As soon as I heard about this challenge, I knew I wanted to participate! The main reason I blog and write about parenting is to lift other mommies up! To let them know that it’s hard, but we are all feeling the struggle. Not one of us is perfect! Let’s celebrate our strengths and stop focusing on what we don’t do well or what we feel like we should be doing better.
Thanks you so much to Kayla O’Neill at Parenting Expert Mom for tagging me in this challenge.
I’m tagging Kaity Stuckert at Beeautiful Blessings, Catherine Murton at Kid & Kin, Rebecca Lyn Miller at Mommy Takes 5, and Madelyn Harrah at Happy Hippy Homemaker.
Show us what you’ve got ladies!
1. I KNOW THAT PERFECTION IS A MYTH: I used to think that being the perfect mom was attainable. Now I know it’s a myth. Once I got to know the moms in community, the ones that seemed perfect, the ones that seemed like they had it all together, I learned that they had the same struggles and insecurities that I did. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt the need to try to be a certain way and I stopped caring what other people thought of my abilities as a mom.
2. I’M LOUD AND CRAZY: My house is never quiet! We are a big, loud family! We sing and dance and sock-ice skate in the kitchen. We make up our own songs and belt the words out. We chase each other around the house and smack talk when we play UNO and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope my children remember our house as loud and fun!
3. I APOLOGIZE: I make a lot of mistakes. I holler at my kids. I forget to wash their karate suit. I get them to school late. But I always apologize. I know I’m not a perfect mom and I want my kids to know that too. I want them to learn that sometimes we mess up: we forget things, we’re mean, we hurt people’s feelings. I want them to be gentle with themselves when they make a mistake and to see the importance of apologizing when you do.
4. I VALUE KINDNESS OVER INTELLIGENCE: Now that my kids are in school, it’s obvious that some have an easier time with schoolwork. While we celebrate all achievements in our home, I am more impressed when my children act kind and generous and loving to one another than when they bring home an A.
5. I GIVE MY CHILDREN ONE ON ONE TIME: With four siblings, I’m sure my kids sometimes feel a little lost in the shuffle, so we go on dates to the arcade or to play mini golf. It’s sometimes hard to fit into our busy schedule but it’s worth it to reconnect with each child and to show them how much I love them!
6. I PUT MY HUSBAND FIRST: Hard as it may be with 4 little kids, I try to make my husband and our marriage a priority. Someday these kids will be grown and gone and it will just be me and hubby left. I don’t want him and our relationship to get lost in the chaos. I also want to teach my children what a good relationship showing them.
7. I MAKE THEM DO CHORES: My school age kids have daily chores and Saturday chores. When the kids sweep and wipe the table, it’s not as clean as when I do it (not even close-sometimes it even looks worse!) I’m not trying to teach them how to be expert cleaners, I’m trying to teach them that this is what we do in a family – we take care of our things and we help each other out.
8. I DON’T LET THEM QUIT: When my kids want to join sport or play and instrument I don’t let them quit. If they sign up a season of soccer and decide they don’t like it after two practices, we still go to soccer until the end of the season. I hope this is teaching them to be faithful to their obligations and to be thoughtful about what activities they sign up for.
9. I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: Over the years I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself to be a good mom-that sometimes the best thing for the whole family is for mom to leave on Saturday morning and not come back until dinnertime. For most families I know, the mom sets the tone for the house. Taking time for myself and coming back refreshed sets a nicer tone than staying in the house and feeling resentful.
10. I TELL MY CHILDREN THAT I LOVE THEM: It may seem small, but it’s important and I do it all day long accompanied with lots of hugs for as long as they let me!
Now it’s time for you to toot your horn! How are you rocking motherhood?
Normally when I hear, “You look tired,” I feel like that’s code for someone telling me “You look old,” or “Yoga pants again?” This Friday I hope to take it as a compliment. This time I want to hear it as, “That was some expert level parenting this week!”
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To my Pediatrician:
First of all, let me say thank you for taking such good care of my four babies and also for putting up with all my questions. You think by now, I’d be a little more laid back, but I still call your office as frantically and as frequently as a first time mom.
Having said that, let me say this: I can’t answer your questions any more. To your question, “When did the symptoms start?” My answer is, “I have no idea.” Please consider this my answer to all the other questions you are about to ask me about my child’s health.
What color is her snot? No clue.
Has he been having headaches? Iunno
Has she been coughing at night? Maybe?
How high was his fever? Ummmm……
Did she injure her toe at school? Blank stare
All I know is that they are sick now.
I wish I knew all the answers to the pediatrician’s questions: when each cough started, how long the fevers lasted, which one was coughing last night. The truth is, I just can’t remember.
Over the past three months we have had three strep infections, three kids on nebulizer treatments, one case of pneumonia, one UTI, four teeth pulled, one sinus infection, two rashes, three taped toes, plus a myriad of fevers, coughs, runny noses, headaches, tummy aches, bruises, and scraped knees.
I have poured countless tiny plastic cups of medicine, taken dozens of temperatures, run humidifiers, sprayed saline up little noses, made tea, gave spoonfuls of honey, diffused essential oils, aired out the house, boiled toothbrushes, rested, iced, and elevated, applied at least a box or two of bandaids, and paid a small fortune in copays.
Pediatrician, my head is spinning with sickness details, medication measurements, and absence notes for school. I’m honestly not sure how I even got to your office today and I’m not 100% on which kid I actually have with me today. So I’m very sorry that I can’t give you any more details about this particular kid and how long their mucus may or may not have been green.
All I know is that they are sick now.
I think it’s safe to assume it’s been a long time since the snot has turned green, their breathing has taken a turn for the worse, and the fever has either been high enough or lasted long enough to prickle my mom senses and get us in here. Just do the best you can and thank you. Thank you for bearing with me and all the other sickness weary moms. Hopefully this is the last time I’ll see you until spring! Until then, I’ll return to my cool mist humidifier fogged den of illness.
A Worn Out Mom
There I was, sitting on a thinly carpeted concrete floor while my daughter was in karate class. Like an explosion, all the kids rushed out the door and lined up at the water fountain. When it was my daughter’s turn, a bigger kid started counting to 3, the universal sign for “hurry up, I’m thirsty!” My daughter stopped drinking, turned on her heel, looked this big kid square in the eye and said, “You’re not the boss of me,” and walked back to class, looking a little taller than she had a moment before.
I jumped up and yelled, “In your face!” Then I dropped my microphone right on his bare feet! Well, I didn’t actually do that, but I totally wanted to! Not because the kid was mean, because he absolutely wasn’t, he was just thirsty. I was just so proud of my 7 year old for standing up for herself, especially to an older boy.
It made my day watching her sweet little face with her half grown in front teeth tell him “you’re not the boss of me” even though I think he really is. He’s two belts ahead of her and I’m pretty sure that means he’s allowed to (maybe even supposed to) tell the younger kids to keep the line moving. I’ll have to check with the instructor about that. But still. I was super proud.
Raising little girls is tougher than I thought it was going to be. I want to teach my girls to be kind to others, to follow the golden rule, but I also don’t want them to be doormats. And this particular daughter, she is the one who is the most accommodating. She’s the one who gives up the good spot in the car. The one who shares her new toy before she’s even played with it. The one who lets her friends pick the game at recess. She’s the peacemaker.
Don’t get me wrong. These are all great qualities and ones that her father and I encourage, but as we encourage her I wonder if she’ll define herself this way, as the peacemaker. I worry she’ll base her self worth on the approval of others.
But then this happens! A big “to heck with you bigger, stronger kid, I’ll drink as long as I want, thankyouverymuch!” In that moment I realized she can be a peacemaker and a totally confident little girl! Being kind doesn’t negate being self-assured. She can be both.
Sitting there on that cold floor, I forgot my aching back and barely noticed that my feet were starting to fall asleep. I was too happy, too proud to notice those aches and pains as I watched my adorable, tough, sweet, self confident little girl tighten her white belt, flip her long hair, and stride back into karate to kick some big kid butt.
When I heard about Pokemon Go about a year ago, I dreaded it’s release, but now that it’s here, I love it-even though I don’t play and my kids don’t either. Here’s why:
My ten year old bestest boy loves Pokemon and has for the past 5 years. And when I say love, I’m putting it lightly. He has over 500 cards, most of the games, novels about the characters, he watches the shows and movies, and has almost all of the pokedexes (which, for you pokenovices, are encyclopedias of Pokemon-listing all the characters and details about them). Before you think I spoiled him with all this stuff, please know that it took 5 years to accumulate this crap, I mean special, important, pokestuff, and a lot of it was in the form of gifts from our large and generous extended family.
In a Minecraft world, being a pokefan hasn’t been too easy for my sonny boy. Pokemon is not popular in my son’s school. Very few of the kids play the video games or watch the shows. A couple have some cards, but they aren’t invested like my son is. Add to that that my boy is a little on the quirky side. But if you are a true Pokemon fan, you probably already guessed that. So, he has learned not talk about Pokemon at school; he doesn’t wear his favorite Pokemon shirt because “nobody else likes Pokemon, Mom,” and he holds his own with his knowledge of Minecraft, which more of the kids like.
It’s not all doom and gloom though friends, luckily most of my nieces and nephews are also superpokefans! My boy pulls out his pokeshirt when he knows he’s going to see them, pokecard binder in one hand and Nintento DS in the other! We all go to the beach together for a week in the summer and the kids find a space to hang out, trade cards, play games, but mostly talk about Pokemon. We call it the pokeden. It’s super cute and honestly, a nice break for the parents who are sick and tired of hearing about it. Then all us adults can sit around and talk about stuff we are interested in-like who was Mom’s favorite!
Anywho-I was so apprehensive when Pokemon Go came out, I didn’t even tell Will. I don’t really have a problem with Pokemon per se, but I do know that when sonny boy spends “too much” time doing pokethings, he has a hard time switching his mind over to the task at hand. He gets lost in his own pokeworld and on the way up to brush his teeth, he forgets why he was going upstairs.
But of course I couldn’t hide it. And sure enough he started hearing about it from friends, family, Pokemon websites, and even on the news. I made sure to point out all the “Wow, Pokemon Go is so dangerous people are getting robbed and hit by cars” stories to dissuade him.
But then something really cool happened. I found out that the people playing the game aren’t necessarily the pokepeople. They are just people who want to play this game, which is actually pretty fun-even if you’re not a fan.
Then something even cooler happened, I was helping out at Sunday school and a teen helper asked the class if any of them had Pokemon Go. Sonny boy said no, but that he liked Pokemon. The teen said he just downloaded the game and found his first Pokemon, a little orange dragon. (I was thinking, “do you mean Charmander,” all rolling my eyes at his lack of pokeknowledge and then immediately thinking, “ugh, why do I know so much about pokemon?”)
But my son politely and enthusiastically said, “That’s probably a Charmander!” The two talked and the teen found my son again the next week to talk to him about the 76 more pokemon he found.
So now, I love Pokemon Go! Because people who aren’t true fans are playing it, getting interested in Pokemon, talking about it socially, asking my son questions, and appreciating his encyclopedic knowledge.
I know this won’t always be the case for him, that what the mainstream is talking about is something he’s interested in. Most kids in the school don’t have a special love for geodes, a crazy amount of knowledge about sharks and Greek mythology and prefer doing science experiments over playing soccer. And I’m ok with that. I love my quirky little boy. All these things he’s interested in are what makes him who he is and I wouldn’t change any little bit of him.
But I do have to admit that I am excited for school to start this year! So just once, my son can be truly involved and engaged in what the majority of the other kids are interested in!
I’m hoping the poketalk eclipses the Minecraft chatter. I’m hoping my boy dons his pokeshirt and lets his quirky flag fly and shows those Pokemon Go players what a true pokefan looks like.
The suit, friends, was made by Swim Solutions. Swim Solutions? Seriously? This is where I am in my life right now? I need a “solution” to my swimming “problem?”It’s like my husband is going to holler, “Hey, the kids and I are going swimming; come join us,” and my response will now have to be, “Oh, that sounds terrible. What a predicament. Oh wait, I think I have a solution,” as I pull on my bathing suit.
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I feel like I’m walking down a hallway and arrows are whizzing by my head. Striking my friends, their children.
When I turn around I can’t see anything. I don’t know where the arrows are coming from. We continue walking but when I turn around again, I can see that we haven’t gone any farther. When I try to run, I can’t. I’m just walking.
I hear an arrow buzz past my ear. I try to duck, to cover my head, to cover my children but I can’t. I can only walk.
There are so many people walking down the hallway with us and as I turn my head to the left and right, I see the arrows piercing, a person falls, a child falls.
I don’t know what we are walking towards. Safety I guess, but it doesn’t seem that we are getting any closer. Step after step and I can’t see anything new. I can’t see the end of the hallway. Just people. Just people walking. And falling.
I’m terrified and heartbroken. I feel helpless. I’m relieved that an arrow hasn’t struck me or my family. And I feel guilty for feeling that. My neck tingles in anticipatory dread.
I keep walking.
photo credit: Manuela Kohl, pexels.com
If you are one of my mom friends and you notice me getting quiet during a discussion, you know something is very, very wrong. Because if you know me, you know I love to talk and it’s hard to get me to shut up. Add in a glass of wine or two at one of our moms nights in and I’ll probably dominate all the conversations. Except for the ones that this triplet mom just can join in. Like the ones below:
Conversations about what it’s like to go from having one kid to two kids – or two to three – or even three to four
Because I have no idea. I have four kids, yes, but I went from having one to four! Who else does that? Even in my multiples club, I think there are only a few of us that did that. So when you all start talking about which was harder, to go from having one kid to two or from two kids to three, I’ll just sit over here, sip my wine, much on the delicious snacks and wait for the next topic to jump in on.
Conversations about the differences in your pregnancies
Because most of you had your babies the normal way: One. At. A.Time. Like normal people do. So you’ll all talk about how you carried higher with your boys or had more heartburn with each successive pregnancy and I’ll just sit there. Because I do know that I carried bigger with my second pregnancy but that’s just because there was a full litter in there! Other than that, not much I can offer to this either. So, I’ll just be over here. What is that, crab dip? Lovely, I’ll have some of that.
Conversations about the baby days
Because I’m a little worried about seeming like a show off. Because you’ll all be talking about reflux, colic, the witching hour, teething, mastitis, and all kinds of fun stuff. And I’ll be like, yeah we did that times three! And you’ll all look at me like, show off! Or like I’m supermom Or both! My baby days stories are un-relatable. So, I’ll just be over here. Is that cabernet? I think I’ll try that next.
Conversations about deliveries
Because there was a team of people, people! Yes, some of my girlfriends have had emergency c sections and some have had babies early. So I can talk about the surgery, the recovery and that sort of thing. But do you know how many people were in my delivery room? 12! A dozen people, not counting the babies. My OB, her student, (teaching hospital) two anesthesiologists, a NICU nurse for each baby, two NICU doctors, my nurse, my husband and me. And then when the babies were delivered, they were whisked away to spend their first 4 weeks of life in a isolettes. So, I’ll just be here with this plate of mini eclairs…and another glass of that delicious cabernet.
So what I’m saying here is ladies, if we don’t talk about something else at this moms night in, I’m about to get real full and real drunk!
But seriously, I actually do participate in all these conversations with my close friends. All of our experiences are different – I have friends that had babies born early, HELLP syndrome, emergency c-sections, unmedicated deliveries – I have friends who had hyperemesis with all their pregnancies, who have children with special needs, kiddos born 15 months apart, kids with FPIES and other food allergies. We have all had difficulties as moms and I’m more than willing to share my experiences with my closest, bestest friends.
But I do shy away from these conversations with people I don’t know very well – because I don’t want to come off like I’m a show off or a supermom just because I’m a triplet mom.
What about you? Are there any mom conversations you feel like you can’t participate in?
This here is my minivan, Bertha. Ain’t she purdy?
She looks like a Bertha, right? If she were a person I imagine she’d be in her mid 60’s with big fluffy grayish white hair that curls away from her face. She’d be chubby wear cardigans and comfortable brown shoes. Sometimes she’d be a little grouchy when her gout was acting up but mostly she’d be cheerful.
She looks great in this picture – but don’t be fooled. I got lucky with that lighting. Really Bertha is pretty beat up. First there’s this rusty scrape that goes allllll the way down the right side of the car from when that guard rail came from out of nowhere. Honestly, I haven’t even washed her since then because it’s like, what’s the point?
Then there are various dents and bumps and scrapes from throwing my kayak on top and having kids who like to play frisbee and wiffle ball in the driveway.
There is a spot on the windshield that never gets clean because even though the wipers work and the washer fluid is full, the washer fluid sprays all areas of the windshield except for the section right in front of my face.
The automatic door on the right doesn’t obey the automatic door button and doesn’t lock automatically either. And no, it wasn’t because of the guard rail incident; it was broken before then.
The automatic door on the left works most of the time. Except for when it doesn’t. But it works well enough so that when you push the button, you walk away expecting it to close without checking it. And then you come out of karate an hour and a half later to find a gang of raccoons helping themselves to month old french fries. Ok, that last part may have been a little bit of an exaggeration.
The air conditioner doesn’t work. Well, it does work kind of. It blows cold air out of all the vents except the ones on the driver. Those blow burning hot air.
If it rained overnight I can’t steer for a few blocks.
The brakes squeak, well not the braks, but the break pedal. When I push it down it makes a faint, high pitched, “wheep,” like a sad little guinea pig.
It’s hard to explain the noise she makes when she’s idling, but it doesn’t sound good. It sounds like she’s tired, she’s struggling.
And so we are getting ready to say goodbye. And I am surprised that I’m feeling kind of sad about it. I thought I’d be ready to kick her to the curb and get a new, sleek van with a camera to help me back up and maybe some of that satellite radio and maybe even a DVD player built in for long trips!
But, as I think about getting rid of this van, I think about all the time she’s been with our family.
All the times I drove around with one, or two, or three crying babies trying to lull them to sleep. The time when the girls were 3 and everything was hard and cooking dinner seemed like an impossible task so we scrapped it and hopped in Bertha to go out for ice cream. The time we got stuck in traffic on a bridge for 2 hours and I cried in the backseat along with the kids. The time we brought our cat home and she made cute little squeaking sounds the whole way home. The time the car overheated and we pulled over in front of my 6th grade crush’s house to wait for Daddy to come rescue us. All the trips to the doctors office, the sing-a-longs, the fights and the giggles, the chit chats, the prayers for passing ambulances, the everyday conversations.
When I started this post, I thought I’d end up at fake sentimentality. I thought I’d make a few jokes about how “important” a minivan is to a stay at home mom. But now that I’m here at the end of the post, I’m a little embarrassed to say that the fake sentimentality has turned real. And now I’m not really sure where to go with this. I wanted to end on a funny note but now I’m feeling a little melancholy. So much of our life is tied to that van.
So I guess I’ll just end by saying, “Thanks Bertha.”
Recently I had the privilege of babysitting my niece and nephew who are just awesome kids. First, they are 12 and 7 so they are easy to take care of. That might be my favorite part. Also, they are smart and funny and kind and polite and goofy and put up with me always trying to give them cuddles even though they are clearly too old for that sort of thing.
So, it was gearing up to be a good day. The only thing wrong with them is that one of them is allergic to my cat. It’s their only flaw really. So off to the supermarket we went to pick up some allergy medicine. I won’t name which one here because, what is this, a free commercial? But in case the company wants to get in touch with me and sponsor this post for some dough that would probably be okay with me. So, allergy companies, I’ll give you a hint as to which one it is – it rhymes with flertec.
Sorry about that tangent there. So we go to the grocery store and easily grab the flertec (I say easily because they are such awesome kids and so well behaved! They stayed with me and didn’t roughhouse or fight or get lost in the store or anything!)
We hop in the car and as we are getting buckled and ready to roll I happen to look over and see that the woman in the car next to me is crying. Like fat tears streaming down her face, nose running crying.
So, I poke my niece, “Do you see that? Is that woman crying?” Niece confirms. So I ask my niece what to do since she is like 12 now and pretty much an adult. And also because I have no idea what to do. She looks at me like, What are you asking me for? You’re the adult here. (12 year olds can convey a lot just with a look).
So, here we are sitting in the car and I can’t go because I don’t know if I should get out of my car and see if she is okay or just respect her privacy (and avoid all awkwardness) and drive away.
I start rapid fire questions at my perfect niece and nephew:
- Would you want someone to approach you if you were crying in your car alone?
- Do you think we are on a hidden camera show?
- What would Jesus do?
- If I drive away, am I leaving because I don’t want to deal with an awkward situation or am I leaving because I think it’s the right thing to do?
- What if I go over and ask if she is okay and she really does need to talk and then we are all stuck in the parking lot?
- What if I go over and she’s just embarrassed that someone saw her crying?
- Do you see any cameras anywhere?
- Cause I mean, this has to be a hidden camera show, right?
All the while I’m hoping the woman will finish her cry, dry her eyes, and head into the grocery store. Or notice that we keep looking over at her and stop. But she keeps sobbing, head in hands. It’s so sad.
My niece and nephew look at me blankly, clearly not having the same internal struggle as I am. I’m pretty sure they both want to beat it the heck out of there, take the flertec, go back to my house and eat all the junk food I just bought for them. But because they are so awesome they don’t say anything of the sort.
I think if I were on my own in this situation, I would have driven away and maybe felt bad about it later. But because I had kids with me, both of which are my godchildren by the way, I felt obligated to reach out to this woman and be a good example to my niece and nephew. To do something uncomfortable because it was the right thing to do.
I made the children aware of my decision.
“Kids, I’m going to go ask if she is ok.”
Blank stares. Followed by longing glances towards the frozen pizza rolls.
“Ok, I’m really going to do it.”
I’m thinking, “Boy am I really going to do this? Wouldn’t it be easier to walk away?” But I take a deep breath, hold my door handle firmly and pop the door open.
And I am greeted with music, blaringly loud music coming from the car with the crying lady.
“Hello from the other side. I must have tried a thousand times…”
Relief washed over me. I sat back down in my seat, buckled up and put the van in reverse. We were going home.
My niece looked at me like I was crazy. After all that discussion and I wasn’t even going to go over there?
“It’s okay guys,” I said “she was just listening to Adele.”