Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I am continually amazed at how different two children from the same family can be. When my babies were newborns, I did things pretty much exactly the same way for them both. Why then, despite all parenting efforts, have they turned out to be so entirely opposite? I hate to admit it, but I was that judge-y mom whose face had a look of abject horror on it when I would witness a toddler throwing a massive tantrum in public. Because, well, Ella just...didn't do that. Ever. I wrongly assumed that those "other" moms were doing something wrong, taking an incorrect turn somewhere in their parenting, that was causing their kid to behave that way. And then came Charlie. Charlie, who has shattered every single one of my previously-held ideas about parenting to smithereens, who yells and screams and hits and gets mad, despite my best efforts to get him to stop. "I don't know how to parent this child," I have said on many occasions, both to myself and to others in exasperation. I have had many, many people tell me that he is perhaps the wildest, most stubborn kid they have EVER seen in their lives, and most say it either in shock or judgement (as I once did) or in pity for me, his full-time parent. But. BUT! Last week I had a revelation, an epiphany, my AHA! moment. My job with Charlie is not to get him to "stop" being himself, it is to somehow find a way to use his personality and channel all of his energy for GOOD, as opposed to EVIL (as in, biting his sister because he gets mad that his favorite tv show just ended). And oh, the things he will do with all of his energy if he chooses to use it for good. He has more fight and spunk in his little toe than most people posses in their entire body, and my purpose is to show him how to be a good person and have a good life, without changing him and beating his personality out of him (*disclaimer* NO actual beating occurs here in this house, it's just a catchphrase, people). I had, fruitlessly, been trying to get him to change, to stop being so wild and screamy and opinionated, for the love of GOD, just stop already. So, what triggered this aha moment, you may ask? This. This excerpt from a blog post on a website I read regularly, Mommy Wants Vodka, written about her daughter, who sounds eerily similar to Charlie.

Yes! I say to her, YES, my brave, sweet girl, you FIGHT against it. You get good and god-damned mad and you take that anger and you channel it into something good and you use it for all it’s worth. That is the tiger in you, my child. And you let that tiger out and you let it ROAR and God HELP anyone who gets in your way. That fight will remind you that you're alive.

When I read that, I thought YES! Yes! You scream good and loud, Charlie, because one day you will scream when someone is doing you wrong and people will HEAR YOU. You, my child, are no wallflower, content to let others have their way while you sit idly by, taking it in. This fight that you have in you can lead to great things for you if I do my job and teach you how to let it lead you down the right path in life. So you fight, Charlie, and you let yourself be heard. And even though it may be the death of me while you are a toddler, that fight in your heart is what will carry you on to do great things, son. Rage on.

And I? Am slowly learning to look past these toddler years and the frustration that Charlie's temperament can cause me. I am looking forward to when he is a teenager and doesn't let people push him around, or when he is a man and stands up for what he believes in with his loud voice booming. And I am learning to love this about him.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sometimes you just need some sparkle.

The day was off to a decidedly rough start: I slept through my alarm for maybe the second time in my adult life, leaving me with less time to accomplish things before the kids woke up. And when those kids did wake up, oh boy, were they in a mood. A whining, crying, fighting, yelling, grabbing, hitting, and tantrum-throwing kind of a mood. I very quickly made an executive decision: Charlie could not (for my sanity and his own) make it to his 1:00pm nap time, so down he went at 9:30am for a quickie nap. I breathed in a sigh of relief, glad to have the screaming over with for even just 30 minutes. But I realized that the morning's rough start had left me in a funk, and all I felt like doing was staring blankly at the wall while Ella did whatever her heart desired. "This day is kicking my ass and it hasn't even started yet," I told myself. Just then I heard a chair scooting across the kitchen floor, heard Ella getting up into the art cabinet, heard her close the cabinet door and make her way into the living room. "Mom," she said, "I think what we need right now is some sparkles." She held her glue and her plastic baggie of sequins and stickers and her giant pad of art paper. And for thirty minutes we sprawled out on the floor and drew butterflies and flowers, gluing rainbow-colored sparkles inside our artwork to color them in. I felt myself let go, start over. And wouldn't you know it? Some sparkles was just what this day needed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Business Of Summer

When the husband calls me on his lunch break, and asks what we've been doing that day, I usually answer, "Oh, nothing. Just hanging around the house." But, oh, we've been busy. Busy taking care of all that needs doing in these hot summer months, busy letting the kids just be kids and run wild, busy having long and lazy mornings on the couch with our blankies and loveys and sippies of juice, busy enjoying the long days and packing all that we can into the daylight hours. There are sprinklers to run through, popsicles to eat, cookouts with family to attend, and lightning bugs to catch. Having a to-do list with the many, many things of summer on it does not leave me much time for this here blog, but I'll take it. I'll take every single bit of it.












Friday, July 9, 2010

How To Win Friends And Influence People, Housewife Edition.

Moving away from Nashville has affected me the most, I believe. The husband is from this town, so even if he doesn't "technically" have friends here yet, he is always running into this classmate from high school or that childhood friend. Ella did have to say goodbye to her friends, but come on, she is four years old. She asked about them a lot the first couple of weeks, not so much last week, and each passing day brings fewer questions about when we can go see her friends. But I, on the other hand, had an amazing network of friends in my hometown. Friends who were stay-at-home-moms like me, friends to go grab a coffee with, friends to sit next to while we watched the newest vampire/werewolf saga on the big screen (shut UP. I KNOW.) There was never a shortage of people to call when the kids and I felt like getting out of the house and I needed some grown-up conversation while the kids ran around the park. So this? This lonely day-to-day existence with virtually NO adult interaction of any kind? This is brand new to me. And it is starting to suck. I can literally feel myself going crazy every day, bit by bit, which is kind of understandable seeing as the only conversations I am having are centered around Barbies and answering questions such as "Is that God singing on the radio?". So last week I made a real, conscious effort to put myself out there and meet people. Here is my story.

Day 1: Woke up and showered, giving myself ample time to actually "get ready", which is the exact opposite of my daily ponytail-and-tshirt-and-shorts-and-no-makeup routine. If I wanted people to like me, I reasoned, then I had better not stink or scare them off with my frightening, makeup-free face. Dressed the kids in their cutest play clothes, same reasoning applying here: No one wants their kids to play with Those Kids, the ones who are wearing a too small Elmo tshirt that shows their bellies and look as if they possibly have lice. We looked like a damned JCrew catalogue picture, and I felt like I was heading out for a job interview. At the park, Ella immediately ran over and began playing with a little girl about her age, and I noticed that her mother had a little boy just a bit older than Charlie. Oh my God, I thought. This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. She is going to love me and we are going to be best mommy friends forevermore. I trekked across the playground and set down our things about six feet from Friend Candidate #1. I did not even get the chance to open my mouth before Ella and her new friend trotted over to say hello. Except Ella apparently had other things on her mind. "Hey, guess what?", I heard her telling her new friend. "My mommy has on the most beautiful green polka dot bra today. And guess what ELSE?!?! It has a cute bow RIGHT IN BETWEEN HER BOOBIES!" I laughed nervously, waiting to see what the other mom's reaction would be to this revelation. Apparently it was to haul ass out of there. "Come on kids, it's time to go! Mommy needs to get us home so we can fix lunch." And that was that. We were left at the park alone. "Wait!" I wanted to yell. "Wait! You would probably really like me if I didn't have my kids with me!". Making a good first impression on the Moms of Clarksville: FAIL.

Day 2: Banking on the fact that Friend Candidate #1 was probably not going to chance running into us again at the same park, the kids and I headed back the next day. The kids may have whined something about not wanting to play outside, that it was too hot, and I may have said something to the effect of "We will go to the park and YOU WILL LIKE IT, dammit. Mommy needs some friends." We lasted longer this time, I even struck up a conversation with another mom there with a daughter that was Ella's age. Things were going swimmingly: she had two kids, lived near us, our kids were zoned for the same school district, blah blah blah. When she got up to go check on her younger kid, I noticed Ella coming closer with the girl by her side. "Oh, sweet Jesus, please do not let her say anything to ruin this for me," I silently pleaded. No such luck. Apparently while we had been in the car on the way to the park, a song had come on the radio that she took a particular liking to. I hadn't even noticed it was on, which is all to say that NO, I do NOT let my four year old listen to songs about smoking weed. I could hear her from twenty feet away: "Who says I can't get stoned, call up a girl that I used to know...". She had memorized almost all the lyrics, just from hearing it once, God help me. Before the other mother could come back and discover her preschooler hanging around with That Kid who is singing about smoking a joint and arranging a one night stand, I yanked up both kids and trotted to the car. Friendship Making: FAIL.

Day 3: I believe I mentioned it in the last post I wrote, but we have been kicked in the ass all week by a vicious head cold. Fevers, aches, chills, snot, and coughing was abundant here for about four days. I do not feel like I need to tell you what this meant for my appearance. Suffice it to say that my bathrobe aged ten years in one week. I didn't realize that this day was going to be a day in which I would make a first impression on someone, or I may have actually tried to run a comb through my hair (that hadn't been washed in, oh, three days) or scrape the boogers off my tshirt (courtesy of Ella, who believes I am a walking snot rag). But around 4pm, when I was just approaching the height of my sexiness for the week, there it was: a knock on the door. Oh, Lordy, who could it be? I thought. Turns out it was our next door neighbors that we had yet to meet. A lovely family, one that was standing there looking at me and my disheveled, snot-covered children in what I can only assume was horror. They were dressed to go to church. Ella had on a princess nightgown that has seen better days, and Charlie had on a too big tshirt with watercolor paint stains on the front. And a diaper. After they introduced themselves and made small talk for all of thirty seconds, they thrust a houseplant through my doorway and made their way home. Probably to take a shower or bathe in hand sanitizer. Meeting the neighbors and not making them want to put their house up for sale: FAIL.

I give up. If anyone knows of any nice, normal moms here that want someone to host a playgroup, have them call me. That is if they don't mind the fact that I wear polka-dotted bras, my four year old sometimes sings about firing up a joint, and I may have snot on me at any given point in the day. And if they do mind? Then I probably wouldn't want to be friends with them anyway.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Last Few Weeks...

...we have:

~ Settled in nicely to our new house, and are still loving just as much as the day we moved in. Aside from the stack of framed pictures waiting to be hung, we are unpacked and this is starting to feel like home to all of us. We have met our neighbors (more on that later), and they seem nice. They have a daughter who babysat the kids who lived here before we did, which: SCORE.

~ Visited the nearest park a handful of times. My first impression of this park was....just okay. The playground equipment is on top of a field of gravel instead of the more traditional wood chips or rubber flooring, which is kind of weird to me. The rocks get stuck in your sandals and make it incredibly hard to walk...watching Charlie try to trek across the playground is hysterical, something akin to him trying to walk through a field of marshmallow fluff. Oh and also too? This park is ruled by a nasty little dictator, who does not discriminate when choosing his victims. He will attack swiftly and viciously, and his attack method goes something like this: KEEP STINGING, A thousand times if necessary. I have no clue what this little creature actually is (another mom at the park said maybe a carpenter bee, I'm leaning more towards demon-possessed henchman of the devil), but Charlie has been hit twice by it and we have witnessed two other children being attacked. Seriously, this thing will swarm at you with the intensity of a thousand suns and NOT STOP. For no reason, it flies right at your head. So yeah. We're not going to that park anymore.

~ We have been felled, FELLED I say!, by a nasty cold. Fevers, snot-noses, aches and chills are rampant here right now. Add to that the fact that I feel like I have stomach cancer*, and you can just imagine the fun being had in our house this week.

~ Charlie has apparently discovered that he has the capability to speak the English language, and is taking full advantage of his new found love of words. He has also discovered that if he cocks his head to one side, holds his hand out, and says, "Peeeeeeese?", he will probably get what he wants. Research results still pending, but this may have something to do in the dramatic rise in temper tantrums here.

* Not really stomach cancer. Probably an ulcer or something. But. Still painful, ouch.