresses me out.)
We have 2 trips planned, which will cover a week in June, and a week in August. I just don’t know what we are going to do. Am I the only mother who faces this year after year? Does everyone else have their summer mapped out? If so, can I borrow your map?
By Heather O.
There is an interesting discussion going on at FMH about not wanting to have children. Reading this got me thinking about a conversation I had with a good friend of mine about Mormon women having children. We were talking about some women that we knew who were mothers, and who, frankly, weren’t all that thrilled about it. We felt that these women had children just because that was what they were “supposed” to do, but if they were honest with themselves and their husbands, they might have taken another road altogether.
I am a woman who definitely wanted to have children. I feel I planned my life and my life goals very carefully around having children, and felt very comfortable giving birth when I did. And I definitely want to have more. I don’t need a huge family, but I would like to have more than one. But reading that post over at FMH and talking to some women who feel compelled to have children makes me wonder if I am in the minority. I knew one woman who said her mother-in-law had 6 children, only because she felt like she was supposed to, but she admitted that she probably would have stopped much earlier if she had felt the choice was really up to her. I also know another woman who when she had 3 children, felt like she had finally reached what the Mormon culture would consider “a handful”, and she felt relieved that she didn’t have to have any more. She was reluctant to admit it, but she said, “Really, part of me buys into that, that now that I have 3 kids, we are finally a family, that we’ve reached the minimum acceptable to Mormon culture. And now I don’t have to have any more.”
Do we as Mormon women really feel so out of control of our lives? Having children is not like shopping for shoes–our choices are eternal and irreversible. We should be able to make our choices with counsel from our husbands and our God, and make decisions based on mutual understanding and personal revelation. I think only then can we have peace in our families, and enjoy our blessings. Seriously, there is just WAY too much poop involved in motherhood to embark on the adventure with less than complete commitment to the endeavor. Some parts of motherhood are just so painful, so tiring, so completely icky that to be dealing with it all with a sense of forced labor would make it even more miserable, perhaps even unbearable. It seems sad to me that in a church that values personal revelation almost above all other things that some women could be reduced to this kind of situation.
By The Wiz
I am the youngest. In many ways, being the youngest rocks. Your parents finally have money by the time you’re old enough to care, you’ve seen the many pitfalls your older siblings have gone through, but most of all, your parents have seen it all, and so they are usually much more relaxed about which rules to enforce, and which rules simply don’t matter.
On the other hand, you wish there was someone that you could beat on, you get tired of the hand-me-downs, and occasionally there is an older sibling that goes to a certain city, and gets in major trouble in that city, and then when YOUR senior trip comes around, you are not allowed anywhere NEAR said city, even though you would be going with half of the seminary council, and have never given your parents ANY reason not to trust you at all! Not that I’m bitter or anything. But the setbacks are minor, and the benefits far outweigh the pitfalls.
I believe that the oldest child is the “guinea pig” child. For example, it didn’t occur to my parents that a teenage girl with an outside door attached to her room, sleeping on the main level, while everyone else was sleeping upstairs, was a problem. The tales of her sneaking out are legendary. My parents had no idea she was spending many of the wee hours of the morning on the beach alone with her boyfriend. I’m guessing they would have been against that.
By the time I was dating, my parents bedroom window, when open, could hear everything that ever happened on the doorstep. They wised up.
I spent hours working on the ABC’s with my oldest. My second knew them without my having taught her anything. Either she absorbed them out of the air, or her sister taught her. My oldest is constantly asking me questions, like “What is war?” while my second proudly shows off her ability to make her own cinnamon toast. I never knew she even knew what the toaster was. My girls play ’school’ with the oldest teaching the younger about lowercase letters. Essentially, my oldest is raising her two younger siblings, and doing a wonderful job.
So, I am not worried about my younger two nearly as much as I am about my oldest. I don’t know yet which rules will save her from eternal damnation, and which ones will cause her to rebel, thereby causing her own eternal damnation. I don’t know what’s a big deal and what isn’t, at least not yet. Mostly, I don’t know at which age to introduce which concept, so as not to scar her for life. Basically, I decided, I am not saving for her college education, I am saving for her therapy bills. I guess mostly I just need to teach her about forgiveness, so she can forgive me for all the mistakes I made as she grew toward adulthood. Hopefully my younger ones can forgive me, too, because they’re not out of the woods, either.
By Heather O.
As mothers, we’ve all done it. We say something to our children that makes us cover our mouths in horror and think, “I sound just like my mother!!” And all of us can come up with a list of things our mothers said and did that we vowed we would never say or do. We all say, “I’m becoming my mother!”, and we hate it.
But not all of the things that our mothers did were bad (hopefully!), and there are definitely some things about my mother that I love, and would like to emulate. The point is that I definitely have my lists, and I would have said to you, with confidence, that I have fully explored the different influences my mother has had on me, and I have an excellent catalogue of known phrases, expressions, actions, attitudes, and body gestures that I can trace back to my mother, for good or for ill.
Yesterday a cousin I haven’t seen for years popped into town, and we had her over for dinner. She was staying with my parents, so after dinner and some fun conversation, I drove her back to my parent’s house with Jacob in tow. She and I gabbed in the car for another hour or so, and finally my mother came out to see what was going on. (I think she thought there might be a party going on in the car, and Mom just can’t stand to miss a party!) I had long since let Jacob out of his car seat while I chatted, and he was bouncing all over the car with an umbrella he had found in the back seat, shooting at the bad guys with it out the back windshield (hey, if he’s happy, I’m happy). My mom came over and peered into the car, and Jacob pretended to shoot her with the umbrella. Mom shot him back with her finger, and they started giggling at each other. We all got out of the car, and my mom picked Jacob up, who was still giggling at his silly Grandma, and she gave him a big hug, patted him on the back about 3 times, and said, “Oh, I just LOVE you!”
I stared at her, thinking, “Hey, I do THE EXACT SAME THING!” complete with the length of hug and number of pats on the back. Clearly, I had learned it from her. Obviously, she had done the same thing with me as a child. This was not the disturbing part. The disturbing part I DID NOT KNOW I HAD LEARNED THAT FROM HER! I mean, how am I supposed to guard against becoming my mother if I don’t even know what parts of me came from her? Are we all fated to become our mothers, despite our best efforts? Where does she end and my own identity as a mother begin? Aack!
Of course, if my mother is reading this (which I doubt–she’s a very busy lady, and if she has time to spend on the computer, she’ll use that precious down time to play Spider Solataire, thank you very much), she would say to me, “Well, what’s wrong with becoming your mother, huh?”
Actually, not much. My mother is a wonderful woman who was a spectacular mother. Still, it would be nice to think that I had some control over my life. Oh, wait. Sorry, for a second I thought I was an alternate universe. Oh yeah, that’s right. All control over my life was lost the second I gave birth. For a second I forgot. Did I get that from my mother?
17 May 2005 10:55 am
By The Wiz
My oldest daughter recently had a birthday. I thought I would blog about all the prep that goes into a birthday party, all the unnecessary crap we think we have to do for one, and how to decide which kids to invite. (I learned my lesson when she turned four and inivted everyone she wanted to come. We had 16 little 4-year-old princesses running around my basement, and I am NEVER doing that again). Anyway, we do parties every other year (on their “even” birthdays, because, well, I am not that motivated to do this constantly, and, also, birthday parties are WAY more expensive than they look.) But even though you think you’re reading a post about birthday parties, it’s just a myth.
Switch gears to the gift of gifts: Earrings. Pierced earrings. My daughters do not have pierced ears. They are six and four. Once again, the cry of “When can we pierce our ears?” was heard throughout the house.
I have always told my kids that they can pierce their ears when they are twelve years old. They have always accepted this. There has been grumbling, but acceptance. After all, twelve is the “golden age” - the age where you can ride in the front seat, because, magically, airbags know when you are twelve and stop being deadly, the age when you are old enough to babysit, (5 is NOT old enough, contrary to what my oldest will tell you)and the age where Primary is officially a memory. (Not that they’re looking forward to that one. They love Primary). But then, nobody has ever given them heart-shaped earrings with flowers painted on them before. It would be a crime not to wear them.
*insert whiny voice here* “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY do we have to be twelve?????”
Why indeed? I asked myself this question, and truly, the major reason I could come up with was, “Because that’s how old I had to be. Suffer like I did.” Of course, I didn’t tell my kids this. I told them it was because of infections, and caring for the ears, etc. But mostly, it was the rule, and that was that. They grumbled, but are prepared to SAVE these earrings for the next 6-8 years, for when they are old enough to wear them. And if you think that’ll happen, well, then, you’ve never had kids.
By the way, the woman who gave us the earrings was mortified that our girls did not have pierced ears. She felt awful. She pierced her daughter’s ears when her daughter was but a wee lass, and thought everyone did the same. Never mind that my girls were incredibly happy to see the earrings, it did not make her feel better.
Is there a right answer here? What is the appropriate age in which to put holes in earlobes? Am I being too strict in reliving my mother’s old rule? The way I see it, I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own earrings, I don’t want to have to try to find theirs constantly, as well. And I can just see the future meltdowns when the correct earrings aren’t found for the correct outfit. Or, horror of horrors, when just one is found. Why add that stress into my life?
But maybe, it will help teach them responsibility for their things, or proper ear hygiene, or something like that. Or, maybe I know nothing.
Momma’s bad mood
16 May 2005 12:39 pm
By Heather O.
I’m in a bad mood today. You know, the kind of mood that hates everything you see, everything you smell, and the mood that makes you want to haul off and pound your small unsuspecting child if he says, one more time, for the trillioneth time that day, “Why”?
My sister told me to go get a Dr. Pepper. My husband told me to go eat some actual food, because the generic brand Sugar Puffs I ate for breakfast apparantly have no nutritional value whatsoever. I tried to prove him wrong, and huffily read off all the ingredients on the side of the box. When the first four I read off were, “wheat, sugar, corn syrup, honey”, I realized the futility of my previous argument, and had to quit before DH busted a gut laughing in my face.
So now I’m blogging, doing it on the sly because my kid thinks I’m mucking about in his room, looking for some lotion for his bum (he’s got a rash, poor kid. Normally I wouldn’t share this information with strangers, but this is a blog for moms, and if you can’t handle stories about bum rashes, seriously, you are definitely in the wrong place!) And I’m in a better mood. I read this over at Feminist Mormon Housewives, and I got my first real laugh of the day. (You have to read the whole thing, really. It’s a good one. Lisa is in fine form!) Then I found Jacob’s pirate hat discarded by the computer, and put that on. I looked at myself in the mirror, decided that I look downright jaunty, so I’ve left it on my head. I’m waiting for him to come up the stairs and see me, and either he’ll burst out laughing at seeing his Mommy in a silly hat, or he’ll burst out crying, saying, “That’s MINE!” (I think it depends on if DH fed him those Sugar Frosted Bombs of Death that passes for cereal for breakfast or not.)
So my bad mood has been solved by a eating half an orange at DH’s insistence that I get some nutrition into my poor body, a funny blog at FMH, and a stupid pirate hat. I’m not sure that I would have come up with this independently, but the formula seems to have done the trick. Any other thoughts on how to break Momma’s bad mood?
And I promise we’ll come up with a serious topic soon to discuss. We aren’t all fluffy all the time. We do have deep thoughts now and again, I promise. And I’ll start thinking them again once I get my laundry done, the mildew smell out of my house, and my errands run. I might have to still wear the pirate hat, though.
By The Wiz
There is a story that circles around our family lore, going something like this. One of my cousins was in school, and the teacher was talking about rules. She explained the rules of the classroom, and then asked if any of the children had rules at home. What were they? There were the usual responses regarding bedtime, hitting, etc. My cousin thought long and hard. Finally she came up with, “No dancing naked on the piano.”
This would just be one example of a rule that no mother ever thought she’d have to enforce. You dream of teaching them right from wrong, and you know you will have to warn them away from dryers, outlets, stoves, drugs, immodesty, swearing, violence, gambling, piercings, tattoos, bad influences, germs, alcohol, and a whole host of other things. Then you become a mother and you find yourself enforcing rules like “No snails in the house” and you wonder how you will ever get to it all.
Here’s the secret: You Won’t.
The truth is, we cannot teach them everything. It is simply beyond the realm of possibility. But, yet, as mothers, we try. I remember being in tears because my oldest child could not swim by the age of four. I have a thing with swimming - I’m scared of it. I had this really super irrational fear of my children drowning, and even though logically I knew that the best way to prevent them from drowning was to teach them to swim, I also knew that if they weren’t in the water, they wouldn’t drown that day. I have had to work through it, and the two oldest are currently in swim lessons twice a week, and doing well. They’re not completely “there” yet, but I am hoping that by the end of the summer, they will be. But I could not teach them to swim. Now, I know how to swim. I’ve been swimming since I was two. But I could not throw my child in the water and yell “kick, kick, kick!” I could just hold on to them, and pray the whole time we were in the pool that nobody would drown. (Did I mention this was a seriously irrational fear?) So I had to turn them over to somebody else. I had to let someone else teach them that particular lesson, and it has been very difficult for me to do it. But swimming is a fundamental skill. They will need that as they grow up. Basic. I was in tears because I couldn’t give them that, and I couldn’t give them that because of my fear, not theirs. They wanted to swim. They still want to swim. So now they swim, and all I can do it watch, and smile every time they hit a new milestone. And be grateful that this fear, at least, isn’t winning anymore.
We need to stop thinking we can teach them everything, or that we can prepare for every scenario. There are other capable people on this planet. They may not know your children as well as you do, or love them as much. But then again, they might. And they can contribute.
In the meantime, I’ll keep some flexibility in my rule-making abilities. After all, in a few years, “Snaily” (actual name of the poor homeless snail on our porch) won’t need my help anymore, but my children still will.
The Great Divide
11 May 2005 12:21 pm
By Heather O.
Yesterday was a count-down day–the kind of day when you count down the minutes until DH gets home. I had a zillion neighbor kids at my house, trashing my basement, and I had been dealing with other people’s children all day long.
I’ve come to a realization. I don’t like other people’s children.
That said, I was desperately waiting for DH to come home so that I could effectively say, “Family time- GO AWAY!” to all the other kids. DH pulled in right when I had expected him too, dinner was in the oven, ready to be eaten in 5 minutes, and I heaved a huge sigh of relief when he walked in the door.
His first words were, “Ugh”, and he tossed his obviously heavy laden briefcase on the couch.
A sympathetic wife would have said, “Tough day at the office dear?” A good wife would have sat him down, and rubbed his tired feet. A loving wife would have listened quietly and reverently as her husband ranted and raved about his evil boss, the never-ending rat race, and the snotty teenagers on the subway who drive the regular commuters crazy.
I was not feeling sympathetic, good, or loving.
I responded to his, “ugh” with a shouted, “Hey kids, Jacob’s Daddy is home! Time to go!” and I ran down to the basement to corral them and GET THEM OUT of my house.
After long protests, whining and crying on their part, and some downright physical coercion on my part, I cleared the house of small children, pulled out the beautiful homemade pizza dinner from the oven, and we sat down as a family to eat.
DH said, “Um, hello.”
Jacob: “Thiz hot. Mommy, blow on it.”
Me: (intermittently blowing on pizza) “Hmm. What do you think I should do about these kids trashing our basement? Should I set stronger rules about clean up? Should I tell them that they can’t come over if they don’t help clean up? Sometimes I just feel like I’m a free babysitting service!”
DH: “I got consulted on a death penalty case today.”
Jacob: “I want my drink!”
Me: “I mean, what are the parents thinking, that I have all the time in the world to take these kids to the park, while Jacob is dying for a nap? And that’s the other thing, those kids bang on the door while Jacob is sleeping, and then they wake him up and he’s grumpy the rest of the afternoon. Could you get him some juice?”
DH: (pouring a drink for Jacob) “It looks like an interesting case.”
Me: “I should put a sign on the door that says, ‘Baby sleeping. Knock and you die.’ Hey, did you buy vegetables for stir-fry like I asked you to? I didn’t see any in the fridge or the freezer. I wanted to make stir-fry for dinner tomorrow.”
Jacob: “I’m drinking my drink. Mommy, you drink it with me. NO, you drink your drink all gone WITH me. Ok, let’s drink it all gone!”
DH: “It will be a great break from the document review that I’ve been doing for the last 4 months.”
At this point, I stop drinking my drink all gone, and look at him and say, “What are you TALKING about?”
DH: “My case–the death penalty case I told you about?”
Me: “You’re working on a death penalty case?”
Jacob: “Mommy, I’m done. I don’t want more pizza. Will you play trains with me downstairs?”
DH: “Jacob, Mommy is still eating. Yes. I just told you that. A case in Tennessee.”
Me: “You’re going to Tennessee!?! You didn’t tell me that!!”
Jacob: (whining) “But I need you to play trains with me, Moommmeeheee!”
DH: “No, I’m not going to Tennessee, the case is just in Tennessee.”
Me: “Jacob, go play trains downstairs for a minute, and then we’ll make cookies for Family Home Evening.” (We had to move FHE to Tuesday this week.)
Jacob: (jumping up and down)”Cookies! Yea!” Then he ran to drag his trains up from the basement and into the kitchen, and then came up to me with something behind his back. “I have a present for you, Mommy.”
Me: “Well, would you keep me appraised of what you are doing at work? I like to know what’s going on in your life, please.” Of course, as I said this, I thought, ‘But you haven’t said anything about what I went through today!’
DH: “Hey, Heather, Jacob’s talking to you. Would you acknowledge your son, please?”
It was not like this when I was working. I would come home, tell DH about my day, he would tell me about his day, and we would have good, meaningful communication (most of the time, anyway. Often times his mind would be fried from studying, and then really, at that point, the only thing to do is just to write the conversation off and turn on Buffy!). But throw a kid into the mix, me at home all day, and the little booger interupting everything every three seconds, and our communication sometimes gets shot to hell. I’m not really sure what to do about, either, short of muzzling the small child. I think I used to be good at communicating, but somehow I’ve lost all sense of the art since having a child. It’s pathetic.
Anybody else have similar problems? Is there a Great Divide at your house, too, or are we the only ones talking past each other?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some vegetables for a stir-fry dinner to buy. DH informed me later that no, he didn’t buy them. Were they on the list? OF COURSE they were on the list! Weren’t you listening?
10 May 2005 02:56 pm
By The Wiz
Ah….Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate our mothers, to be pampered as a mother, to sleep in if at all possible, a day when, JOY OF JOYS, Ward Council has been cancelled. There are books to unwrap, cards to read, and lots of hugs and kisses. Then everyobdy leaves Mom alone so she can read the books, or nap, or just enjoy. Again, I say - Ahhhhhh……..
Then there is the next day.
The flowers DH swears he owes me are, apparently, still in the shop, or else still growing in some garden, waiting for the supreme moment when he deems them just beautiful enough for his lovely wife. I guess they just didn’t grow fast enough. I think he’s waiting for me to pick up a bouquet at Costco next time I’m there.
My son yells “ball!” and picks up a rock from his sister’s rock collection and throws it. He does this several times, apparently deriving great joy from the experience. The dog, Maggie, keeps trying to avoid the rocks thrown in her general direction, because my son doesn’t understand why she is not going crazy, what with all the newfound wealth in the form of balls. Maggie is usually a ball hound, but is smarter than the average 1-year-old, being able to make the distinction between balls and rocks. She eventually escapes upstairs, with the rock-throwing fiend following her all the way. My daughter is mortified that her rock collection has been desecrated by toddler hands. (What is the deal with rock collections, anyway? I remember having one, too. Is it developmentally necessary or something?)
I drop my daughter off at preschool, and am ready to dash to the elementary school to drop off the kindergartener, then go home, put the toddler to bed, and enjoy a blissful two hours of blogging (I mean housecleaning! Reading! Something productive!) only to be told that I am the co-op mom for said preschool that day. It truly was on my calendar. It was just that in my Mother’s Day haze, I forgot to look at the calendar Sunday night to prepare myself for the week. So I race to the elementary school, call DH, order him to go to the store and pick up a snack for 13 preschoolers. He meets me with the snack (great guy, even if he does hate to buy flowers), I race back to the preschool, and spend the next 2 hours gluing, cutting, drawing, and generally just doing preschool-y things. Now, I don’t mind doing these things, it’s just that I was mentally prepared for some quiet time. And when I’m mentally prepared for down time, and me no get the down time, me no-likey.
But it all works out, and it is, after all, part of the job description to protect the dog from rock throwing fiends. I didn’t know it when I signed up, but that doesn’t make it any less real. And hey, I can always blog at midnight.
By Heather O.
As you all know, yesterday was Mother’s Day. Being a blog almost entirely devoted to mothers, I guess I should have posted something cool, or had a neat picture, or had some profound thoughts yesterday. Sorry. I was too busy sleeping in. Yes, DH came through and gave me a great Mother’s Day, starting with a lovely morning spent in total silence as Dh took the small child somewhere. I don’t even know where they went. And I really don’t care. All I care about is that I got to sleep well past nine, and then eat my breakfast and read the Sunday comics BY MYSELF for the first time in a long time. It was fabulous.
Anyway, so I didn’t have a chance to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there who read this blog and make us feel cool every time we check out our site meter and realize that people are STILL reading this blog. I hope everybody had a fantastic day.
And did everybody get a flower, or a potted plant at church? We got something a little different in our ward. The Young Women had made roses molded out of white chocolate for all the mothers, and the deacons passed them out. They were beautiful, perfect, a sight to behold. A special treat, just for the mothers. Mothers, that is, whose children don’t like chocolate. Jacob took one look at that chocolate treat, looking suspiciously like a lollipop (the roses were stuck on a stick and tied with a pretty ribbon) and shouted, “Hey, I want that!” and sure enough, devoured half of that treat when I got it opened. (sigh) A mother can’t even enjoy her own Mother’s Day treat without sharing.
The talks were also pretty standard Mother’s Day talks, saying most of the expected tributes to mothers, i.e., woman was the culmination of the creation, mothers are essential to the good development of their offspring and the most powerful influence in a child’s life, etc, etc. Then one speaker made a ridiculous reference to “his favorite movie as a child, Johnny Lingo.” You all know the story. The loser island girl “Mahana” (Her father calls her “Mahana You Ugly!) is purchased by the handsome, charming, charismatic, popular Johnny Lingo for the ridiculously high price of 8 cows. We meet the poor, ugly woman later in the film, and she has been transformed into a beautiful, happy, confident woman, because Johnny Lingo has shown her her true worth.
Fun story for a 12 year old ugly duckling, flat chested and gangly, with big, bright pink 80s style glasses and braces on her teeth (not that I would know anything about that. I was a SMOKIN’ looking 12 year old!). But for a Mother’s Day talk? Then the speaker said, “A mother’s worth is only revealed when a man shows it to her,” or something like that. I looked at DH in astonishment and said, “Did he just say what I think he said?” Sadly, DH agreed he had. I’d like to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt, that really, he was trying to show that we are all 8 cow women. But unfortunately, he subtly implied that we all wouldn’t KNOW that we were 8 cow women until our Johnny Lingos showed up with the animals, that it takes a man to tell us how great we are. I sincerely hope that the women in the audience did not buy that, that no woman buys that. Our worth as mothers and women should be inherently obvious, no matter what a man is willing to pay for us.
Anyway, bovine aside, I want to wish a big fat belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who are down in the trenches, fighting to keep their families strong, their children safe, and their sanity all at the same time. It’s a tough job, clearly not for the weak-minded or the faint of heart. 8 cows? Heck, I think we all deserve a whole dang pasture of animals! And yummy treats that we wouldn’t have to share….
What’s in a name?
06 May 2005 09:10 am
By The Wiz
Well, due to lack of research on my part, I have only recently discovered that my three children all have very common names. They are all in the top 10 in America, with 2 being in the top 5. This is very distressing to me. I have doomed my children to living with a last initial throughout their school years. Every time their name is called, it will be answered with a “which one?” Poor kids. I don’t know how they’ll ever survive. I guess I should just start saving now for the therapy bills that will come later. (”My parents didn’t love me enough to give me an original name. That’s why I’m content with mediocrity. It’s all in the name!)
I always wanted to name them something basic, no funky modern names for me. What is WITH the name Madison, anyway? Oh, and BTW, NOBODY named their child Madison until after ‘Splash’ came out in 1984. Go ahead- look it up . Nothing like being named after a mermaid. Sorry to all you moms of Madisons, and I know some very nice Madisons, but I just can’t handle it. Get mad at me if you want. What do I know? My nickname’s “The Wiz” for crying out loud.
I thought the names should be easy to spell, (her name’s Madison, but we spell it ‘MadiSYN’ - just to be different) easy to say,(can anyone say ‘Hermione?’) and something that they could grow with (nothing like an 80 year-old ‘Bobby’). I wanted to make sure their initials didn’t spell anything, and most of all, I hoped they would like it. I would like it to have a family connection if at all possible, but that does not mean that I am naming my daughter ‘Mildred’. And yes, that is my Grandmother’s name - what’s it to you?
I always feel for the child with the funky names, and I always wonder - do they view it as a conversation starter? Do they like it,as in - hey, it’s always an ice breaker to tell why your name is “Liahona”? Or do they wish they were named Jane? And do the Janes of the world wish their names were more interesting, as in “Cordelia”, a la Anne of Green Gables? And how do we as parents avoid pitfalls in naming our children?
For example, I would think it’s a pretty safe bet that if your last name is “Hill”, you don’t name your child “Cumorah.” But that didn’t stop it from happening. I went to high school with a Cumorah Hill. (Hi, Cumorah, if you’re reading this, although I very much doubt that you are, unless you happened to Google yourself.) My cousin went to college with a “Happy Thanksgiving.” Her middle name truly was Thanksgiving. What is the thought process here? (Ditto to Happy, if you’re reading this. I’ve never actually met you, but I think your name is funny. It makes me smile. Maybe that was the point.)
Oh, and what’s with the girls taking over the boy’s names? Did you know that ‘Beverly’ was originally a man’s name? And then the girls took it over, and the rest is history. Do we think that by naming our daughters a male name, that we are somehow making them more assertive or something?
Naming your child is a very stressful and personal thing. And I do think that to some degree there is a little bit of revelation involved, whether we know it or not. (Anyone heard of Joseph Smith, Jr.?) But people, can’t we use a little common sense in the process?
By Heather O.
Yes ladies, according to this , it’s true. Motherhood can make you smarter. It’s a fun article, and worth reading. I especially liked how the author said that that increased sense of smell during pregnancy was a good thing, an evolutionary tool that keeps mothers away from harmful substances that can be damaging to their babies. Using that logic, my refrigerator must have been seriously toxic!
Anyway, in light of our previous funny discussions on this, apparantly we are all a bunch of geniuses. Woo-hoo! Mensa, here we come! I’ll be there just as soon as I find my keys. And my purse. And my shoes. And some socks–wait, those are buried under the pile of laundry I forgot was on my bed. Did I vacuum in here today? Oh, look Jacob, a doggie!
Wait-what was I blogging about again?
Oh, right. Mothers. Genius. That’s us. Obviously.
By The Wiz
My first child was actually my dog. She was our pride and joy, our little ticket to meeting the neighbors, (Just TRY to walk a dog and have someone not come up to you. Go ahead. I dare you. It can’t be done.)and just the funniest little thing you’d ever seen. One ear used to flop down while the other one stood up. And when she cocked her head at you…
Then we had children, and little Maggie went from being cherished, precious first-born, to being the household dog. Still a spoiled household dog, but a dog all the same. She did not truly appreciate the transition until our kids were old enough to feed her from the high chair. All that nasty baby food licked off fingers mollified her somewhat. She still settles down in front of the high chair at every meal, which brings great joy to my son. I don’t know if he ever eats his own food, he’s constantly just feeding it to the dog -although I don’t know why she won’t eat the cereal that is routinely offered. She has NEVER liked Cheerios! I thought dogs ate anything you put in front of them! But our kids love her - in fact, my first child’s first word was dog. (That made us, as new parents, feel GREAT, by the way).
Anyway, she is a friendly pooch. We don’t have a fence anymore, so we have to take her outside and supervise her when necessary. She prefers this, anyway, seeing as there are no down comforters outside on which to spend the majority of her time.
Today I went outside to get the mail, and Maggie, seeing an opportunity to use the facilities, came with me. She usually just stays by me, or at the least in our yard, unless a cat is in the vicinity, in which case she turns into psycho-dog-from-hell-who-must-kill-the-evil-cat-at-all-costs-or-the-world-will-end. (She almost got to the top of our neighbor’s tree once. I thought dogs couldn’t climb trees, a delusion the cat was under as well). Well, today, she took off running just as we hit the driveway. I yelled, but by the time I got up to her, she had already reached her destination. She was right by the mailbox, greeting the TOTAL STRANGERS who were getting into their car parked on the curb. You would think these people were her long lost family. She was licking their hands, and her tail was wagging so hard, it was literally wagging the dog. This was a family with two children, who were more than happy to play with Strange Doggy for a while. “What’s her name?” “What kind of dog is she?”"Clearly, she likes us better than she likes you, can we keep her?” I am telling you, she would have jumped into their car and joined their family without a second glance.
She does this every time someone comes to our door, as well. She starts jumping, and licking, and wagging, and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, (usually in a high pitched squeaky voice) “Oh, Maggie remembers me. She just LOVES me. Look at her. She can’t act like this with just ANYONE.” And yes, I let people operate under the delusion that somehow, you are my dog’s favorite person in the whole world, and she has been pining for you ever since your last visit.
I have no real point to this blog. No deep discussions, no burning questions. Just as long as we are talking about our children,I thought I’d bring Maggie into the discussion. I like talking about my dog once in a while.
By Heather O.
Oh, and the saga continues….
So my neighbor drops off her 3 kids at my house this afternoon to babysit, and tells me she doesn’t want her daughter, “Mary” to be alone with “Melanie”, another neighborhood girl who often plays at our house. (All names have been changed.) That’s weird, I thought–this mother is not the paranoid, judgemental type. I asked her why, and she told me. After she told me, I didn’t want my child playing alone with this girl, and even wondered if I could keep Jacob out of their home (they live VERY close to us).
Here’s what happened between Mary(5) and Melanie(7). On one occasion, Melanie pulled her underwear down and showed Mary what was underneath. (Keep in mind she’s 7, not 3). On another occasion, Melissa asked Mary to touch what was underneath her underwear. Mary, luckily, told her mother she refused. Mary’s mother thus, for good reason, asked me to closely supervise any play-time these 2 little girls had. I wholeheartedly agreed.
But now I’m wondering what to do with my own child. Do I let him play over at Melanie’s house? She’s got 2 younger brothers who Jacob adores. Both parents work, and Melanie is consistently left in the care of her 12 year old sister until after 5:30. Is this behavior normal for 7 year old girls? Are Mary’s mother and I the only ones who think it’s weird? Do I just chalk it up to little kids figuring things out about their own bodies, or do I make absolutely sure that every minute spent with this family’s children is either in my home or in the street where I can monitor it? Do I invite the kids over for FHE and teach them about Jesus?
I don’t know, I’m just a little bit at a loss, here. Anybody had similar experiences, and could advise?