Mommy Me

Not that I want to continue to dwell on the less positive aspects of my weekend, but, well, I got a lot weighing me down, so I’m going to.

My mom, who so seldom criticizes my ability as a mom, actually criticized an aspect of my parenting this weekend. Or what she saw as my parenting. I was actually so surprised that I didn’t really defend myself. Plus, it wasn’t that harsh a criticism. More like a suggestion, an observation.

What she said was, “I think you should play with your children more. Wait to read books after they are in bed.”

Now this was said as she was playing with my children, and, yes, I was reading a book. And I did want to point out to her that I was not playing with my children because she was.

Generally, I do wait until my children are in bed before I go off and read a book. It’s usually one of those end-of-the-day activities I still like to indulge in. Helps me wind down before bed. Which is not to say that I spend tons of time playing with my kids, either. Although I do like to take them to the zoo, and the park, and out for walks in the evening, play board games with them, and read to them, I also on a day-to-day basis leave them to their own devices sometimes so I can do things like clean the kitchen after dinner or throw in a load of laundry. I’m not super engaged every hour I am with my kids, although I don’t feel neglectful, either.

And then research was published affirming that we women are like our moms. (Something that our husbands would be very wise NOT to point out, research notwithstanding.) So whatever I am doing, I come by it pretty honestly. Because while there was plenty of reading to and affection and praise in my childhood (and zoo, park, and library trips), there was also a lot of time left to my own devices so the kitchen could be cleaned. (I figure, too, this is where siblings come in very handy. My girls don’t seek me out to play because they have each other. Although sometimes I have to stop what I am doing to play referee.)

Less About Me, More Pictures

Just to step back from the issue of “me time” a little bit, I bring you pictures of my adorable children. Who needs me time from cuteness?? (Okay, it’s not the cuteness from which I want to escape — it’s the NOT cuteness, the whiney, stomping foot, screaming, crying, and saying NO! opposite-of-cuteness behavior that gets to me.)

It was a perfect day.



Goggles!



I am pale.



Shortly before my children passed out from exhaustion.

Traveling up to the Alpine Slide.


I should have stayed at the bottom to get some shots of them on the way down. They both loved it!

Doubt: Further Thoughts

I just want to step back in here and say: My dad is an awesome dad. He wasn’t a big hands-on guy when we were very little, although I’m sure he did his share of diaper changing and bath giving. It’s just that “his share” of that kind of stuff was small, and that was okay “back then” as they say. My dad — like many men of his generation — worked, and he worked hard and he worked long hours. And my mom stayed home when we were young, until my sister was going into first grade.

The golf trips that my friend N mentioned happened when we were teens. My mother had a golf night each Wednesday when we were teens, too — it was our night to eat at Rax’s (anyone else remember Rax’s?).

My dad has some thoughts too, in yesterday’s comments, and he makes some good points.

*****

As for me, I got married when I was 30 years old, and I didn’t start actively parenting until I was 33.

That’s a lot of years of “me time”. I got used to it.

When we become parents, we do sacrifice a lot for our children. It’s automatic, and it’s for the good of all — ourselves, our children, society. “Having a baby changes everything” is totally cliched, but oh so (and sometimes painfully) true.

Remember when “running to the store” meant putting on your shoes and walking out the door? You could stop along the way, listen to music as loud as you wanted — or, even better, listen to NPR. You could add on other errands or pick up other stuff as you thought of it. You could stop for a coffee or a beer if you wanted.

As a mother, there is no “running out the door”. Instead, there is “loading up” to run errands. Or, an errand, because trying to do too many errands with children is just asking for trouble. Diapers, snacks, toys and/or books, any tool in your arsenal to occupy a bored toddler and prevent a meltdown. Plus you have to time it just right — too close to nap time, and you are begging for an explosion in the check-out line.

And then there is couple time. In order to have a date, there are babysitters to find and hire; there are logistics to leaving the house. DearDR and I do not have this down yet. We have not committed to a date night, either in or out of the house, weekly or monthly; we have gone through about five babysitters since moving out to the suburbs. We treat it like a big pain instead of an opportunity to spend time with each other. It’s hurting us.

I’m not going to turn this into a “think twice before you have kids” conversation, or a whine about having kids. I love my children. They are the greatest thing I will ever do in my life. I do not for one second regret having them.

But having children and responsible parenting are not small little changes. They are upheavals. I’m four-and-a-half years in, and I’m still feeling them. I’ll be feeling them to some extent for the rest of my life — the parenting gig doesn’t end when they leave the house, as my parents would sagely point out.

Accepting these sacrifices and changes doesn’t mean that I don’t miss just “running to the store”. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss just being able to go see a movie or lay around in bed all day Sunday with my husband. I do miss those things. I miss being able to recharge at night, by myself. But I signed up for this, and I have to find a way to survive on less, much less, “me time”.

I’m not doing that great. (See also “Lack” where I address this in another way.)

Doubt: The End of Me Time?

I spent the weekend in Seven Springs with my mom, my dad, and my sister. And the girls, of course. (DearDR drove up after his patients on Saturday.)

It was exhausting, as per usual. But Bun knows how to swim now, and Monkey really enjoyed her new goggles, and we spent lots on tokens for arcade games to win tickets so my children could buy junk. All-in-all a very successful weekend. Although I did not get nearly enough sleep.

I had an illuminating conversation with my parents that I’ve been mulling over. It was about marriage and parenting, and the work of it all. And I’m kind of curious about what my Internet peeps think. My father said, at one point, “One thing that I don’t understand is when people your age talk about ‘me’ time.”

For people, read ‘parents’, and for ‘my age’, read thirtysomething.

He continued, “There is no more ‘me’ time. That’s over.”

I did not offer anything back to this observation, and I don’t necessarily disagree. Especially as it comes to parenting. But at the same time, I think “me” time doesn’t have to completely, irrecoverably end, forever and ever, amen.

If it did, I would not go on Girlie Weekend or Spa Day. I would not have the occasional shopping day all by myself. I would not, at the end of the day, spend time with a book.

Should I give those things up? If so, why? If not, why not? Does my father have a point? Do people “my age” feel a sense of entitlement to “me time”? Should that be put on hold while we’re raising our kids? What do you think?

We Won’t

I certainly won’t forget John Hughes. He made my high school years bearable. Well, he and some really, really good friends did.

To this day, in my opinion, The Breakfast Club remains one of those iconic movies that totally captured what it was like. “It” being high school — even though I went to an all-girl school, and even though I never had detention, I got it. Hell, I was living it. It felt to me that The Breakfast Club didn’t condescend, and it didn’t lie.

I completely loved the letter than Anthony Michael Hall’s character leaves for the douchebag principal. I thought about it all day yesterday:

“Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain and an athlete and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

“Does that answer your question?… Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.”

Last Weekend, with Pictures


We started the day — last Saturday — at Janowski’s Farm Days and the petting zoo. Bun didn’t hold still long enough for any pictures, but I got this one of Monkey. I think someone at her day school is teaching her that cameras mean “strike a pose”. Note the hand on one hip.

Then this guy tried to eat my pants and jumped in my face. I let Bun chase him around in retaliation.


Bun’s sun did not survive the day. But it was cute for a little bit!


Monkey went with a sparkly cat on her hand.

The next day we headed up to Seven Springs, where we swam, ate, and ran around with cousins and nephews.



DearDR loves to swim. I haven’t seen him so happy and relaxed in some time. He took pure delight in swimming with Bun and Monkey, as well as my nephews. Bun was slow to get into the water, but before we knew it, she was launching herself off the side of the pool, again, again, and again.


This isn’t the best picture of Monkey, but it does capture her big, genuine smile. She had a blast. Before the end of the two hours that we were at the pool, she was (assisted by her floatie vest) swimming across the pool, unassisted, with her cousins. It was remarkable. Who needs swimming lessons?

We are heading back up to Seven Springs tonight. I hope the weather is good enough for more pool time. Not because I like it so much, but my girls love it. And I love them.

Fried Green Tomatoes, with Children

It turns out that fried green tomatoes are a fun thing to make with your children. If you are prepared for an unholy mess of flour and cornmeal, that is. Cooking with kids is not an experiment in ‘neat’.

But that’s okay. For once, Monkey actually did not … how to put this delicately … get her germs in the food as we were prepping it. Like any kid, she tends to like to taste what she’s working with, even if it’s plain flour — which she referred to as cauliflower the whole time — raw egg, and cornmeal.

Bun was a little less help and a lot more mess, but as her primary responsibility was to dip the tomatoes into veggie stock, and then transfer it to the flour, the damage was minimal. Although a lot of flour did somehow transfer to the veggie stock.

I simply fried ’em up. Monkey wanted to help with that, too, but I told her I had to do the step that involved “hot”. She actually listened to me through the process, which is a huge step.

The fried green tomatoes turned out very tasty. The children did not eat them, of course; instead they stuck with broccoli, carrots, peas, and a little bit of mac’n’cheese. (They had consumed a package of Lance peanut butter crackers, a treat from Nanny, prior to dinner. Hey, I have to pick my battles.)

Next time we undertake a mommy and girls’ cooking time, I will try to have the camera to hand. To capture the artistry, the aprons, the giggles, and the mess.

****
If you’re curious, this was my first attempt at fried green tomatoes. They were at the farmers’ market on Monday, and they looked so luscious, I had to give it a shot. I used this recipe although I didn’t measure a thing; I used veggie stock instead of milk, and cornmeal not bread crumbs. Next time I will add some salt and pepper, and maybe some dried basil or something, to either the eggs or the cornmeal. They needed a little more seasoning. The cornmeal was a nice, crunchy coating over the still firm tomatoes. I will attempt this again, maybe on a night that DearDR is home so he can occupy Bun, and I’ll let Monkey help me. And enjoy the tomatoes when they are hot out of the pan!

Want

I should not be allowed near newborns until I am safely past my childbearing years. Sunday this was painfully reinforced when I interacted with my adorable 4-month-old nephew.

Arguably, of course, I am past the “safe” part of the childbearing years. As with my last pregnancy, I will be termed of “advanced maternal age” and tested accordingly (if I agree to undergo the testing, of course). And, frankly, I don’t have the safest of pregnancies for my babies anyway. The last trimester is always quite dicey.

So why does my entire body cry out when I come near a newborn? Holding J this weekend made me ache — my arms, my womb, my breasts.

I want a baby. Which makes me certifiable, I know. I have a hard enough time with the two I have. A number of things are barely limping along as it is because I’m a WOTHM.

But I want another baby. I want the way a baby’s head smells under my nose, I want sleepy night-time feedings and bonding, I want that warm weight in my arms, I want toothless grins and fat chins, and thigh rolls (on the baby’s legs, not mine).

Just one more, I think to myself. Yes, it sets back plans I had for my family, for myself. It will even set back simple things like not having to buy and change diapers any more, and being tied to the house for nap time. Plus, having a baby with two older siblings will be challenging, no doubt. But it could be great too. Monkey and Bun can help with entertaining and fetching diapers. It will set back what I envision as “free time” as my girls grow more independent every day.

It will mean buying a bigger car.

But just one more.

I also realize that this may be denial in some form, the urge to put “the rest of my life” on hold, to not deal with things, by getting pregnant again, by having another baby. I recognize this.

My mom always says — even today, with three 30-something children, with six grandchildren and two granddogs — “I always wanted to have one more.” I don’t want to do that. I want to at least say, “Well we tried for another, but it just didn’t happen.”

I know DearDR thinks about it too. I also think that he looks at me in my anxious states, in my overwhelmed, freaked out, tired states, and thinks, “No way am I doing that again.” We have a lot of misgivings, a lot of “what ifs”.

I want another sibling for my girls. I think Bun would be much better off as a middle child than as a baby. (I have no scientific evidence for this.) She couldn’t get enough of J on Sunday. Monkey was supremely indifferent; she had her older cousins to worship.

Of course, we also want to try for another boy. Only this time it’d be nice to have him stick around and grow up with the girls.

It’s not the easiest thing, carrying a kid (getting knocked up has not been a problem — knock… oh, wood, bad pun, moving along), having a newborn. I know; or I think I know.

Still. One more.

Stutter

So you drop a post at the beginning of vacation because you can’t put one more thing on your to-do list.

And before you know it, you’re dropping them all over the place.

And I, for one, don’t like it. I will try, try, try to post at least five days a week. It’s especially difficult because (and this is almost literally true) I cannot get to my computer at home. Okay, so I can barely get to my computer at home. The clutter has become so daunting, I don’t even like to walk into my office on the way to do laundry in my basement. Which presents a whole ‘nother set of problems, obviously.

I can report this: Someone just asked how my weekend was. And I said, “Very busy, of course. But I got to have a lot of fun with my kids.” And that is the truth. I really enjoyed spending time with my kids — at Janowski’s Farm Days, and an outdoor pool at Seven Springs — and got some stuff done, too. Primarily folding laundry.

I will get around to posting pictures to prove how much fun we had this weekend. Right after I dig that tunnel to my computer.

And after what has occurred in the Blog-o-sphere today, what’s it matter when I manage to post? PittGirl (or at least her archived site) returns (although there is that teaser); and Looky Daddy hangs up his hat. (LD, I’ll miss you. I laughed so hard reading your adventures, I cried. I couldn’t breathe. I embarrassed myself at work. And those are good things.)