250px-WonderWomanV5In my mind I was wearing a cape. I was Wonder Teacher. I swirled my golden Lasso of truth over toddlers and they both admitted to and apologized for biting their friends. I tossed my Golden Tiara and unruly pre-k students immediately gave me their attention. My Bracelets of in destructibility protected me from tears, whining and arguments with incoherently exhausted little ones. I had skills. Preschool teaching skills. When I spoke? Kids listened. They even -mostly- did what I said. My days were spent playing in multi colored macaroni tables, sand tables, serving meals and cleaning up meals, potty training and teaching pre-reading skills and social skills. I loved it and I was good at it.

I remember my last day as Wonder Teacher. I stood near the classroom door at 5:30 watching totally out of control parents attempt to stuff wriggly preschoolers into jackets. I tried not to look smug as they struggled to do what I’d been doing with ease all day- getting their children to obey. I smiled as I moved in to rescue those having the hardest time. I used my tough but loving teacher voice. It worked. I hope they thought my smile was just my love for their kids…..it was.

Mostly.

I was also smiling about my secret. I’d taken an at home pregnancy test that weekend. I was excitedly: pregnant. As I watched those little bodies file out of my classroom, I was convinced 100% that I was going to be fabulous. Actually- I was pretty sure I was going to be a better parent than every one of those people who had just rushed out of my room.

I was ready. I had skills. I had a teacher voice and I wasn’t afraid to use it. I knew the warning signs for toddler meltdown. I knew scheduling and the value of structure.

I was also: 21. A newly wed. And yes-we planned our pregnancy. We’d been together for years and we were sure we were ready for kids.

That night I ended up in the emergency room.  I remember the invasive touches in the place I was feeling the most fear ever. I remember a few of the doctor’s words: “Spotting. Threatening to miscarry. Nothing to do but go home- try bed rest and wait.”

Overnight, I went from Wonder Teacher to paranoid bed rest wreck. I cried through Oprah. I cried through bags of Salt and Vinegar potato chips. I cried when my husband had to do laundry after work. I cried when I had to call work and let them know I was hanging up my Wonder Teacher outfit for good. I cried when I had to drop my college class. I also: continued to spot. Just enough to keep me on bed rest. I spotted just enough to cause panicked calls to my husband at work saying things like: “I think this is it. Don’t bother coming home….you’ll be too late.” (more…)

In honor of the Olympics:  A re-print from 2006-

Curious? George was. So is Noah.
I keep telling myself: he’s not bad…. he’s curious, creative, innovative, but, what I see at the moment is, he’s messy. Maximum mess. Messious Maximus.

Three guesses as to what the ooze is that Noah is sliding in…..

Is it:
1. Gorilla Glue? (Thankfully- Not.. I suppose it COULD have been worse…–although I wouldn’t have had to chase his stickiness through the kitchen, if it HAD been…He’d have been: stuck. permanently. Which sounds like a pretty good idea on occasion.)
2. A Bodily Fluid- either  animal or human? (Nope-not this time, that would have smelled much worse.)
3. An entire bottle of syrup poured onto my kitchen floor, creating Noah’s own Olympic Speed Skating rink? DING DING DING!- We have a winner!

Like most toddler mischief-it began, with two minutes of peace and quiet.

I should have known.

When suddenly,I remembered that: Quiet is not good. I called out: “Noah!?  Where are you?”  No answer.

No answer? Also: not good.

3 steps into the kitchen, my feet felt funny.

5 steps in,  I saw what you see,in the picture above.

6 steps in, I decided I had to kill him….

Then, I saw his shirt. “GEORGE” It said in bright white letters across his back.

I stopped cold (and sticky) in my tracks. I was reminded of where we went just yesterday.

We went to see “Curious George”.  I giggled through the whole movie through because Curious George- is so like my Noah.

George is like any normal preschooler. Curious.

So is Noah. Not only curious, but also uninhibited. If the sticky syrup feels good- they slide in it. Our whole family saw Noah in the movie- we laughed on the way home… thinking of the little moments- where Noah has gotten himself into scrapes.

Don’t get me wrong…

20 oz. of maple syrup, (Okay high fructose corn syrup with caramel coloring and maple falling .. at least it was the cheap stuff.) spread across my floor, does NOT make me happy. It makes me furious. But- in the instant that I saw his shirt, I was reminded of Curious George and Curious Noah. In the same instant God ( I know it was God, because the woman in my head?  She was heading for her executioner’s hood!) reminded me: “George isn’t BAD, he’s CURIOUS. So is Noah.”

Truth is— I could have ranted and raved. (I have before) But, the floor would have still been a mess, the syrup would have been covering him… and I’d have felt awful. Instead, in a moment of lucidity, that also could only have been God, I calmly said…

Noah? What did you do? ” to which he replied ” I skating. I go Olympics!”

I told him: “Syrup is for waffles, not skating.”  I then had to figure out how to clean up the mess- before the dog went into a maple sugar induced coma….AND I had to keep them both from spreading invisible sticky footprints all thru the house. I decided on stripping the preschooler to his drawers and making him stand on a towel, while I mopped up what I could…. before putting him in the tub. (Noah, alone in a tub while I’m MOPPING-would be a bad thing…actually, preschoolers, alone in a tub is ALWAYS a bad thing!)

Noah must have sensed how close to death he came today- because he managed to stand (wiggle and sit ) on that towel, without leaving it for 10 minutes. A herculean feat for a wriggly boy.

We all survived, thanks to Curious George and Jesus.

FYI: When faced with a “Curious” problem like this of your own…. prior to the actual mopping up of the syrup— I recommend you use a spatula to scrape as much up as possible. This will eliminate the creation of “mop doom”…(you don’t want to know) and will enhance your cleaning experience. (These are the kind f cleaning tips you can’t find in parenting books. But, should.)

Dear Lord, I love you- and this child (all three!) that you gave me, please help me to always see them as your wonderful creation. Please, give me wisdom, to discipline them, and patience to guide them. And Lord- thanks for not letting me kill them. amen.

I watched as each woman gracefully walked to her place on the stage. Each one a picture of poise and beauty. Their Runway strut and pivot turns were  “America’s Top Model” perfect.

They were all:
• Beautiful
• Intelligent
• Resourceful
• Unique
• Dedicated
• Incredible

And, vying for the same crown. The competition was fierce. It was game on. I eyed the crown, for inspiration, before I went to take my place along side them. The glitter and prestige made me gag on my insecurity.  Nausea be darned: “I want that crown.” I thought. I strode across the stage.

The music slowed, then quieted. The announcer made her way across the stage to ask the “crowning” question of each contestant. I worked to listen to their answers and reconsider my own well-practiced one, while trying to simultaneously size the other contestants’ answers up.

Each one gave it her best. (This was a serious contest.)

Each answer was more difficult than the next.

I started to feel small. Smaller. Smallest. I don’t mean in dress size. I wondered if my answer would seem petty. I wondered if I should be on the stage with these women, at all. I wondered if I could sneak out, without being noticed.

I wondered which of them would win the crown. It wasn’t going to be me.

What was the question?

“What’s the hardest type of mom to be?”

Not exactly the type of question you were expecting in a pageant?

Well, I admit it. I lied. There was no pageant. I’ve never even been to a formal gowns, bathing suits and brutal stage lighting pageant. Please, being in one? That would be my nightmare.. Especially after 3 kids and more years than I care to count. Let’s just say, the bathing suit thing gives me hives- which might camouflage my stretch-marks, but won’t win me a crown.

I have, however, competed for the Mommy Martyrdom Crown. Several times. Whether it’s a question that’s actually been posed to a group- or one that’s implied, it’s one I’ve competed to answer.

Have you competed for the same crown? It’s a one-up-momship. A “my life is hard than your’s–so- you- should- not complain”  contest.

The thing is, no one wins.

After a winner is crowned, the rest of the contestants line up to congratulate her: “I don’t know how you do it.” “I could never do that” We offer them as blessings, but the words become walls. Miss congeniality ends up feeling “less than.” And the winner? She feels…… “more than.”

The Crowned Martyr-Mom has convinced herself (and others) how awful her life is, while at the same time convincing the others how petty their struggles are. She’s got skillz. We all do. Because we all know how to play the game.

We just don’t know how to win- because – everyone loses. We disconnect because we can’t be authentic with each other.  We’re too busy either trying to top each other or feeling guilty about feeling frustrated by “our little issues.”  In the end- intimacy is lost. Intimacy is way more valuable than a tinsel crown.

The Martyr -Mom  is miserable. So are the rest of us.

What if we stopped competing? What would it look like if we could learn to hear and understand the struggles of others without comparing our own? What if we set aside the Martyr-Mom crown for the crown of friendship?

What if we learned to respect each other’s challenges?

We are all:

  • Beautiful
  • Intelligent
  • Resourceful
  • Unique
  • Dedicated
  • Incredible

We’re also all:

  • Living with challenges
  • Imperfect
  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Grieved
  • Perplexed

At any moment in time- we could each win that crown. But, we could have so much more than that.

  • We could learn the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • We could grow in compassion
  • We could learn from the struggles of others- before they become ours. (Trust me, it happens.)
  • We could find out we’re not alone.
  • We could find help and hope in the stories of others.

How can we stop the pageant? Maybe, we just need to leave the stage. Together.

I quit. I quit comparing. I want to listen and love. I want to build intimacy not compete for martyrdom.

How ’bout you?

“Slap, Slap, slap, flap, flap, pinch, squeeze, groan.”

The sound of me, woggling. (To woggle: a verb that describes my: walk/run/wobble exercise technique.) It’s not pretty.  I woggle like a hippo crosses a bed of  hot coals. But, as many have pointed out: I’m doing it. One step, one block one mile, at a time, I’m heading toward heath.

This morning, that journey took me in a direction I wasn’t expecting.  My shins were hurting so much that no amount of stretching, or gait manipulation helped.  I started out with them wrapped- hoping the compression would keep the inflammation down. It didn’t. Around mile 2 I unwrapped them. By mile 4, my gait was so impaired, that other things started hurting.  The balls of my feet felt a little numb.   I felt less than stable in the knees.  All I could think was: I need to get these (very expensive and professionally chosen) shoes off my feet.

Walking barefoot, sounded amazing. Slightly risky and crazy.. but amazing.

So, I took off my shoes and flung them over my shoulder. “Ahhhhhhhh.” My toes uncurled and my feet and lower legs relaxed.

The first few steps were tentative.  I pawed at the ground gingerly, as if it would reach up and grab me by the ankles and pull me down toward my unprotected doom.  It didn’t. Actually, it felt pretty good. Good enough to move to the grass and run a bit. (Yes, barefoot. I’m a risk taker.) While running, I flashed back to being a kid.. I remembered running in the dew-damp grass without ever tiring or feeling sore the next day. I remembered feeling wind in my face while I ran and thinking it was good to be fast.

“CLUNK. POUND. POUND. PAIN.” I hit a driveway. Ouch.  I moved back over to the grass. “Ahhhhh, so much  better.” Every once in a while I hit a wet spot in the grass.. the cool water and grass combination felt wonderful. It was a free foot spa.

I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to run barefoot. (more…)

Re-post- because we all have these days:

It had taken two full days to get ready, but, I was on a mission.  To buy my first post-baby pair of jeans.  I had a coupon, a sale and a gift card, the holy trinity of shopping.

I carefully planned and prepared:

  • Diaper bag stocked like a – check
  • Stroller and it’s toys ready and in the car- check
  • Car full of gas- check
  • Walks shoveled to provide safe passage to said vehicle-check
  • Breasts emptied to avoid frontal leakage- check
  • Baby kept awake all morning and ready for a nap- check
  • Credit card ready and (somewhat) willing in my wallet-check
  • Coupon and gift card to help the credit card not cause checkout failure humiliation- check.
  • Mall open for business and sale at my favorite store confirmed- check
  • Dressed in clothing (almost) suitable for public viewing-  check. (Well, I had shoes on, not slippers with my comfy mom-sweats.  That was the main difference between my public/private attire:P)

I loaded my little baby burrito (well he looked like one in his brown snowsuit and extra blanket) into his car seat, aware that the great mommy-stopwatch had started ticking.  I had exactly 2 hours before his next feeding, plenty of time to get to the mall and find a pair of pants that fit, before a nursing break, right?

I could do this.

I had everything under control.

Or so, I thought.

Pulling into the mall parking lot, I ran into my first problem: parking.  It was January and the parking lot had been plowed. Mounds of snow ate up precious near- the door parking spots.  The one spot available was near a sign reading L-7.  It was about equidistance between the mall, and my home.

TICK. TICK. TICK.

The stopwatch in my mind marked times’ passage.

“Do I take this spot and hurry in, or do I play parking lot stalker and keep following people with bags hoping to snag a closer spot? Which will take more time?” I went with option L-7.

“I have an extra blanket in the diaper bag. he’ll be toasty, and I can hurry inside.” I told myself.

I struggled to pop open the stroller, then reached in for my little guy. He was asleep.  “SCORE.” Maybe my plan was working. I covered him with the extra blanket I’d packed in the portable babies r us, I mean diaper bag.

Ready, I pushed on.

“Bump.  slush, bump, splash.”

I hadn’t accounted for off-road like parking lot conditions.

I aimed for the ruts in the snow, lifting the back of the stroller to avoid more bumps.  Like an Iditarod racer- minus the dogs… I pushed on.

TICK. TICK. TICK.           (Click “more” to read the rest:)

(more…)

I’m a mommy-bigot.   I hate it, but, it’s true.

oh my it's real

For the most part my bigotry is centered on mommy’s choices, preferences and lifestyles. I am prejudiced.  A bigot of Mommy-sorts. (I pre-judge others.)

It’s like I have a Google indexing program running in my brain.  For the most part my Google-fu is amazing… but it’s way off, when it comes to moms.

It works like this: I see a mom, sum her up in a searchable word (SAHM, Working, Home Schooler, Tatted.. etc) and my brain pops up a list of  “top results” (prejudices/assumptions/related searches) And “related” searches….

Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes, not so much.  They look a little like this:

Goth-mom- Top Results: Possibly a Mompire, prefers black fingernail polish, reads Edgar Allen Poe to children at bedtime.

Related searches: Bat baby mobiles, faux fang pacifiers. Current reading: Potty Training after Dark…. (more…)

“Whaaaaa! Whaaaaa! Whaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!”

In my dream the sound was a siren. I was getting pulled over for speeding. In real life, the sound was my newborn and his siren cry was pulling me out of bed for a feeding.

I ricocheted down the dark hallway like a pinball.  “Bump. Bang. Bump. Bang.” (Which could be lyrics to a Black Eyed Peas song.. but alas, they are not.  They are  the sound of a mom- literally bouncing off the walls.) A Great Salt Lake of tears streamed down my face.  Not from the pain of ricocheting off walls… but from the pain of sheer exhaustion.

“You can do this.. you’ve done it before…this season of mothering doesn’t last long and  you’ll miss it when it’s over.  It’ll be ok.” I mumbled as I bounced.  I considered slapping myself for being unsympathetic. Instead, I argued back:“I don’t care how long it lasts.. or if I’ll miss it eventually…I’m TIRED, NOW.  I need sleep or I’ll lose it!” ( Just a tip… a sign that you’ve already lost it.. is when you are arguing with yourself and feel fully justified in slapping yourself. )

I took a deep breath before I picked up my little hunger siren.. I mean, my newborn.  Together we headed for our nursing spot on the couch. I wondered if I’d be able to go back to sleep when we were finished… (ok- I desperately hoped we would.) I had to force my eyes to focus on the glowing read out on the stove top: 4:43 a.m. “I need to get up to get the other kids ready for school by 5:30.”  While settling into the miraculous comfort of nursing…I struggled to do the time-math… “It takes 45 minutes to nurse…so I’ll have  …UGH.  2 minutes to sleep. There is no point going back to bed.”

Which is the last thing I remember before being awakened by my middle schooler. “Mom, Am I going to school today?” He asked-in a tone that communicated he was hoping the answer would be: “No.”

I looked at the cable box...”Crap. We’re gonna be late.”

It was 7:15. “UGH.” Somehow (more…)