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Posts Tagged ‘mom’

Did June ever say No?

Did June ever say "No"?

I just can’t say “NO.”  I guess I’m just easy.

Well, that sounds really bad.  What I mean is that I feel compelled to say “Yes” when someone asks me to do something. Whether it is volunteering for a silent auction  or making 32 sugar cookies shaped like hearts for my other son’s Valentines Day party at school…I can’t help myself.  I always say “Yes.”

Deep down I know I feel like I need to have my calendar as busy as possible so that no one can say that I am lazy.  With three little boys, all age five and under, who could possibly say that I am lazy, right?  Well, I was raised to believe that women who stayed at home instead of working forty hour work weeks were “ladies of leisure.”  My mother worked full time and was engaged in full combat battle of the “mommy wars.”  There was no word so dirty as “housewife” in my household.  June Cleaver, Donna Reed and Carol Brady were considered a bad influence on a generation of women.

And here I am…no longer a practicing attorney….now I am the dreaded…

h-o-u-s-e-w-i-f-e

Call me a stay-at-home mom, domestic engineer, housewife…whatever.  We can spruce up the title, but it is what it is.

So, to compensate for my new title since leaving the workplace, I try to stay as “involved” as possible.  This is what I had planned, right?  I wanted to be the mom who makes homemade cupcakes from scratch for school parties instead of store bought cupcakes.  I was determined to make my sons’ Halloween costumes, go to story time at the library, take trips to the children’s museum.  I wanted to be busy and involved.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the onslaught of requests…from everyone.  I didn’t know that when people got wind that I was a stay-at-home mom, they thought that I would have all this time on my hands.  I became a volunteer magnet.

Can you substitute for the preschool?  Are you available to teach choir?  Can you sew my child’s Halloween costume?  Will you make a paper mache volcano for the project?  Do you mind making 42 chocolate covered strawberries for the class party?  Do you mind babysitting my sick child?  Can you make our meeting?  Will you smock my daughter’s Easter dress?  Will you facilitate our group?  Can you fill in for me?  Will you chair this event? Can you do the Thursday morning group?  Will you return this to the store for me?  Blah, blah, blah!

The requests do not seem to end.

I am not a martyr.  I admit that I like to stay busy, so I usually don’t mind doing most of what I am asked.  However, I do think that most people assume way too much about stay-at-home moms.  It is assumed that because I am at home, that I couldn’t possibly be as busy as I would be if I worked outside the home.  Let me clarify:  Because I am not working outside the home does not mean that I am not working.  Period.   I work very hard, thank you.   Even if I didn’t volunteer my time for a variety of things, I would still be extremely busy.  Here are a few reasons why I am busy…at home:

I have a three year old that is struggling with potty training.  That alone takes most of my patience.  I hold my breath when we go out the door and into the van while he is in his “big boy underwear.”  Things were so much simpler when he wore a pull-up.  Now, we may have two pit stops from our door to his preschool….a mere five miles down the road. The ten minute car ride now takes thirty minutes.  Don’t get me started on how he feels the need to use the bathroom in the great outdoors.

I have a nineteen month old that is no longer content to be “strapped in”…to a stroller, a car seat, etc.  He wants to run free.  This isn’t happening while we are out and about.  At least not while I’ve got to keep an eye on my two oldest children.  Therefore, I (and everyone within a five mile radius) must endure screaming from a child secured to an umbrella stroller.  It’s the only way I get things done and I can’t bring myself to use a child harness.  Those things just look like leashes to me.  Plus, he is strong.  Very strong.  Walking an enormous English Mastiff down the sidewalk would be easier.

I have a five year old that has no fear.  Self confidence is one thing, but this child likes to run and jump and leap…you get the picture.  I must keep one hand on him at all times.  Otherwise, I’m back in the ER with blood and stitches.  For some reason, he thinks the big red cement balls outside of Target would be perfect to run and jump on top of.  For this reason, I try to avoid Target when my two oldest sons are in tow.  Not good.

Mental note to self:  Never, ever, ever let my sons watch Jackass.

What I am trying to get at is that I have my hands full.  I didn’t even mention housework, laundry, running errands, chauffering children, attending practices, church events, etc.  If someone thinks I’m lazy then so be it.  So, I’ve decided that I will not sign up for everything that is put in front of me without giving it some serious thought.  I’ve just been way too cavalier in filling up my calendar.   The main thing is that I’ve got to stop feeling like a sell-out for staying at home to raise my children.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.  Working at home is working.  Plain and simple.

I’m no lady of leisure.  I’m busy with or without all of my commitments.  I just wonder if June Cleaver ever felt frazzled?   Did she ever say “No” to the PTA when they asked her to chair the school benefit?  Did June ever buy Little Debbie snack cakes instead of making brownies from scratch?  Did June ever take off those pearls?  Who knows.  What I know is that I work…it’s just work within the four walls of my home.  There is no crime in thinning out my calendar and letting go of some of the madness….I think.


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Southern girls in smocked bishop dresses

Southern girls in smocked bishop dresses

Smocked john john

Smocked “john john”

It’s official….I’m giving up.  I’m throwing in the towel…at least where Will & Jack are concerned.  If the pictures on this post haven’t given me away, I’ll let you in on my distress.  I’m giving in and dressing my boys in conventional clothes.  They are getting too old to put them in “john johns.”  It’s just getting too hard to fight them.   On the other hand, I still have George to dress.  George who is 19 months isn’t that hard to wrestle into a “john john.”  Will and Jack are not so easily overpowered.   I’ll explain:

For the southern “Mama,”  it is an unwritten rule that children are to be dressed a certain way.   Little boys are to wear longalls or shortalls (a.k.a. “john john” in honor of J.F.K. Jr. who was photographed under the desk of his father in the Oval Office wearing such attire).  Little southern belles wear bishops, which are dresses with no waist and long with three inch hems.  No little girl is complete without a giant grosgrain bow pinned to her little head.  Southern Mamas favor smocking, appliques, and fanciful prints.  We love to dress our children in matching or theme clothes (Halloween, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, etc.).   In formal photographs, you will see children in smocked clothes and in bare feet.  I don’t know why….it’s just the way it is.  Maybe we just like for our children to look like children.  Children grow up too fast anyway.  We just like to prolong babyhood.  Who knows?  I do know that there will be a time when all three of my boys will beg me to take down the 16 X 20 formal photographs of them as three month old babies…all wearing the same antique baptism gown that I wore as a baby.

Yes, I said gown.  Southern Mamas dress their newborn boys in gowns…baptism gowns, christening gowns, day gowns.  Look, before long…Daddy’ll have ’em out there in a duck blind or on the golf course.  Let us have our moment, OK?

Why am I distressed?  Well, once Will became a “big boy” and started school, he starting wearing a uniform.  Will attends a private school and I am most grateful that he wears the standard khaki pants and polo shirt.  We don’t fight over clothes in the morning and it’s easy.  When I caught a glimpse of my firstborn for the first time in his uniform, a lump formed in my throat.  I shed a tear.  He looked so…. grown. He doesn’t look so little anymore.  For mothers, you know when your babies start looking more like children…they lose that precious baby fat around their wrists, the face thins out, etc.  (sigh) Anyway, don’t worry.  I would never even think to put him in a “john john” at this point.  I certainly don’t want him to be picked on at Sunday School.

Jack is 3 and hasn’t reached the magical “cut-off” for the “john john.”  However, Jack is tough looking….Bless his heart.  Jack never looked right in a longall.  Jack looks more natural in camouflage or cowboy gear.  He’s a little John Wayne.  So for Jack, he has escaped having to spend another year suffering through my attempts to make him look like Little Lord Fauntleroy.  It looks like Jack gets to jump right into khakis and polo shirts.  I think he is secretly relieved.

George is another story.  I took smocking classes right after George was born and learned to sew while I was pregnant with him.  I’ve made several outfits for him and need to start on his Easter outfit now.  However, I am tired….so very tired.  At the end of the day, after putting everyone to bed, I just don’t know if I have the gumption to sit up and whittle through a smocking project.  It’s just so easy to pick something up off the rack at one of those chain stores.  Herein lies the problem…

All of those chain stores cater to people who like for their children to look like little adults.  There are exceptions to the rule (Little Lambs & Ivy, Janie & Jack, Chocolate Soup, Strasburg).  However, I am always shocked when I go into one of these “adult-like” childrens’ stores and see leopard prints on little girls’ clothing or t-shirts that say “Hottie” or “I’m the one your mother warned you about.”  Who are they selling this crap to?  Pedophiles?

In the alternative, there are stores who sell clothes for little boys that appear as their aim to have boys look like 45 year old golfers, professional skate boarders, or pimps.  I’ll never forget a gift that I received when Will was a baby.  A very well-meaning relative sent us a suit for our three month old son.

A suit.

A three piece suit.

It was black pin stripes.

It came with shoes…and a tie.

Honestly, it looked like something you’d bury your child in.   I didn’t know whether to laugh or be terrified of the outfit.  I thought about dressing Will as one of the Blues Brothers for Halloween, but I couldn’t find a little black hat.  I tried to sell it on Ebay and no one wanted it.  I did get a question about the suit.  A woman in Oregon wanted to know if it would fit her ten pound Yorkie.  I told her that the tag said it is supposed to fit a three month old baby, but I didn’t know about a little dog.  I never heard back from her.  I even tried to put the suit in a garage sale, but it didn’t sell.  I finally gave it away to Goodwill.  Maybe someone thought it was “precious” and felt lucky to have the thing.

I realize that I’m tired from running after three little boys all day, but unless I want George to look like Tony Hawk at Easter, I better get busy on that “john john.”  Oh, the plight of the southern Mama….

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I recently registered on Facebook after several of my girlfriends told me how fun it would be for me to reconnect with old law school chums and friends from college, blah, blah, blah.  After several months of being hassled, I registered and began to fill out my profile.  Facebook asks you for your “Activities.”  I listed chauffeuring my three boys as one of my “Activities.”  It’s the truth.  That’s what I do.  I am the family chauffeur…to school, to soccer, to church, to play dates.

Plus, the more I thought about it, the more I decided that chauffeuring my kids around is very similar to being the designated driver for a van full of inebriated adults.   Let me explain before you think I’m being awful….

If you’ve ever been the designated driver in college, you know what I mean when I say that driving your friends around at the end of an evening out can be like driving a van full of kids.  I’m really not complaining.  My kids are good kids.  They say “thank you” and “please” and I don’t really yell that much.  However, their behavior is totally appropriate for children ages five, three and one. This means they act like they are five, three, and one.  So, at times, I swear that three small children can be as obnoxious as three wasted adults.  No joke.  For instance…

Anytime we are driving somewhere and I hear an old disco tune on the radio, I’ll crank it up.  (I just love Donna Summer) Suddenly, I’ll hear “No Mommy!  That’s yucky music!  Turn on something else!”  Then my oldest and most precocious child, Will, usually screams out, “FREEBIRD!”  This goes on until I solve the problem and put something on that everyone loves – Jimmy Buffett.   Suddenly…nirvana… I hear my sons sing along to “Volcano” or  “Fins” in unison.

I had the same problem with music in the car when I’ve been the designated driver.  First, someone wants to hear Dave Matthews, then another one wants to hear something else.  No one is content until you find music that everyone can sing to…like “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf or if it’s a bunch of women, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.  Before you know it, you’ve got full-blown karaoke in the third row seats.

Sometimes when you are the designated driver, you’ve got to make a pit stop. This usually entails a stop to the Waffle House or Taco Bell at 2 a.m.  Sometimes your group may ask you to make a stop at an all night grocery store if everyone can’t decide on what they want for a late night snack.  This kind of late night stop is analogous to taking three preschoolers to the grocery store.  I don’t ever remember my mother having much of a problem with taking kids into the grocery store.   Back in the 1970’s, women like my mother just let children sit in the car with the engine running while they pumped gas or ran inside the thrifty mart for a gallon of milk.  You just don’t do that anymore.  Now, you’ve got to unload everyone when you pay for gas, pick up dry cleaning, and certainly to do shopping of any kind. It’s a miracle that no one ever snatched me out of the front seat of my mother’s car.  Why didn’t people ever think of carjacking back in 1978?  I digress…

Anyway, taking all three boys into the store for one gallon of milk is no different than taking three drunk sorority girls into the grocery store to buy snacks for the evening.  First, the boys want to ride in the buggy that has the attached little tykes truck and seats four children…then they don’t want to.  This takes about ten minutes to get George, the youngest child, strapped in and for me to repeat the instructions that all of them are to “Be good…or else!”  I’ve untangled the cart straps and successfully fastened them around George.  This is when Jack, the three year old, has hopped on one of those scooters meant for the handicapped or the elderly.  Jack starts up the scooter and is driving the contraption past me and into the produce section.  When I look up, I see that Jack is dangerously close to a pyramid of navel oranges.  I manage to make it to the scooter before Jack takes out the pyramid and a table of freshly baked pies.  I yank Jack off the scooter and take this opportunity to strap him in a seat and repeat the objective of our mission.  We are only here for milk.  That’s it.

It gets better.  This is when Will announces, “I’ve got to go potty!.”  Going to the potty takes a good fifteen minutes or even twenty minutes if Jack decides that he has to go, too.   Now, it’s been almost half an hour since we’ve driven onto the Kroger parking lot and I’ve not even laid eyes on the dairy section of the grocery store.

After everyone has emptied his bladder, we once again head to the dairy department…which is located in the far recesses of the store.  The boys beg for a cookie from the bakery.  I cave and grab them each a double chocolate cookie.  Chocolate is everywhere…on the floor, in the buggy, on faces and hands.  Where are my wet wipes?  I can’t find them.  I want to scream.  I just want milk for Pete’s sake.

I am not paying attention because I am digging through my purse for wipes to clean dirty faces when I stupidly push the buggy down the “seasonal aisle.” It is Christmas, so naturally, the seasonal aisle is laden with Christmas decor, candy, and toys.  All three boys are start yelling, “Hey!  Look at Rudolph!…No, there’s a GINORMOUS bag of M&M’s…how cool!…No, look at those Matchbox Cars…Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!…Can we get one….PUHLEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEEE!!!!!!!!”   Just shoot me now.

This is when I have a flashback of my senior year of college when I was the designated driver for a group of my girlfriends after a Widespread Panic concert.  After the concert, we ventured into a Kroger at midnight to pick up a liter of Diet Coke, a Harper’s Bazaar, and a bag of Doritos.  I had to herd five drunk college girls through Kroger without incident.  It was a hot mess.

Mary Kate had to go to “the little girl’s room” and Lizzy opened a jar of olives and was eating them in the deli while talking to a cute stock boy.  Lucy and Beth were sitting on the floor near the pharmacy looking at pictures of Brad Pitt in GQ.  My roommate, Hope, was begging me to consider getting a blow-up Christmas decoration for our tiny dormroom.  “PUHLEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZEEEEE!!!  Let’s get that mammoth snowman for our room!,” shouted Hope.  Let’s just say that I didn’t volunteer to be the designated driver for many months after that.

I snapped out of my flashback as we rounded the corner into the dairy department.  We got the milk and bolted.

Yes, I am the family chauffer.  Yes, I feel like a designated driver.  In fact, I may change my facebook profile from “family chauffer” to “designated driver to three boys all capable of embarrassing their mother at a moment’s notice.”  I’m just kidding.  No, really…I am just kidding.  I think.

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Every so often, I have to re-read “Bringing Up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson.   As I re-read the book, my hands are usually shaking and my nerves are shot because I have just returned from the emergency room or the pediatrician”s office.  If I am lucky, I will have only had to take out the first aid kit and administer some Bactine and unpeeled a Spiderman band-aid.  You see, my affliction is that I am the mother of three boys.

If you are still unsure as to what I am talking about…let me digress.   My boys are the rough, outdoorsy kinds of kids.  I have always prided myself on the fact that they are not content to sit and watch hours and hours of television.  My boys would rather go outside and sit atop their fort and pretend that they are pirates in a ship surrounded by a sea of alligators.  They are content to swing from their tire swing and yell out like Tarzan.  When it rains, Will (age 5)  and Jack (age 3) like to pitch a tent in their room and play “camp.”  I’ve even served them “camp food” inside their tent (even George – 18 mos. is allowed inside).  On occasion, they’ve taken naps inside the tent.  In other words, they are typical boys.

Let me say that this is not a rant….I just need the chance to voice my concern over Will & Jack’s latest Christmas request.  Will asked Santa for “Cowboy stuff.”  Will specifically asked for a cowboy belt, hat, chaps, rope…and cap gun.  Jack specifically asked Santa for a full Indian headdress, chaps…and cap gun (bow and arrow were optional).

At the mention of such items, I became nostalgic for the days of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, circa 1959?  I thought it was really cute that both boys wanted to dress up like John Wayne and Geronimo.  I couldn’t help but to think of the photo ops.  Even the cap guns didn’t sound so bad, since Santa would only give them a gun sans caps.  Harmless enough, right?

While getting the boys ready for church this morning, I asked Will about his Christmas list.   This is when said, “Oh, Mommy…I’m so excited about Christmas!  I can’t wait to get my cowboy stuff.  Jack can’t wait either.  As soon as we get it, we plan to have a “real war” in the backyard.  Won’t that be awesome?!”

My heart stopped.  This could mean scrapes, cuts, and the hurling of dogpoo (it’s happened before).  I’ve seen the boys reenact “war” before.  It was right after they saw Narnia and Peter Pan.  They were obsessed with swords for months.  I refused to buy play swords, so every tree branch and stick was brandished as a sword.  As soon as I heard the words, “On guard” or “Walk the plank!,” I was there in a heartbeat screaming, “Drop the sticks!”   See, I don’t want anyone to get hurt…at the same time, I don’t want them to lose their sense of adventure and what it means to be a boy.  It’s a dilemma.  Plus, I’m in constant fear that someone from the Department of Children Services will come knocking on my door any minute wanting to know why Will has a black eye or why Jack ‘s fingernail is peeling away from the cuticle (that happened as a result of climbing the neighbor’s fence and getting his finger caught between the slats).  Even the pediatrician’s office knows our insurance information by heart…now, we are just ushered into the same room – Examination Room #3, thank you.

I guess I’m just giving up.  This is life with boys.  Santa is bringing cowboys gear and such.  I think I better stock up on Super Hero bandaids.  It’s just a hard knock life with boys.  Life would be so boring without them.  I love ’em.  Thank God for little boys.  Thank God for my boys.

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Whats in Santas bag?

What's in Santa's bag?

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I was beginning to wonder if I was Scrooge reincarnated.  I just couldn’t quite get into the Christmas spirit.  Decorating the tree was a chore…definitely not a joy this year.  I dreaded putting out the Christmas snow village and I just couldn’t quite muster up enough energy to do all of the pre-Christmas things that I usually do (make candy, make crafts, sew, etc.).

You’d think I’d be excited about Christmas.  I do have plenty to be thankful for.  I survived a bout with thyroid cancer this past fall and my doctor says I should move on and enjoy life.  How do you do that exactly when you feel so nervous about your mortality?

Well, the Christmas spirit finally snuck up on me.  Praise God!

My children were involved in four Christmas programs this past week.  I was exhausted.  I haven’t gone to bed before midnight all week because I’ve had so much to do.   Did I happen to mention that my husband has been out of town all week?

Today was Jack’s Christmas program at his preschool.  I was never so happy to just sit down for thirty minutes without feeling like I was being pecked to death by ducks.  I sat my weary butt down in the church pew to watch Jack sing Jingle Bells…and BAM!…the Christmas spirit was upon me.  There were two year olds dressed as angels on the stage with the three year olds wearing Santa hats.  All of the children were singing their little hearts out.  When I heard their rendition of “Away In a Manger,”  I shed a tear.  (I’m a sucker for my kids)

Then I realized a couple of things.  I need to slow down.  I need to enjoy myself without feeling like a failure if I don’t get everything on my “to do list” done.  I need to sometimes sit and watch…observe.  It’s hard for someone like me.  I go at things fast and furious.  I pride myself on getting things d-o-n-e.

Today I sat and was still.  This was good.  Christmas is good.  Even God said, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still…

By the way, I found Baby Jesus.  Jack hid him in a basket with a Happy Meal Madagascar toy that sings, “I like to move it..move it.”  Poor Baby Jesus.

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This has been a crazy week.  I’ve had four Christmas programs in a matter of seven days.  Tonight was our church’s preschool choir’s program.  I managed to get home and get the boys all in bed at a decent hour.   After bedtime, I spend ten minutes or so, cleaning up, etc.   While doing this, I happened to notice that the baby Jesus in our family’s nativity was replaced by a Spiderman action figure.

I went upstairs and asked the boys what happened to Jesus.  Will had no idea and my 18 month old can’t reach that far to snag him.  My middle child, Jack, was eerily quiet.

I asked Jack what happened to Baby Jesus.  He said that Spiderman had Jesus “somewhere.”  Hmmmmmm.

The conversation went as follows:

Jack: Mommy, I want juice.
Me: Where is Baby Jesus?
Jack: Not till I get juice.
Me: Give me Jesus and you get Spiderman.
Jack: No. I want juice.
Me: You just brushed your teeth. You get water.
Jack: I want juice.
Me: I don’t negotiate with terrorists.


Jack is now asleep…and Baby Jesus is still held in some undisclosed location.

However, I can rest knowing that his teeth will not rot out.

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