A Little Cheese with that Whine?

So I got about 5 hours of sleep last night.  For some, that is just fine, they can make it through a day no problem.  For me, not. even. close.  I require 8 hours. But when I do have these occasional bouts of insomnia, it’s always on a Sunday night.  And usually on a Sunday when I don’t get to church.  Going to church is a very centering thing for me, it calms me and gives me perspective.  When I miss (which don’t get me wrong, I am by no means within the realm of stunning attendance), I have trouble putting things into their mental place. And then I can end up laying in bed for hours, with a tornado of thoughts, usually negative, swirling around in my head.  Everything seems worse in the dark.

And last night was one of those nights.  I saw it coming.  End of the school year chaos is at hand.  There aren’t many areas in my life right now that don’t have a shit-storm brewing.  My kids’ grades and final exams, soccer tryouts, major changes at work, friends and family with issues that make me sad, over-scheduling, Riley soon becoming a senior, feeling overwhelmed with getting it all done on time, backyard remodel, etc. And not forgetting something.  And helping everyone that needs help. Responsibilities of being me swelling and changing and growing. And the rain this whole weekend. Total downer. Apropos as it was.

I find myself just done. Work is the easiest place to call it quits emotionally. Having a job that is cyclical in nature, first day of school to last day of school, my perspective is different than those whose job simply runs on and on. And I am shutting down for the year.  Done with the drama, done with the excuses, done with the fighting, done with the whining, done with other people’s problems. It’s a nice luxury to have, don’t get me wrong.  I get to walk out of this building for 6 weeks, like turning off a faucet. I will be at home and recharge. Spend time focused on my kids, on Brendan and on me. But for now, my sympathies have run dry. Do I apologize for that?  Do you reach the end of your rope and find yourself saying “I’m sorry, but I’m just out of rope.” So many things on my mind, I’ve just been pulled down to the last few inches and need to shut some of it down so I don’t drop off the end.

So as I lay in bed, trying to sort thru my worries, I tossed and turned, on my back, on my side, blanket on, blanket off, flipping the pillow over, considering the couch, seething with jealousy over my peaceful slumbering husband.  Usually he is the one with sleeping issues, but not this time. I’m finding it hard to smile right now. And that makes me sadder. It’s not any one thing, it’s the dilemmas, the stresses, the guilt, the weight of it all at one time. I’m usually pretty tough. Anyone that knows me would say that. Although I do tend to cry at any online video that warns you “Grab a tissue,” and Kleenex commercials.  And most of the Budweiser Clydesdale commercials.  And onions. I actually think crying is a sign of strength, I’m not afraid to own those feelings.  And I usually feel better on the other side of a good sob-fest.

I don’t want sympathy or pity. Not sure that I want anything at all. I think maybe I’m just defending my right to be in a craptastic mood.  Petty, defensive, mentally tired. I’m sure you’ve been there before. There are those that will help me climb back up the rope, and for them I am very thankful (sorry for the weight I’ve put on, it will be harder to push me back up to the top). And I know my problems and worries pale in comparison to some, but they are mine. And I’ve officially lost sleep over them. Things do seems better in the day light, though. And the sun is shining, just a little bit.

Job #1

So Riley got a job.  His first W-2, paycheck givin’, tax-taking, unglamorous, lower than minimum wage job. We told him he had until June 12, the day school got out, to land a job.  Or it was buh-bye to phone, car, computer, PS3, life as he knows it. He’s actually been working for the last 3 years as a soccer referee, pretty cush job.  But it’s seasonal, lasts about 3 months in the spring and fall, and it’s also not “guaranteed.”  Games are assigned or not assigned, so there is no regular paycheck, so to speak.  It does however, pay well, and no taxes because he doesn’t make enough :-). So now that he is moving to a REAL job, it’s gonna get ugly. And that IS guaranteed. My poor guinea pig 1st son.

Do you remember your first jobs? Come with me on a stroll down minimum wage lane. I started doing menial filing in my Mom’s office when I was 14.  I listened to Billy Joel in that basement over and over and over. It was a cassette tape.  And I sang at the top of my lungs because no one could hear me.  And I was good. At filing…not singing.

My high school job summer job was at Wendy’s ..my first and only fast food job.  I quickly graduated from bun toaster to drive thru window because I could make change in my head (Thanks, Dad!).  At the time, Wendy’s served Chicago style hot dogs.  I could assemble one of those bad boys in my sleep, there were like 8 toppings.

College saw me employed at Little Caesars on campus for a year (turned down the $.05 raise to come back for a 2nd year, take that bitches), the dorm cafeteria for a couple of years, then I was a Meijer cashier.  I got put on their “do not rehire” list because I was a no-call, no-show for my last day of work. I’m such a rebel. To this day I want to apply at Meijer, just to see how long they hold on to that list. Then the shit got real.  I got a job working with developmentally disabled adults who live in group homes.  Their disabilities ranged from wheelchair bound and non-communicative to downs syndrome folks who held down jobs. I didn’t last very long, that was a taxing job. It takes a special kind of person, and I ain’t that special.

During the first couple summers of college and during breaks I was back home and did transcription work for an office of psychologists and psychiatrists. It was that job that helped me see that I did not want to go into clinical psychology. It was very interesting, but not my cup of wine (and yes, before you ask, I got discounts on much needed therapy….).

Just before graduating college I got a job as a bank teller at a local Kalamazoo bank.  I actually kind of liked that job, but let’s just say banks don’t appreciate my sense of humor.  Not a good fit.  I know, hard to believe.

Then I got married and moved to Maryland where I worked for a temp agency.  I did some really weird administrative assistant jobs, very short term, some good, some aw. ful.  But my last placement saw me working in the travel department for World Bank employees for almost a year.  I was a travel agent of sorts. It was pretty cool, actually, I was booking hotels and flights around the world and in Washington D.C.  My office overlooked Georgetown University and the Potomac.  I was kind of a big deal. By then we had moved to Arlington, VA into our plush and stately 1 bedroom apartment, Brendan still had his “real” job working in Alexandria, VA and we were a 1 car family. It was a Ford Probe.  The spoils of consistent employment 🙂

Then I was starting grad school in Baltimore, so we moved north.  I took my travel agent skills and got a job at a travel agency working in their group department doing high school trips to Europe and investment trips to South America.  I worked for a bunch of Austrians.  I learned that “shiza” means “shit.”  Other outstanding memory from there? Watching the OJ Simpson verdict on on a tiny little TV. If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit. I had a paltry salary, but it was an intriguing experience.

THEN…finally…I landed in what I would call my first REAL job. During grad school, I was referred to the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration.  I worked in Testing and Recruitment full time, 40 whole hours a week (while still in school), earned vacation, a nice salary, a cubicle of my very own, commuting, doing work that required a college degree. I’d made it to the big leagues. Stuff I did, actually, for realsies, impacted other people’s lives. Who the hell thought that was a good idea.  But it was in my field of study and I really liked it.

So in 10 short years I went from filing to test development for engineering professionals. The plan worked. Then I got pregnant, quit my job, moved back to Michigan and got the BEST job ever: Stay at Home Mommy for 8 years 🙂 My salary was hugs and kisses. I was not very far removed from my college days where I proudly declared, “Of course I’ll work when I have babies!”  But I didn’t. For me personally, it wasn’t about some grand principle that I needed to make a stand on. Brendan and I talked, decided no day care for our family, and made it work.  It was glorious.

“The best laid plans of Mice and Men oft go astray.”  Robert Burns

Eventually, after #3 was here, I hustled Market Day part-time for a couple of years, then landed a coveted school secretary gig, where I sit today, 8 years later. I now talk about pensions, retirement and 401k plans. Not what I planned on, not what I studied for, but I’m happy. So what will Riley’s job as a dishwasher at Manuel’s Taco Hut turn into one day? Computer programmer? Circus performer? HEAD dishwasher at Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse?  A Mom can dream. He doesn’t have any concrete plans for his future career right now, so who knows.

I don’t think anyone would argue that it doesn’t really matter what your first job is, just that you HAVE a job as a teen. You are responsible to someone else besides your parent for something with a good amount of importance attached to it, but not TOO important. I honestly think his job is gonna suck. Huge. But he’s strangely excited about it. Lord knows the kid knows how to spend money like it’s going out of style, so he’s gonna need to work, no matter what it is.  We spend at least 1/3 of our time at work, it’s impossible for it to not have a huge impact on nearly every element of our lives as we go about our business of living.  So Riley’s timeline begins with dishwasher…oh the possibilities.

“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” -Oscar Wilde

Waiting Room of Hell

Had a doctor appointment yesterday for Riley.  3:15, we arrived at 3:10.  I’ve been to this doctor’s office before, normally she is quite prompt and waiting time is minimal.  This day, not so much.  Got into the room at 3:30, by 3:45, still no doctor.  On a regular day, I don’t have back to back activities, but yesterday we had to be back at the high school by 4:00, no wriggle room.  So at 3:45, we walked back to the front desk and I told the receptionist I would have to reschedule because we couldn’t wait any longer.  I was pretty upset about the ridiculous waste of time.  I left work early so we could make it to this appointment on time, but apparently only THEIR time is important, not mine and my son’s time.

This is not the first time this has happened to me.  16 years and 3 kids, I’ve waited in doctor’s offices for the better part of 7 total months as best as I can calculate. Doctors do it on purpose, over schedule appointments to maximize income.  It’s probably an exaggeration, but not much. (One could continue to argue it’s the insurance companies’ fault and then healthcare as a whole because my doctor doesn’t get reimbursed for the cost of the care they provide, and on and on and on…but that’s a rant I’m not willing to tackle).  Back to MY complaining…they do this on MY DIME and MY TIME.  And we are prisoners of their system. Trapped because we don’t have any other choice except an urgent care with NO appointment, and that’s the 7th level of hell, 3 steps beyond a regular doctor’s waiting room 4th level of hell. I’ve berated Brendan before for walking out of waiting rooms before because it just means you have to reschedule and then wait AGAIN.  But now, having felt the freedom and downright joy at telling them Buh-Bye, I get why he’s done it.

Before I was working full time and the boys were little, I didn’t mind waiting AS much. We’ve been going to the same pediatrician since Riley was 1. We’ve named all the fishes in the aquarium, mourned the ones that have passed on, seen office renovations, nurses and doctors come and go, and there are 32 steps to get from the 1st floor to the 2nd. That office is a well known place to our family.  I LOVE our doctor, her and I were pregnant at the same time and had our babies just days apart.  I was actually kind of irritated that she wouldn’t be in the office for Alex’s first newborn appointments.  The nerve of some people.  Aside from that, she’s kind, attentive and knowledgeable, everything you could want in a pediatrician. She knows more about my kids than most people. And most of it is pretty gross. But when I am in the waiting room with a sick kid watching the minutes click by… 15…30…45 minutes past my appointment time, I pretty much want to throat punch her by the time we see her.  And I REALLY like her.

Of course, she apologizes for making us wait and then usually tells us a story about how she had to send a 2 year old to the hospital earlier that day because the poor thing was so dehydrated from their awful case of leprosy and a collapsed lung, making my guilt go into overdrive because my son just has a fever, and here I am whining about waiting when my kids are sick or injured only once or twice a year that actually require a doctor’s visit.  I’ve often wondered if she’s being honest or if she just knows how to find my sympathy buttons.  Deathly ill babies?  Pretty easy button to find.

Recently though, the last several visits, our wait was very minimal, completely reasonable.  We get through the appointment and then something strange happens..she keeps talking.  Telling stories, engaging us in small talk, reminiscing about past appointments and maladies.  She peruses the boys’ medical records like it’s a scrapbook, “Oh Rose, remember the time he had those warts on his feet!  He was so ticklish!” Not that I don’t appreciate the extra attention, but then I start to think about those parents in the waiting room. They are full of angst and clock watching just like I’ve been so many times before.  I find myself trying to wrap up the appointment, edge closer to the door, ever so gracefully and non-verbally let the doctor know that while I appreciate her friendship, I’m ready to move on to the pharmacist with my prescription.  All in the name of stopping the waiting madness.  I want to yell “Stay on time! Stop making us wait! For the love of God, we make appointments for a reason!”

But alas, I don’t.  I pay my co-pay and quietly go home.  Then I sit by my computer and wait for the email survey I inevitably get about my appointment.  I will honestly answer their questions in the hopes that it actually means something.  That when I complain, changes will be made in their process.  That when I applaud their timeliness, it encourages their behavior.  A girl can dream.

I sincerely try and am typically successful at being on time for almost everything in life, big events and little ones.  I loathe tardiness. Kids late for school on a regular basis? I seriously want to throttle those parents and/or kids. (I MAY have an anger problem, jury is still out on that one).  But in what world is your inability to manage time now MY problem? Being on time is a extremely large respect issue.  I guess that’s what it comes down to:  it doesn’t feel like Doctor’s offices have any respect for my time. (Although props to my dentist’s office, they run a tight ship, they are often waiting for us if I happen to come in a minute or 2 late).  I understand medical care is not an exact science (ironically), but I am no fool, I’m betting there are some areas where improvements can be made.  I know I’m screaming into the wind here, but honestly, I’m just trying to delay calling to reschedule the appointment I ran out on yesterday.  Think they are mad at me?

Have I mentioned it’s time to get my driver’s license renewed?  Wish me luck!

doctor

WTH?

This is the text my son sent me this weekend.  “WTH?” It wasn’t WTF, so I was mildly happy about that.  But it still made my heart stop for just 1 second.  I mean, hell isn’t a bad word.  He didn’t even spell it out.  But he thought it. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. A swearing fire.

I remember the one and only time I hit Riley.  He was about 4. I was just around the corner from him, he didn’t know I was there.  I heard him say “God damn-it.” I spun around like I was a roller derby queen and slapped his face. I screamed at him, don’t you ever say that! He cried, I cried, it was a disaster. It was an out of body experience. I was so angry because when he said, it sounded like he knew exactly what he was saying.  Like he said it with purpose.  I don’t know if he did or not. Probably not. But it stung my ears like I had just touched a hot stove.  (Disclaimer #1: I’m not proud of hitting him, it still makes me cringe to think I did that.) He probably heard it from me or his Dad when we thought he wasn’t listening. (Disclaimer #2: I banned that word combination from my vocabulary ever since that day, and I hate even hearing it).  In that moment though, my parenting life flashed before my eyes. What have I done?  Where did I go wrong? I’m a child abuser! My son is going to prison, he’s obviously a serial killer in his early years.

He never said a bad word in front of me again. And Alex and Matthew haven’t ever said anything in front of me either.  The key words here being “in front of me.”  I heard him swear at the PS3 when he didn’t know I was on the other side of the basement.  I yelled back at him “watch your mouth when Mom is around!” He’s 16. I was swearing at 16 (sorry, Mom).  He’s a boy. He’s in high school. He’s heard it from TV shows, movies, soccer coaches, video games, friends and Dad, and myriad other places probably. But he won’t hear it from me. He’s still my almost-17-year-old-baby. And the truth is, I don’t want him cursing around me. At least not yet. I think I was well into my 30’s before I started using “shit” in front of my parents.  My Mom still doesn’t like it.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I was a truck driver in a previous life. Swearing is part of my ADULT vernacular. I am standing on a very unstable, rickety soap box here, I know that. I’m not looking for affirmation or sympathy. Just pondering that ever moving line in the sand of my children becoming adults. Riley texting me “WTH” is just a blip on the growing up radar. I guess I just tend to (purposefully try and) forget that not everything about becoming an adult is rainbows and unicorns. And that text was a quick reminder. Driver’s licence? Cool. Drinking alcohol at 21?  Scary. Graduating high school? Sweet. Paying thousands of dollars for college with no guarantee of a payoff or success?  Terrifying. First date? Charming. Long term teen relationship?  Oh dear God in Heaven, please give me strength.

Cursing is not a big deal in the scheme of things. But it’s symbolic. And I don’t like it. Even though that makes me a total and complete hypocrite here, I know that. Not the first time, won’t be the last. Regardless, I think I tend to take this growing up thing in stride. I am scared, but I truly TRY and stay in the moment and not freak out about what lies ahead. Worry never solved anything, right? When Matthew was still sucking his thumb later than he should, I didn’t worry, I knew he wouldn’t do it in his middle school math class. When Alex didn’t seem concerned that his pants didn’t match his shirts at age 9, I knew one day he’d give a crap about what he looked like in public. And Riley who once thought deodorant was optional, now uses more face creams and hair products than I do. These are good things, or at least “not a big deal” things.

It’s the “not so good things,’ the “really not ok things,” and the “big consequence things” that I have yet to come to terms with in a lot of areas. Only because they haven’t reared their ugly heads thus far. And they are hard to talk about with your kids. They don’t have to be. But they are. Let’s just say teenagers are not always receptive to a Mom talk. Who wants to talk about the tough stuff when other little stuff is going so well?  With teens, it seems like you are always walking a tightrope, walking on proverbial eggshells, not sure where the next breakdown will come from. You want to hold that balance, not upset the apple cart.  When it seems like the next argument or lecture is always just under the surface, you don’t want to broach the hard subjects. Sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, drinking, college, failure, jobs, future, responsibility, career, moving out, girlfriends, disappointment.  The non-black and white, super gray, list is endless. I wish I had a happy ending for this, but I don’t. I’m still stuck in the thick of it. Some days it feels like quicksand, other days like quicksand in a tornado watching a tidal wave approach on the horizon. And some days it feels like the blessing that it is.

So for today, I’ll take my WTH text, a deep breath, and go on my merry way.

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” -Stacia Taucher

Rational and Slightly Irrational Things That Bug Me

I hate the song “Happy.” It just bugs me. Plenty of songs I don’t like, I guess I just find it kind of ironic that I seriously don’t like this song.

Could HAVE, people.  Not “could of.”  The conjunction “could’ve” when unconjunctified is “could have.” Otherwise, the conjunction would be spelled “could’of.”

Strong winds are sooooo annoying. They mess up my hair and make it really unfun to watch kids sports outdoors.  I mean, there is no one to get mad at and blame it on. I think that is the part that bugs me the most, just get me a customer service number for crappy weather. Damn you Mother Nature!

Super hate the fact that I love pop and apparently it’s akin to drinking rat poison that manages to make you fat. Can I avoid it?  Sure. Do I want to? Hell no.  I would drink that sugar sweetness all day long if I were so inspired. A fountain Coke from McDonald’s? Yes, please! But I do resist most of the time, begrudgingly.

And maybe the #1 thing that bugs me (today anyway):  I loathe going to a baby or wedding shower and having to address my own thank you envelope. I think this is a relatively new breech of etiquette, maybe last 10 years or so? I know it wasn’t a thing when I was getting married or having babies 15-20 years ago. I get it, you’re busy, you’re having a baby, planning a wedding, blah, blah.  “We’re just trying to make it easier on the bride or mom-to-be,” says the hostesses. Here’s the deal. Too freaking bad. You (Ms. Bride or Expectant Mom) invited me to the shower, so I’m going to assume you have my address. I went out, bought you a gift, wrapped it and came to your party. I didn’t ask YOU to write our your own card, did I? I’m no stick-in-the-mud, trust me, but you can’t take 12 seconds and write my name and address on the envelope? Seriously? There’s no gray area here, people. You throw a party, you write thank you notes and don’t ask me to do 1/2 of it for you. Start to finish.

And don’t tell me that the envelopes are going to be how you draw names for prizes.  Truly, we all know this is a pathetic and lame cover up for the fact that you want me to do your work. 3 babies people, I get it. Tired, run down, doesn’t really matter, you find the time to do what’s right. Brides? You have NO excuse. While you are admiring all the $1,000s of dollars of nice shiny things you just received, take a minute and write down how thankful you are. And then put my address on the front of the envelope.

I know it will only take me 30 seconds to do it for you, but if we blur that line, then why stop there. Why bother having a party at all, just ask me to buy you a “gift” and we’ll just save everyone the time, money and hassle of following etiquette. I’m no stick-in-the-mud, believe me, but there are some things that just need to be done.  And I have to give props to my Mother-in-Law, who first voiced this etiquette catastrophe to me years ago. I knew it bugged me, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. She was and is 100% right about this.

Last but not least, I recently learned that only old people put 2 spaces after a period. I.  Can’t.  Stop.  Doing.  This.  I learned to type in 7th grade on a manual typewriter. Some 30 years later, this is a habit as ingrained in me as breathing. I’m trying to stop, but it’s like trying to stop smoking crack (which I’ve never smoked, but I hear it’s really hard to quit). It bugs me that that is one more box to mark off in the “I’m old” checklist. 😦

These things don’t keep me awake at night, but darn it all, when they rear their ugly heads, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I’ll live to fight another day.

P.S.  To all my friends and family who have stopped to tell me that they enjoy my blogging adventure, and are liking or commenting on my posts on Facebook and on the WordPress site, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It truly makes me smile to hear that you enjoy my words. I’m enjoying it too 🙂

Futzing and Other Mom Activities

Futzing:  defined as wasting time, idle or busy oneself aimlessly. In my house, it’s defined as walking in a manner which appears to be “wandering aimlessly” from spot to spot in your house picking up and putting away, moving, or otherwise taking items from one place and placing them in their correct and proper home. This alternate definition is a conglomeration of what I actually do and what my husband perceives that I do.  If you are anything like me, and I venture that most Moms are, you walk in the door to your house after work, or really any activity that has you out of the house for several hours, and it’s like you are playing “Where’s Waldo?” Except in this case it’s “Where’s the Mess?” or “What is Wrong With this Picture?”  A Mom’s very own living and breathing, hell on earth, Highlights Magazine activity.

Futzing is an art for me, and I am rarely done with my painting. Why, you ask? Because I have 3 children and a husband that live in my house. Enough said. I am not neurotic about it, but once I see something out of place, I can’t UNSEE it. It has to be taken care of.  Ok, maybe that is how you define neurotic.  I’ve been called worse.

It feels like I am the Predator, you know that movie? The alien has heat sensing vision so that he can see and kill his prey.  I am the alien with mess sensing powers (totally wish I had some other super power, like maybe I could turn dust bunnies into cash). Anyhow, it starts with the shoe cubby as I walk thru the front door. Typically most of the shoes are put away into the little boxes, but of course, it’s just easier to kick them off and leave them mere INCHES from their actual cubby home. Riiiiiiight. Bend down, pick up and put away. Then my vision settles on the living room to the couch pillows on the floor, the cups, bowls and wrappers from after school snacks, probably some socks, jackets and periodically a body or 2. I circle the coffee table, grabbing everything on my pass thru, kiss any lounging kids, put pillows back on the couch, gather dirty clothes in one arm and trash in the other. I make my way to the kitchen to drop off the dishes and trash and my purse and work bag that I am STILL carrying then go back towards bedrooms and drop off dirty clothes. It’s really quite graceful.

This is only the futzing that happens right after work. There is continuous futzing throughout the rest of the evening. Brendan will yell from the couch, “Nice Futz, Honey!” cheering me on. I am just not relaxed completely when things are not in their proper place. I literally find it hard to sit down and zone out if the kitchen isn’t tidied up, if there is random shit lying around on the floor. Damn cats NEVER stay where I put them. When I cook, I put stuff away as I go, whereas Brendan thinks “bigger mess, better meal.” He does clean up when he’s done though, so no complaints there. He even cleans the stove top, which I LOATHE, so he gets bonus points for that 🙂 I rarely will go from one spot in the house to another without taking care of something along the path. Typically 2 or 3 things.  And it is mindless, I just do it. And it probably explains why I forget what I actually wanted to do in the first place once I reach my destination!  I don’t get angry about it (unless I am first angry about something else, then there is carryover. Not my fault.) I actually feel good after doing it. More settled, like I have a better chance of getting into heaven if I get this paperwork put away. Right or wrong, who knows. It just needs to get done.

Another example… Brendan’s thing is not shutting his dresser drawers all the way. I seriously think he closes them 90% of the way JUST so he can watch me close them the remaining 10% of the way.  Does it NEED to be shut all the way for the world to keep spinning on its axis?  No, but don’t you think you’ll feel better if it IS shut all the way?  I know I will feel better. Just shut the drawer.  MOVE, I’ll do it!

Until recently, I was convinced the kids simply don’t register the problem. It’s not even on their radar. Do the smaller human beings in my house just not SEE the stuff that needs futzed? What appears to me as small fires scattered around my house that need putting out, are simply part of the decor to them. When Architectural Digest visits my home one day, this is how it will play out–Why yes, Mrs. Arble, we love the Italian Renaissance Dirty Sock and Nutri-Grain bar wrapper style you have going on here.  And the classic Towel Strewn on the Floor rustic theme in the bathroom just accents it beautifully!  How ever did you come up with these ideas?

The boys are so singly focused. Eat, watch TV, Twitter, Instragram, homework, whatever. I’ve seen them make an ice cream shake and leave a dirty blender, melting ice cream, chocolate sauce, dirty spoon and milk on the counter, while they float off to la-la land enjoying their creation. They just focus on THEIR world, not all the white noise stuff that Mom takes care of. Because they know the magic futzing fairy will come by and clean up what’s left in their wake (see previous Mom enables kids post). Like a tsunami and I am the Red Cross. Although USUALLY with a quiet reminder, they will come back and clean up quickly. As a Mom, I guess I don’t need a reminder, it’s auto-pilot futzing.  See=Do.

UNTIL recently. There is hope, my friends. I saw Riley futz. I almost cried. It appeared to be an absent minded putting away of some water bottles and pushing in a chair on the way by. It was GLORIOUS! I ran downstairs and told Brendan
“Riley is futzing, Riley is futzing!”  Granted he is the cleanest of the 3 boys in general, but I feel like we really turned a corner here, people.

So maybe it just comes with age, an awareness of the people and things around you as you become less self absorbed. For example, I’ve found that kids are much more aware of your driving once THEY are drivers (damnit). Kids will imitate what they see their parents do more than what they say, for better or worse. So I will happily keep futzing away, moving, wiping, cleaning, shifting, doing my little futzing dance, knowing full well, the second I turn my back, it will all spring out of its happy little home and need to be futzed again. Because maybe one day I will have 3 little futzers of my very own.

I Give Up. (Who am I kidding, no I don’t.)

You ever see that saying, motivational moniker, inspirational BS thing about teenagers that says “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent.  I will stalk you, haunt your dreams, yell, scream, and otherwise make your life a living hell so you get out of my house sometime before I retire.”  It might not go exactly like that, but you get the idea.  I LONG for the days of losing a binky, potty training, teaching how to tie shoes, how to hold the pencil correctly, 1s, 2s and 3s on a report card (even though we all know they actually are As, Cs, and Es, you aren’t fooling anyone, Mr. Superintendent), and recess. Please, give me back diapers, breast feeding, car seats, and Johnson’s baby shampoo.  Because teenagers suck.  Hard.

Although I suppose there is another perspective I may want to consider.  Parenting a teenager sucks. Hard.  My God, I question almost everything I say and do.  My husband and I don’t see completely eye to eye on the best route to take toward raising non-Maury Povich Episode 256 adults who we hope can get a paycheck and pay rent one day.  But thankfully, we are always willing to talk it out and try our best to blend our two opinions.  We grew up somewhat differently and let’s face it, a Mom is going to have a different perspective than a Dad.  It’s just science. He’s more of a hard-ass, and I’m more of a soft-ass (literally and figuratively).

But sometimes it just doesn’t matter what we decide is the best route to take, the best way to punish, encourage, and otherwise move our boys forward in life.  The result is usually one of two things:  seemingly passive acceptance with a perfected eye roll or arguing.  Is it even possible to win in a negative situation with your teen?  I think not.  (and yes, it’s about winning…).

Although I’d love to believe that MY kids are different when it comes to consequences.  I envision conversations between my oldest and his friends going something like this:

Riley:  “Yeah, my Mom and Dad took away my phone and computer games during the school week because I didn’t try my hardest in school and didn’t meet the totally reasonable GPA they expected of me. I admit, I could have worked harder, but I made that poor decision and now I’m getting my just punishment.  I’m not particularly happy about it, but I get it.  My parents just want me to learn the value of hard work and I appreciate that. I will be a better person because of it.”

Friend: “For sure, your parents sound WAY more loving and accepting than mine. I sure wish I could live in your house.”

Reality?  “My freaking parents took away my only reason for living, my phone and computer games. It’s SO stupid.  I mean the bad grades weren’t MY fault, my teachers never even passed back the papers til it was too late. I’m going to just be a total a**h*** to them until I get my grades up to where THEY think they should be.  Total jerks.”

Friend: “You have an iPhone 6 AND a car AND your OWN computer and really nice clothes. You are so lucky!”

Ok, so the friend response was more fantasy, but it’s what we often fall back on when our kids start complaining about their really tough lives.

So how bad would the GPA have been had we not put the conditions on it?  Is that all that separates us from the parents whose kids who get all E’s?  Us being jerks to them and requiring an adequate amount of effort from them?  I do truly believe that kids crave boundaries, from a toddler until teenage-dom.  Then they start craving independence, after all, they know everything about everything for all time. The trouble is they don’t ever ADMIT they want boundaries. It’s just a thing we read in parenting magazines that becomes a parenting mantra I tell myself to feel better.  I don’t want to wait for my kids to say “You were right Mom, I see that now.”  I believe that will happen one day, I just don’t know when. And meanwhile I just feel like a big ogre.

(Let me take a moment here to say to MY Mom, “You were right.  Among other things, I still only buy clothes on sale. I have you to thank for that life skill.”)

I see what happens when parents ARE friends with their kids instead of a strong guiding force in their life. It’s fun for a while, but a larger problem looms in the future. I know what happens if I let my kids slide in life and get away with murder, I watch Dr. Phil. We are edging closer to a 35 year old jobless, basement dweller “holding out for management” every passing day.  But it doesn’t make it any easier in the moment to follow through on consequences.  Dr. Phil would say I was going easy on my kids because it makes MY life better, not theirs.  He’s right.  It is easier to gloss over the bad stuff and make excuses for them.  Decide that it’s their life, if they want to screw it up, so be it. Cover up their mistakes, allow them a free pass instead of grabbing hold of a teachable moment.  I get to enjoy a lot more restful nights and my calendar would clear up a ton, that’s for sure.

Buuuuuuuut we all know that’s not going to happen. 16 years and 3 kids and I still haven’t accepted my role as the bad guy.  I’d so much rather be the “fun” guy.  Honestly, I think I’m both, but it’s the bad guy persona that keeps me up at night. It’s the bad guy that I am afraid my kids will ONLY remember and cry about to their therapist. They won’t remember all the vacations, the movies, the books read at night, the hugs, the kisses, the help, the food in their bellies, the cool phones in their pockets. Think about all the things us parents HAVE to provide (due to state and federal government mandated laws, grrrr….) and WANT to provide out of pure unadulterated love for our kids.  Will they remember that good stuff, too?

So no, I’m not giving up.  But I will continue to second guess myself, question my every decision, and celebrate each passing week that I don’t strangle one of my kids, with a large glass (or 4) of wine.

“Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.” -Matt Walsh