Sunday, July 31, 2011

Out of Control

It's days like these, or maybe even months, where at the end of my day I bring out my BIG wine glass, lean my elbows on the table with the palms of my hands painfully pushing into my eye sockets and wonder if I ever was IN control in the first place. And if I was, where the hell did I put it?!

My children have mutated when I wasn't looking. I think it's the summer overdose of vitamin D, but no website I've looked into supports my hypothesis. But theoretically, it COULD be true. Do you have any idea of incredibly impossible it is to explain to a 4-year-old that although it's as bright out as it was at lunchtime, it's actually an hour past his bedtime? Believe me, I've often wondered how much damage I have done when I've thrown up my hands, given up putting them back in bed for the fourth time and allowed them to watch TV until they fall asleep, leaving them sleep deprived by a good 3 hours short of what "experts" recommend my children should have for a good night's sleep. For Pete's sake, I could be promoting psycho-killer tendencies!

Can it be that my intense, every-minute-accounted-for timetable only allows me a diet of coffee, diet Coke, Red Vine licorice and wheat thins? It's a good possibility.

I cannot and will not take my children to public places or to visit friends unless I absolutely have to. I swear they have an uncanny sense to know when the extent of mommy's discipline is severely dimensioned by being in the presence of witnesses other people. But on the flip-side, maybe it's this lack of exposing them to these situations that's hampering their ability to cope? Yeah, right. It's damaged my social life beyond repair...and theirs.

Example: Our neighbors sit outside, have drinks and sometimes food and visit with one another. They have always extended an open invitation for me to join them. I can't. I sometimes stand in my driveway and gaze longingly at the tight-knit little group, so wanting to go over for conversation and laughs. But if I do, it means the kids will follow. I want to relax. I can't carry on a decent conversation, because I'm constantly doing the terminator scan to make sure they aren't doing something they shouldn't be. They're loud, they interrupt, they tease the dogs, they touch things they're not supposed to, they fight with each other and every five minutes, need me to walk them back down to our house for some reason.

How do other parents do it? I see parents out taking a walk with their kids in tow, and not one of them is pushing the other off the sidewalk or trying to run each other over with their bicycles. Other children do chores without complaint. I ask mine to pick up their Popsicle wrapper off of the living room floor and he collapses like a puppet whose strings have been cut and complains that his legs "hurt because he's growing," and how dare I ask him to scoop up the wrapper and carry it WAY OVER THERE to the garbage can? When I do not back down, he will literally, drag himself across the floor using only his a scene from some black and white army movie, to throw it away.

They ask me every. two. minutes. when lunch is ready, but only take two bites before announcing they're full and evaporate from the table before putting away the dishes. I drag them back to the table, hoping not to pull their arm out of the socket and ignoring their sobbing as I ask them to put their dishes in the dishwasher. Good lord, it's 2 ft. from the table!!

I've tried everything. I've thought that maybe I was being too lenient, that I need to pick my battles. But more often than not, that lead to being ignored completely. So I stepped it up. I threatened. I took away video games, TV time, dessert, and (avoid eye contact) taking away a birthday. What? I was desperate! I'll admit it, there have been days that I've lost complete control of myself, told them they were rotten kids, that they didn't love me or they would try harder to be good. Come on, we've all said things we've regretted...right? (Please say yes.) I've had Shawn threaten them with a belt (not that we'd use it, but a good slap on the table can serve as motivation sometimes.) My "motivation" growing up was the flyswatter.

I've gone the other route too, trying to bribe them into good behavior by a reward system. They forget about it after two days. OR if they do get their reward, they complain it wasn't what they had wanted, they didn't get enough and we're right back where we started.

I've had more than my fair share of whining. Oh my gosh, that HAS to be the worst! That high-pitched babbling accompanied by tears, I can't understand a word that's being said, and honestly don't care, because it usually has to do with some horrible injustice one has inflicted on the one brother saying the other farted when he didn't. The world is going to end because HE is SOOO mean! The bullying, the lying, the screaming, crying, hitting, tantrums, spitting, kicking, scratching....IT HAS TO END!

You'd think after 7 years, I'd know what to do, but I don't. I sometimes look back on my day and shake my head...they're children. Okay, they're not perfect, but I love them, they are my whole world, I'd die for them in a heartbeat. They really are brilliant, they make me laugh, push me outside of my comfort zone in order to be a better person for them. Am I a horrible parent? No lie...sometimes I am, but they shape me as much as I shape them. I have to realize that they don't understand how much I sacrifice, how hard it is to balance school with their one on one time, and how hard our every day life can be. I only hope that when they're older, they won't remember the bad days. Maybe I expect too much...but it's only because I can see what beautiful people they are. Frustration? Absolutely. But they have their moments that make my heart sing and burst with pride.

I admire my mother-in-law more than you can imagine, because she raised six boys. SIX BOYS?! What the hell? I need to take notes.

I just have to hope that everything will balance out in the end...the good days and the bad days. Do I have my hands full? Probably more than most, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Way It Should've Been

Hello followers! I know it's been a while, but I have a good excuse, I'm back in college!

Waaayyy back when I went to college the first time, George Bush Sr. was elected President, Tom Selleck was ending his stint in "Magnum PI" after 8 years, the Exxon Valdez had spilled oil (I don't think that's totally taken care of yet), Sandra become the first woman elected to the supreme court, and just to prove that things never change, we were still reeling from the stock market crash in October of 1987 and we were suffering a huge drought and heat waves. Back then, Michael Jackson had three hits in the top 20, Guns-N-Roses sang, "Sweet Child O'Mine" and  UB40 encouraged us to drink "Red, Red Wine," while Def Leppard told us, "Love Bites," George Michael wasn't scary and Whitney Houston wasn't on drugs. Ahhh, those were the days. Those were the days that I decided to break free from my high school cliques and attend college 5 1/2 hours away from my home town.

What was I thinking?

I had dreams of grandeur. I wasn't going to follow all my friends to in-state colleges! No, I was going to be somebody. In high school, I had tons of friends. I got along with most everyone in my class of 230-some. But I didn't want those ties. I was going to be a famous artist.

And then reality hit. I didn't know ANYONE. No one knew me. I wasn't as outgoing as I had thought without the courage in numbers I had had. I didn't join clubs, I didn't party (I didn't know my way around the town), I hardly had the nerve to go eat in the cafeteria. I wasn't prepared. I wasn't ready for the drastic change in study habits. Things that were easy to me had become I struggle. I lost weight, I became depressed, I missed my mommy. I had never felt so alone, sad, and most importantly, small. My grades suffered. I became lost in the abyss of who I thought I was and who I actually was...a small fish in a small pond. A far cry from a town where everyone knew who you were, what you were like and what you were going to do before you did it. You know how everyone seems to have life-long college friends? Not me. To this day, I don't think I could name more than five alum.

Being a parent myself now, I can about image how difficult those phone calls home were for my mom to listen to. My tears, my pleas and for her to not just want to drive up there and wrap her arms around me. But she didn't. She urged me to keep going, try to make friends, get out there. I kept going. But I wasn't a part of college life, and it's one of my biggest regrets.

But unlike most people, I have a second chance. I'm back in college chasing the dream...a different dream, but THE dream for me. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous the first day of class. But I have something now that I didn't then, experience. I'm older. What you think of me isn't as earth shattering as it once was.

The experience to participate in class and not just be a warm body filling a seat. I know what an asset it is to have the teacher remember a good way. Experience knowing that the teacher actually must find some relief in getting feedback and not just dull stares and yawns. Experience knowing the class will be way more interesting if SOMEONE breaks the ice, and if that's me so be it. You know what? The thing is, if you do contribute, not only do the teachers remember you, but so do your classmates.

I now sit down at a table in the lounge, and pretty soon I have four other people with me. There are people pulling chairs from other tables to sit at the one I'm at. Not that it's all about me, but it seems people like groups. People stop me in the hall to talk. Experience knowing that if you're not shy in class, you're a magnet because others know you're not afraid to talk and they're drawn to someone they know they can have a conversation with.

I haven't mentioned my age specifically aloud. I wonder if they know how old I am? They know I'm married with children, but there are quite a few who fall into that category, even though they are 10-20 years younger than me...some with children quite a bit older than mine. But we can commiserate on how tough it is to juggle kids, work, classes and homework.

We had to sign up for a group class project. Group A and Group B. We were told to write our names on the whiteboard under each group. Our choice. Is it coincidence that I was the first one up there to sign up under Group B and group A had 6 less people in it? (If it is, just let me believe).

One odd thing that's been true for me most of my life, the busier I am, the more organized and happy I become. Weird, right? Two of my days consist of classes until 5:15, straight to daycare to pick up the boys, home to fix and clean up supper, housework, baths and bedtime. Then peace...and homework. On the two days that I'm done early with classes, I bring an extra set of clothes so I can drive to where Shawn is working and help him, then ditto with the rest of my schedule. Add baseball in on Monday and Thursday nights. I'm waiting for the, "No time to eat," part to kick in so I can drop a few pounds.

I average 5.5 hours of sleep a night. Sure I get crabby, who wouldn't? Studying is a challenge with the noise level in our house. If I have to start before the kids are in bed, I lay in my bedroom and read. The other night, while I was reading biology, Kaiden came in and flopped down beside me, opened his own book, and started reading. (It was sweet, but he reads in a little whisper). Good influence on my kids? I think so.

Wanna know what I'm excited about this week? I get to observe a surgery and I get to job shadow at a local clinic. I seriously haven't been this happy in a LONG time. Yeah, it's the first week, and things may change. I try not to think of the financial implication of living on one salary, but it's nice to have something on my mind besides bills for a change.

Experience also means I have contacts...lots of them. I was able to convince the printer I'm doing graphic design work for, to offer students a 15% discount on printing and copies. My job shadowing "in" was from a Vet I designed business cards for. I think I even have my internship secured from postcards I did for PAAWS who specialize in providing free spay and neutering services for people who can't afford it and strays. CAN WE SAY AWESOME?!

But you know what the absolute best thing has been so far? I overheard my oldest son tell my neighbor (when neighbor asked a question of him that he couldn't answer) that he should ask his mommy, because, "She's really smart."

No regrets.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This Is Hard Work

As some of you know, I've started working with my husband, who is a handyman. To say this is his busy season is an understatement of gigantic proportions. My thought was this, why work for minimum wage when I can help him push jobs through faster, and thus make more money for the family? Shawn doesn't pay me per sé, but let me tell you, the rewards were unexpected. I was excited to get out from behind the computer and actually do something physical. If I was lucky, maybe I would tone up this ol' sagging bod. After four weeks, I'm exhausted, sore, and unexpectedly...happy.
No, this is not me.

In the style of Jeff Foxworthy's, "You might be a redneck if..." here is my list of, "You know you're actually working hard if..."

  • Your jeans are so full of paint, caulking, or wallpaper glue, you can stand them up in the laundry room, only to scare the bejeesus out of you kids when they encounter them in low light.
  • Your husband drops you off at the walk-in clinic to receive stitches in your leg from stabbing yourself with the utility knife. He doesn't make fun of you for passing out on the client's boulevard, but expects you back on the job in one hour.
  • Your hairstyle choices include: high ponytail, braid, low ponytail.
  • You can identify the number of paint jobs you've done by counting the the different splashes on your shirt.
  • Your husband says, "Hand me the Dremmel," and you know what he's talking about.
  • You have a fabulous tan on your arms, but continue to apply tanning lotion to your legs and feet.
  • You blow your nose expelling only dry-wall dust.
  • Your positions on a ladder to reach the corners in a kitchen rival only a pole dancer.
  • Your 4-year-old asks you if you're a man now.
  • You notice every cosmetic flaw in your home, but instead of adding them to the "Honey Do" list, you fix them yourself.
  • You really do need a break at 10:30 AM.
  • You fall into bed and wake up in the EXACT same position.
  • Your weatherman describes the damaging winds and wild thunderstorm overnight, and you had no clue.
  • Your doctor asks if you feel safe at home because of the number of bruises and scrapes you're sporting (not to mention stitches).
  • You burp and fart where ever the hell you want to.
  • You have your own tools, each neatly labeled with the word, "MINE" so your husband doesn't steal them.

You and your husband have something to talk about other than the kids!


(bows, bows)