Amid the Parenting Struggles, It’s the Little Things

There are little things that parents who have had “normal” children take for granted. It’s ok. I get it. My oldest child has always been, and is still in a lot of ways, the “perfect” child. He’s so well-behaved that it feels like I have to pick at something small to make him seem worse than he is. Sure, he doesn’t help out around the house as much as I’d like but what teenager really does? He gets straight As, has a plan for college, and is pretty much loved by everyone who meets him. He won’t even pull out his phone in class without asking permission first. He is just too good. He crawled, walked, and spoke well before the milestones said he would. He could read at an early age and was reading at a college level before he went into middle school. He’s smart, athletic, and adorable. And most importantly, he’s kind and protective.

It’s a shock to go from that to a “abnormal” child. I use the quotes in both cases because I’m using society’s definition. No child is normal or abnormal. They just do things their own way. My youngest started following the same trends, hitting most of his motor skill milestones as early as his brother or in some cases earlier. I had no idea that there was going to be a problem. I knew at some point before his first birthday that he didn’t say his first word. By that time, my oldest had already started 2 word sentences. I didn’t think about it. Every kid is different. Milestones, blah blah. Except by 2, he was still practically non-verbal.

When I wrote “A Special Place for Noah”, I reiterated a simple point: every little thing matters. The joy I feel every time my youngest looks me in the eyes to have a conversation with me just can’t be described. He’s engaged. He makes eye contact. Even at 3 by the time he started preschool, he still barely spoke or looked anyone in the eyes. It’s tough knowing that you are doing everything that you are supposed to and still sucking at  your one job. He went from not speaking, to speaking at us, to now actively engaging in conversation. He reads visual cues from an expression on our faces. He’s empathetic, comforting his friends. He plays with kids now, not just next to them.

It seems silly to other parents that don’t understand. They don’t understand that every time a child makes eye contact with you, when they spent so much time avoiding it, is a huge moment. Any time that they don’t have a meltdown because their routine was messed up in some way is a huge moment. All of these little things matter. I don’t care if you think I’m ridiculous in celebrating these little things. Great, your child was potty trained by 2 and speaks exceedingly well for their age. Guess what? That perfect mom isn’t telling you all of the story, only the parts that makes her look like supermom. I used to look at my youngest after seeing posts like that and wondered how I screwed this all up. But I didn’t. I did everything I could. I’m doing everything that I can do. That’s enough for me to go to sleep fine at night.

Some kids just have a slower path but eventually they all get where they were meant to. Sometimes you just have to remember that everyone is different, some requiring a bit more time and patience.

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The Power of Words

Today’s post was originally going to be a statement on parenting children with “difficulties”. As a result of recent events, I’ve decided to postpone that post for a treat on Thursday. Maybe this means I can get back to this more often? No guarantees, but I’m really trying to be more regular with this. Back to the point. I’ve decided to finally talk about something that I will probably get hate responses for. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve made it along just fine not really caring what people think and at 34, I don’t really see this changing anytime soon. I’m too old to change.

As a writer, I understand the power of words. I make a living off of this power. I try to use this power for good. In my books, I write about some issues that may be tougher to deal with but there’s something that you can relate to in them. It gives comfort to others reading something that resonates with them. For instance “A Special Place for Noah”, has a mother breaking down over her child’s issues. Even if you don’t have a child with developmental delays or other issues, every mom has been in that moment where they just locked themselves in a room and cried alone. Just saying this now, you may have nodded in agreement that you have been there. You just connected with those words. Those words had power.

That’s the thing with bullying, isn’t it? People use those words, that power, to hurt others. They use those words to control or harm. And those words do sting. Sometimes those words sting for decades later. I can remember every word a bully said to me back when I was younger. It’s the reality that words are more painful than a lot of physical harm that someone could do to you. Back then, I’d rather someone punch me in the face than use their hurtful words against me. I had no voice then. But I did have one powerful left hook and strong kicks.

I take freedom of speech very seriously. I understand there is a line that you don’t cross. I understand toeing that line of offensive and not. I understand that racial epithets are never okay. Most decent human beings do. I understand that other words take on different meanings to other people and they may find it offensive even if I find it ridiculous that it offends them. It’s not my place to judge. I spend too much time judging as it is, I don’t need more to add to the list.

I understand that there is a big difference between using the word “ape” against an African-American person and the “C” against any woman, though both carry an offensive nature to them. I don’t care to get into debates about which word is more offensive and whether or not celebrities on either side of the aisle get unfair treatment over words. Both sides push their own agenda. For instance, Roseanne was just practicing freedom of speech and it wasn’t racist at all so ABC was just pushing a liberal agenda firing her just like they did with “Last Man Standing”. It’s just another way the liberal media is taking down conservatives. No. Facts matter, people. Don’t just listen to mouthpieces pushing whatever agenda they are paid to push.

However, you cannot say that she was expressing freedom of speech using a term synonymous with racism while demanding that Robert De Niro should be boycotted for saying “F- Trump”. You can’t place freedom of speech wherever you want to make it fit your agenda. If racism gets a “freedom of speech” pass, so does saying “F- (insert a president’s name here)”. I don’t remember seeing those people voicing such disdain when people kept saying “F- Obama”. If saying “F- Obama” is perfectly fine, so is saying “F- Trump”. You can’t have it both ways. It’s either wrong for anyone to do or right for everyone. Me? I say that it’s a perfectly acceptable way to express your opinions. Also, I have been called the “C” word many times in my life and it never even bothered me. They’re probably right. I know who I am. And I can be kinda a “C” word.

Words are powerful. We should be teaching our children to use them wisely. In fact, we need to be better about how we use our words. Our kids are watching us. How are you going to use your words today?

Mom Confessions: The Sad Truth

We’re not perfect as moms. If we were, we wouldn’t need to judge other moms so much. Talking to that mom who looked at me as if I were abusing my child for not babywearing. Those things are way to expensive and the ones that aren’t, I just didn’t have the patience to deal with. It’s ok. My children turned out just fine despite my poor decisions of formula feeding/bottle feeding breast milk and putting ketchup on everything even if it disgusts me because sometimes that’s the only way to get a kid to eat something.

We all have those dirty little secrets as parents/spouses. I’m here to admit mine.

  • Sometimes I lock myself into the bathroom or my bedroom. I don’t do it to cry. I do it because I secretly bought myself a treat and boys are ravenous beasts that sense you enjoying food and just magically appear. No, those Lindt chocolates are just for me and I do not feel guilty sitting on my bathroom floor to enjoy them in peace.
  • I bring my youngest to school early on rainy days. He’s only been late once, due to a doctor’s appointment. But on rainy days, I make sure I get there as soon as possible. Not for any other reason then to get rid of him quicker, especially on his more difficult days. I’m sorry to his teachers, but you spend enough time with him to get it.
  • I don’t cry in front of the kids. Not to teach them a lesson about holding your emotions in, because I think that’s unhealthy. It’s because they can sense that weakness to destroy you. It is my job to destroy them not the other way around.
  • I promise things to my kids as a reward for their good behavior. The thing is… they are already going to get it but this way I can make them do chores without complaining. You’d be surprised how well this works.
  • I sneak their PopTarts and then when they complain about someone else eating them, I point out how much they mindlessly eat food all day long and eventually they remember eating them. I don’t like PopTarts, but sometimes  you need something sweet with your morning coffee.
  • I let my husband win the rare fights that we have. Not because I think I’m supposed to be submissive. Not because I’m the better person, because I’m definitely not. But because I know that I can hold it over him in the long run when I really need it. A successful marriage is about the long game.
  • I don’t negotiate with terrorists. You want to throw a tantrum to get what you want, call grandma. It isn’t happening here.
  • I am the God of the house. By that I mean, I can and will steal the router and make them suffer.
  • I view parenting as a very minor case of psychological warfare. I know their weaknesses and I’m not afraid to use them. That’s right, it goes both ways.

Remember, it’s fine. Don’t let other people tell you how to live your life. You’re not perfect and that’s perfectly ok.

 

Remember Those We Lost

Typically today would be a post where I would talk about something gaming related, generally Overwatch League related as the season is still going on. That has been switched to tomorrow, because it is Memorial Day. A day where we remember those people and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice. That’s important to remember. We wouldn’t have the freedoms that we have, like getting drunk at some BBQ or swimming around enjoying a day off if it weren’t for those people willing to risk everything for the love of their country.

Women lose their husbands. Husbands lose their wives. Parents lose their children and children lose a parent. A person made the selfless decision to enlist because they want to make the world a safer place. Because they want to make their country a safer place. In what seems like forever, a person gets the notification that they knew was possible and dreaded but hoped they would never get. They have to tell their children. They have to figure out what happens next. They need to figure out how to be okay with the new normal.

For those families, there is a void that can never be replaced as there is with any other death in the family. Memorials can be placed in their honor, but that doesn’t take away the ache of missing their loved one. There may be guilt that you let them join. There may be pride that they fought valiantly. There may be anger, because there was no reason to be in the war to begin with in your mind. There are so many different emotions that it may take years, even decades, to sort through everything.

Today as you enjoy your party, remember that someone died for that. Remember the sacrifice people made and are willing to make for you, even if they never met you. Remember that there are troops currently all over the world who are in danger, but go on anyways because they feel that it is their duty. Remember that there is a family who hasn’t heard anything from their loved ones in a while and are terrified that the notification is coming. Today isn’t about you; it is about those our country lost trying to protect us. It is about their families who are mourning not just this day, but every day. Remember that today is about remembering those brave souls we lost.

I’m a Failure as a Mother

With mother’s day approaching, it is important to talk about mothers. I saw a joke that said “Dads can do so little and get credit for it. Women can do something little and become villains for it.” It’s true though, isn’t it? “Oh… you formula fed your child? You must not love them enough to sacrifice your time and energy to nurse.” “What do you mean that you like to cover up when you nurse? Do you like eating with a hood over your head?” First of all, I do. In fact, I have a hood on over my head while eating a PopTart that my son didn’t finish but I couldn’t bring to throw away while children are starving while drinking a coffee. (deep breath) “Oh, you don’t baby wear?” “Oh, you’re babywearing wrong, you’re a freaking monster.” I could really go on and on about this, but I feel that my sarcasm got the point across just fine so far.

Most days, I think I have my stuff together. I nail my work deadlines. My kids are doing well in school and their various activities. But my house is a literal disaster zone most days but I only have so much energy to clean when I know 10 minutes later a teenager and a 5-year-old are going to tear through the area and destroy everything that I have worked so hard for. It’s like building a nice card house; it took you forever and it only takes 2 seconds to have a room full of cards. Luckily my kids are nice to me, they skip the card house and just throw the cards, the box, and anything else that they can on the floor. It’s more efficient that way.

I cook good meals, most days. Some days I give up and just make mac & cheese because I gave up on life that day. But I try really hard. Most of the time, it’s nothing organic though. That’s way to expensive and confusing to me, plus I’m certain organic is just used as a marketing ploy to steal my money. I’m too smart for that, mostly.

Most days, I feel like a failure. That’s easy when your kids learn to say “You’re the worst mom ever.” I know, how dare I expect you to do things like wear pants. I go downstairs and see a basket of laundry that I swore I was going to bring upstairs yesterday to fold and put away. I’m pretty sure that basket is still downstairs. I don’t even remember anymore. My youngest thinks his clothes just magically appear in his closet. Which doesn’t matter because his clothes are apparently not good enough anyways.

Through all of the tears (mostly mine), it’s hard not to feel like a failure. You could do 100000 things right during the day and in the one moment you fail, you think that you really are the worst mom in the world. Here’s a little secret though: You’re probably not. I always tell my friends (and myself) when we’re having those “slump days” as moms, remember these things:

  • Did you try to feed your kid?
  • Did you try to wash your kid?
  • Did you try to read to them/spend some quality time with them?
  • Did you all make it through the day relatively unscathed?

Then you did it. All you can do is try. I served my kids an amazing meal. I can’t force them to eat it. That’s not my failure. They were picky that day. They can fend for themselves if they don’t want it. Is my kid wearing the only two socks that were remotely clean, maybe not really and they don’t match? Probably. Does that mean I’m a failure? Not to me, he was given breakfast, hugs, kisses, and is off to school on time with only a few tears from both of us. My sanity was mostly intact. Does that mean I’m a failure to you? Probably, but I did mention that I have a teenager and 5-year-old right? I don’t care if I’m a failure to you. I don’t have time to.

Happy Mother’s Day, because even if everything has gone wrong today they still love you the next.

I Don’t Agree with You… and That’s OK

Can you be friends with someone who you don’t agree with? That seems to be the question that everyone is asking these days, especially with the divisive political environment that we live in. People have their fundamental beliefs about what is right or wrong, leading to sometimes overly passionate discussions among friends and family that can quite honestly lead to consequences that are absolutely uncalled for. Said consequences include: denial, name calling, and ending the relationship with the other person. These are the times that we live in.

Me? I like having friends that I don’t agree with. As long as they have an informed opinion of the topic and can articulate their beliefs without using the go-to names that the mainstream media on both sides of the aisle use as talking points, I love a spirited discussion. And no, I don’t agree with everything. I will point out untruths. And if people aren’t okay with that, then that becomes their problem not mine. I won’t refuse friendship with them over that. If they want to, that’s ok. I’m okay with losing a friend that has such little value in our friendship that they dismiss it entirely over something meaningless in the grand scheme of the world.

I will not take arguments seriously if you say, “I saw it on ____ (any mainstream media site, left or right leaning).” These organizations are lying to you and trying to skew you in their direction. Don’t fall for it. Be your own person. Back up anything you see on these sites on other sites from all over and piece together the information yourself. I promise those extra few minutes are worth it. Memes? Also definitely not a source of news. Memes are humorous creations that are there to make people laugh, not to tell facts. Again, take the time to do your research before believing anything. The internet lies, in case you didn’t notice. I will point this out and move on with my life. I really don’t care if you argue or call me names afterwards. If you want to believe you’re right and I want to believe I’m right, that’s done and over with and not worth the back and forth. I don’t engage like that.

The more people realize that this is just a phase in the world, the sooner we can be done with it. I find tantrums on social media as entertaining as ones with my child. I won’t pay too much attention and eventually it will go away. Friendships and family are more important that being right. Will it be worth it 10 years from now to break down a strong relationship for something that won’t matter tomorrow? No. It isn’t.

We are all different. We have to accept those differences because that is what makes this country so great. The fact that we are allowed to have our own opinions is something we should treasure, not berate each other for. As someone who has given up faith in supporting either of the major parties, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is all a scheme from both the Democrats and Republicans to occupy us so that they can destroy our country without us paying attention to them. If it is, it’s working perfectly. We are too busy fighting each other and resulting to schoolyard insults that it’s honestly embarrassing at this point.

 

Can I Just Homeschool the Boys Already?

That is what I texted my husband today. I’m pro-school. I look forward to those precious moments that I have to enjoy snacks without sharing with my kids or getting work and projects done or even just enjoying the house being clean for at least a few hours while the Hurricane and Tornado are at school. Homeschooling my children never even crossed my mind, except to decide that it wasn’t what we wanted.

Every time a school shooting takes place, I hold my boys a little tighter. It shouldn’t be that way. There has to be a better way. Even in a relatively safe location like mine, there are enough violent cities close enough to me to know that anything can happen. School shootings can happen in my quiet city as they can happen anywhere. That is scary. It is scary to know they are supposed to be safe while at school, but they really aren’t.

I received a call from my oldest kid’s school informing me that all week they have been doing lockdown drills. Since this weekend, there have been numerous “hoax” threats against schools in the area, including one threat towards a school in my city. It’s scary. I’m glad that they caught the individuals who made the threats. It should have been comforting to know that these were hoaxes and not credible threats, but it wasn’t. Anything can happen anywhere, and it is scary as a parent to not have any control over that. Especially when a bullet is found in a classroom in a school very close to us, just across the bridge in the next city.

I’m not going to make it about gender. In these cases, girls were involved in the threats. I’m not shocked by a girl doing it when statistically boys are. Girls are just as capable of malicious intent as boys are. I would even argue a point that of all my friends to cross, I would be more afraid of my female friends (honestly, me, I would be more afraid of me) than I would be of my male friends. Gender has nothing to do with these threats. Society has everything to do with this. Maybe they found it funny to cause panic. Maybe they didn’t care about the consequences because they didn’t think they would have any. I hope the books get thrown at them and they get hit in their bratty little faces with it.

If our children aren’t safe in schools, where are they safe? This is not a gun issue. If someone wanted to harm our kids and do that much damage, they could easily make bombs to cause destruction and death. This is an issue of what we are going to do to protect our kids. I’m scared. I can’t let them see it. But I’m really scared. We need to do better.