Mama Needs to Rally

Do you ever just feel like giving in to this chaos?  Like you are walking around in circles and into walls all day long?  Yeah?  Well join the club.  There are many wonderful things about motherhood.  And I do so adore my children.  And sometimes I want to throw them through the wall.  The whining is what’s been getting to me the most lately.  And with the end of the school year, I am feeling like I just don’t give a shit anymore.  Cub went to school twice this week with a jelly sandwich for lunch and guess what he’s having tomorrow… Sorry little dude.  Although he looks at this like a treat, I’m still feeling shitty about it.  I wonder what those lunch ladies think when the see what the kids have to eat at this time of year… Who else sorta gave up on packing a lunch encompassing the different food groups?  C’mon.  Where’s my slacker Mamas at?

The truth is I’m just tired.  Husband forgot to grab a key item required for dinner tonight so Mama had to stop at the store on the way home from work- along with 40,000 other Mamas whose husbands forgot shit too.  Do you switch lines when the competency level of the cashier is revealed or when you notice a handful of coupons in the customer’s hands in front of you?  Normally, I am not a switcher but my anxiety about getting home, dinner, showers and the bullshit that would greet me at the door got the better of me.  I made two bad switches before I realized it made no difference.  I was stuck in a suck line behind a suck customer and a suck cashier.  Great.  My husband calls while I am pulling out of the parking lot.  I can hear screaming in the background.  Shit.  The high point of my day came when my dear friend texted me to inform me that (thankfully her children are nearly as screwed up as mine or I’m not sure we could be friends) her son told another child at daycare that she smelled like a penis.  Boys. Rock.  And that actually gave me some of my energy back and lightened my mood a bit.

When I pulled in the driveway, I could hear the screaming of the “chase game” from the driveway.  Rally.  Dinner was nuts.  Zook is crying.  Why is he crying?  He wants a spoon.  Wait he wants a fork.  Wait he wants ice cream.  With a fork.  Ugh.  Unload dishwasher, load dishwasher, pick up the corn and rice off the floor.  At this point, I actually almost started to cry.  I think because I realized that there wasn’t a clean kitchen towel in the drawer.  And I knew there wasn’t one in the basket upstairs either.  And yes, it sounds trivial but the absence of the kitchen towel midst the crying and demands of Zook, the whining and arguing of Mooch and Cub and the fact that I still had so far, so far to go before the calm could set in, really, really started to get to me.  Suck it up Mama.  Rally.  Showers, screaming , soap in eyes (it’s the tearless kind for God’s sake!) clip 60 (yes, 60) nails.  Read an Elmo book.  God I hate Elmo.  Quiet.  Snuggling my babies with warm soft hands on my cheeks.  Almost there.  Lights out and done.  Breathe.  And good news folks!  We get to do it all over again in 24 hours!

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There are just not enough hours in the day- so cliche right?  So true.  I am barely getting by here.  Summer has got to come.  No more homework, no more projects, no more searching for library books or forgetting sneakers on gym day.  No more hunting for the perfect item for Share Day.  Oh sweet summer.  I think I am craving the serenity more than my kids.

Rally.  That’s what I feel like most of my life has come to lately.  I am so tired.  Stretched to the point of exhaustion.  And I know that’s the reason I yell and have a lack of patience.  I know it’s me and not them.  But (I am about to admit something terrible here) sometimes I feel like I just don’t want to care anymore.  Like I am just done trying.  I know I shouldn’t yell and sometimes in the moment, I even think Why am I yelling right now?  Stop!  Stop it, Mama!  But no.  I yell and spend the next hour feeling like shit.  That’s more the cycle I speak of.  More than the chores and endless whining from the kids.  It’s me.  Mamas (and the Papas) reading this who have toddlers and babies… I used to be like you.  Said I wasn’t going to yell.  Said I wasn’t going to lose my temper.  Read all those Zen parenting books and blogs.  And then my kids could talk back.  And that all went out the window.  This is a judgement-free zone.

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So where do we go from here?  We start over.  Tomorrow the sun will rise again.  The cycle might start again.  Or it might not.  I am not in control of their behavior.  But I need to be fully in control of my own.  And of my responses to their behavior.  Breathe.  Tomorrow I’ll be back on the wagon.  It won’t be perfect but as long as I keep trying to make things better.  As long as I keep giving a shit.  I can do better.  I owe it to them (and myself) to be better.  And that’s all I can do.  Rally.

Peace, Mamas.

A Kid-friendly Meal?! Oh Hell Yeah!

Yes, it’s true…  My entire family ate this meal.  It was amazing!

The main idea with any meal is fresh, natural and local.  We make every effort to consume foods which are grown withing 100 miles of our home.  In addition, I steer away from corn and legumes unless they are organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms).  In fact, I try to entirely stay away from foods containing GMOs.  Why would I want to feed my family man-made food?!  Recently, I came across a wonderful site which maintains a registry of non-GMO foods. The Non-GMO Project, website here, lists foods and brands which are registered as non-GMO.  I was very surprised that many of the items in the natural foods section contain GMOs.  Kashi?!  Yes, Kashi.  Why are these foods not labeled, you ask?  Well, here in Vermont, we are working very hard to make that happen.  Stay tuned!  Quality food is something I’m rather obsessed with and there are worse things to obsess over.  The fuel we ingest determines the efficiency of our bodily functions- which is essential to life.  Off the soap box for now and on with the show.

Brace yourself… Here comes dinner!  Who likes what, who won’t eat what and who throws a fit.  Not tonight…  Oh hel-lo Chicken Won-Ton Cups!  Using delicious, free-range, local chicken breasts, non-GMO won ton wraps, organic cabbage and carrots, I pulled off a winning meal that everyone loved.  I deconstructed it a little for the kiddos- they prefer raw veggies and weren’t super into the cabbage but since I planned for this ahead of time, we were golden!

Here’s the low-down:

  • 1lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Half head of cabbage, shredded or sliced very thinly
  • 4 Carrots, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
  • 24 Won ton wraps
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • Cooking Spray
  • 2 tablespoons Soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray.  Gently push one won ton wrap into each muffin cup, bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges just begin to brown.  Spray non-stick skillet with a little cooking spray, add chicken. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the soy sauce and cook down for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO on med-high heat and add the cabbage and carrots.  Saute until the cabbage begins to brown slightly and the carrots are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Assemble, using the won ton as a cup for the cabbage, carrots and chicken.  Voila!

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I think the kids were quite intrigued with the idea of eating dinner from an edible cup.  They did not eat the carrot-cabbage mixture so instead used raw carrots and tomatoes along with the chicken.  The idea of using the cups got me to thinking about different food combos that could be subbed.  There will surely be some experimenting!  Enjoy these with additional soy sauce if you desire but we didn’t need any- the flavor was delicious and perfect!

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Lastly, I decided on Sunday that I would renew my commitment to the No Yell Challenge.  And I am happy to report that it’s been a success!  A huge success, actually.  I have stayed true to not yelling.  Exhausted my patience, been empathetic and all that nice warm and fuzzy shit.  And it’s working.  I have also been really diligent about telling my children how much they mean to me.   At a few points during the day, I have tried to quantify my love for them in a way that might make sense.  By committing to this, it’s really forced me to think positively about how I parent.  Inadvertently, I have changed up my vocabulary and tone of voice because I need to make my actions reflect my feelings.  Tough but not impossible.  I feel great and I really think they do as well.  Win-win!

And I leave for my trip on Monday…  This has been on my mind for the last week and I can feel my anxiety mounting as the date gets closer.  Instead of dwelling on leaving my little guys (and my big guy), I have poured myself into making these last days with them count.  So far, my avoidance and denial have worked out nicely…

Peace Mamas!

 

Twenty-Four Hours as a Mama

Wednesday

5:00pm- Husband calls: Cub has (another) migraine and is going to skip lacrosse.  Again.

5:15pm- Mama arrives home, takes dinner (prepared last night) out of the oven.

5:20pm- Cub vomits.

5:30pm- Mama tucks Cub in bed with Tylenol and bucket, ensures that towels are covering every square inch of carpet surrounding his bed.

5:40pm- Mama sits down to dinner.

5:45pm- Mooch complains of stomach ache.  Shit.

6:00pm- Mooch goes to bed.

6:15pm- Mama cleans up kitchen.

7:00pm- Mama brings Zook up to bed, which is shared with Mooch– Who is now moaning.

7:15pm- Mama nearly loses her shit and Husband comes up for relief.  Did I mention I appreciate this man?

8:00pm- Mooch, moaning again.  Shit.  It’s coming.

8:02pm- Mooch vomits.  Mama is a little slow with the bucket.  Mama brings Mooch downstairs to bathroom, cleans him up, changes his shirt.  Husband attempts clean up.  With Mama’s bath towel.  Never mind the last bit about appreciating him.

8:15pm- Mooch goes back to bed.  Mama finishes clean up.

8:30pm- Quiet.

9:30pm- Mama goes to bed.

9:45pm- Moaning.  Mooch vomits again.

10:15pm- Mama tucks Mooch back into bed.

11:30pm- Mooch vomits.

Thursday

1:40am- Mooch vomits.

3:35am- Mooch vomits.

4:30am- Cub comes in.  He’s awake now.

5:00am- Husband gets up to shower.  Mooch and Zook are up now too.  Ugh.  Mama hides.

6:00am- Mama is up.

8:30am- Mama arrives at work and gets to close the door to pee and eat snacks without running defense for the last bite.  Amazing.

5:35pm- Mama arrives home from work.  Husband has dinner on the table.  Appreciating him again.

5:45pm- Mama remembers Mooch has Open House at preschool.  At 6:00pm.

6:05pm- Open House.

6:45pm- Home.  Mama scarfs down the rest of dinner.

7:00pm- Husband tucks kids in bed.

7:35pm- Quiet.

8:02pm- Zook has to pee.  Ugh.

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M&Ms really pair better with red…  Cheers, Mamas!

Mama is Fed the F*ck Up

I don’t know how I got here but I am really struggling.  Patience are none existent.  Rationality has been exhausted.  My last nerve has been on extended leave.  What the hell is going on?  Well, I’ll tell ya.  My two year old has made a liar out of me.  Up until now, I never believed in the Terrible Twos.  Three was the worst in our house.  Three was the age of talking back, and fierce independence.  I thought the Terrible Twos were a load of shit.  Until I met Zook.

His whining has become the soundtrack to my life.  I swear, the crying and wallowing haunts me in my sleep.  He wants to help with everything.  Which is fine.  Takes a few extra minutes but I can deal with that.  If that was it.  But helping doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of my frustration with this child as of late.

Tonight was taco night.  Zook wanted a soft shell with shredded cheese.  Rolled inside.  Wait, on the side.  On the side of the plate.  Actually on the plate.  Yes, on the plate with sour cream to dip it in.  No, sour cream on the tortilla.  Okay, cheese on the side with sour cream in the taco.  Got it.  Nope, change of plans.  Sour cream out of the tortilla.  With cheese on the side.  What?  There’s still sour cream on the tortilla?  I can’t get it all out.  Now the tortilla is on the floor.  Now he wants a new tortilla.  With cheese.  And sour cream.  And tomatoes.  What. The. Fuck.

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I just can’t win with this kid.  I am certainly not a rookie Mama but lately, I am feeling like I am flailing through my interactions with this child.  I have no clue what is going to piss him off.  A dribble of milk spills next to his cereal bowl.  He wants cake.  In bed.  He wants me to fit the baseball through the egg-sized hole.  He doesn’t wait to sit in his carseat.  His shirt has a picky part.  His sock has an itchy part.  He wants to crush every Lego ship in the save-spot.  Please don’t hit Mama with the hammer.  Please, Mama!  Hit Mama, please!  Are you kidding me, kid?!

Being a Mama is so hard right now.  Tonight I literally felt like I could have shaken him.  Can they still get shaken baby syndrome at age two?!  I didn’t… But I could have.  I feel like I am on edge.  Like I have some kind of sick mental illness where I try to anticipate things that will piss him off and prevent them so I can alter the future.  You really don’t want to flush the toilet this time?  Really?  But you really like to do it.  Are you sure because if I flush we can’t have a do over.  Okay…  Maybe we’ll leave it for a minute if you change your mind…  What is my problem?  Am I enabling this?

I feel like I am failing him and myself.  And it’s really not fair to my other two.  I get that.  I feel like I used to be so much better at negotiating this kind of stuff but I am really sucking.  Exhausted, depleted, defeated.  Mama is tired of trying.  Tired of the whining, begging, screaming.  Tired of the meltdowns (his and mine).  Beyond tired of the struggle.  When is this going to get better?  I know this is a phase.  But honestly, the next person who says that to me should guard their throat because I’m not sure I can control the urge to punch.  It is a phase but we’ve been in this fucking phase for months now and it’s not really getting better.  I need an intervention.  (Self-medicating with alcohol has proved to be only marginally effective…)

We will overcome.  We will get through this.  The silence tonight is my therapy.  I need peace so that I can convince myself tomorrow will be better; that I will have more patience; that we can make it through this.  I need to hear  all of these things to convince myself I really don’t need to pack that bag and sneak out in the night.  I need to look in on his sleeping sweet face.  I adore this child…  Why does he have to be so fricken adorable?!  They really are cuter when they’re sleeping, huh?

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Peace Mamas.

So It Was a Bad Night…

I’m not sure bad night really captures the essence of disaster that went down this evening.  It. Was. Bad.  And it really began the moment I walked through the door.  Complaints.  Complaints about dinner.  About homework.  About brothers wielding swords, eyes getting poked, arms being scraped.  To walk in the door to negativity greeting you with a kick in the shins kind of sets the mood for the next few hours.

My oldest is my complainer.  Nothing is ever fair.  Ever.  He’s seven and very smart.  But can also be a little negative.  My expectations are higher for him (we put all our faith in the oldest, right?  I am just hoping my other two won’t be playing video games in the basement when they are 30…) and because of this, nothing is fair.  But tonight, it was more about him being in a shitty mood and taking it out on everyone.  He has a bit of a cough so for the first 20 minutes or so, I chalked the attitude up to post nasal drip and fatigue.  And then came the name-calling, talking back and general meanness toward his brothers.  And me.

We barely got through dinner.  His meatball sucked.  His spaghetti was too long.  He didn’t get to share about his day first.  His brother was sitting to close to him.  Buddy, what’s up tonight?  Stop saying that to me!  Why do you always think it’s my fault.  He’s the one looking at me like that.  Really.  Finally got through dinner.  Consequences racked up by meal’s end included: no video game time tonight (or tomorrow, but that was just dumb- who takes away privileges for the next day?  Dumb.), and threats of a cancelled playdate.  But to no avail, the attitude continued.

Homework.  He didn’t want to do it.  Refused to sit at the table.  Threw the pencil.  Crumpled the paper.  That. Was. It.  I yelled.  That’s it!  No outside time.  No homework.  You can do it in the morning.  Straight to bed.  NOW.  He went stomping up the stairs, claiming that I didn’t love him.  That no one loved him.  That if he fell off a the edge of a cliff, no one would care or look for him.  I do love you.  I don’t love your behavior tonight.  You must be feeling really frustrated and angry.  And I’m really disappointed that you made these choices tonight.  (For those of you who don’t know, I am a social worker for my day job so I can empathize, paraphrase and use ‘I statements’ like a pro- yes, I am well aware of how annoying this can be.)  He stomps up the stairs and yells over his shoulder to me: Wimp.  Wimp?  How am I wimp?  I want to tell him that was a ridiculous thing to say but I resist the urge to further infuriate the fuming dragon.  Door slams.

All is quiet.  I finish picking up the table and decide to go up for a chat.  I knock on his door.  Waiting.  “What.”  Said as more of a statement than question.  Can I please come in?  I’m ready to talk.  Are you?  The door creaks open without an answer but clearly it’s an invite.  Breathe.  We sit down on the bed.  What’s up honey?  Help me to understand why you are having such a tough night.    Nothing.  Is everything okay at school?  Did you have any disagreements with friends?  No.  Were there any parts of your day that made you nervous or sad?  Well, we needed to finish writing our book by today or we have to finish it during free choice tomorrow.  Did you finish?  No.  Everyone else is done and I’m not.  I don’t think I will even be done tomorrow.  I get it.

We connected.  He’d had a really stressful, upsetting day.  He feels insecure.  He carried that like a boulder on his adorably delicate back all day and all evening.  Let it out.  He cried.  Said he had been looking forward to free choice all week and now, the last day before vacation, he’s not going to get to play with his friends.  His tears rolled down his soft innocent cheeks as my eyes filled and I tried to swallow that ache in my throat.  I’m sorry you had such a bad day.  It’s okay, he says and buries his forehead into my chest.  Breathe.  Can you read to me?  He asks.  Sure.

He had a bad day.  He lashed out.  I yelled.  We talked.  I understood.  He forgave me.  It was a tough night.  I’m so glad I took the time to talk it through.  I didn’t give in and he couldn’t go outside after dinner or have his video game time.  He will have to finish his homework in the morning before school.  And he will miss his free choice tomorrow.  But now I have a reason for his angst tonight.  God, I adore this child.  He can be a tough kid sometimes.  But he makes me want to be a better Mama.

Peace Mamas.

Lies, lies, lies.

So what drives me crazy?  Lying.  Oh how I detest lying!  Few things get under my skin then bold-faced, look-you-in-the-eye lying.  Which is exactly what happened tonight.

From the bathroom (this time, washing hands before dinner, not bedtime- surprise, surprise!): “You peed on me!”  “No I didn’t!”   “Yes you did, look there- there’s pee on my sleeve!”  “That’s not my pee.”  “Yes, it is!”  “No it’s- Owww!”  Boys, what’s going on in there?  Why is your brother crying?  “I dunno.”  “He hit me with his head, in my head!”  “No I didn’t!”  And so it begins.

Did you head-butt him?  No.  Well, he’s crying and you both have red dots on your forehead.  How did that happen?  I dunno.  Did you hit him with your head?  No.  Why is he crying?  Because he’s a baby and he peed on me.  I don’t think that makes sense.  Why do you have that reddish purple spot on your forehead?  He has one too… Did you head-butt him? No.  Look, I am pretty sure that’s what happened and I would like you to own up to it.  I don’t remember.  Did. You. Do. It?  No.

Seriously.  This conversation actually went down.  Pee on a sleeve.  Head-butting.  Lying.  I took a deep, deep breath.  Like the kind of breath you hope will cleanse you of all the rage coursing through your veins.  It was about 50% effective this time.  You have a choice to tell me the truth.  If you choose to lie, you’ll be sent to your room until you can tell me the truth.  Did you hit your brother with your head?  No.  Go to your room.  (In a calm, rational voice.  No yelling!)

He came down about four times and lied and was sent back to his room.  Things were shouted: You don’t love me!  I wish I had a different family!  You treat me like a fat rat!  (Where the hell did he get that one- hilarious!)  And this went on for about 20 minutes.  I kept my cool.  Reminded myself that he would come clean if I showed no emotion and stayed consistent.  Eventually, I went up and sat on his bed.  Honey, I know you are lying to me.  And I know that it must be making you feel terrible.  Let it out.  You’ll feel so much better.  Silence.  “Mom, I hit him with my head.”  Hallelujah!!!  Mama hugged that child so tight, told him she was proud.  That was about the moment she felt wet on her cheek from the child’s sleeve against her face.  Oh right, the piss.  On my face.  Shit.

No yelling.  It worked.  It actually fricken worked.  Will it work every time? No way in hell.  But it worked tonight.  We had a nice dinner.  There were only 37 complaints about dinner, one fight over who got the blue cup and two arguments about who wanted to share the favorite part of their day first.  (This is record-setting, people.)  And no one yelled.  It was a beautiful thing.  Day One: Back on the Wagon.

How do you deal with your kids lying?