I've been a mom for 11+ years, and most of the time I still feel like I'm winging it. Most days are a sprint to the finish line...which means my bed at 8:30. Don't judge. I'm old. There are a few precious days where I've got myself together, the children don't bicker, we all get to school on time, and no one forgets their lunch. But despite my best efforts, those days are really few and far between!
Here are a few stories of how I sort of hodge podge my way through Motherhood, hoping that I haven't done too much permanent damage to my boys in the process.
1. I fail at Halloween.
This is an old moment, but it still applies to current life. I hate Halloween. Well, that's not entirely correct. I like Halloween just fine. What I hate is the struggle to figure out a costume and the understated pressure from my children to create a fantastic enough costume to be in contention for a prize at the school parade. Gah! I can't handle that kind of pressure!
This was a sad year for costumes, but the picture always makes me smile. The big one wanted to be a Smurf. (Throw in the fact that I'm a major cheapskate, and you see why my kids look goofy on Halloween.) We only bought a Smurf hat, nose, and blue paint. He already had baseball pants and a Smurf T-shirt. Done.
The small one wanted to be a Smurf. The big one didn't want to be copied. The small one's teacher had created 101 Dalmation costumes for an event earlier in the week. I threw that on the kid, painted his face blue, and called him Puppy Smurf. Totally a thing.
We did not win any prize that year.
We did, however, win 2nd place with this gem. My older son's nickname is Guero, because he is the only white kid on the almost all Mexican soccer team. The parents gave him the name. When he runs, he get super red, so we call him Guero Tomato (and kind of rhyme it together). This costume was a mess of hot glue gunning and felt. Go me.
*By the way, this past year we shelled out money for two store bought costumes. The small one won 2nd place in the parade being a Crash Test Dummy. I hate spending the money, but it bought me peace from frantically putting a costume together the night before.
2. I don't care how my children dress.
Middle of winter? Sure, go ahead and wear shorts and a t-shirt. Granted, we live in Central California where really cold means 38 degrees, but still. This kid runs hot, and I figure if he gets cold, he'll throw on some pants.
Exhibit 2: I let the big one go out in public like this when he was little. I just don't have space in my brain to care if they look like urchins unless we are going some place that requires a certain type of dress. The grocery store, however, is fair game!
*My big one has been in his sport tights and shorts from yesterday all day long. The small one is on day two of wearing the same outfit. It's all good. They'll bathe and be ready for school soon enough.
3. I completely suck at school projects...and I'm a teacher.
This lovely creation is supposed to be Saint Carmen Salles, the foundress of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. That is the order of Sisters that started our school back in 1962. Hudson did a bang up job on her, right?! (Friends on Facebook guessed that it was Jack Frost or an elf!)
In my defense, I don't have a box of craft supplies, I'm not creative, and I hate these projects. Again...even though I assign them all the time in my own class. We created St. Carmen's dress out of an old race T-shirt and felt. I think she's lovely!
I'm going to go with the concept that this was done by the child...obviously! I mean, don't you hate it when you can totally tell that mom or dad did the whole project? Not in this house, nosiree!
This is another super star moment I pulled out of thin air. It was Cultural Day at school. Who in the world has a party for this? Um, Hudson's teacher, that's who! She was amazing, but man oh man did we have a party for everything in that class! We were supposed to bring in food that represented our culture. Come again?
He's just a mutt of a white boy. We don't eat cultural food. Wait, yes we do...Mexican food, Italian food, Chinese food, Japanese food. Unfortunately, none of these are White Boy food. We are basically of German descent, but we don't eat any German food or even have any German customs or traditions.
Being the "amazing" mom that I am, I sent in a plate of Costco muffins. It was truly all I could handle And guess which food got snatched up like it was going out of style? Four-year-olds know where the good stuff is!
4. I don't do food battles, but I'm not a short order cook.
You can talk to me all day long about how kids need to be exposed to new foods many times before they truly know if they like it or not, but I still will not force feed my kids certain foods. I was required to eat vegetables my entire childhood...and I HATE them to this day. I never developed a liking for peas, cooked carrots, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, or just about anything green.
I do like salad.
My kids are healthy, they eat plenty, they get lots of exercise, and they are exposed to a variety of foods. And yet, they are kids and are picky. I've got better things to do than try to sneak veggies into their meals or bargain or threaten them into eating certain foods. Not gonna do it.
They are free to not eat what I've prepared, but they also don't have other options. Don't like it? Too bad. Trust me, I'm not making exotic meals around these parts. Basic meat, rice, and salad type stuff happening in here.
Funny story. One day while driving home from school I was eating a pear. Hudson asked if he could have a bite. I said yes and handed him my pear. He took a bite and loved it saying, "Pears are good!" Yeah, no kidding, kid. I've offered pears before and was never taken up on it, but when he wanted to try it, he decided he liked it.
People still criticize me for not liking vegetables. Really? I think by my age I've mastered what I like and don't like. I'll eat them raw, thank you very much.
5. I don't regulate gaming time.
Here's another mommy no-no, but I don't care. We have a no gaming policy during the school week, but the kids are pretty much free to play their games as much as they want to on the weekends.
Evan lost gaming privileges one Saturday, so Hudson set up camp in between the two tv's to play both at the same time.
It's another one of those areas where I am just not willing to battle. The kids like their games. I like my quiet time to blog, read, watch tv, or stare at the wall without having to be interrupted by young people. Granted, my kids are 8 and 11 and are pretty self sufficient. This was certainly not the case when they were little. I was their source of entertainment ALL.DAY.LONG.
Times have changed, and I like the changes.
I also don't worry about their screen time because while they can game a lot on weekends, Saturday and Sunday are usually pretty filled up with soccer games, basketball games, tournaments, and random school events. Like I said above, they get plenty of exercise. It's their down time and I try to let them be and not worry too much about it.
6. My kids make their own breakfast and pack the majority of their own lunches.
I have never been a breakfast maker. My own breakfasts consist of a protein bar and a cup of coffee. The kids either get themselves cereal or pop frozen waffles or pancakes into the toaster or microwave. It works. They eat. I get ready for work.
Lately, I've also been having them pack their own lunches. I try to prepackage most of the stuff like putting cookies and chips in bags, or having apple sauce or fruit ready to go. It's not that hard for them to grab the items and throw them in a brown bag.
I'm also not taking care of the Earth because my kids take a brown bag to school every day. I got tired of dirty, nasty lunch boxes or spending $15 on a box that got lost. I'll buy 100 bags for a few bucks and call it a win.
7. Other random things I've been known to do:
-spray Febreeze on dirty clothes and toss them in the dryer to be able to wear that day
-drive thru dinners several days in a row
-only checking back packs one day a week
-instead of initialing every day of homework, I sign it once and draw a big arrow down the page
-forgetting to wash the kids' sheets
-ignoring their dirty bathroom
-letting them eat as much ice cream as they want
-sitting in the car during soccer practice instead of being out there on the field with them
-rewash clothes that have sat in the dryer too long...I refuse to iron
One thing I have learned in my years of motherhood and in turning 40, is that you never know what someone's life looks like behind closed doors. For a time, I would compare myself to all the moms at school or on the internet who seemed to be doing it all...healthy meals, beautiful homes, fun child-centered activities, and I just couldn't keep up. I was blessed to have great talks with some great women, and they assured me that they struggle as much as the next mom.
I have gotten to the point in life where I am comfortable in my own skin. All those moments I listed above? I don't apologize for them, and they make me laugh. They are my survival mechanisms. They are part of our routine and it works for us. I may not be the crafty mom, but I'm going to be the mom yelling at the referee in basketball to call a foul when my kid gets picked up! I may not always wash their clothes and need to resort to Febreze, but I'm going to go over the top at Christmas time and try to make things special. I may not make their breakfast, but I'm going to snuggle with them every chance I get.
I think you just have to figure out what works for you and your family, and make no apologies. I've also learned that it's okay to spend time on yourself so you can be a better mom to your kids. I enjoy my tv, my books, my blogging, getting my nails done, working out, etc. When I pay attention to myself, I have more patience to be a better mom to my kids.
Lastly, I saw something on Facebook today that I completely disagreed with, but I did not respond to for a variety of reasons. This person posted a meme that talked about putting your kids first, before yourself or your marriage, or before anything really. I don't agree. I love my kids more than words can say and I'd die for them, but I am not going to put them before God or my marriage.
These two short people living in our house are going to grow up, develop their own characters, and leave us! And they are supposed to do just that! While my husband and I give our world to these two, we put each other before the kids. We also try to put God before each other. We are creating amazing memories for our kids that I hope they treasure as they grow into men. Hey, they might even look back and tease me about all the ways I managed to "shortcut" it through life. But that's okay. It's our life and I wouldn't trade it for anything.