Tag Archives: Motherhood

I’m Ovulated to Say That!

obligated

Years ago, we were at our regular stomping grounds – the McDonald’s drive thru – when, after I gave my order from the dollar menu, the voice from the box enthusiastically said, “Happy Holidays!”. I mumbled under my breath about the dearth of the “Merry Christmas” salutations when one of my kids who shall remain nameless said quite matter-of-factly, “She’s ovulated to say that.” Well….that certainly changed the trajectory of the mood in the car.

Because of my unique position as the mother of many kids, I am often “ovulated” to say things. Take last night, for example, conversation went from contently answering one child’s question to a full scale assault from sibling who declared adamantly, “Oh, we all know she’s your favorite.” Again, the trajectory of the mood in the car changed.

Said child then, in her most jurisprudent manner, cited all my high crimes and misdemeanors against herself as well as my alleged significant favoritism to fellow sibling. Well, after a long day, not feeling like a domestic tete a tete, I nonetheless rose to the challenge. I mustered what evidentiary support I could gather from my 50+ memory that was subsequently low on calories and countered the charges with adequate support to negate her accusations. I’m ovulated to defend myself.

“I have no favorites.”

“Yes, she’s your favorite, remember when you went to Starbucks, and out you come with a strawberries & cream just for her, and for me….NOTHING!”

“Uh, I don’t really remember that.”

“Oh yes, you do, you do that all the time. You don’t do anything for me.”

“Uhm, well, I came all the way down here to pick you up tonight. You know I don’t like to drive at night. I always tell you how talented and pretty you are.”

“Well, you’re obligated to say that, that’s mother duty.”

“You mean, ‘I’m ovulated to say that?'” trying to inject humor into the ride home. Didn’t go over well. Turns out, said litigant was very hungry and retracted her accusations after some divine lumpia and a couple of danimals.

But, we parents, are often called to say things out of “ovulation”. I laugh because that particular obligation is a direct result of successful “ovulation” processes. We are obligated to say many things to our children. And some of those things are a mandated obligation to these souls entrusted to us.

“Mom, are these jeans old man jeans?”

“No, son, they look good on you.”

“Mom, can you see my collar bones?”

“Yes, I can see your bones, they look nice.”

“Mom, how does my makeup look?”

“Looks great.”

“Mom, why does everyone hate me?”

“Honey, they don’t hate you.”

“You like her better than me.”

“No, that’s not true. I love you just the same.”

I’ve had to wrestle emotionally with most of my kids. It is a tough task. Especially during the teenage years. But we are obligated to tough it out with them. As much as they drive me crazy, when at times, I want to give it all up or say things I wouldn’t be able to unsay or totally disconnect from them, by God’s grace, most of the time, I am able respond to their accusations, disappointments and pain with some semblance of objectivity and compassion. Yes, said child is right, it is mother duty, it is parent duty. I’m ovulated to do so, to say so and I want to do so because I love them. I really love them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things I Hate About Motherhood

crazy

I love being a mom. Not that I’m really good at it, but I like it. I like my kids, and they give me a lot of laughs and joy. Yet, there are a few things I hate about motherhood that are pretty typical, but was ignorant of when I started the journey. I’m not talking about the labor and delivery, even though that was challenging or even the sleepless nights, what I am talking about are events further down the parenting road.

Fighting

Probably number one on the list is fighting among the kids. They fought when they were little too. I was happy to move into a three bedroom house, then I had enough corners to put them all in.

A characteristic that doesn’t particularly bother me about one kid wreaks havoc on another. Then it becomes a bickerfest. And you’re mad at both, even the whiner. Sometimes just playful banter among them can turn on a dime. My college roommate shared some wisdom from her mother, “Laughing turns to crying!” So true. I hope as they get older, they will learn to be patient with each other. I’m being patient waiting.

Guilt

I don’t think there is any parent that doesn’t feel guilty about how they’ve raised their children. Folks say, “You did the best you could.” Well, not really. I did try, I tried hard. But I don’t think I did my best, I could’ve done better, but I didn’t. But I tried. I get an A for effort. We’ll see how the Lord grades me later on.

Navigating through the teenage years, I’ve had to acquire a skin of armor against the guilt trips from the kids. Kids can make you feel guilty almost as bad as parents or the church. But I’ve come to an age where I stand by my decisions and am courageous defending them. Hopefully, the kids will appreciate the good things.

Letting Go

I didn’t think it would be so hard when the kids flew the nest. Even when the first one left and there were still at least nine in the house, sometimes we had extras, I missed that one.  Each time a child moved on, I was so sad. I worried whether they could make it out in that big bad world. But, they ended up doing OK.

I feel bad for my youngest ones. You see the older ones just had to get use to these  new people coming into the family when the little ones were born; but, the little ones have to watch their siblings leave them. Siblings that they became close to, siblings who were their best friends. I knew it was sad for me, I only realized lately how sad it is for them too.

Aside from the things I hate about Motherhood, the things I love truly outweigh these difficulties. Of all the things I’ve learned while mothering, learning to love and be loved is foremost the best thing.

Babysitter Mode

babysitter

When I came home from a long day at work today, I was hungry and wanted to cook something up; but the stove top blew a circuit. So I hopped in the car with a couple (TWO) kids. It wasn’t long into the bickerfest that I reminisced about the days when all the kids were home and chaos reigned. I had to come up with some coping skills.

Back in those days when all ten were under the same roof, and there was another parent around, I created a mental device to insure my sanity. I called it Babysitter Mode. When there would be wars on multiple fronts, meals to try to prepare, laundry to diminish (because, as you know, it never ends), chaos to calm all with approximately three hours of sleep, I was about to blow a circuit or two myself. Other mothers told me stories of how they coped with their many kids. One locked herself in a bathroom til Dad came home. I know my mom’s generation had their coping skills too, and I think drinking was involved.

So, in order to keep my head and sanity, I created Babysitter Mode. When things got out of hand and I didn’t have the stamina to deal with it all, I switched to Babysitter Mode, and my primary task was keeping the children from killing each other. Period. I was no longer in Mommy Mode, Good Mother Mode or even Bad Mother Mode, I was just the sitter. No dishes, some snacks, definitely no laundry. I was working until the other parent came home.

There are certain rules during Babysitter Mode.

  1. Questions are limited to one per kid. There is a kid who can shoot off two dozen questions from the house to Dollar Tree, the distance of, say, one mile. Absolutely forbidden in Babysitter Mode. If their questions exceeded this limit, the babysitter gently replies, “Ask your father when he gets home.”
  2. Sorry, but the babysitter will not read any books to the children. Although innocent enough, she has learned that this idea will inevitably create another skirmish when a book is not agreed upon.
  3. Children can watch whatever they want on TV. Since at this time, there wasn’t cable, there weren’t many choices. A VHS tape of general interest is usually successful.
  4. Older children may play any video game except Super Smash Brothers since the brothers often confuse the game with reality.
  5. The babysitter does not help with homework.
  6. The babysitter does not give any rides.
  7. Once the peace has been established, the babysitter may find a quiet corner and read a book of her choice.
  8. The babysitter will only bathe the children if they are considerably dirty.
  9. Older children are encouraged to go to their friends’ houses, but friends are not allowed over.
  10. The babysitter will refer all conflict resolutions to the father which usually ends the conflict right there and then.
  11. The babysitter will refer to the clock when asked “What time is it?”
  12. The babysitter will not spell a word for anyone.

I have found Babysitter Mode to be a successful coping device when things use to get out of hand. I chuckled tonight as I remembered the days of Babysitter Mode. Though things have quieted down a lot with only four kids at home, I may still switch to Babysitter Mode just for a moment alone with a book.

I Heart Erma

Erma-BombeckNext week is Erma Bombeck’s birthday. She would be 86 if she were alive today. When I tell folks I write a column, they ask what kind. I say, kinda like Erma Bombeck’s. Some folks immediately know who I am talking about, but some don’t know who she was. This Valentine’s Day I will attempt to pay tribute to the woman whose typewriter ribbon I am not worthy to change, who inadvertently taught me how to write, how to laugh, how to parent and how to appreciate what was most important in life.

If you want a glimpse into the life of an ordinary American housewife in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, crack open one of her many books. She covered it all: the mystery of the lost sock, leftovers, teenagers and growing old. The ‘60’s were hard times, families were in crisis, it was the time of the generation gap, and this woman stood in that gap and managed to appreciate the next generation with all of their quirks and hang-ups. Our mothers and grandmothers read Erma Bombeck, related to Erma Bombeck and appreciated that some woman out there was writing about their experiences which on a bad day seemed so insignificant.

Erma was prolific. At its height, her column, “At Wit’s End”, was running three times a week in 900 newspapers around the country. Her column ran from 1965 to 1996, the year of her premature death. She wrote 15 books, many of them best sellers. She appeared on Good Morning America and other television shows.

Her humor is legendary, but many of her columns were poignant. In Motherhood – The Second Oldest Profession, there is a chapter titled “Everybody Else’s Mother”. She wrote about that age when your kids compare you to Everybody Else’s Mother. Someone is always doing something different which your kid prefers. But in the end she wrote:

Everybody else’s mother is very real and for a few years she’s a formidable opponent to mothers everywhere. Then one day she disappears. In her place is ninety pounds (give or take) of rebellion and independence, engaging in verbal combat, saying for themselves what Everybody Else’s Mother used to say for them. (pg. 27)

Unfortunately, I was that kid. I used “Everybody else’s parent” all the time. I hope my mom got some comfort from Erma’s words. My kids not so much, but I am a veteran now of “verbal combat”.

Perhaps her most popular piece that flies around the Internet is “If I Had My Life to Live Over”.  Although Erma wrote it, she did not write it when she was dying of cancer, but she wrote it in 1979. I have come to appreciate this last part of the column:

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it… live it… and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who DO love us.

I know I read her columns before I had kids, but it was after I became a mother that I really enjoyed her work. With so many kids literally climbing the walls when I was home, when times were very difficult and I did not think I was going to make it, this small paragraph from the end of her book, also titled “At Wit’s End”, carried me through. When asked why she wrote her book, she cited many reasons, but being inspired by authoress Faith Baldwin, she pins it down:

To be honest, however, I will have to admit that I wrote the book for the original model — the one who was overkidsed, underpatienced, with four years of college and chapped hands all year around. I knew if I didn’t follow Faith’s advice and laugh a little at myself, then I would surely cry.

These few lines helped me in that when I wanted to cry over my circumstances, instead I picked up her books and laughed, but I cried too, and I laughed and cried at the same time. You see, so many of us who are raising kids or caring for others feel totally overlooked and invisible. Erma, while just talking about her own experiences, shined a light on all of us who take care of others, whether we are moms, dads, caregivers, teachers, etc. She appreciated what she did and it spilled over to all of us. She wrote a column about Edith Bunker. Edith Bunker was the longsuffering wife of that loud mouth Archie from All in the Family. Erma was sad that there were few Edith Bunkers in the world – few folks who listen, who look you in the eyes, who care about what you are saying instead of thinking of what to say next, someone who really hears. I don’t know if Erma was that much like Edith Bunker, I can’t see her taking too much of Archie’s crap, but I do think she listened and was attentive to what her readers wanted.

Thank you, Erma, for all you did. I agree with your sentiment to your kids in the dedication in Aunt Erma’s Cope Book, “If I blow it raising them…nothing else I do will matter very much.” I think most of us raising kids would agree.

http://pacifica.patch.com/articles/i-erma