Category: Kid Stuff

Blah

usI have writer’s block! Get me out of the jail that is my brain.

I just banged out a political rant and it is so badly written and choppy that it got thrown in the incinerator.  Metaphorically. Possibly literally if this computer keeps annoying me.

So I have nothing in the form of entertainment or wit, but I do have this adorable picture of me and the man who lights all my fires and starts all my smiles. We took this on our recent vacation, which was lovely. I got to relax this vacation.

I got to relax.

RELAX.

And READ BOOKS.

My kids are old enough that they don’t need me every second of the day. And I got to LAY DOWN.

Also? I saw brown stuff smeared on my gym tag the other day and I wiped it off without thinking twice. It never occurred to me that it could be anything other than chocolate. Do you know what this means?

I HAVE REACHED THE PINNACLE OF MOTHERHOOD, Y’ALL. THIS IS THE PROMISED LAND. This is what I have spent 400 years in the desert for. My kids are five and twelve. The days of “poop or chocolate” are over. There is no poop. There is ONLY CHOCOLATE.

And I am loving it. Five is the best age ever anyway, and I am so enjoying seeing the young woman my twelve year old is becoming. I want to freeze frame this part of my life because it is my favorite of all time.

These are the days, y’all. And I am loving them.

Charlotte is 5

I love this sweet baby. From the moment she was born, she took the internet by storm. Her sweet, yet skeptical spirit has made her a force to be reckoned with. Today, she is 5 years old. Somewhere, in all my wondering if these kids were ever going to start growing up quickly, they started doing just that. I’ve included some of my very favorite pictures of her; ones that capture her spirit and her love. Charlotte is a one and only; frustratingly stubborn, impossibly empathetic, and charming and witty. It may take a while for her to warm up to you, but once she has you, her love is fierce and unwavering.

I cannot even tell you how grateful we are that she grew into that nose.

 

Living with Hooligans

Over lunch with a vendor who doesn’t have kids, I remarked that having kids is like living with drunk people. Please see the examples below for backup to my theory.

Exhibit A: they sit in weird positions.

Exhibit B: they are really rude.

Continue reading

The Family Picture

familyGrumpy Preschooler arrived home the other day with her packet of papers, eager for me to see them. As I flipped through them, proud of her work, I got to the last one – a picture she’d drawn of a little person and two taller people. I asked her what the picture was, and she replied “our family” and smiled. I asked–with trepidation–where Sissy was, and I felt my heart actually wrench (can hearts wrench?) in that moment, when I heard her reply softly, “At [her dad’s].”

And there were depths of my soul that actually hurt in that moment.

Happy Blonde, who is 11 now, has always lived primarily with me, and since her (very involved) father lives in a different jurisdiction, she sees him every weekend. This summer, we essentially switched custodial status, and she spent Monday – Friday with him, and weekends with us. It was my first taste of being a non-custodial parent–and it was awful. I learned the gritty part of it – how quickly the visitation goes by, how hard it is to readjust in a short period of time, and how it’s nearly impossible to have a child on weekends feel like they are part of the working household. It’s hard to mold them and discipline them, because you hardly want to spend what little time you have picking battles.

I learned how hard it is to plan things when you only have your whole family for very brief periods of time. I learned how many activities that they miss because they’re not with you. I learned how it’s nearly impossible to get on a true rhythm. I learned how jam packed visitation days were, trying to somehow make up all the things you waited on, because your whole family wasn’t there.

Even worse, I realized that this was not even close to what her father’s family experiences throughout the school year. I wasn’t paying child support to “enjoy” this arrangement. I wasn’t held hostage by someone else’s parenting style. I wasn’t experiencing this for nine months straight, as they do. I still interrupted it with vacations, and I actually still had her longer on my visitation times than he does during the year.

It made me thankful, and grateful, that he has taken on that burden in order to give our daughter a stable childhood where she isn’t constantly traveling. It made me painfully aware of the sacrifices his home makes so Happy Blonde does not have to deal with interruptions to her school week. Most of all, it gave me the gut-wrenching realization of the pain they must feel if their son draws a picture of his family, short one beloved little girl they all wish they had more time with.

So thank you, to all those who make unseen sacrifices.

Scared

brave

I heard this quote listening to Jen Hatmaker‘s Willow Creek podcast from Mother’s Day, and I immediately thought of how scared I am as a parent. I think I’ve gotten better, I really do, but I have a long way to go.

This was never more apparent to me than Continue reading

Kids Are Resilient.

This picture was taken the day we separated.

This picture was taken the day we separated.

They are, aren’t they? Kids can withstand so much; they’re just so resilient.

I hear this a lot when adults justify the decisions they make; I actually said it once to justify my own divorce. Kids are resilient; and she’s young! At five months old, she’ll never remember us together, so it’s not like she’ll miss having her mom and dad together. It will be her normal. 

Lots of rationalizations, there. In retrospect, it wasn’t actually important that I end my marriage sooner because it wouldn’t actually be better for her. It would actually be better for me.

It hurts just to type that, y’all. To admit it, right there in black and white. Sometimes transparency is for the birds. I convinced myself that The Oldest One would be better if mama was happy. You know what didn’t occur to me, though? Making the best of the situation. Maybe not making it obvious that we were unhappy. Perhaps acting like a grown up. You know what kids don’t do? Analyze their parents to see if their happiness is at an adequate level. Kids are naturally kind of narcissistic, and I don’t think they really care if their parents are happy because I don’t think they notice, unless there is abuse.

What she needed was to not feel the gut wrenching pain of not being able to see her daddy every day when she was two years old, and then three, and then four, and so on; she needed to see her brother on a daily basis. What she needed was to feel loved and secure, and to have a predictable schedule. She needed to feel like she could speak freely about her love for both of us.

Many of us wake up every day at a time we don’t like and drive to a job we can’t stand because it’s the responsible thing to do for the season we are in. We call that responsible, mature, hard-working.

When we wake up one day in a marriage we can’t stand with a partner that makes us want to punch a face, we make the decision to leave or to stay. And if we leave, we call that strong and brave. And if we stay, we call it weak and stupid.

Yet both are responsibilities; commitments that we have made. Ones we honor because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s the only thing to do, or because we don’t have any other options. And somehow, leaving the spouse we hate seems more logical than leaving the job we hate.

We take a situation and say “I can’t do this anymore. They are awful to live with. I am slowly going crazy here. I deserve better than this.” And we leave, because even with all the coping mechanisms we have as adults, we can’t handle it anymore. And what results is a situation where the parent has escaped the madness, and the children, who don’t have the mental capacity to rationalize behavior, understand triggers, or build protective barriers, to deal with it. Alone. We need them to be resilient; more resilient than we are ourselves. We have to believe that this will be the best for them, because it’s the best for us.

Unfortunately, children aren’t resilient, they just don’t know how to express it. And if they do, they don’t want to add to the mounting emotional problems that they see their parent going through. And they do see it. They have very little coping mechanisms and what little they do will likely damage them as they carry them into adulthood. What they do not have is a group of friends that will bring them dinner and sit at the table and ask them how they’re handling things.

Kids aren’t resilient, they go into survival mode. They do what they can to survive, and they learn all new behaviors to cope with the changes in their lives; and not always good ones.

As an adult, I cannot fathom coming home one day and finding out I don’t live there anymore. I cannot fathom switching places that I live 3 days a week (ever noticed how draining business trips are?). I cannot fathom one day finding out that strangers live with me.

But kids are resilient. If you need proof of how children cope really well with traumatic situations in their childhood, watch Intervention.

There was no abuse in my first marriage, and I want to make that very, very clear. We were just not good together by any stretch of the imagination. This entry is not written as all-encompassing, and it is not written with regards to abuse.