One Step Forward

Wow, it's been awhile. I haven't posted here since June? That seems impossible to me since I feel like I am constantly writing. Obviously my busy schedule is keeping those posts locked in my head.

At any rate, it feels good to be back. I will need to make more time for this, this part of me, that always helps me feel better. I miss the clarity this brings me.

It is no secret kids can be jerks. I mean that as lovingly as possible, but it is true. They can be total assholes. All kids, yours and mine, will at one point or another be mean to someone. It may be intentional or it may not, but the end result will be the same. Hurt feelings.

In fact, this is true for all people not just kids. It turns out we sometimes see kids, as well, just kids. It is easy to forget that they are people just like you & I. The main difference (for my story anyway) is I'd like to assume adults are more in tune with when they are being assholes. Kids don't always have this figured out. It's easier to be a jerk as a kid and get away with it.

                                                                       ***

I have made no efforts to keep it a secret that my son, Jack, is a tough kid. By tough I don't mean Mr. Tough Guy or that he misbehaves or any of that. I mean he is a tough kid to parent. He is incredibly hard on himself and that equates into huge amounts of frustration for Jay and I.

He may not like something, so he better not try it. He may not be good at a sport, or at least not as good as his friends, so he better not play. His math is hard and he will most likely get the answers wrong, so he just shouldn't have to do it. He might get the answer wrong, so he won't raise his hand. He just knows he's not going to be good at anything, so he is just not sure what to do. So on and so forth, it goes on and on.

We started super positive. Just try your best, I am sure you'll do great! As long as you try your best, we will be so proud of you. You can do anything you put your mind to. Those pep talks become daunting. Exhausting. Beyond frustrating. The worst part is, when he would try, he was good at what he was doing. Was he the best? No. Did I expect him to be? Of course not. Did he expect to be the best? Without a doubt. Needless to say he was always disappointed.

He would become so hard to talk to regarding this behavior that our pep talks turned from peppy to down right argumentative. This lack of self-esteem went with him everywhere. School, sports, friends. No matter how much we told him he was good, he insisted he wasn't.

                                                                        ***

One of the things Jack struggles with his standing up for himself. We have been talking about this since he started school. Just because someone says your stupid doesn't mean you are. Just because someone says you suck at kick-ball doesn't mean you do. Other kids aren't the boss of you and you don't need to be the best at something to be good at it.

Each day was a life lesson. We kept trying to make him confident and he kept insisting he wasn't able. He plays on sports teams with friends and although he says he loves it, he never really tries his hardest. This infuriates Jason. He is huge on team sports and feels that when you are part of a team and you don't try not only do you let yourself down, but you let the team down. It would be one step forward, two back. He would pitch a good inning and we would see smiles and he would love baseball. The next game would be harder and when he would throw a few bad pitches, there would be no recovering. His head would get the best of him and it would be the worst inning ever. There were huge highs and very low lows. All along he was so afraid of what his friends would say about him or think of him. All we heard was, I am not as good as them or they will make fun of me if I don't do good. 

No matter how much we reminded him that his friends made mistakes too. They pitched bad innings and they struck out as well. We told him it happens to everyone. He would try and then get scared and back down. His head had such a grip on him.

A group of kids, some that are friends,  play football at recess everyday and have been for the last few years. Jack mentioned here and there that he wanted to play and when we asked why he didn't he would say he changed his mind or didn't think he should because they were better than him.

It would kill Jason and I to hear. Jack is a decent football player. He knows the game, he can throw the ball, they are 8 year old kids playing at recess....why was this so hard?

                                                                     ***

A couple of weeks ago he came home from school saying he played football at recess. I remember stopping dead in my tracks and asking him to repeat himself. It has been over 2 years that he has been wanting to play but letting his head talk him out of it. Two years!

I didn't want to blow it by being over-the-top excited, but I was. I knew this was a huge step for him. I asked how it went and if he had fun. He said it was fun but most of the kids were mean. He said they told him he sucked at football and they would not allow him to play quarterback. He said no one would pass him the ball, even when he was wide open.

My heart broke. Right there in my kitchen I wanted to cry. I felt terrible that he felt sad although I was mostly afraid that this would be the excuse he needed not to play again. He asked me if I thought he sucked at football. I told him I thought he was good at the game and although other kids play football on teams outside of school and he doesn't, that didn't mean he wasn't a good player. I explained that it was okay if there are kids that are better than him, well, because that is life. There will always be someone better, smarter, richer, funnier, you name it.

I told him the best way to show his friends he doesn't suck was to keep playing. Eventually, I said, they will throw to you and you will catch the ball. Sooner or later you will prove to them you can play football, just as well as they can. I told him when the kids say mean things, he needs to stand up for himself. I reminded him no one has the right to talk to him like that and he had every right to tell them so but actions speak louder than words. Just keep playing, I begged.

The mom in me wanted to show up at recess and tell the mean kids that they weren't all that. I wanted to point out their flaws and faults. I wanted to hurt their feelings. I wanted them to feel sad for making my kid doubt himself more than he already does. I wanted to tell them to shut their damn mouths.

But. There is always a but. But, I couldn't. This wasn't my battle to fight. I am not the one with something to prove to the mean kids or myself, Jack is. It is his lesson to learn no matter how much I wanted to make it easier for him.

He played the next day and the day after that. Each day he came home with the same complaints...no one will throw to me. I kept on him, just keep trying. Then he came home saying one boy finally threw the ball to him. He caught it and made a play. He was excited but was quick to say he didn't do that great at least not as great as the other guys might have done. Two steps back.

I asked if he had fun. Yes, I just wish they weren't jerks. Then keep playing, I said.

After two weeks, with similar stories with the same boys, he came home and was beyond excited. They threw the ball to him and he scored a couple touchdowns! He was so happy. He said after that they even let him play quarterback for a couple of turns. He said he wasn't good enough to play for too long, but at least he got a turn. One step forward.

It is a work in progress, but we keep on keeping on. Every kid deserves to feel that happy about something, every day. For Jack, this week, it was that football game with those friends. It was proving to them, and himself, if even for a few minutes that he was good enough.

                                                                     ***

Everyone is capable of being mean. Of hurting someone. It is hard to admit when we are the jerks. That's why apologies are hard to say sometimes. It is hard admitting that you aren't always right, that you can be hurtful, that you can be an asshole. Everyone has their insecurities, the thing in their head holding them back. When people know those things, it makes you an easy target.

I am certain my kid has been the mean kid. I also know the mean kids he plays football with aren't really mean kids. I know a lot of them and they are good kids. They just don't realize that they can be hurtful. That when they tell a kid he sucks, he believes them with every ounce of his being. They don't mean any harm, but that doesn't mean that none is caused.

I am sure there has been a mom at home, feeling just like me, wanting to come over and tell my kid what a jerk he is. Thinking he needs to be set straight. It pains me to imagine it, but I know it is the truth. I talk to my kids so much about how their behavior could hurt others, how their words could make someone feel bad.

Adults do the same thing, it's so easy to do. Words are tricky. Once they are out of your mouth, you can't take them back. You can say you're sorry, but still, the words were said.

I guess all you can do is keep playing, regardless of what they say. One step forward, Two steps back.
                                                           

Ten Years

Ten years ago today I started my day with a little wedding pre-game. It involved hair and make-up and saltines, obviously. Anyone who has ever gotten married, or anyone who has as nervous as a stomach as I do, knows saltines are a girls best friend.


In a matter of hours, I would walk down a very long aisle and marry the greatest man I know. It was a perfect sunny June day and I had dreamed of it for so long that I was afraid my dreams would cloud the reality. The day surpassed my expectations and it was all I dreamt it would be.


I didn't just dream of my wedding day though. I dreamed of my married life. I knew better than to dream it would be easy or perfect. I just wanted it to be perfect for me. Jason and I had been together for six years before we got married. We had owned two houses and challenged our relationship many times in those first six years. Still, I always dreamed of marrying him.


As far as weddings go, ours was fairly typical. There was dancing and cake and eating and drinking and most of all there was love. Love for our families and all of our friends who celebrated with us as only the people we love most in the world could. It was as close to perfect as we could get.


We have been together for sixteen years and although we have only been married for ten of those years, the first six were some of the best times we had together. I can hardly remember who I was before I was with him. It feels as though he has always been apart of my life. I have never been happier than I have been with him.


So many memories were made that day. It is not a day I will ever forget, honestly it feels like it was just yesterday. That day marked the beginning of so much more for us. Since then we have created a life with one another that I am so proud of. In the last ten years we have been blessed with two amazing boys, we have a home and a lovely life. We've created a family with one another. 


It has been an amazing ten years. It hasn't always been easy and it is far from perfect, but I adore the man I am lucky enough to be married to. Happy Anniversary, Jay. Here's to many more....

Four Year Wait

Four years ago I wrote this post about my sister getting married. It was a topic special to me, well, because my sister was getting married and that is a huge deal. It was also extra special because my sister was marrying a woman.

It was a glorious May day and we laughed, cried, ate, drank and danced the night away. It was a wedding celebration much like my own. There were traditions followed and vows said. It was a special day for my sister and our family.

The thing is, at the time, Wisconsin didn't recognize same-sex marriages. Therefore their wedding ceremony four years ago was actually, legally, a commitment ceremony. In our eyes they were legally married, in the State's eyes they were partners. They have been living every day since that ceremony as wives and I have considered my sister's wife to be my sister-in-law, no different than I do my brother-in-law. She was one of us, married in, for better or worse.

This past week Wisconsin finally got their shit together and legalized same-sex marriage. I am disappointed it took as long as it did yet so relieved that they realized what the right thing to do was and had the balls to do it. I am proud of my home state.

Today my sister and her wife legally got married in the State of Wisconsin. They have been married for years, but today is special nonetheless. Today signifies that change is possible and that perhaps, once and for all, people will realize that we should be free to love who we choose.

To my sister, Joy, and my sister-in-law, Sarah......Cheers & Congratulations (FINALLY!)



Love you both to the moon & back! xo

Weathering the Storm

I started this blog because I wanted a place to come and spill my guts. I wanted to be able to get things off my chest, good or bad, and once I started writing it I realized that after each post I felt better. It was like the best and cheapest therapy ever. I talked wrote it out and through that process I felt better about it. Sometimes it made me realize how lucky I am and other times it just helped clear some of the fog out of my thoughts and see things in a new light.

I haven't been writing lately, not because I don't want to or need to, just because I find my life so busy and I haven't made the time. After the last few weeks I am quickly learning I have to make the time. The fog in my head is thick and I need help clearing it and reminding myself how lucky I am (it can be easy to forget, sadly.)

Today was one of those days. The kind where you were just tested and tried, over and over. Lots of little things pile on getting under your skin and then before long you want to crawl out of your own body.

Joey had his 6 year old check-up today. I was expecting a pretty uneventful, quick appointment. We saw his allergist last week so had already been through his laundry list of meds and asthma plans. This was supposed to be an in-and-out visit. I reminded Joey in the waiting room that I expected his best behavior. He has been very sassy lately. He talks to me like I am his personal servant and when things don't go just right, he yells and screams at me about how I am ruining his life. His mood swings rival most 17 year old girls with PMS. He has been threatened, he has been punished, he has come within inches of Jason killing him...and still he gets in these moods where he is completely disrespectful.

It was when the doctor mentioned that he was going to prescribe him eye drops for his allergies that it went down hill. Joey quickly belted out "No way, they suck!" I immediately told him we don't talk like that and that the drops would help his itchy eyes. I'm not sure what I was thinking talking reasonably to an unreasonable child. He was quick to snap back, "I mean it, Mom. They suck!" At that I told him more firmly that he could not talk like that. He then started punching his fist into his hand like he was looking for a fist fight. Yes, you read that right. He was punching his hand like we were going to fight. At the same time he tells me, "I will break your face if you make me use those eye drops." 

Umm, excuse me? Break my face? I dropped dead. 

No, seriously, WHAT? I wanted to get up and whack the shit out of him but the pediatrician was sitting in the room with us. I warned him again about his sassy mouth, told him he was grounded and had zero privileges after school, etc and he just kind of smirked. Nothing, I repeat NOTHING is more irritating than a 6 year old embarrassing and disrespecting you all while being a smug little shit about it. After a quick talking to from the dr about how there are consequences for bad behavior and how he didn't think Joey was funny, we got the hell out of the doctors office.

I was beyond angry and embarrassed and did I mention so very, very angry?  I was at my wits end with this kid and his sassy mouth. He knew I was pissed because I stormed out of the building as he chased behind me. He tried talking to me in the car on the way to drop him at school, making small talk and I was not taking the bait. I was giving him the silent treatment. When we got to school he told me he was sorry and he loved me. I told him I was too angry to talk but I loved him no matter what.

I had the afternoon to cool off.

When I picked both boys up from school it didn't take long to see my fight was just beginning. Jack fought me about doing his homework, what snack he could have, and on and on. Nothing was easy. They were trying to kill me. I felt worn down and frustrated. 

We got through homework and as Jack ran out to play for the few minutes before we had to leave for his baseball practice Joey had the balls to put his shoes on like he was heading out to play with him. I actually laughed at him. This kid was for real. He was actually thinking he was just going to run out and play like he wasn't a total asshat earlier today at the doctor! Unreal. 

I quickly reminded him that there was absolutely zero chance his sorry ass was leaving the house for any sort of fun and the breakdown ensued again. I was the worst mom ever. I was so mean and if I didn't want kids why did I even have him to begin with! TOO LATE FOR THAT WARNING, JOE. Thanks for nothing. He ended up in his room, door slammed screaming and crying. It was 4:15pm and I considered drinking. I still had to get through dinner, baseball practice and bedtime alone since Jay is traveling for work tonight. Deep breaths.

We make it through dinner, we freeze through baseball practice and as we walk in the house at 7:45pm I tell them simple directions. Take off your shoes, get ready for bed, choose a book to read. They begin screwing around. Jack is whining he can't get his spikes off, Joey is messing around doing a whole lot of nothing I have asked and before long they are wrestling with the dog. There is pushing and jumping and shoving and Sugar's 110lb. ass is ramming into Jack which pushes the chair he is sitting on (supposedly taking off his goddamn spikes) into my side table holding some of my plants. The table crashes over breaking my pots, spilling dirt everywhere, sending glass flying everywhere.

That was it. The straw, the camels back, the cherry on top, the last motherfucking straw. I was DONE. I had reached the point where nothing good will come out of me. I yelled and screamed. They stood stunned crying how it wasn't their fault. I went all mommy dearest on them. It was ugly. 

They both ran off to bed sobbing and trying to plead their cases. Joey kept asking me why I was so angry and mean. I couldn't even yell anymore because I knew I would cry. I felt horrible for yelling at them like that. I hate that I feel worse than they appear to after a blow up like this. 

My only question to them is why can't you just listen? Just follow directions and listen. No answer.

Some days are harder than others. Sometimes work sucks, sometimes being married sucks, sometimes family members suck. For some reason whenever I feel like I suck as a parent, as a mom, it sucks more than anything else ever does.

I have never loved two people more in my life. I have also never wanted to blow my brains out more because of those same two people. I guess the ones you love the most don't always guarantee it will be easiest to love them.

Today was tough and I feel like a total failure, but I am weathering the storm. I am having a drink, writing it out, hoping a good nights sleep will make tomorrow a better day. 

Six

Dear Joey,

The inevitable has happened. You've grown-up (some.) Six years ago today I was laying in bed, snuggling you, in awe of you. You were so tiny and yet already so big. You were born with such personality and have always been a force to be reckoned with. 


I am amazed by you most days. You are incredibly stubborn (just like your Dad) and you will fight and fight and fight some more about what you think is right or what you want. There are days that you exhaust me beyond measure because you just don't let up, ever. You are confident and strong-willed. I am also so proud of you because all I hear about from your teachers is what a kind-hearted boy you are. You are the first to help your friends and classmates out in school and are always concerned about others. I love how much you care about others.



You are so passionate about the things you enjoy. This includes hockey, but also things like watching certain movies. Recently you have watched all of the Rocky movies (I thru V) over and over. You are obsessed with this movie and you think Rocky is the greatest guys ever. In the meantime, I never want to see another minute of Rocky for the rest of my life! You are the same with the movie Miracle and I love listening to you chant "USA, USA, USA" during the US match against Russia. You've seen the movie a hundred times and you still are on the edge of your seat cheering like you aren't sure what is going to happen next.



You love sports and between hockey, football and baseball you stay busy! Your love of hockey is so fun to be a part of. You bed each day to skate and always, even when you aren't feeling your best, skate with everything you have. Dad and I are so proud of you and all the effort you put into hockey. I am so glad you found a sport you love so much.




You also love books and I am enjoying listening to you read books to me now. I love the time we spend together reading and snuggling. You still like to snuggle in and take naps with me and each time I ask you what I will do when you are too big and don't want to snuggle anymore with me and you always respond the same way by telling me you'll always snuggle with me even when you are grown and in college. I know this will be too good to be true.

You are in a rush to be bigger than you are. Just yesterday you told me how excited you were for your birthday because you have been waiting your whole life to be six. It seems I have been feeling the exact opposite. I can't believe my sweet baby boy is already six. Your independence stops me dead in my tracks sometimes. 


We taught you to always stick up for yourself and never let others treat you poorly and you have already had a few scuffles that reminded us that you will not be someones doormat. You don't take any crap and although you need to learn boundaries on what that means as you grow, I am most proud of this. 

You are one of the greatest parts of me and I am so grateful to be your mom. It turns out you were supposed to always be my baby so whether you are six or twenty-six, that is forever what you will be. 



I wish you the most blessed year. I know you will do great at all you set your mind to.

Happy 6th Birthday, my sweet face.

I love you always, to the moon and back.
Mama
xoxo

Eight

Dear Jack,

Each year I ask myself how is it you are already six or seven and now you are eight. This past year you have changed so much. I see less and less of the little boy I've grown to love and so much more of a big kid in you. You are somewhere in the middle of a little kid who relies on his parents for so much and an adolescent who wants to figure things out on his own, or thinks he already has figured it all out on his own. Some days it is painful to watch you fight yourself so you can work through what you need to, but I know in my heart it is what is best for you.



You are a second grader now and you do great in school. You still fight me to do your math homework but you are eager to read and you love science so much. You have a whole bunch of friends, but you spend most of your time with your brother. This year I have seen the way you and Joey play together change and although there are days the two of you can hardly be in the same room without fighting with one another, more times than not you play together nicely for hours at a time. I know you don't believe me now, but someday you will realize how lucky you are to have the greatest best friend as your brother.



I can't explain to you how much you changed my life eight years ago today. Your arrival changed who I was as a person in a way nothing else could. You made me a mom and it was something I had dreamed about forever, so thank you. You came into this world and instantly your Dad and I were different people and head over heels in love with our sweet little turkey.



I believe you were sent to me to teach me things I would not otherwise learn and you do that each day. It is not always easy, our relationship, but it is always full of love (even when I am yelling at you to do homework or to get out of bed for school.) You make my heart full.

I wish you the happiest of days and I dream of year full of happiness for you. Just remember who you are, what is important to you and what is right in your heart and you will continue to make good choices.

I am so proud of you and hope that eight is better than seven before. Also, you could slow down in the growing department. I am in no rush to see my little turkey grow up. No matter what this world brings you, Daddy & I will be right beside you.


Happy Birthday Turkey. I love you to the moon and back, twice.

Love you,
Mom xoxo

Mediocre, At Best

I am not sure how it is where you live, in your town, in your part of the world, but here in my part it can be like one big contest. It is like there is a running tally of who is winning it all. It might not really be that way, but it sure does feel that way a lot of the time.

I've talked before about the whole keeping up with the Joneses thing. How I try so hard to not get wrapped up in the what other people have and what other people are doing and instead truly focus on what is best for my family, for myself. Sometimes it is just so damn hard not to get sucked in, chewed up and then swallowed whole by the damn Joneses. Nobody really likes them anyway, why must I keep running head on with the dreamy idea of them?

There are a million things you can compare yourselves to others about. You breastfed your baby for 2 years, you make your own organic baby food from vegetables you grew yourself in the backyard AND your child is gifted, made the best soccer team and you already have your European vacation planned for summer? Well, la ti da. 

I know this sounds over the top and completely ridiculous, and it is, except it really isn't all the time. I know women who are like this. I don't even dislike them, I admire them, but mostly I am nothing like them.

The truth? My kids had a hot dog for lunch, are most likely wearing some piece of clothing they wore yesterday and I had a 20 minute battle with my eldest child over his math homework EVERY NIGHT THIS PAST WEEK.

My house is usually in shambles where you will find some sort of dirty laundry on a floor in at least one room and there is sure to be pee on something near the toilet in the bathroom with dog hair scattered throughout the house for good measure. It is not tidy or perfect, but it is lived in and there is always a blanket on the couch perfect for snuggling (if you don't mind the dog hair on it.)

I go through stages where I find myself comparing myself, my house, my children, my LIFE to other people and it does nothing but stress me out. I need to keep reminding myself I am not them. I might not ever be the mom that makes fancy dinners or has it all together all the time. I will most likely always be the mom running into hockey yelling at my kid to hurry up because we're late while I am wearing my workout clothes from my visit to the gym hours earlier (if you've ever been to a hockey rink you know no one can tell if I smell bad...the whole place stinks.) I do the best I can. Sometimes I wish I did better. Sometimes I wish I was more like them.

My friends & sisters always joke with each other when one of us screws up as a parent by calling them out as "Mother of the Year." I am not trying to be mother of the year...I'm striving for mediocre mother. I'd be happy with just above average.


At the end of the day my kids are fed, clean (or clean enough), safe and above all, loved. I'll take that as a win in my book.




 
Blog Template by Delicious Design Studio