What to do, what to do…

My son. Where do I begin. He is a charming, loving, intelligent, ball of fire… who happens to be manipulative, disobedient and slick. Oh, what a combination! Now I love my son to death, but I’m not one of those parents who thinks they have a perfect child. No, I’m the kind of parent who looks at the other parents who are forming judgements to themselves and agrees with them (audibly)… “yeah, he’s bad.” And I don’t say this because I’ve given up or I think it’s acceptable, I say this because I feel good in my skin when I am authentic. And I truly believe that my kid can be a bad kid sometimes. And other times he is sweet and he listens and he melts my heart. But typically I’m only around to see those moments. So anyways, I set the stage to get to my current dilemma – school.

Shocker, but the kid who does not listen at home also does not listen at school. And the kid who talks back at home also talks back at school. I get fun little notes home from his teacher, like the one last week informing me that when he was being reprimanded, he told his teacher she got on his nerves. Yes, that’s right. A couple of things go through my mind on this one… 1) Well that’s embarrassing (I think parents get desensitized to the things their kids tell them, but when they then do it to someone else, it is a hard pill to swallow) 2) Thinking back… do I say this?!?! 3) A mixed emotion of pride, that he can articulate his feelings so well, and a lot of head shaking because his execution was so inappropriate.

So as I’ve shared in a previous post we’ve been going with the “on the couch all night” method of punishment lately. I’d like to say it works because he absolutely hates it, but on the other hand, it does not curb the behavior at school so I’m just not sure. But nevertheless, in the name of consistency, if Brogan does not get a smiley face on his behavior chart each day, he gets to sit on the couch (with nothing) the whole evening. But here’s the thing. Brogan has learned that the consequence to his misbehavior is the couch. He gets warned daily of the punishment. He gets asked each afternoon how he was at school, and when he responds that he wasn’t a good listener, he says, “I have to sit on the couch all night, right mommy?” So he gets it. But he gets it only so far… because when he’s in the moment and he gets into one of his manic states where he cannot listen to save his life, there’s no stopping him and he just will not behave. So while I know the mommy gene is partly to play here, I ask myself (what I feel is a legitimate concern), is it fair for a kid, who should be outside playing and interacting with the family and getting tons of positive interactions, be punished every night for something that he shouldn’t be doing, but that I don’t think he can help? And he’s also starting to get a negative opinion of school. He started saying that he doesn’t want to go to school. And when I ask him why, he says it’s because he doesn’t like getting bad notes home.

And tonight, in the car ride home from the sitter’s, fearing another bad report, I asked, “Brogan, how was school?” Brogan responded, “I don’t want to talk about that.” And that would be because he didn’t listen (again), was playing in the bathroom (again) and this all resulted in a frowny face assessment.

What to do, what to do, what to do??? Any veteran moms out there have suggestions?

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And ironically, he appears so well-behaved in his school picture. Go figure. 

The things I didn’t know about myself… until I became a parent

Becoming a parent is an enlightening experience. You see life through a whole new lens – you gain an instant appreciation (and admiration) for your own parents; the screaming children on a plane or in a restaurant create empathy (for the parents) instead of anger; in the presence of your kids you develop critical eyes (and ears) for television and song lyrics and others’ conversations, constantly filtering for appropriateness. But the biggest change for me has been within… or a new vantage point to myself as I discover things about me that were unknown before kids.

  • I can handle a lot more than I ever thought.  Not that I ever considered myself weak or incapable, but I had no idea how much I could deal with – turns out it’s a lot.  I don’t always do it gracefully, but darn it, I can deal with two screaming kids, I can get dinner cooked, I can haul them upstairs kicking and shouting at the tops of their lungs, I can change the diaper of a kid who will not. stay. still. I can get us dressed and out the door (and on time occasionally); I can manage (and enjoy) a full time job. Yep, I can handle a lot.
  • I am a lazy person disguised as a motivated person.  So not all the revelations are positive. I’ve also discovered that I have some inner “lazy” in me.  Those who know me may find this surprising because I am a go-go-go kind of person, but becoming a parent has shown me that I have to battle lethargy more than before. Here’s the thing – pre-kids, being lazy wasn’t really being lazy. It was relaxing, it was allowed, I had time for it, it didn’t impact anyone else (most of the time). I am someone who gets inspired and motivated by things I want to do, so when you have no (parenting) responsibility, you can just do what you want. However, once you have a child, your world is, for the most part, no longer yours. The days of doing what you want when you want are gone. See ya later. And so for me, the laziness follows the lack of motivation around the mundane tasks that just have to get done. The laziness shows up when I’m not doing something I should be doing (discipline, consistency, quality time) because dang it, I’m tired.  So my friends, while I may seem like a very motivated person (and some days I am) that’s really only half the story.
  • I really like kids.  I’m sure anyone who is not a parent who has spent any length of time with someone else’s kids has questioned how much they really like kids. Some kids are charming and it’s easy, but then there are those other kinds of kids… People say that it will be different with your own, and it’s true.  Because while before I could only take kids in small doses because of all the slobber and snot and dirt and poop and the mess that follows them everywhere, with my own kids none of it fazes me. Sure, there have been some experiences that have necessitated a shower (immediately), and there have also been some gagging moments, but I really, really like my kids (understatement of the year).  And being on the parent side of this stuff has softened my feelings with other kids as well.  Turns out, I do really like kids.
  • I didn’t need all that sleep I used to get.  How incomprehensible it would have been to think I could function (reasonably well) on 6 or 7 hours of sleep.  And if I get 8 or 9, talk about a refresher. But in my pre-kid days, I thought I needed much more than that. Back then the thought of an 8am class was an impossibility; getting up at 6am on a weekend was just not going to happen.  But now here I am, sleeping less and living more and it is a really awesome thing.
  • I am quite the softy.  Cry at a TV commercial? Say what?? Used to be a pretty rare occurrence. But now, especially those darn Publix commercials (and this one) can get me every time.  And songs, oh yeah, Taylor Swift, you can get me.  And hearing stories about sick or injured kids, folks who have been married for 75 years and their spouse passes away, demonstrations of remarkable sportsmanship – all get the water works going. I think the “softy” was in me all along, just needed the pregnancy/post pregnancy hormone shake-up to bring it out. Okay, so I just watched all the videos I just linked and I’m a blubbering mess. Guess I should issue the mascara alert.
  • That I could get this pale.  Seriously y’all. It’s bad. When I go home and see all my tan and fabulous Florida friends, I get those stares that say you look good, but damn you are pale! So two things here – first, I didn’t know that my skin could actually get this white, and second, I would have never guess that I wouldn’t care. Sure, it helps to have a red-headed, fair skinned husband to compare myself to every day, but in all seriousness, I don’t have time to tan, and it is totally fine with me. One day, when I can actually take the kids to the pool and relax, maybe I’ll work on my tan. But until then, it just is what it is – I am pale and it’s okay.

The old meThe old me – tan and happy.

The new me
The new me – pale and even happier.

Wiped Out

I got to play stay-at-home mom today and boy, am I wiped out.  I’m not sure what was different about today than some weekends when I have the boys solo, but it was exhausting!  I think some days the kids decide they want to be amicable and sweet.  And then there are some days that they strategize about how to push every one of your buttons. Today would be the latter.

Sometimes kids can just wear you down and knock you off your game.  Today would be that day too.  Apparently I was a little loose with my language, because when Blake got home Brogan told him, “Look Daddy, I got all of your crap out of the shed!” Blake and I looked at each other and chuckled a bit.  But then it continued. “Look at all this crap!” [said in a really happy and excited tone] Blake and I started exchanging slightly more serious looks.  Blake thought on his feet and said, “Buddy, mommy made that word up, it’s all just stuff.”  That sufficed, and the word crap was not mentioned the rest of the night.  I’m sure he’s just saving it for school or the pediatrician’s office, though.

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No surprise here, but Beckett was a screamer today.  The kid loves his swing outside, but it is impossible to swing him constantly.  So if I wasn’t swinging him, or walking with him out to be swung, he was pissed.  I could sidetrack him occasionally with a broom or a random tool, but it always went back to the swing.  I even tried using the trampoline as a playpen, and that went over well!

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I swindled my neighbor into entertaining the screamer so I could finish dinner (she thought she was just returning a sewing machine!). Little did she know she was entering kiddy hell.  Being much more on top of things than I after the punishing day, she immediately noticed the boys were playing with a very sharp paddle bit.  Great, that would have gone real nicely I somebody’s neck. And it was rusty, even better! Thank you, Chantelle for the 15 minutes!

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And at 7:22pm, the hubs came home form work, hallelujah.  I think I’ve made previous remarks about my reverence for stay-at-home moms – reaffirmed.  You guys do have the hardest job in the world.  I will be going back to work tomorrow, to my quiet and peaceful office where I will get to interact with humans who are guided by logic, with whom you can have a reasonable conversation and who do not use screaming as a primary method of communication.  Yes, I will miss the sweet boys that my boys are on days other than today.  And I hope it is those sweet little boys who I am greeted by when I walk in at 4:40 tomorrow afternoon.  But for now, goodnight, I’m freaking exhausted.

When something goes wrong, I call you.

The other night, as I was trying to get Brogan to bed, he kept calling me for various requests.  As I tromped back up the stairs and into his room, aggravation all over my face, he said to me, “Mommy, when something goes wrong, I call you.” He gave me a hug and all of my frustration went away. I feel like I wrestle with the balance of wanting my boys to be independent, but also liking the fact that they need me.  As moms, we feed hungry bellies, bandage skinned knees, wipe runny noses, grab what’s out of their reach and try to fulfill every other random request.  We do so whether or not we are shown appreciation or thanks. But it’s nice every once in a while, especially when it comes surprisingly from my three-year-old, to be affirmed that they do in fact realize that moms get stuff done; we’re the fixers and the problem solvers.

So that was the sweet side of the equation.  Now let’s talk about the manipulation.

Knowing that moms come to the rescue, and sensing our weak spots, kids will exploit the you-know-what out of you.  My soft spot is hunger.  I never starved growing up, but for some reason the thought of my children being hungry is something that does not sit well with my soul.  This drives my husband crazy. He can see that sometimes (notice I just can’t give him all the time) Brogan takes advantage of this fact and tries to prolong naps and bedtime by telling me he’s hungry.  Here’s the thing, statistically speaking, I know there are times when he’s pulling one over on me and he’s not really hungry.  I do truly believe, however, that there are other times when he is, in fact, hungry.  The problem I have is that my overwhelming fear of starving my kids clouds my vision and I can’t tell when it’s real and when he’s faking it.  So what happen? 98% of the time I give that little slickster some food.  I really wish it ended with the food.  In the 20 minutes that I’ve been typing this post, in addition to the “I’m hungry” episode, I’ve been called on to turn off his fan because it was shaking. “Mommy, come quick, it’s an emergency! My fan won’t stop shaking!” And while I was up there, “Please turn off the bathroom light.” Oh, and, I need some medicine because my legs are hurting (eczema). And once I returned back downstairs to continue my writing, he declared that he wanted more milk.  On the simple fact that I don’t feel like cleaning up a wet bed in the morning, I said no.  But dammit, I said yes to the rest.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that while I was cuddling with him in bed, he asked me to read him a story. I explained that I had just (downstairs) read him three stories, and that was enough for the night.  He then reminded me that Daniel Tiger says, “It’s almost time to stop, so choose one more thing to do.” And then that, “so mommy, you said it’s time to stop and so I get one more thing, and that means one more story.” You know that feeling, when your three-year-old beats you at your own game (if you only knew how many times I’ve used Daniel Tiger to get him to do things), yeah that sucks.  So another book it was.

And I sit here knowing that I was worked over multiple times tonight.  And I wonder how and if I will react differently tomorrow when I’m faced with this recurring dilemma.  Honestly, I’m torn.  Logically I know that no should mean no and lines need to be drawn, but emotionally, being met with a “mommy, I love you” each time I oblige makes it really hard to refuse.  My husband, by the way, is going to love this post.  He rarely gets me to admit that I’m a softy (I really try to hide it). Well honey, you’re welcome, I’m a softy.  But the kids still aren’t going to bed hungry 🙂

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How to Be a Happy Parent

Parenting is hard and it’s easy to find yourself stuck in a rut with all the damn dailies.  But I believe that happiness is relative to your expectations.  We all have this romanticized idea of what parenting will be like before we have kids… and then we have them and realize some if it’s not so glamorous.  Managing your expectations and keeping perspective is key to finding all the joy that parenting has to offer. Juggling your children, your marriage, a job (perhaps), and the stresses from the outside world (strangers, other parents, the media, the “experts”) can be downright stressful.  Hey, no pressure, you’re only doing the most important job in the whole wide world and raising another human being!  Below are my 15 keys to being a happy parent:

1.)       Have realistic expectations – If you expect that parenting is going to be awesome every day, that your kids will always listen and that you’ll always know what to do, be ready for some serious disappointment.  Instead, modify those expectation, account for the hard days and when they happen they will be much easier to handle.

2.)       Focus on the end goal – Isn’t our goal in raising children to develop independent adults who are productive members of society?  So when some days all you can muster is the energy to clothe them, feed them and get them off to school, remember you are working toward your goal! And when they are stubborn and strong-willed and want to do it all themselves, think of it as a preview to the independence you one day want them to have.

3.)       You don’t have to be perfect at everything – Every parent has their “parenting gift”. Whether it’s keeping calm, discipline, dinner, homework, birthday parties, snacks, fun-filled activities or communicating with their children, all parents have some part of this job where they excel.  But no one, let me repeat, no one is perfect at it all.  Attempting to be is a futile effort.  So figure out which part you’re great at and be at peace with the fact that you won’t be perfecting all the others.

4.)       Don’t compare yourself to other parents – Just because other parents do it doesn’t mean you should too! Sound familiar?  What works for one family doesn’t necessarily work for another, so don’t even try to compare.  We’re all different parents and we all have different kids, so comparing your adequacies next to another parent just doesn’t make sense. Own your own parenting skills!

5.)       Do the best that you can – At the end of the day, this is really all we can do.  So if you can finish each day knowing that you did the best you can, then who cares what craziness took place? Who cares if you got dirty looks from the bystanders at the grocery store for your screaming kids? Be the best parent you can be and don’t worry about the rest.

6.)       Factor in some failures – If we can all go into this parenting job knowing that we’re going to fail miserably at times, it really just takes some pressure off.  I’m not suggesting we lower our standards, but let’s be real, it’s not like this is all within our control anyways.  Think of failures as learning opportunities for you and your kids, and try to make the best of them. They will happen, so it’s up to you how you react.

7.)       You won’t always make the right decisions – There is no crystal ball with kids. You can’t tell if the punishment you dole out is going crack their code or send them into a tailspin.  There are so many decisions in parenting – public, private or homeschool? How much screen time? Finish your plate or not? Stay at home or work? Their friends… their extracurricular activities… their bedtime… It is impossible to get all this right.  And even if you make the “right” decisions, it probably still isn’t “right” for all of your kids. So what to do?  Look back to #5 and pray.

8.)       This too shall pass – Every parent goes through a phase (or two, or three) with their kids that seems impossible to overcome. Not sleeping through the night, wetting the bed, separation anxiety, temper tantrums, etc., etc. To keep your sanity, just remember, this too shall pass.  These times are fleeting.  Not only will the not-so-desirable phases not last forever, but before we know it our kids will be grown and we’ll probably miss it.

9.)       Maintain your own identity – Don’t forget about you.  Make sure you have an outlet, something that makes you happy. Whether it’s a job or a hobby or an hour of solitude to just think (or sleep), just do it. Making time for you will make you a better and happier parent.

10.)   Don’t let the kids overrun your marriage – Make time for your spouse. Go on dates. Take trips.  Buy each other gifts.  Talk about something other than the kids. Make each other a priority. Don’t blame the kids for why you can’t be a good spouse (“I’m too tired…”).  Remember that one of the most important things you can do for your kids is to keep your marriage strong, so don’t let your marriage come second to your kids.

11.)   Don’t impose your dreams on your kids – It’s only natural to have dreams for your kids… just don’t be so caught up on those dreams that your kids not fulfilling them brings disappointment to you. Give them opportunities to pursue whatever dreams they have and take your expectations out if it.

12.)   It’s okay to be like your parents – One day you will probably find yourself acting just like your parents.  Don’t fight it.  You turned out awesome, right?

13.)   Find someone to clean your house – Now I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but if you can make sacrifices to make this happen, do it. However, be warned, once you start, it will be hard to ever stop. It is shocking how much stress is removed from your life when you don’t have to spend your weekends cleaning.  The extra time with your kids is simply priceless. This one will really, really keep a parent happy.

14.)   When all else fails, have a dance party – Everything going wrong? Kids in a crappy mood? Dinner was burned? It’s nothing that turning up some music and dancing like a fool with your children can’t solve.

15.)   Avoid taking your kids out in public – No, just kidding. I couldn’t resist. Although, it is tempting sometimes :).

Happy Momma

From the Mouth of My 3-year-old

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It is true, kids say the darndest things.  My 3-year-old continuously amazes me with his remarks. Especially when he says something which lets me know that he knows more than we give him credit for… or when he demonstrates a brazen act of talking back, but said with such innocence, that he has you questioning whether he was really just talking back.  The answer to that question is almost always  yes – he’s smart and he’s a charmer, so he’s already mastered the art of manipulation.  So here are a couple of his one-liners from the last couple of days.  I really need to keep a pen and paper more handy because this child gives me so much material!

Brogan:  Mommy, I’m thirsty.
Me:  Sorry buddy, you just had some water and you don’t need any more because you might wet the bed.
Brogan:  That’s okay. I’ll just get out of bed and get more when you go downstairs.

Well, at least he’s honest…

Brogan:  I want a marshmallow.
Me:  Buddy, you have to eat your dinner, and if you eat really good, you can have a marshmallow for dessert.
Brogan: Uh, no thanks, I’m good. I just want a marshmallow.

Well, at least he knows what he wants…

Me:  [in the bath] Brogan, stand up so I can wash you.
Brogan:  [stands up] See mommy, I know how to listen!
Me:  [no words; utter shock]

Me:  Beckett, no sir!  Stop hitting your brother!
Brogan:  That’s alright.  I will handle it.

Brogan:  [shouts something to me from another room]
Me:  What did you say?
Brogan:  Nevermind.
Me:  No, buddy, I couldn’t hear what you said.
Brogan:  NEVERMIND!

Oh, how much fun he will be as a teenager!

And my favorite from this weekend… more proof that my son is, in fact, a ladies man.  This was said to my sister-in-law’s pretty little 16-year-old friend.

Brogan: [upon seeing Savannah for the first time in a couple of months] Savannah, I’ve been missin’ you! [as he runs to her and gives her a big hug around the legs]
Brogan: [about 30 minutes after the first comment, obviously he needed some time to find the right words] So Savannah, do you like to go to the mall?

Really?? My 3-year-old has already figured out the ladies like when you talk about things they are interested in… Oh, Brogan, you are wise beyond your years, my son.  I only hope that you are able to charm the moms and dads as well as you charm the girls… in an effort to decrease all the parent calls, of course.  Oh, the joys.

Love These Guys

Do you ever have a night where your kids just exhaust you? Like, completely wipe you out?  They push every button, get on your last nerve… get you plotting a 30 minute earlier bedtime?  Yeah, that was tonight.  Blake has been working late every night this week, so I’ve been doing this thing solo.  While it has surprisingly been a really good week, I think my nerves were just shot tonight.  But funny thing about being a parent, as crazy as they can make you, they still bring you so much joy it’s unbelievable.  When I tell Beckett it’s time to go night-night, he instantly lays his head on my shoulder and wraps his little arm around my neck.  It just melts me.  And as I laid in Brogan’s bed cuddling with him for a few minutes, that time of hugging and snuggling and talking is absolutely priceless.  Clarification – by talking, I mean where I ask Brogan questions, and he responds, “I don’t know…”

Me: Brogan, did you have a good day?

Brogan: I don’t know.

Me: What did you do today?

Brogan: I don’t know.

Me: What did you eat for lunch?

Brogan: I don’t know. Mommy, can we stop talking?

OMG he is his father’s son.  I digress.

Those five minutes I lay with him each night are some of my favorite minutes in the day.  Although he can barely lie still, and although he doesn’t want to talk to me, I tell him how much I love him, we say our prayers and it is such a special moment.  So as crazy as they make me, I love my boys beyond words.  They redeem themselves (almost) each night with their sweetness.  Life is so good.

Me and Beckett

Me and Brogan

We Speak Opposites in My House

This may be a shocker, but our three-year-old doesn’t like to do what we say.  It’s not just that he doesn’t like what we have to say, or that he doesn’t want to do what we ask of him, the simple fact that it came out of our mouths makes it utterly unappealing.  We’ve been observing this behavior pattern for a while.  When it first started and was still “cute” we would mess with him and tell him not to do things that we really wanted to do.  After a couple rounds of “don’t you play Joe Diffy!” to get him to sing and play his guitar in front of a crowd, my husband and I thought that this was not an act we wanted to encourage.  So we backed away from the blatant oppositional requests.  But then slowly, and unintentionally, we started agreeing with him on things that he suggested, and guess what… he no longer liked his own ideas! It was like our blessing on an idea was the kiss of death for him, like if mom and dad think this is a good idea, it must be no fun!

As most parents know, getting kids up and out the door in the morning can be a challenge.  Some mornings, they just flat refuse to go.  So my husband and I began agreeing when he starts up.  The exchange goes something like this: Brogan says, “I don’t want to go!” we say, “Ok, then we’ll leave and you can stay here” [slowly walking toward the door] Brogan, “Nooooo!!!”  Even something as minor as his snack selection: Brogan, “I want a cookie!” Me, “Great, a cookie sounds good!” Brogan, “No, maybe a banana.”  Oh, the mind of a three-year-old.

So we’re trying to manipulate the manipulator without him thinking it’s a game.  In some ways I’m trying to give him the independence to make his own decisions, all the while guiding him to make the decisions I think are best.  Is this wrong?? Is this what all parents have been doing since the beginning of time, and I’m only now catching on??  As this technique has gained success, I’ve been testing it in scenarios that used to be very trying and it has worked like a charm.  At bath time, Brogan tells me he doesn’t want to get out.  So what do I do, I take Beckett out, dry him, dress him and tell Brogan he can stay.  And what does Brogan do? Change his mind, pretty much instantly.  It’s like when he realizes I’m not going to fight him on it, it has lost all of its fun and he might as well comply, because, let’s be real, the bath water is getting cold and he no longer has anyone to play with. “Mommy, I want out too!!”

I can’t decide if our plan is pure genius, or if we’re only days away from it blowing up in our face.  One thing I’ve learned from having kids is that just as soon as you’ve settled into a routine, or think you’ve got them mastered, boom! They turn it upside down just to see if you can walk on the ceiling.  So I guess we should get ready for the day when he outsmarts us, turns the table and calls our bluff.  And then it will be back to the drawing board with the rest of the parent population.

Upside down Brogan

The Secrets of Parenthood

I’m going to let my non-parent friends in on a couple of the secrets that we parents don’t want you to know until you join the club.  I’m probably breaking some code of silence, but here goes.  It’s ugly, it’s shameful, but it’s the truth about being a parent.

1.)  We try to look like we’ve got it under control (even when we don’t) – Every parent has been there.  Out in public with your little one when they totally freak out on you.  There you are, in a sea full of criticizing eyes, knowing that your kid is winning this one.  What does a parent do? Fake it.  Act like you can handle it.  I caught myself doing this today at the store.  Brogan decided he was going to make this ungodly noise that was a cross between a growl and a scream.  He was pissed. There was a guy right next to us and so what do I do, I calmly said “Brogan, you’re a dinosaur!”  Acting like his guttural noise was an attempt at make-believe (which I knew it was not). Then Brogan said, “Mommy, I’m not a dinosaur, I’m angry!” I quickly pushed the cart away.

2.)  We all cut corners – Let’s face it, parenting requires a lot of work! And we’re all human – we get lazy.  Sometimes the offense is minor, sometimes it’s not.  Almost all the time, you like to keep it hush-hush.  And we all live in fear that our kids are going to report our transgressions.  So when I take Brogan to the dentist in a couple of weeks and the dentist asks if he brushes twice a day I’m going to try and change the subject and hope Brogan does not tell on me.

3.)  Every night is a countdown to bedtime – No matter how much you enjoy your kids, every evening you can’t wait to put them to bed.  It’s like getting off work on a Friday, you can’t help but watch the clock.  Any parent who says they wish their kid could stay up later so they could spend more time with them is a liar.  Period.  Now the morning, that’s a different story.  Something about a full night’s rest that gets you recharged and ready to be on duty again.

4.)  Kids knock you down a couple of rungs – So however “together” you think you are prior to kids, your kids will help dish you a healthy dose of reality and get your ego in check.  Always on time for things? Haha. House always clean? Yeahhh. You actually shower, get dressed, put on makeup and do your hair every morning? Mmmkay.  Things won’t be perfect with kids, and you will either have to learn to deal with it, or get ready for some serious stress and disappointment.

5.)  A trip to Target by yourself is more of a vacation than a vacation with kids – It is the truth.  At least while your kids are really young, a vacation with kids is so not a vacation.  Basically what you do is take all of the stress and responsibility of parenting and plop it into a new environment that is not kid-proofed and to top it off, you’re out of your routine.  So you get over-stimulated kids on not as much sleep who are going around breaking someone else’s stuff.  Sound fun?  Now a solo trip to Target, pure bliss.  So next time you see vacation pictures where the whole family is smiling and happy, just know, there is more going on than what meets the eye.

Family Vacation

6.)  The art of ignoring – So there are two different kinds of ignoring when you’re a parent.  The first is essential, sometimes you must ignore the banging of the pots and pans or the kid’s shows on repeat to maintain your sanity.  This is not the ignoring I’m talking about.  The one I’m referring to is the ignoring something because you don’t want to deal with it.  When you observe them (but they’re unaware) doing something in that gray area of they won’t hurt themselves, but they still shouldn’t be doing it, you ignore it because it is easier than the round and round and round you will go to get them to stop.  I know, I know, it’s awful and lazy, but I’m just telling you, it happens.

7.)  Karma is our friend – There is nothing that will bring out the I told you so more than your kid getting a natural consequence to something you told them not to do.  Brogan, stop running around the house!  And then he trips and falls.  And then I get to say, “Brogan, see what happens when you don’t do what mommy says, you get hurt!”  Now before you start to think I’m a terrible person, I’m only referring to the minor things.  When they really hurt themselves, it’s a whole different reaction, it’s drop everything, run to them, scoop them up, hug them and kiss them, and once you’ve made sure they’re okay, then you tell them they should have listened to you.

8.) We all lie to our kids – No one prepared me for the barrage of questions I would get from my son.  Everything is followed by “why?” – “why are we going home?” “why is it time to go to bed?” “why do we have to eat dinner?” “why do we have to leave?” “why do I have to go to school?” “why do I have to wear socks?” OMG it’s exhausting.  While the mom that I was when Brogan first started talking answered all of his little inquiries with thoughtful answers, looking at every question as an opportunity for learning, the mom I am now, worn out by a year’s worth of badgering, answers with the infamous “Because I said so!” or I lie.  I really try not to lie, but sometimes it just comes out.  So this one is really bad, like, really bad, and I probably should think better of it and not confess.  But I promised authenticity, so here goes.  The other day we were at the store and walked by the candy aisle (first mistake).  So there he goes, “mommy, can I have some?” “No.” “Why?? Why can’t I have some?” [Repeat 22 times, we’ve even left the aisle and he still won’t stop] Then he asked, “does it have nuts?” And I said yes.  And he stopped asking.  I told my child with a nut allergy that the candy (with no nuts) that he wanted had nuts.  Sign me up for parent of the year!!  I still feel guilty about this one, so I doubt that will happen again, but I’m sure it won’t be the last tall tale I tell my sons.

Discipline Sucks

Discipline is the worst.  Why can’t kids just come out of the womb obeying all the rules?  The old adage “it hurts me more than it hurts you” is so true (as a kid I thought this was total BS).  It’s such a contradiction – you want to punish kids so they stop their bad behavior, but then you don’t actually want to punish them. Ugghh!

Brogan is and has been quite the little button-pusher.  The threat of discipline rarely deters him – we actually have to follow through.  Admittedly, my husband is better at this than I am (so while he may be a participant, he is definitely the enforcer!). It’s not that I let Brogan get away with murder, but I think I empathize with him when I can tell he is really remorseful.  A typical exchange goes something like this:

Me: “Time to take a bath – go take your clothes off and put them in your hamper”
Brogan: “I don’t want to take a bath”
Me: “Well it’s bath time”
Brogan: [running around like a crazed lunatic, not getting undressed or putting his clothes in the hamper]
Me: “That’s one [trying to implement the 1-2-3 Magic technique], if I get to three, you’re going straight to bed”
Brogan: “I don’t want to at all!”
Me: “That’s two. I mean it, if I get to three!”
Brogan: “Never!!”
Me: “Alright, that’s three. You’re going straight to bed after your bath!”
Brogan: “No!!!! I want to be a good listener. Please, please mommy! I don’t want to go straight to bed!”

It doesn’t end here.  It turns into a spiraling tirade of screaming and crying, where in an effort to stop that bad behavior, we count down the loss of all his favorite bed things – his big dog, his little dog, his special blanket, and one of his pillows. He misses a snack, extra cuddle time and his door gets closed.  You could insert my husband for me, and the scenario is similar (except that Blake is a little more efficient with his ones, two and threes).  Brogan is pitiful – and it just breaks my heart.  But the little guy just can’t control himself when the tantrum starts.  All the chances in the world and he only finds remorse when it’s too late.  I know it’s the right thing to do, and part of him one day being a productive member of society is hinged on us teaching him that there are consequences to bad behavior.  But right now, when my little guy is upstairs, crying my name, telling me he needs me, my heart just breaks.  So like I said before, I don’t actually want punish him.  But I have to and it sucks.  Parenting is not easy.

Brogan and Mommy