about the kids, My favorite quotes, songs and stories

Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve often said I celebrate Mother’s Day differently now that I’m a mother myself. Today, I’m glad I have this amazing piece to feature here, because, let’s face it, intense, constant pain doesn’t go well with writing amazing pieces. At least not for me. So without further ado, here’s a tribute to Mother’s Day from Stephen Larriva:

I was standing in line at the supermarket. Behind me in the line was a mother with her two teenage children: a boy about 13 and a girl maybe 15. The boy was sulking, arguing with his mom about some item that he wanted her to purchase for him. The girl was feverishly texting and at the same time nagging her mother to let her go to a party. Words like a dumb and old-fashioned were being used repeatedly on the poor woman. Everyone who was standing in line became increasingly uncomfortable with the way these two teens were treating their mother. I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned around and looked at them squarely in the eyes and said “This woman (pointing at their mother) at great personal expense,” I paused for affect “Pushed you both out of her vagina. Your arguments are invalid.” There was silence. An elderly gentleman stifled a cough. The cashier cleared his throat. Then laughter started and spontaneous applause. The old man slapped me on the back the tears streaming down his face in laughter. The cashier whispered in awe “Dude, you’re totally like, my hero.”

Then I woke up.

While it is highly unlikely I would ever actually do this in real life. (I admit it is fun to think about) it really got me thinking about how much we take for granted the tricky job of motherhood. Perhaps because women have been doing the difficult job of motherhood for thousands of years with such amazing grace and breathtaking finesse it’s easy to forget how hard it actually is.

For starters, just being a woman difficult – and not just metaphorically or historically, although both of those are very valid point in cases of how difficult it is to be a woman. The just the physical transition that a woman must endure to become a mother is mind bending.

I’m the first to admit that, as a man, I’m about as qualified to discuss this subject as an auto mechanic who has never owned a car. But I have assisted in a few births (and by assisting, I mean watched) and once delivered a baby when the midwife didn’t show up on time. (I’m still extremely proud of myself for not fainting.) I also have attended a Lamaze class as well as having repeatedly viewed all the drawings in the very end of the “144 basic book” during my teen years.

For those of you who may have missed sixth grade Sex Ed – and by missed I am specifically referring all us guys who actually attended the class but at first mention of the word ‘vulva’ started giggling like Japanese school girls in the back of the classroom and never heard another word that the teacher said. You can imagine my shock when I attended my first Lamaze class (which is basically sixth grade Sex Ed while you sit on the floor) where it was all re-explained with the use of flash cards and a video of a birth starring two completely nude and surprisingly hairy individuals. For those of you who may have missed Lamaze class I will do my best to recount what I learned.

First I would like you to take a deep breath, in through the nose and exhaled slowly out your mouth, as we take a moment to talk about the uterus.

The uterus:

The uterus is described in medical textbooks to be the basic size and shape of an inverted pear, a statement that uteruses worldwide resent immensely. In the months that follow conception, this little ball of inter woven muscle will increase its size by about 600%. After nine months the uterus starts to figure that looking like an inverted pear may not be so bad after all. So in a matter of hours it contracts, causing the cervix to dilate and forcibly expelling a fully formed human. Men cannot experience this. And that is a good thing. For if we could, the human race surely would have died out long ago. Here is a link for a video of 2 men who gave it a try. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A44oEcmDn1c . It is interesting to note that these guys simply had electrodes stuck to their stomach muscles so it was the equivalent of a couple hundred sit-ups. Not exactly the same as a disgruntled baby expelling uterus, but I feel they deserve a thumbs up for the noble attempt. While we’re on the subject things that women have that men don’t, let’s take a moment to talk about:

Ovaries:

Ovaries are about the size of your thumb and are considered by the medical community the practical jokesters of the female anatomy. When they are not busy producing copious amounts of estrogen they take turns producing eggs. For reasons that science has yet to explain ovaries somehow have been left with the impression that it is one of their responsibilities to influence the woman’s behavior. For the most part they are fairly well organized. For example, one may take full responsibility for producing the acquiring new shoes hormone, while the other focuses effort on chocolate acquisition. Normally this works fairly well. Until a woman becomes pregnant. This upsets their schedule of egg making and throws the rest of the little ovaries planning totally out the window causing them to rebel and retaliate by making the woman’s feet swell so that she cannot wear shoes and forcing her to crave strange things like Marmite flavored gummy bears or peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

I could go on and on because as I understand it there is at least a dozen other things that happen in a woman’s body when she becomes pregnant but I can’t remember right now because at some point in the presentation the Lamaze instructor said the word “vulva”.

Here’s the part where it gets really crazy. Pregnancy and birth is the easy part! That’s right the EASY part! Because after you have a baby it becomes your responsibility to actually care for the child.

How mothers do it is a mystery to me. Sleepless nights and poopie diapers, colicky babies and ear aches. Colds and coughs, tummy bugs and projectile vomiting, scraped knees and visits to the emergency room. Potty training and teaching to read. Meals cooked, dishes washed, mountains of laundry folded, of hundreds ouchies bandaged, thousands of tears kissed away…

Sure, there may be a tiny hiccups from time to time. A slip that gives you a glimpse into how difficult her job really is. She may occasionally make the same thing for dinner two nights in a row. Or perhaps skip eating her dinner all together and go straight for a glass of wine. Or for a brief moment forget a child’s name and work through the list of names of all her other children before getting it right. But these inconsistencies are so short and infrequent that if you blink you probably will miss it. And she goes right back to soldiering on, picking right up where she left off in the endless list and duties and responsibilities that she carries so bravely.

To be a mother takes superhuman strength. I have no clue how they do it, but they do. Day in day out with a grace and beauty and elegance that I find impossible to put into words. Watching a mother be a mother I think is kind of like watching a ballet. They make it look so easy, so effortless. And even though in theory we know it must be difficult you never really know for sure unless you actually try it. If you ever curious to give it a try, let me know, I will let you borrow my pink tutu.

about the kids, my writings and thots

Enjoying more moments

When my kids were babies, the sage wisdom was told to me often: “enjoy them while they’re little, they grow up too fast.” Many older mothers lamented not having taken enough time to enjoy their children while they were young and coached me in not just tending to the physical day-to-day care of the children, but in taking moments with them whenever I could.

As a young mother, I wanted to do my best to do this with my kids. I reminded myself often that they wouldn’t always be this young, that time would pass and I didn’t want to be one of those mothers that wishes she had been all there when her children were young. Sure, as a stay at home, sometimes working-from-home mom, that meant I was with my kids almost all the time. But really being there, that meant being there in my mind and not just with my presence. I wrote about the moments that count and that launched the beginning of my writing and blogging efforts.

Today, things couldn’t be more different than they were when they were little. I feel like I’ve joined a debating society. Everything is questioned and reasoned and has to be completely understood before embarking on anything. Clothes are changed over and over until the right outfit is found; by the time they leave for school, it looks like they’ve teleported out and left their shoes and clothes behind!

Now I get to buy deodorant and teen bras and Star Wars Lego. There are no more Barbies in the house; instead there’s a skateboard, bicycle helmets, and lip gloss. Life needs to be explained from a more mature point of view, and explanations about what is Playboy and define girlfriend and no, you may not dye your hair purple.

They’ve also become more responsible and capable. They all have things they can cook and like learning new things all the time. The girls have their first job distributing newspapers in order to up their allowance. Less time is spent teaching them how to clean their rooms; more time is now invested in decorating and crafts. They all have their alarm clocks to wake them up in a time frame they feel they need to get ready for school.

It’s a different phase right now and I’m enjoying it as much as I’ve enjoyed every year so far. Things change all the time, and this seems to be a ‘switch’ time from childish to teenager for all of them. I’m enjoying the ride and still enjoy the fact that they do talk to me, I am still able to guide them as much as I can, and I pray every day that they’ll grow up to be responsible, happy adults.

about the kids, my writings and thots

The Flower Project

Last week, CC was working on a project at school that required several sessions of work. It’s a beautiful flower that is made up of many smaller flowers, all folded in an intricate way. This is totally CC’s type of art project. She can be creative and artistic while following directions at the same time.

One day she came home from school, and from what I understood, had the majority of her individual flowers stolen. Apparently, they all have a box they can keep their projects in, but 8 out of the 12 flowers she had made disappeared from one day to the next. She was pretty upset and didn’t really feel like remaking the flowers in order to complete the project. She felt that since the teacher already saw her make them, that would be enough and she could quit then and there.

We had a discussion together and I talked to her a bit about life and the stuff it throws at us sometimes. Sure, it’s not fair for someone else to get credit for work she’s done, but there was nothing she could do about it anymore as the teachers couldn’t even find the culprits. She’s my daughter after all, we don’t quit.

In a way, that’s one of my strong points. I get pretty low, pretty darn close to giving up, but I always manage to pick myself up again and figure out how to go on. This is something I really want to impart to my children, because set backs are a part of life. It might be, like in CC’s case, something that someone did to us, or it might be something that is out of our control, like paper work that takes forever to complete.

She said that the teacher had given her the option to team up with a classmate and help her finish her project as she was a few flowers behind. “Better than giving up”, I said as she determined to still make something out of what she had left.

I was pleasantly surprised when she came home on Friday with a complete flower, all the little flowers done by her—again. She had taken the time to refold all the flowers, and didn’t opt to team up with the classmate after all. Something else I keep trying to teach them seems to have sunk in: If you’re going to do something, do it right and do it all the way.

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I’m proud of my kids when they put into practice something I’ve tried hard to teach them. I also had a chance to check my own life and see what things I needed to focus on in order to complete properly. I’ve dropped so many balls in my life, I sometimes am a little unclear on what I need to pick up still. But step by step, and bit by bit, I’m picking up the pieces and hopefully, the artwork of my life will be something I can be proud of in the end.

about the kids, my writings and thots

As my children grow up, there are times when I feel more than a little overwhelmed by the things that they go through, the things I need or want to do for them, the every changing needs they have, and the challenges they are faced with regularly. Anyone who has been following for any amount of time knows that I’m an overachiever and hate when I keep dropping the ball.

It’s only getting more challenging as they get older and things around me change in a way I can’t control. I have days when I can’t believe I can go on one more step. When I’m so tired I have to go back to sleep once the kids leave for school. When one of my kids comes home in tears after having their stuff thrown around their classroom by a class bully, saying, “when can we go home, mom?” When I get the piece of paper that says that it’s not up to me to decide where we live or what education my children will have. When I do my best to get work, to pile on the jobs, but it’s still not enough. When the washing machine acts up and I end up with a floor covered in sewer first thing in the morning.

The list could go on and on. I’m not even sure how many balls I’ve dropped today, and frankly, I’ve stopped trying to keep track. As a mother, I can give my best and I do, every single day. I keep looking for jobs and options to get back  home–eventually. I hug my kids, often. I decided to do fun things with them sometimes as well, because we all know, those are the things they’ll remember. We went ice skating and yes, CC is faster than me, but that’s ok because we can laugh about it. We play games together or make puzzles.

I’ll never be able to juggle all the balls that are thrown at me every day. Hey, I’m not even sure I can keep up making lemonade with all the lemons, so I’ll add a spritz to my gin tonic on the weekends and get back to it all again tomorrow. And I can guide my kids, guide by my words and guide by my actions. Teach them how to hang on through the rough times, that God gives us the strength for each challenge, but sometimes it’s ok to be weak and need help. Lead them as much as I can and hope and pray they’ll stay on the path that they’re meant for.

about the kids

Family Dinner

It’s always a good thing when I cook something new and there are no leftovers. Seriously, when they go in for thirds, I know I managed to create something they like, it’s always the best way to gauge.

But the most fun is the conversations we have at dinner. I don’t know how it degenerates so fast, as usually it’s not bad talk, it’s highly educational!

Tonight we somehow got on the topic of the sea. Jordan started mentioning how dangerous it is it pee in the ocean. I can’t say I was overly curious to know why, but he was not deterred. “Did you know there was a man who peed in the sea and a worm of some kind managed to crawl up his p***s and a doctor had to go in there with a camera and fish it out?”

Yeah, way more information than I wanted as I was enjoying my dinner. “Don’t worry mom” says Cherise, “That only happens in one place and it’s not common, it serves him right for peeing in the sea.”

That makes me feel so much better. Thank you, National Geographic TV!

about the kids, my writings and thots

School Christmas market

So, the kid’s school hosted a Christmas market organized by someone in the school (I’m sure!) and all the kids and their parents were invited. We were promised an afternoon of activities, arts and crafts, snacks, and warm drinks.

What we found was, let’s see how do I put it, well, confusion. There were arts/crafts and activities, but it was all rather vague and it turned out the kids had done most of them in their classes with their teachers already. There was a ‘game room’ with an assortment of board games and twister set up, but since none of my kid’s friends were around, there wasn’t much to do there, either.

A bunch of teen girls were running around with plates of pancakes, trying to sell them. I wasn’t really in the mood for anything sweet (yeah, I’ve been baking so the house is full of sweet treats), but I found out later it was a competition; I guess I should have bought one from the girl who was especially polite.

We wandered the halls for a bit, looking for any sign of the kid’s teachers. I did meet one, Cherise’s Math teacher, but she was busy. That’s when I decided that the best idea they had was the mulled wine and I desperately needed one. Jordan and Cherise decided to share a cup of warm children’s punch at the same time.

So we were standing there, trying to enjoy our warm drinks when spontaniously two kids came running from behind me, while I was trying to help Cherise hold her hot drink, at the same time a door opened from behind Jordan. Not sure how it happened–it all happened so fast–but I spilled more than half of the contents of my mug all over myself. A kind teacher threw some napkins at me and left us to mop up the floor.

I managed to wash most of it out of my coat with snow outside, though I’m sure there is still some smell in there. So I’m the drinking mom, just in case anyone’s asking. When I told Charlotte at home, her reaction was, “oh, mom. Welcome to our school. That’s how it is, confusion.”

At least the mulled wine was good, what was left of it, anyway. 😀

about the kids

July

So much Summer at last! Most of these are from CC’s birthday party. It was cold on her birthday, so we did the swimming outing a couple days later.

Charlotte’s birthday. It was a small celebration at home.

Feeding Cherise birthday cake

Jordan, goofying off with my shawl

Fun at the playground

And off to the pool we go!

The birthday girl!

So much fun on the slides!


Finally, a warm day!

It doesn’t matter how hot it is, Jordan’s lips always go blue!