This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Judgey McJudgersons Suck

Today at the gym I made the mistake of talking to someone. I do this a lot (being a fairly social person and all) but today it did not go well. Picture a 5’ 5”, 110 pound blond on a treadmill wanting to be Chatty Cathy. She started the conversation because I was wearing a T-shirt that said “Who are all these kids and why are they calling me MOM?!” She has a kid – ONE. With no plans for anymore because it took her “almost a year to lose the 20 pounds” she put on from being pregnant. Turns out she’s on her lunch break from her job as a marketing rep. She seems genuinely shocked that I know anything about her work – after all, I’m stay at home mom. Her comments indicate that she is a snob, with very few, if any, real friends and definitely NO “Mom” friends. She finally says that she has to go because she has to get back to work, but not without a parting dig about how she wishes that she “had the luxury of being able to stay all day at the gym.” Seriously? Why do women feel the need to belittle and judge one another? Not that I don’t get a fair amount of general judgeyness from other stay-at-home moms (just read my previous post about being the room mom), but I find myself constantly being judged by some “working” moms who think that if I stay at home then I must have all of the time in the world to cook, clean, do laundry, etc. and that I must not have gone to college or have any marketable skills so I “just had kids.” I chose to quit a job in outside sales after our first son was born because I thought it was important to be available to my kids. I do not think that I am a better mom for it, or that you are a worse mom for working outside the home either because you want to or because you have to. A friend posted on Facebook yesterday “Just because one person parents one way does not mean that anyone who does it differently than them is doing it wrong......just saying” and all I could think was AMEN!!

I do most of my parenting and household management by myself because my husband leaves for work around 1:00 in the afternoon, gets home around 1:00am and sleeps until 10:00am the next morning. I get everyone ready for and off to school in the mornings by myself, I get them home, feed them dinner, get them bathed, and (eventually) get them in bed by myself. I have the same 24 hours in a day that you do, and I am not June Cleaver. This is a typical day in my life:

My day starts off with me hitting the snooze on my alarm at least 3 times before making myself get up. I wake up the kids, I make school lunches for the 2 oldest and get them dressed and fed, and then I drive them to school. They are late at least twice a month. Yesterday morning, they were 30 minutes late because I hit “Off” instead of “Snooze” on my alarm and didn’t get up until 10 minutes until 8:00. After I get home, I make coffee. Coffee is the only constant in my life and I love it. I will drink about 3-4 24 ounce cups of coffee over the course of the next 3 hours. I thought that I might be addicted to caffeine, so I switched to decaf for month, and I still drank as much so now I buy what is on sale. Once the coffee is going, I wake up the 2 little ones (I should point out that because my husband is currently on 2nd shift, I do not have to get everyone up and ready to take the older 2 to school). We get out of the Pull-Ups and into clean underwear, get breakfast and juice, and then I turn on Nick Jr. for them while I clean the kitchen. Sometimes I finish this in 30 minutes, but more often than not it takes an hour or more because I am required to stop and referee a fight, or 2, or 12. After the kitchen is done, I generally try to do some laundry (with 6 people in the house, this is a never ending chore). Once I get a load in the washer and one in the dryer, I generally have to fold some and put it away because all of the 4 hampers are full of either dirty or clean clothes. About now would be when Jackson pees in his underwear despite the fact that I asked him 3 ½ minutes ago if he needed to go potty. So I spend the next 30 minutes cleaning up that mess and then realize that Lorelei has shredded a napkin or a piece of paper or (as was the case earlier this week) a feather all over the den floor. And when she gets up to run away from the mess (thinking, I guess, that I won’t know she did it) I see that she has also smashed her Eggo/Poptart/bagel all over the couch and has been sitting on it so I wouldn’t see. When I try to talk to her about these messes, she blames Jackson. Then she and Jackson get into a fight about who did it. I get out the vacuum to clean THAT mess, and now it’s nearly lunch time and I have cleaned the kitchen and washed one load of clothes.

Now, having 4 kids in 7 ½ years is hell on your body and your figure, so I try to go to the gym between lunch and picking the kids up from school. Also, my membership includes 2 free hours of childcare every day, which is unfortunately the only motivation for going some days. So after feeding the kids, we get in the car and head out to the gym. After working out, we head to the school to pick up the 2 oldest and then go home. This is when the real fun starts. All of a sudden everyone is starving – the sandwich, chips, fruit, Rice Krispie Treat, and apple sauce/pudding that I packed in their lunch as well as their snack of an apple/orange/banana has not been enough to sustain them for another 2 hours until dinner. SO everyone gets a snack and then its homework time. The 2 oldest have to be practically duct taped to the chairs to make them do their homework. If I turn around to get something from the fridge, or go to the bathroom they bolt for the den or upstairs and start drawing (Bella) or building something out of Legos (William), or they turn on the TV, or they argue, or, or, or – the list is infinite. Oh, and their bladders become incredibly small – one of them has to get up to go to the bathroom every 10 or 15 minutes. After homework is finished and I am attempting to make dinner, the arguing intensifies – 4 kids + 2 TV’s = 953 arguments over the next hour and a half. There are arguments over who gets to watch what, where they get to watch it, why they should get to watch it, who gets to sit where, etc.

After I have made dinner, I call everyone to the table where they all say “What are we having?” and at least one and sometimes all of them say “I don’t like that. Can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead?” So it’s 5:30, I have done one load of laundry, folded ½ a load, cleaned the kitchen and messed it up again, and gone to the gym – those are the tangible successes of my day. Meanwhile, you have most likely written 3 proposals, had 2 meetings, returned 5 phone calls and had a working lunch with your boss. Your house is in the exact same state that it was in when you left it this morning (unless you have a maid who came today) because everyone has been at work/school/daycare since 7:15. Your husband will meet you at home to help you with the meals, bath times, and bed times. You will swing by the gym to do your workout and then pick up dinner that your kids will love and no one expects your laundry to all be done or your house to be spotless because you WORK and I don’t. Yeah, right.

At my house, after dinner and baths and a little more TV/homework/playtime, it's bed time.  This is when the French farce begins. All of my kids have a bed of their own, but none of them like to sleep alone, so everyone tries to sleep with everyone else. This never works. So bedtime at my house is like a game of Whack-a-Mole. Kids pop up, I put them back down; and while I’m putting this one down, that one gets up. Everyone needs a sip of water. Everyone needs to use the bathroom. Oh, and this is usually the time that one of the 2 older ones tells me that I have to send in money, or cupcakes, or something else that I don’t have for school the next day. It is now 9:30 (an hour after the initiation of “bedtime”) and they are finally all down for the night. I finish folding the load of clothes I started at 10:30 this morning so that I can put the clothes from the dryer into the now empty hamper, move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, and start one more load. Then it’s time to pay bills, return emails, (possibly write a blog post) and pick up the dirty clothes that are all over the house since my kids drop their clothes wherever they happen to be whenever I say “bath time.” If I am lucky, I will get a shower. If I am REALLY lucky, I will get to eat dinner with my kids. On perfect days, I get to clean a bathroom or mop more than the spot Jackson peed on or vacuum more than just the shredded napkin/paper/feather from the floor and the crumbs from the couch. Sometimes I even get to go to bed before my husband gets home from work around midnight. My day is NOT soap operas and bon-bons – EVER. I love my life. There are always teachable moments throughout the chaos. The gym, Facebook, and my coffee keep me sane. And I wouldn’t trade my Poptart crumbs for your working lunch. At least not most days.

Not all working moms that I know are Judgey McJudgersons. I have a good friend who works. She has one kid. She tells me constantly that she couldn’t do what I do – that she’d go nuts if she had to stay home with her kid all day. I tell her that is because she only has ONE kid. Two, three, and especially FOUR kids provide all of their own entertainment and you just become the referee and sometimes a participant. She is never “judgey” and I love her for it. The sad part is that if you are a working mom and you read this, you will most likely giggle a little and agree that some working moms have their heads screwed on wrong about the whole “stay-at-home-mom” thing – you may even picture a few of these self-righteous idiots in your head; but I am POSITIVE that some stay-at-home moms reading this have been judging me since I said that I hit snooze 3 times a day. Yeah, well, who cares. I’ll criticize them on another day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alms For The Moms

I am thinking seriously of starting a charity for stay-at-home moms. I could collect and fundraise in order to provide maid service, babysitting, and psychotherapy. I mean, let’s face it, being a mom is HARD WORK and although most of the times the perks are great, you are often rewarded with a bad attitude, a slammed door, and a chorus of “It’s not fair.” I think that on some level all of us thought going into this that we were going to be having fun filled days with happy, obedient children like on TV commercials for diapers and fruit juices. We thought that there would be fun-filled days of baking with our kids and rolling around in our backyards after a great game of tag. We thought that the biggest mess we’d be faced with was the smudges on the light switch like in the Formula 409 commercials, or the grass stains on the Spray N’ Wash commercials. Yep, television has definitely misrepresented this job.

For example: It is Tuesday, and so far the adventures in Mommy-hood this week have included cleaning toothpaste off of my oven door, washing Jello out of the bed spread, scraping dried rice off of the dining room mirror, getting hardened Play-Dough off of the TV remote, getting peanut butter off of the ceiling, vacuuming crumbled Pop Tart off of the couch, throwing away a gazillion and five pieces of paper that all have 1-2 marks on them (and are therefore no good anymore), and cleaning enough hair off of the beater bar of the vacuum cleaner to make a decent toupee. These are just the special projects – I have also cleaned the bathrooms, washed 8 loads of laundry, done the dishes 4 times, made lunches, and gotten everyone fed and to school. I have also somehow managed to get chocolate INSIDE my shoe and also mustered the guts to determine that it IS chocolate. My 7 year old has used her 1726 Bendaroos to spell out all of the curse word that she knows on the wall under the heading: “Do not repeat.” The 4 year old has become freakishly attached to a string of paper circles that she made at school and carries it with her everywhere calling it “Wormy.” The 9 year old has completed -- and turned in for a grade -- a report on “Jupider” that I got to look at while at open house last night. And the 2 year old (who is almost potty trained) has become obsessed with putting things INSIDE his underwear – I am wondering how many times I can douse the remote in Lysol before it quits working.

I have found that as much as I loathe and detest exercise, I look forward to going to the gym for the 2 free hours of child care. I was thinking about this while I was on the treadmill yesterday between picking the kids up from school and going back for open house, and I really think that there ought to be a charity for stay at home moms. Alms For The Moms would be an excellent name.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Please Like Me...Please??!

I am trying to be popular. It is something I have been working on since I was about 8. This whole internet thing may actually make it possible.  So if you are reading this, I need you to go ahead and make it official.  There is a "Follow" button over there on the right. Apparently, until you click on it, you are not official. (sigh) I know that being official is important to you. You better go fix that.  All the cool kids are doing it. (Well, not ALL of them yet, but this is your chance to be a trend-setter). 

You see, I REALLY want to be a writer -- full-time (I mean in addition to being a full-time wife/mother/Facebook addict).  But with 4 kids, I am going to have to go get a real job that requires make-up and shoes or else those aforementioned kids will be living at home when they are 30 because I won't be able to send them to college so that they can get real make-up and shoe jobs of their own.  So I have a plan.  IF I can get my blog popular enough that people are reading this random stuff that flows out with very little effort, then every once in awhile I can slip in a meaningful piece that I have written and get honest feedback from people who "know" me.  THEN I can hone my writing skills, and possibly get published.  You see, it lends credence to my legitimate claim to be a writer if I have actual people who at least appear interested in what I am writing.

Also, this is a very good outlet for me.  When I am working on a story, it is usually like trying to eat an entire cheesecake.  At first, I am really excited and thinking "Yay!! Cheesecake!!  Gimme a fork and back away slowly!!"  And after a little while, I start to get stuck or bored and then its like "Oh...cheesecake?  Okay, I guess."  And if I can't get unstuck or find a new direction, it becomes "I DON'T WANT ANY MORE *&^%^$*& CHEESECAKE!!  I AM OFFICIALLY ON A DIET!!"  I have an entire file on my computer of unfinished stories entitled "Cheesecake." 

By being able to come here and type random thoughts or share specific stories about my kids or my husband or my ever-so-exciting life as a stay-at-home mom, I can sometimes clear out the cobwebs in my head allowing me to see that next bite of "cheesecake" so I can pick up the fork again.  That, and I can't afford therapy, so this is kind of a substitute for that too.

So, check out the rest of my posts and when you are convinced that once or twice a year you might want to know what random crap is being said here, click on the "Follow" button.  Then please push this blog on your friends -- tell them that I am hilarious, insightful, poignant -- tell whatever lie you need to in order to get them to click on that "Follow" button.  I will TRY on a regular basis to be all of the above -- hilarious, insightful, and poignant.  I guarantee only this:  there will be times that I succeed, and times that I will fail miserably.

**Oh, and while you are here, if you see a bar at the top from Google that says "This page is in 'Spanish'" and a hyperlink that says "Not in Spanish? Help us improve." PLEASE let them know that this page is in English!!!  My last name is a Spanish word and is in the blog's title, but seriously??  One word?  One Spanish word and they label the WHOLE page as being Spanish??  It is that type of stereotyping that pisses me off.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sugar is Meth to A 2 and 4 Year Old

I happen to be a pretty laid back mom.  I try to keep things pretty loose and happy (although they often end with me getting overwhelmed and yelling and then feeling like a big pile of poo).  I have never been very concerned about things that my kids eat.  I mean, they eat like I do -- whatever is relatively fast and easy.  I do try to work in vegetables and fruit and limit the candy intake.  And I am obsessive about teeth-brushing.  But I have never been too concerned about soda intake.  My kids drink soda at least 2-3 times a week, and sometimes more. It has never been a problem.  My 9-year old had his first carbonated, caffeinated, beverage at about 18 months.  I half expected him to go berserk and bounce off the walls, but he didn't.  He just sucked on his straw and said "More!"  Kid number 2 came along, and the same thing -- gave her soda, waited for impending meltdown, and nothing happened.  I was thinking "Man, all of these people freaking out about kids and sugar are SOOOOOOO WRONG!!  Sugar doesn't effect my kids AT ALL!!"  I had witnessed my friends' kids go into sugar induced frenzies that rivaled the meth addicts I had seen on late night episodes on COPS.  My kids were special.  They could eat 2 cupcakes and guzzle a Dr. Pepper at a birthday party and fall asleep on the way home 30 minutes later.  I was certain that my kids had some sort of super gene that allowed them to be unaffected by sugar and caffeine.  It was like a super-power.

When kid number 3 came along, I assumed that the trend would continue.  But Lorelei was different from most kids -- and when she was younger, she had chronic tonsillitis and ear infections so I don't think that ANY amount of stimulants would have perked her up.  Then Jackson came along, and Lorelei had her tonsils taken out.  And here's one of the problems with having 4 kids:  you HAVE to be consistent in the way that you treat them and what they are allowed to do because they notice the inconsistencies.  So if William and Bella could have sugary-brown-goodness in the form of sodas, then Lorelei and Jackson wanted the same. 

I soon discovered that these 2 younger children did NOT have the super-power gene.  In fact, they appeared to have some mutated gene that caused complete irrational behavior accompanied by rotten attitudes and violent mood swings when it encountered sugar in their systems.  (I really would need Allie from Hyperbole and a Half to properly illustrate this, but if you read her "God of Cake" post and take note of the drawings, you will get the general idea).  As amusing as it is to see a 2 and 4 year old ping around the house like pin-balls every once and awhile, and as entertaining as conversations with them can be during these periods, I have decided that this is just simply not going to work.  I had hoped to possibly build their resistance to sugar by keeping it as a regular component of their diets, but this hypothesis has proven to be a complete failure, and now I have created 2 little sugar fiends.  This is a typical morning conversation at our house:

Me: Guys, what do you want for breakfast?
Jackson: I want CANDY!!!!
Me: You CANNOT have candy for breakfast.  How about some cereal or a bagel?
Jackson: Can I have a lollipop?
Me: No.  Lollipops are candy, and you CANNOT have candy for breakfast.
Lorelei: Can we have candy AFTER breakfast?
Me: No.
Lorelei: When do we get candy then?
Me: I don't know, but right now we are talking about breakfast, so what do you want for breakfast?
Lorelei: Can I have Dr. Pepper?
Me:  No, you CANNOT have Dr. Pepper with breakfast.  Would you like some milk?
Lorelei: Can I have chocolate in it?
Me: No.
Both:  (Chanting and jumping around in circles) Chocolate milk!  Chocolate milk!  Chocolate milk!
Repeat this conversation for both lunch and dinner, as well as for any snacks, and you will get a rough idea of what a typical day of feeding these two is like.

They are both also incredibly gifted when it comes to ferreting out candy that may be hidden somewhere in the house, and they work as a team to get it.  It is not at all unusual to find the chair from the dining table in front of the fridge with a stool perched precariously on top while they try to get to the candy bowl on top of the fridge.  They have perfected this to the point that in the 3 minutes it takes me to go pee, they can easily be standing on their impromptu ladder and stretching their grubby little hands over the edge of the bowl before I get back.  And I have learned that any candy I get for MYSELF needs to be hidden extra well because there is something about the fact that it is MY candy that makes it extra appealing to them.  Jackson once found my stash of Rolos (which was in a shoebox under my bed that he had never seen) and while I was in the shower, the 2 of them ate over half a bag.  I now hide my candy in the medicine cabinet behind the nebulizer.  They HATE the medicine cabinet (with the exception of the Band-Aids, which is an entirely different post) so I am pretty sure that my Rolos are safe.

Next time I feel up to being entertained by giving them a sugar-fix, I will be sure to video it and post it here.