Bad, Mommy! Bad!

I know that theoretically we have control over who can hurt us (I’m referring to verbal assaults, not physical ones), right? Isn’t there a quote to that speaks to that? Ah…..yes. Here it is:

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I really like that quote – I aspire to be that tough, but I find it very hard to control my reactions. I’m not strong that way. I admire those that have thick skin versus my papery thin epidermis. Most of the blame is rooted in my constant quest for perfectionism – the slightest bit of criticism can turn my insides into mush.  I try to act all tough on the outside and then I’m left with swirling thoughts about whatever the criticism was (direct or indirect).  I’ll do better next time. . . Wow, I should have known to do it that way. . . Your right, moms shouldn’t react that way…blah, blah….

Before we go any further, I want to emphatically state that I love all three of my children with everything I have and I would die for them (it sounds really sappy, but it’s the honest truth and must be stated for the record before we proceed).

Okay, today’s criticism that I “consented to” was bestowed upon me by the person that from this point forward will be known as the Self-Righteous One (SRO). SRO exists in one of the Jenni spheres of living. We (me, SRO, and one other inferior being) were discussing how I was “trapped” in the house last week (from Tuesday thru Thursday) with my kiddos – they had three and half days off from school due to Ice Storm 2011 (in hindsight, maybe trapped was a tad strong and I didn’t really feel trapped until the third day).

SRO:  Trapped?  Oh, you’re so funny!  I always LOVED staying at home with my kids when we had days like that….. blah, blah…..additional comments along this vein.

Me (consenting to criticism):  It was hard to get work done.  If I could have played games with them, it would have been easier to be home with them all day.

SRO:  Oh, I didn’t play games all day.  I always had other stuff to do.

Me (slinking away because I didn’t mean to imply that moms that stay home play games all day):  Oh, well, we survived (chuckle chuckle)!

Of course. the critique of my parenting was clear (and had witnesses) –  “What is wrong with you?” “Why don’t you enjoy being with your kids?”

Permission granted – my mind started racing, “What is wrong with me?  Why did I say trapped? Do I really feel trapped? What does that say about me? Am I not embracing motherhood like I should? Do my kids feel that I haven’t embraced motherhood? Do you have to completely give over your life to your kids to be the best mother possible?. 

Then, I started getting mad at myself for letting SRO make me crazy and then I started getting mad at SRO for being such a self-righteous @#$%!  I wish I my brain wouldn’t even register comments like that – like a robot.  I need Eleanor whispering in my ear “Nobody can make you feel like shit unless you let them!” (I’m paraphrasing now)

Moms are the hardest on other moms – why is that? At one of our breakfasts, we were talking about this phenomenon because in the news we had the Tiger Mom and also a post on the Today Show’s Mom Blog by Mayim Bialik (Blossom) about “Attachment Parenting”.  I’m sure everyone has read an article or has seen an interview with the Tiger Mom since she has been out promoting her book.  Attachment parenting (this term is NOT endorsed by those that practice it – I just don’t know what else to call it) may not be familar to you. It wasn’t familiar to me and I learned something new by reading Mayim’s post.

One seems too hard and the other one seems too soft – two ends of the parenting spectrum. They have both hit a nerve (read the comments on Mayim’s post!).

Neither of these styles of parenting seems to fit my personality. So, I guess I will stick with my Control Freak, non-Attachment, Give me Peace (sometimes), Worry Wart style of parenting. So far so good, – no serial killers (however, it may be too early to tell), good grades had by all, polite kids (with some minor attitude flare-ups),  AND all three of them will still be seen in public with us! 

I just need to remember Eleanor 🙂

The Crow-Eater, The 16 Year Old, & The New Car

Well, one of the things that I had ALWAYS  said as a parent that I would NEVER do is buy my kids a car.  Why did I feel the need to make this declaration to my children? 

Well, we live in a fairly affluent suburb (that’s putting it mildly) of a major metropolitan area and we live in an older part of this burb that I lovingly refer to as the “slums.”  Our house is 30 +/- years old and does not resemble a small hotel like a lot of the houses in our area.  I think it is safe to say that quite a few kids in our burb expect cars on their 16th birthdays so I wanted to make sure and squash that dream completely and swiftly before the poor things had a chance to fantasize about their new rides (remember, my kids are under a dictatorship right now).  However, my early edicts about birthday cars have gone unheeded and they still say things like, “When I turn 16, my first car is going to be [insert name of car here].”  It’s hard to suppress the dreams of little munchkins, isn’t it?  When they would utter those ridiculous words, I had to remind them that neither their father nor I got a car on our 16th birthday and they weren’t either!  What was good for us was certainly good for them!  Right!?

When I was growing up (I also grew up in this burb, but we were not of the affluent nature), I shared cars with my parents and sister.  We were a two-car family and there was always one available to drive on the weekends.  Also, I had friends with cars (that they purchased themselves!), so there was abundant transportation available.  It worked out and I didn’t waste too much time wishing for a car of my own.

So, what changed my mind about the additional car? (I was probably more adamant than my husband on the birthday car thing.)  A few things:

1.  We are, in a sense, a one-car family.  My husband’s car is a company car and the kids will not be covered drivers (I was just added last year for emergency purposes!).  The one car, as you all know, is the Lemon/ Minivan/Taxi (pick your poison).   You’re saying, “So, what?!”  Okay, let’s say we just had the minivan available (see pic),  am I going to let her take it out on weekends and turn it into a party wagon? (Can you even turn a Town & Country into a “party wagon”?  I guess that is debatable.)  Not that my daughter is of the Party Girl variety (she really isn’t), but I don’t want her (& her friends) to be tempted.

 

 

 

2. I spend more time in my minivan –  more than anywhere else it seems (it is not voluntarily getting a spa day like the Toyota Sienna Mom – see below).  When would Rachel have a chance to hone her driving skills?  Even after she gets her license (in June), she still can’t help me with carpooling (new drivers can’t have anyone under the age of 18 in the vehicle for 6 months).  We would be constantly vying for the van and I, of course, would win (I mean, I am the Mom!).

 

 

In the environment in which we are raising our kids, it can be difficult to hinder a sense of entitlement (they are surrounded by it).  We really want to raise our children with the sense of the value of  money, with the awareness that the world does NOT revolve around them and with the thought that they should pay it forward.  I felt like I was giving in on the birthday car and I hate giving in!  I mean, I’ve been brainwashing them since Rachel was 10 (Maddie was 7 & Jack was 4) that this was not in their futures.

I discussed my back tracking/crow eating ponderings with the hubby and we both agreed that buying another car made sense for us as a family with three kids, but we made some guidelines to make us (me) feel better regarding the about-face we were making.

1.  It is a 3rd family vehicle and NOT Rachel’s car.  It is a car that we have available for her to borrow.

2.  She will buy her own gas.  We will do regular maintenance on it and pay the insurance on it because it is NOT hers.

3.  She will respect the car and the owners (her parental units) by not trashing it (not that she would, but we need to lay down the rules, man!).

Here is the car that we bought yesterday and picked up today:  

 After driving it around today, I may give her the Party Wagon and take the CRV!  I’m not “rockin’ mom jeans” as the Sienna Mom says.

Jenni said, “I’m NEVER Doing THAT!”

I was talking with my Miss Maddie the other day and I’m not sure how we got on this topic, but it was about the things parents end up doing that (A) we think we will NEVER do – or – (B) think we will NEVER experience  – or – (C) think we will ALWAYS do.

Jenni’s List

 (not in any particular order)

1.  My diaper bag will ALWAYS contain every essential known to babydom:  formula, bottle, water for formula, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, extra pacifier, toys, extra outfit, blanket, etc. – Yep, I know, crazy!  Right? But, as you may recall, my Type A personality likes order and also likes to minimize surprises.  Well, I’m sure all of us, at one point or another, has encountered a deficiency in the diaper bag.  With 3 kids, it did happen more frequently than I wanted, but what are you going to do?

2.  I will NEVER go to work with spit up on my clothes. – I’m sure many of us have left the house all spiffed up unaware of the goo we were wearing.  I distinctly remember going to work (different incidents) with spit up on the back of my blouse and graham cracker fingerprints on the back of my blouse.  Why is it always on the back? Of course, it took another mom in the office to let me in on my outfit embellishments!

3.  I will NEVER wipe snot with my bare hands. – In one of my many office settings of my illustrious careers (before Mike and I were married), a new mom was telling the tale of when she had to wipe snot with her bare hands because there was nothing else available.  Well, when I heard that, I was like, “Why wouldn’t you just have tissues in your purse, diaper bag and car at all times? Duh!”  Well, Every time I have wiped snot from one of kids’ runny noses with my bare hands, the smug thoughts I had about my co-worker float to the surface.  Like an idiot I didn’t always follow my own advice!  I do have to ask , why, as moms, do we feel the need to share that kind of story with anyone, let alone casual, kidless co-workers (are we trying to scare them away from parenthood?)? 

4.  I will NEVER give my kids sweets as a toddler. – Well, Rachel was our first and very much deprived of traditional sweets until she was about 4 probably.  She was my first baby and I followed every guideline to the nth degree.  Now, Maddie, the next in line, was different.  I think that happens with subsequent kids, don’t you think?  We were in Michigan for vacation in July, so that would make Maddie 5 months old.  She had her first frozen popsicle on that vacation (the kind that are liquid first and freeze – our family calls them Ben Baxter pops (long story)).  It was like a drug for her – when one came into her line of vision, she would reach out for it and her whole body would wriggle until you gave her some.  I guess we blew that one!

5.  I will NEVER get peed on or pooped on by my baby. – Yeah, right.  What was I thinking?  That is one of three things babies primarily do – cry, eat, & generate dirty diapers.  One of the girls (she shall go un-named) was 3 mos old and had an explosion in her diaper so big that we had to cut her clothes off!  They were unsalvageable!! It took two of us to manage this explosion – while one of us was extracting her from her clothing (Mike), the other one had to get the bath going (me)!  That was something I definitely couldn’t have anticipated.  Oh, and I eventually had a boy, so, yeah, duh!

6.   I will NEVER let my kid walk around with a pacifier in her mouth at all times – Oh brother!  We blew that one right away with our first child.  We had it clipped to her so she wouldn’t lose it – what the hell were we thinking?!  Getting that thing away from her when she was four was harder than getting an addict to give up cocaine.  We had to wean her off of it slowly.  She could have it for naps and bedtime only, then bedtime only and then nothing at all.  To replace the pacifier, we bought her a Mickey Mouse Playskool glow worm – that went over like a lead balloon!  When we noticed her sleeping, she just substituted the “pacie” with her thumb!!!  Now, what?  It took her dentist to convince her that she was going to ruin her teeth if she kept sucking her thumb – she literally gave it up that night after her appointment.  We were very careful with our other two after that!

7.  I will  NEVER say to my kids, “Because I Told You So!” – When I was kid and my parents said that to me, I promised myself that I would never say that to my kids!  Well, what can I say?  I say IT all of the time!  And, I usually add, “I don’t have to get your buy-in because this is not a democracy!  It is a dictatorship!”.  That’s a new thing that I added to it – I think it adds a certain flair, don’t you?

8.  I will NEVER yell at my kids like my parents did.  I will ALWAYS talk to them in an even tone of voice. – Um, if you’ve read my post “The Mom, the 4th Grader and the ISP” then you know that I have already broken this promise.  I love my kids, but they can bring out “Crazy Mommy” faster than any other human beings on earth!

9.  I will NEVER let my kids get hooked on Barney (he was the hot ticket when Rachel was born).  Well, one of Mike’s “friends” gave us a Barney video for Rachel and then she fell in love.  However, we stubbornly refused to buy her a Barney stuffed animal until she started sleeping with an empty Barney shampoo bottle – his name was Shampoo Barney (it was so pitiful).  Okay, again, not sure how we could have prevented our daughter from falling in love with the nicest dinosaur EVER!  So when the Teletubbies were hot when Maddie was a toddler, we just gave in.  How can you fight the advertising machine?! (I know, don’t let my kids watch TV.  Yeah, right!).

 

10. I will NEVER ……….Well, it would be great if I could think of a 10th one so we would have a Top 10 of sorts, but I can’t.  I think that there were only 9.  Of course, these were only really applicable when we were new parents and the kids were young.  I have to say that Mike and I haven’t really developed any “I will NEVERs” or “I will ALWAYs” for the teen years because we were too busy and too pooped to think straight when they were toddlers to give two hoots about the tween & teen years (they were SO far off)!  I also think it was because the “rules” that we had laid out for ourselves as new parents were blown out of the water as soon as we had kids!  We have definitely learned that we need to be agile, fluid and adaptable when raising children because things rarely go as planned.  Now, we  are flying by the seat of our pants and making it up as we go along  . . . .  Here we go!