Resignation

Dear Sir;

Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation, effective immediately. While I have enjoyed this position at times, I have come to the conclusion that your children are completely, and without a doubt, un-parentable.

The many, many books I have read skimmed have prepared me with classic and time-tested approaches to address nearly ALL the challenges of raising children. YOUR children, however, are a troublesome case.

Today I took a privilege away from the children. And while all the books assured me that this would set them on the path to righteousness and correct their wayward behavior, it was hardly the response. Instead of coloring and playing demurely during my evening meeting, the children revolted. Instead of focusing on the goal of good behavior to win back their iPads and screen time, they prepared an assault on my meeting in a direct tactical response to the consequence I had sanctioned.

Doors were opened and slammed. Crayons and markers were thrown. Shouting, running and LOUD WHISPERING — SUCH LOUD WHISPERING were executed with lethal precision. Tantrums were thrown. Friends were pulled onto the battlefield and used as emotional hostages. Chairs were dragged, loudly, through a quiet auditorium in front of an audience of other, more successful parenting figures.

Sir. To put it in the most direct and honest way I can: Tonight was a shit show.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I must admit that I am unable to parent the children any longer. Tonight they won. In an epic and unforgettable way. They won.

I will never forget my time with the children. Mainly because of the gray hair and drinking problem I have acquired during my time with them. But still. They look sweet when they are sleeping and I will miss that. Sometimes.

If you need me, please look no further than the closest adult-only resort. I’m taking a break from children (all children) for the foreseeable future.

Kind regards,

Mom

 

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That thin, thin line

Lately I’m walking a pretty thin line between keeping it all together, and completely, totally, losing my shit. It’s pretty super.

Just ask my kids.

While they are (mostly) innocent bystanders, my poor children are usually the tipping point that takes me from a stressed out, slightly depressed momma to a raging maniac. You know what I DON’T need when I’m deep in thoughts of how to describe illness and loss to your sister? I don’t need you TO BE A TWO YEAR OLD. That’s right. You heard me. STOP THAT RIGHT THERE. The stomping and arguing and yelling and learning to be INDEPENDENT. I don’t NEED THAT RIGHT NOW. I need you to be sweet and pliable and still prefer snuggles to running into the street pell mell, like you have a teeny tiny death wish. THAT CAR ISN’T SCARED OF YOU. You are not actually a T-Rex. You also can’t wear underpants if you are going to poop in them constantly. Oh, and P.S., we AREN’T out of juice, I was just tired of arguing with you about it SO I LIED.

A few weeks ago when I was knee deep in self-pity and worry, I was in the office writing and researching some fun old CANCER stuff when B wandered in. He had been watching a show with Kate, but since he has the attention span of a gnat, he decided to come and see what I was up to. I was up to CODE RED emotional state, nearing tears or a nervous breakdown. When I didn’t pay him enough attention, B sidled up next to me in a quick snuggle fake-out and then with a mighty ‘WHACK!’ he slammed his hand down on the computer, effectively erasing everything I had just written. I let out a mighty sound. I’m not sure what exactly how to put this sound in words. Part primal shriek, part groan, part exasperation and part anger. I put my head on the desk in my hands and squeezed my eyes shut and pretty much started to hyperventilate.

Beckett of course hit the ground sobbing. I was too wrapped up in my own emotions to comfort him. Because, you know, thin line. I kept my head down on the desk and tried to keep from lashing out, because I knew it wasn’t really what B did that I was angry about. Without lifting my head I told him, very sternly, “You need to leave. Now.” He literally crawled out of the room and I couldn’t raise up out of my emotions enough to care.

Not my finest moment.

My head was still on the desk when I heard some shuffling at the office door. I raised my head, ready to let loose with my anger. Make myself somehow feel better by making him, a poor, tiny toddler, feel worse. I just had so much inside me and he was the tipping point.

But when I looked up, it was Kate in the door. With a slightly terrified expression on her face. The look on her face struck me, and I lost my anger immediately. It drained away as quickly as it had come and all that was left was sadness, shame and that hollow feeling that sits in your stomach when you know you’ve done something you can’t take back.

Kate stared at me for a second and then said to me, “Um, Mom? I don’t like it when you scream at me, and I don’t think you should scream at Beckett either. I tried to wipe all his tears and snot off, and I got him to stop crying. You should probably say sorry.”

Wow. My first thought was to quibble a bit, because her words put me in such an ugly light. I mean, I didn’t SCREAM per say. I mean, lets call a spade a spade. It was more a reaction than a scream. I mean, sometimes I YELL. Maybe that was a YELL?

No. Lets call a spade a spade. I screamed. I took my anger, fear and sadness and balled it up into a tight wad of emotion and threw it at my two-year old. And it hurt him. As much as if it were a physical thing. And my daughter. My little warrior. She cared for him. She helped him. And then SHE CAME TO ME and stood up for her brother. Even though she was afraid I was going to… SCREAM… at her next.

Oh my heart.

A friend of mine who has been faced with an unexpected and terrible loss recently, wrote to me with these wise words. “What I have learned (the hard way this last year) is the constant challenge of trying to be present and emotionally available when you are so emotionally raw and stripped. It’s such a backwards situation. How is any human supposed to deal with very real adult emotionally heavy and suffocating concerns and still have the emotional fortitude to crawl on the floor with your littles, parent with patience and not be a blubbering mess.”

I could not have put it into better words. What it feels like to have such a heavy weight of pain and sadness within while you try to parent. Her advice to handling this was to be honest. Instead of trying to hold it all in where the only option is to lash out when it all becomes to much, she let her children see her heart. Her hurt. Her sadness. And it seems to me, that has to be the way. Because I would rather my children grow up knowing and understanding emotions and how to deal with them in a healthy manner, than seeing mommy fall off that thin line, causing damage to their little hearts and sweet souls in the process.

How blessed I am to have such wise friends. Now if I can just be a little more like them. I think we might just all make it through.

Oh Miley

Miley, Miley, Miley.

Sigh.

If you have been hidden under a rock for the last 24 hours, you may have missed the VMAs (that is Video Music Awards) on MTV (that is Music Television I believe). I missed it for sure, because I haven’t watched that channel since about Real World Season 6 and I think they are on Real World Season 55. However, what I COULDN’T miss was when the Titterverse had a giant and simultaneous brain explosion when Miss Cyrus took the stage to perform.

So I did what any mature adult would do. I rose above and ignored the gossip. Ha, no way, I rushed to YouTube to see what all the fuss was about.

And, duuuuuuuude.

Okay, I get it. From the dawn of time, “artists” have been pushing the envelope. Hoping to make an impression. When I got online to make my own Facebook statement of indignation, a dear friend reminded me of the influences we had growing up. For heaven’s sake, Madonna released an album called Erotica with a companion photo book entitled SEX. And yes, lest you be confused about what the photos actually were of… it is what you think. Britney made school girls naughty(er?), wore skimpy clothing and I believe, during one certain tour, pretended to pleasure herself in a bathtub.

Right-O.

So yes, my friend is correct. Miley Cyrus’ decision to use a foam finger as an, ah, um, ahem, sorry, can’t go there. Whatever she was doing with that finger, is not a new phenomenon.

But thanks to the great double-edged sword of technological advancements, I think it IS more problematic to our children than what we saw growing up.

I was free to make all kinds of mistakes when I was growing up. Say, for example, I decided to “be like Madonna” and recreate a scene from SEX (this did not happen by the way.) The only people who would have known were the participants. Sure, maybe someone blabs, there is some gossip for awhile and then things move on to the next teenage scandal.

Let’s say that same thing happens today. First, someone takes a cellphone pic, obviously. That gets posted to SnapChat because kids are dumb. No, that isn’t fair. Kids are not dumb, but it is PROVEN that the part of the brain that controls reasoning isn’t developed until a person is well into adulthood. Children sometimes make bad choices  – it is actually NOT 100% THEIR FAULT. So anyhoo, someone posts this pic to SnapChat and they think that is the end of it. But a “friend” of theirs gets a screen grab of the pic. They post it to Facebook and Twitter. Hashtag “time to ruin a few lives.” Maybe someone took a cellphone video, posted it to all the above, maybe Vine. Now, not that teenagers need it, but all those bullies out there have new ammunition to use online and in person. Maybe these poor kids change schools to get away from the harassment. That doesn’t matter, because the kids at their new school know how to use GOOGLE for God’s sake, and they found the photos, the videos and now have both a new target and new fun fodder. So THEN what? Homeschool? Suicide? Let’s talk about the future. THESE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS COULD BE AVAILABLE WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR YOUR FIRST JOB. It is the Internet people. It is not kind.

As an adult, you may be reading this and thinking I’m going overboard. NO I’M NOT. This kind of activity and bullying is happening every day. It is terrifying.

And that is why we can’t just laugh off these types of “performances” and roll our eyes and say, “OH MILEY.” Chuckle and think how ridiculous we all thought she looked. Because for everyone of us who are unimpressed, there is someone with an undeveloped frontal cortex who is seeing a role model, and who has the tools and access to emulate the things they are seeing and share it with a very, very wide audience.

Look, I made a ton of mistakes growing up, and I am not foolish enough to think my kids won’t make them too. Normal, natural, growing up and learning from them mistakes.

But now, more than ever, I believe that we have to be vigilant about what our kids are seeing and TALKING to them about it. About the dangers of social media, about privacy and how to protect yourself. We can’t immediately change the world, but man, we have got to find a way to help them navigate it.

And pray there isn’t a cell phone around when the worst mistakes happen.

Conversations of a mad woman

A sane person should never have these conversations. And I’ve had them all. GO FIGURE.

“Don’t wipe your boogers on your car seat. Well, I can’t REACH a tissue, I’m driving. Okay, fine then, wipe them on the car seat. Just don’t eat them.”

“Do not let the dog lick your food before you eat it. I don’t care that you are sharing, don’t share. Yes, you SHOULD share with your friends. But do not share with the dog. Yes, unless he is starving, then you can share. No. Jackson is not starving right now.”

“I don’t know what lady bugs eat, but I’m fairly certain peanut butter isn’t it. I’m also fairly certain that petting her like that is going to kill her.”

“Sure you can clean all the bathroom floors, what a fun game. Here is a wipe. Yes. Yes that IS gross. Here are some plastic gloves to wear. Now get to cleaning.”

“I am NOT calling you names. Hellion is a term of endearment.”

“Everything that is covered by your swimsuit is private. Do you know what that means? Good, so what are your private areas? Yes, and yes. And no. That is your armpit, it’s not private. Okay, fine, sure, it’s private. Don’t let anyone touch your armpit.”

“If you sit still, I will give you a cookie. No, you know what, if you sit still for just five more minutes, I will give you 10 million dollars. Fine. I’ll keep the dollars, here is your cookie. Sucker.”

“Be a giant! Come on, be a giant and eat your trees. Yummy. See? Mommy is a giant, YUM! Ew, yuck, yeah, don’t eat those. Let me put some butter and seasoning on those trees, plain broccoli is super gross.”

“Go play. Mommy just needs a few minutes of privacy. Don’t bang on the door with a toy Beckett. Kate, I can hear you telling him to bang on the door. Stop it. Guys, seriously. Just a minute. Go away. GUYS! THE NEXT SET OF FINGERS THAT REACH UNDER THAT DOOR ARE GOING TO BE CHOPPED OFF SO HELP ME GOD.”

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It is enough

You know what really hacks me off?

Well-intentioned people who write meaningful articles/posts about parenting that are supposed to inspire you, but really just make you feel like you still aren’t doing it right. Like, you just need to TRY HARDER. So maybe, just maybe, if I do EXACTLY what the parent in this post did, I MIGHT be able to NOT SUCK. It will be, like, SUPER easy to be the best parent on the planet, if I just follow these FIVE SIMPLE STEPS. WINNING!

SCREW THAT. I am trying my ASS off with this parenting thing, and sometimes, it feels like a big fat pile of steaming failure. AND THEN! Then someone posts or reposts something about how you shouldn’t check your email when your kid is on the swing set because you are teaching them they are unimportant, or maybe you shouldn’t tell your kid to hurry, because you are RUINING their little lives with the request for some hustle. Or maybe you just read a post about how you need to nurture your children and not force them to grow up so quickly, but then there is that OTHER post that condemns the way you help your kids climb the monkey bars, because, COME ON! Kids are CAPABLE and if you help them you are actually STIFLING THEIR GROWTH AND (again) RUINING THEIR LIVES.

Listen.

I just got home. Where was I? Let’s call it HELL. Because, when it is more than an hour past your youngest child’s nap time, and both kids are hyped up on sugar and you are in a busy mall because you thought taking them to a movie would be a fun outing, it could be the closest thing to Hell that is on this Earth. So lets say you are trying to get both to the car without a) losing one, b) losing your mind, c) accidentally stealing something from the Disney store that is located STRATEGICALLY next to the elevator by the food court by the HOLY GOD THE CAROUSEL, WE MUST RIDE THE CAROUSEL, yet Beckett, he is melting, he is MELTING INTO A GIANT TODDLER-SIZED PUDDLE of GET ME THE FUCK TO SLEEP. But a preschooler doesn’t give a wit that her brother is now burrowing into the tile floor of the food court and that I can’t chase her down because he is officially limp noodle on the floor, incapable of standing on his FEEEEEEET, because he is TIIIIIIIIREEEEEEEDDDDDDD.

You know what? I get that there is probably a great and delicate way to handle this situation. Someone, somewhere has probably even written a post about how to gracefully wrangle your hellion children at a mall. But you know what? I DIDN’T handle it gracefully. I handled it with some harsh words, some threats, some tears, some pleading, some forcefully dumping into a stroller, some hissed words under my breath and maybe a stare that would have frozen my husband in his tracks. THAT is how I handled it. And all those bloggers and writers with all those good intentions and ideas and ways to be a GOOD PARENT can bite me.

Because parenting is HARD. It isn’t always graceful, and it isn’t always well done. Sometimes, it is done very, very poorly. But I am TRYING.

As parents, I think we should all stick together. And continue to just TRY.

It is the best we can do. And whatever anyone says, or however inferior they make you feel, trust me. Our best… it IS enough.

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Photo by Flight Path Photography