Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Robert Burns Has It Right

It's so easy to be the perfect parent before you are one. C'mon, admit it. You know you had those thoughts. I sure did. The "my child will NEVER act like that in public!" scorn shot through exchanged glances across the supermarket aisles. The proud declarations to your friends as you gathered around small tables at Starbucks at 7pm, sipping your lattes, patting each other on the back for how well behaved your children will be someday, and how NOT like that little rugrat running around Starbucks they'll be. Or even the thoughts that were kept to yourself, or perhaps only shared with your spouse or significant other. The ones about how you'll birth with no drugs, nurse until your child is 12 months exactly, give them only organic baby food hand processed by you, train them to sleep through the night at 6 weeks old, never let them cry it out, never ever spank, speak only calmly to them, diffuse temper tantrums with redirection... I could go on and on. And that's only covering the first year of parenthood.

And it really never ends does it? The perfect parent can continue on their parade right through their child's infancy and early childhood. I will freely admit there were plenty of times I strolled through the mall with my complacent, quiet, dozing baby in a stroller, pausing to casually check out things in Gymboree, while inwardly rolling my eyes and cursing the moms who let their toddlers run amuck in and out of the rounders. Or as I hovered in the kiddie play area, protecting my precious toddler from the kids that are clearly too big to be allowed to play and really too old to care.

I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point I slowly started to peel away at the layers of my "perfect parenting". Maybe it was when Princess #2 was born and she cried and cried for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it was when Princess #1 became a young child and started questioning everything - not out of defiance, but because she was trying to figure out her world. Maybe it was when I found myself the mother of 4 children and it became physically impossible to keep all 4 children in check at all times.

Maybe it was when I realized that my children are not little robots to be programmed, but actual humans with needs, desires, feelings. Often selfish in nature, yes. But honest and innocent nonetheless.

You know that poem by Robert Burns? The one that goes "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Yeah, that. Life happens. To all who have yet to embark on the journey of parenthood, or who have only just begun, do yourself and favor and start cutting yourself slack now. You are NOT the perfect parent. Your kids are going to screw up. They are going to embarrass you. There are going to be moments where you wish you could dig a hole right there in the middle of Target and hide in it.

I say, embrace that. I think there may be no greater gift than to teach your children that you are fallible and they are too. Yes, we set boundaries, we have rules, we teach patience and tolerance. But we also know that humans make mistakes. And the important thing is that we learn and grow from them. Projecting yourself as the perfect parent is setting yourself up for parental failure and setting your child up for the belief that they can never measure up.

I know we all have ideals. Ideals are what we have until reality bears down upon us. And they occur in every area of life, not just in parenting. But I think parenting is where we are the hardest on each other. Mamas, in particular, can be just so downright judgmental. And it needs to stop. Truly. We can just as easily dole out the grace as we can the judgment. We have no idea what is going on inside a family when we see a public temper tantrum. Maybe the child is physically and emotionally incapable of acting any other way. Maybe the mama had no choice but to run to the grocery store during nap time that day, dragging her tired children with her because the fridge is empty and bellies are hungry. Maybe, just maybe some inexplicable and unforeseen thing set their child off and they are as clueless as you are as to why. Instead of thinking in your head how YOU would NEVER allow YOUR child to act that way (which, by the way, shows on your face whether you want it to or not), maybe just offer a small reassuring smile across the aisle and mentally note that if you haven't been there yet, someday you will. I speak this to myself, because I know that my default response is to be smug.

We mamas are all on the same journey. Most of us want our children to grow into kind, gracious and contributing members of society. We may make different choices in our journey to get them there, but the goal is the same. It's time to put the perfect parent to rest and embrace Robert Burns' wisdom. It's not the plan that's important, but what you do with it when it inevitably fails.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Team Princess - 1 Mama - 0

Yesterday, I experienced the quintessential "I'm out numbered and they know it" game.

I was changing Princess #4's diaper (our only diaper hold out these days) on the floor in the living room. Yes, I gave up the nursery ideal of the cute changing table with the pad and all the diaper accessories within reach about 3 kids ago. It's just much easier to drop and change than to go through the major production of getting said child into their room and up onto that pad to change them. In and out.

ANYWAY, so I was on the floor changing Princess #4 when all of the sudden I heard yelled in a panic: "I gotta goooooooooo!!!!" Now, any potty training mama KNOWS what those 3 little words mean. Drop whatever you're doing and haul tail to the bathroom while dragging the soon to explode toddler behind you and all the time chanting, "hold it. Hold it! HOLD IT!"

So I left a bare bummed Princess #4 on the floor and did just that, forgetting that I now had two tushies to worry about. I got Princess #3 to the potty just in time, and as I was situating her on the pot, I turned around to see a pot bellied baby standing behind me, staring in wonder at the liquid the was rolling down her plump legs and pooling onto the floor.

She got me. She got me good.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Food Fights

I'm kinda hitting a wall here. Something I'm needing to work on within myself. But I can't figure out why the trigger happens in the first place, so it's making it difficult to figure out.

Nothing makes me more frustrated, even angry at times, than feeding my children a meal, and then them coming back immediately upon finishing it and saying they're hungry, what else can they have?

It especially seems to grate on me when I know we're low on food, low on money to buy more food, and I had to scrape together what I fed them in the first place. I know it's not their fault. And it kills me to have to tell them, no, they can't have more food right now. I feel guilty for having to essentially place an adult burden on them, especially Princess #1. She's at that age where she wants to know WHY. A simple answer isn't enough. And I feel compelled to tell her, maybe just so I don't have to carry the burden myself? I don't know.

But I know I need to get a handle on why it angers me so much. Why do I get so ticked off at them for asking for more food? I know in my head that they're not being ungrateful although it feels that way. I think ultimately I'm angry at myself, for not being able to have an unlimited amount of food at their disposal, I'm angry that we have to be so careful, especially when we're in between paychecks, I'm angry that I can't just not think about money at all when I look at food. And that anger gets projected onto them unfortunately.

I'm working on it. I've asked my princesses to help me with this. I'm dreading summer, with the long hot days stretching out interminably in front of us. I think a meal/snack schedule might be in order, just to keep all of us (me) from going crazy. I need to find a solution because I can't keep responding the way I seem wired to do. The amount of food isn't going to change. The amount of money isn't going to change. The fact that my princesses like to eat alot throughout the day isn't going to change. So I need to change. And I will. Eventually.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Did you know if a starfish loses a leg, it grows right back?

What's the closest star to the earth? The Sun!

Did you know that the bad girl in the Barbie movies looks the same in every movie?

-discussions between Princess #1 and Princess #2 this morning over breakfast. Love those girls!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Ants Go Marching

It's Earth Day today. Or was, as today is nearly over. Currently, I'm not happy with "The Earth" because I've got a lovely little army of black ants that found their way from "The Earth" to my kitchen. For one day I was going to suspend my disdain for all things creepy crawly and become one with nature - of course THAT is the day the ants decided to descend upon my kitchen. So, the gig's up. No touchy feely, lovey dovey crap. Ants suck.

Love the earth. Hate ants. Kill said ants with decidedly NON earth friendly chemicals. Go green!

Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mistress Mary,

quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silverbells,

and cockleshells,

and pretty maids all in a row.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stream of Consciousness

Some random thoughts for your Wednesday morning:

I hate that every single clock in our home is set to a slightly different time. Is it 8:00? 7:57? 8:03? I wouldn't know. It drives me slightly batty. Which probably isn't a good thing considering I teeter on the edge most days anyway.

My dog has started using our doorstop as a means to signal when he wants to go outside. Good, in some way I guess. But I'm starting to feel like a freaking door man responding to a buzzer. Bzzzziiingggggg! Oh here, sir, let me get that door for you.

Why is it my princesses feel like they have to eat TWO bowls of cereal in the morning. I only get to eat one bowl (if I get to eat at all) and I do just fine. Two bowls everyday times 3 equals nearly a box of cereal every two days. I'm going to go broke.

One of my favorite things to do in the morning (besides inhale my first cup of coffee) is to go into Princess #4's room as she's waking up. There's not much better than seeing that little bundle of energy standing in her crib jumping up and down with a huge grin. The overwhelming, room filling aroma of le poopy diaper? That I could do without.

Speaking of poop, only 8:14 (8:09? 8:12? Who knows?) and already I'm cleaning poop out of panties. In the last 4 days I've become a personal pooper scooper. This is going to be the next job on an A-lister's entourage, for those that can't be troubled to get to a toilet to deposit their, um, deposit. Much like my Princess #3. She is a rock star afterall.

OK, off to do life. The are dishes to be washed, laundry to be folded and tushies to be wiped. Ciao.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Roll Baby Roll

Total white trash moment at the Planet Pink today.

We were outside this evening after dinner enjoying the ridiculously beautiful spring weather. Seriously, we don't usually get Spring. We go straight from winter to tornadoes to hot as heck. This past week has been AH-mazing and makes me think I'm living in Colorado. It's that good.

ANYWAY (sorry I get distracted with beautiful weather), our princesses are sadly remedial when it comes to riding bikes. I like to blame it on the fact that it's just so hard to coordinate our schedules (hubby and I) so that one is available to work with the olders while the other watches the youngers. And that's partially true. But if I'm honest, we've had princess bikes in our possession for 5 years now. You'd think at some point we could have worked it out. No, honestly, it's just a big pain in the rear to me, to constantly bend over and push the back of the dang seat so the princesses can get moving, only to have them stop 5 feet later and need to be pushed again. Really, where is the fun in that?

So tonight, the weather was too good to resist. We hauled out all 3 bikes and one umbrella stroller and set out on our makeshift parade. Since I was pushing the stroller, hubby got the "pushing the bike" duty (insert evil laugh here). Of course for him, Princess #1 and #2 take off as if they've been riding all their lives. So that leaves him navigating for Princess #3 on her tiny little bike (who knew they made them so small?).

We went around the block twice. On the second time around Princess #2 got a little cocky and jumped out ahead of us. We yelled at her to stop at the corner... then at the next corner.. aaaand the next. Little booger has a listening problem. Upon catching up to her hubby promptly removed her from her bike and walked her home. Uh oh. Big trouble. We get to the garage where Princess #1 and #3 park their bikes and where Princess #2 is getting a lecture. I put the brakes on the umbrella stroller and leave Princess #4 parked in the middle of the driveway while I put up helmets, etc.

And the white trash moment? Oh, I promise it's coming. I had just finished putting everything away, and turn around just in time to see a smiling Princess #4 roll casually backwards down our driveway. It was one of those moments that was horrifying and hilarious at the same time. I about broke a rib jumping out to catch the handle of the stroller just before she hit the street. And then I busted a gut laughing. Seriously one of those "had to be there" moments. Princess #4 just looked like she had had the ride of her life, grinning ear to ear, her little legs kicking and grunting her "do it again Mama!" grunt.

Sigh. These kids.

I have no idea why I felt the need to bore you with the entire saga of bike riding to get to the white trash moment of baby rolling down the driveway. But there you go. Now your life is complete. And no worries, there were no vehicles in sight.

Pinky Promise

A couple of days ago my two older princesses had a playdate. Now, playdates are always somewhat troublesome to me. I'm still figuring out how to navigate the whole multiple kid family thing where a child might be a friend to one or maybe two of my princesses, but not all four, due to age discrepancies and what have you. Growing up it was just me. So, one friend to the one me. No worries.

Anyway, the playdate recently was a bit easier because it involved a set of sisters - the older the age of Princess #1, the younger the age of Princess #2. Perfect right? Except... we're talking about girls. And where there is girls, there is drama. Probably any girl reading this would understand that it's virtually impossible to have 3 or more girls together without inciting some sort of drama.

I was all prepared to give my princesses a pep talk before shuttling them to their playdate. Because although they love each other, the princesses are somewhat ignorant of situations that require a bit more compassion. And being the 3rd, or potentially 4th wheel is no fun. So as I called them to me, I was mentally running through in my head my spiel about looking out for each other, playing nicely together and not excluding anyone, etc. etc.

And that's when I heard their conversation, right around the corner from my bedroom:

Princess #2: let's pinky promise to play with everyone today.

Princess #1: yeah, pinky promise to not leave anyone out or hurt anyone's feelings.

Princess #2: OK, give me your pinky.

And then they came around the corner and asked what I wanted. To which I responded, "Nevermind!" Perhaps they are more cognizant of compassion than I gave them credit for.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tomorrow Is A New Day

I am so close to just wanting to give up today. I'm so tired. Most of the time I just go go go, pushed forward by adrenaline and the knowledge that if I don't, no one else will. And usually, at some point I come crashing down.

Today was that day. I'm just overwhelmed by the tremendous responsibility that comes with raising four children. I'm weary from the constant denial of my own agenda and needs, too busy getting food, running kids to the potty, breaking up arguments and responding to the never ending "mommmmmmmmy!". I forget to go to the bathroom, or to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning.

Do you ever wish you could just throw a temper tantrum? To let out all the emotions you have to keep bottled up, just stomp you feet on the floor and run to your room and slam the door behind you? I do.

I am so blessed. I know this. I love my children fiercely. I would do anything for them. And I gladly day and day out assume my role as their mommy. But today, just for today, I am tired. I'll have to ask my princesses for forgiveness. I haven't been the best mommy today. Tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Little (retro) Pony

retro noun

relating to, reviving, or being the styles and especially the fashions of the past : fashionably nostalgic or old-fashioned

I am officially old enough that "retro" is tapping into my childhood. How many hours did I while away playing with My Little Ponies? Brushing their perpetually tangled and matted manes. Fitting shoes onto their hooves as though it were perfectly normal for ponies to actually wear shoes. Dreaming up stories that involved a group of benevolent and kind ponies saving the valley from drought or caring for a nursery of baby ponies in a ridiculously elaborate pony "town".

Today as I was perusing Princess #4's closet, I came across a forgotten shirt emblazoned with a familiar scene. Not today's ponies. Not the cool, pre-teen version with sparkly hair and things like MP3 players branded on their backsides. Just the honest, sweet, albeit unnaturally colored pony from my childhood. I couldn't resist putting it on her. She has no clue what she's parading across her baby belly. But I get a little wave of nostalgia and a thrill of childhood each time I see her march by.

I wise friend once told me, "if you've done it once, you can't do it again." Fortunately I've got ways to get around this rule. And the ponies look adorable on her little belly.

**I need to apologize that the print on my blog keeps getting smaller and smaller. I'm using Safari and I don't think Blogger likes it very much. So just break out your magnifying glasses for awhile until I can figure it out.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Moon

The moon has been shining bright over on Planet Pink the last two days. Princess #3's moon that is. Yes, we are in the throes of potty training. I've never actually gone the commando route before. I've known other moms who swear by it (admittedly most of them boy moms), but I've never been brave enough to give it a try. Princess #3 has left us no choice.

I don't buy Pull-Ups or anything like that, so the only options in this house are diapers or panties. Trouble ensues when panties are treated exactly like diapers. Sigh. So, off they came. As cute as I think little toddlers tushies can be, I'm getting kinda tired of seeing one But, it's working.

I think tomorrow we might be ready to venture into more acceptable undergarments, that is, actually WEARING some. Until then, I shall be amused at the image of my Princess' bare bum flying through the air as she lies across the swing on her belly. Too bad I'm not near my camera. That is some serious black mail fodder.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Let the Floor Scrubbing Begin

So, unbeknownst to me, when we diapered Princess #3 last night before bed, we used her last diaper. And per my previous post (how ironically timely was that?!), it was her last diaper, ever.

Let the good times roll...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Do You Think...

that if all the size 4 diapers in the house mysteriously disappeared overnight, that my 3 year old princess would just magically start using the potty? 'Cuz I'm pretty much done changing her hiney every 30 minutes. Miss Priss can't stand to be wet or dirty.

And while I'm on the subject, hubby and I realized that by the time we're all said and done, we will have been changing diapers non-stop for a decade. A DECADE. 10 whole years people. 120 months. 3,650 days (plus 1 or so with leap year). I don't even want to begin to think about the size of landfill we alone have created. Blech. If I had known I was going to have 4 kids, I might have more seriously considered cloth diapering. Talk about leaving behind a huge footprint! You better believe we'll be doing the happy dance when Princess #4 crosses over to the potty side!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Faith Like A Child

I love to watch Spring unfold. The energy new life seems to bring as flowers bloom and grass greens and yes, even as those pesky weeds take over my lawn. I love the freshness in the air. The warmth of the sun and the breeze. I love the freedom the late sunset allows, and the smell of my house with the windows open.

I love all the symbols of Spring as well. Brightly colored blooms, fluffy yellow chicks, endless candy eggs and jellybeans. I love shopping for Easter dresses and planning for egg hunts and watching my girls dye eggs while the dye clings more readily to sticky fingers than to carefully boiled eggs.

Most of all, I love celebrating what Spring and rebirth and Easter truly means to us - the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

I know I don't write much about my faith here. It's not because I am wishy-washy in my belief, or because I don't find it important. Rather, I tend to be somewhat private about my journey. The perfectionist in me tends to lean to the belief that I need to have it all figured out before I can speak to it intelligently. Clearly, that will never happen (the all figured out part), and I'm finding myself more and more challenged to just be open with my thoughts and beliefs, even if I don't understand it all.

I'm learning this through my princesses. If there's ever a time with faith and belief and knowledge intersect and reach a pivotal moment in a life, it's when you become a parent. We are always teaching our children something. Teaching them to share, teaching them to be polite, to look both ways before crossing the street. We constantly answer questions, some we don't know the answers to (exactly how far IS the earth to the sun anyway?). I am stumped, alot. And that fear of not knowing the answers has at times impeded my ability to teach my children about God and faith. But what I've been discovering recently is that you can't really "teach" faith. You can't force your children to have it. They already do.

When you're watching your child learn about God, you see the true embodiment of faith. They don't need all the answers. Somewhere along the line, with all our focus on education, we come under the false assumption that we have to know everything there is to know about God in order to believe in Him. But if we knew everything about God, then He wouldn't be God. Watching my princesses grow in their understanding and faith in the resurrected Christ has strengthened and renewed my own faith. I know the phrase "faith like a child" is somewhat cliche, but I've seen it demonstrated over and over in my home through my princesses and I know it to be true.

This Easter has been one of the most real, vibrant, and faith-building Easters I've experienced in my entire life. I've seen love lived out. I've seen people being the church rather than doing church. I've seen lives transformed and people coming to the realization that knowledge won't get you there. Faith in ourselves, in our ability, in our minds is weak, for we are limited. But faith in an almighty God, THAT is power. And faith is only faith when we DON'T have all the answers.

I am imperfect. I make mistakes. But I know my God didn't send his Son to die for perfect people. By His grace and faith He is transforming my life and the lives of my children. And I see it more clearly each time I let go of the need to know WHY and HOW, and like my children just rest in the peace and satisfaction that He Is.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Speaking of Dreams...

Today my 3 older princesses informed me of their future aspirations.

Princess #1 wants to be a singer.

Princess #2 wants to be a cheerleader.

Princess #3 wants to be a "spinning rockstar".

I think she might actually have a decent shot at that.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Shine A Light

I'll never know why some people are chosen to parent extra special kids. God, in His infinite wisdom, is the ultimate match-maker. And I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see some of these relationships unfold and evolve, and I am a better person, a better parent because of them.

Today is Autism Awareness Day. And I want to personally thank my friends who walk this journey every day. For sharing their triumphs and heartbreaks. Their fears and joys. For allowing people like myself a peek into their lives to be inspired, challenged, and pushed to being a better parent.

So, to Bren and Benjamin, Melissa and Owen, Aimee and Emilee, Christy and Christopher, Francine and Ariel and countless others that touch lives every day - thank you.

I want to end with a quote. This was posted by my friend Aimee today (I hope she doesn't mind me putting it here). She says it better than anything I could say.
Our girl was diagnosed 4 yrs ago as being severly autistic, and when the psychologist gave me the news she looked at me and told me that she couldn't tell me when or if Em would ever progress past the point she was at now. And today I would like to send out a big "Screw You" to her for stealing my hope. Emilee has grown and learned past what we even dreamed at the time. She is not typical and she is not easy. But she is happy and she is perfect! Praise God, who in his wisdom, gave her to me! My sweet girl, I am a better mommy because of you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Just Jump

It's so easy to have dreams. Those lofty goals that float out somewhere in the future. The "Someday's" and the "One day's". I've spent the majority of my adult life chasing after various dreams. Some I've achieved. Some are still out there floating.

I'm facing one of those floating dreams now. It's one that's been formulating around in my head since the birth of our first princess. It's been modified, revamped, abandoned and revisited. 7 years in the making. And now I stand on the precipice and am about to take a leap.

And I'm freaked out.

When a dream is just a dream there's no risk of failure. You can't suck at it. You can't make mistakes. It's easy to stare off into the future and imagine yourself accomplishing your dream with perfection and ease. So many times I've been tempted to just stay in this state of limbo, because then I have nothing to lose.

Except of course, everything.

Because what good is a dream if you don't go for it? Will I be happy if, at the end of the day, I look at my collection of unachieved, lofty dreams and know that if I had just taken that next step I wouldn't be looking at a dream, but rather a reality? Because the truth is, the time is going to pass whether I pursue my dream or not.

So. I've decided to jump. I'm going to close my eyes, plug my nose and jump. I have no idea if I know how to swim. I guess I'll find out soon enough.
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