The Dreaded Hat I Wear Today

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Over the years, I have worn many different hats in the working world. I was 12 years old when I took on my very first job as a babysitter. I moved on up through the ranks over the course of middle and high school- as a Mother’s Helper over summer vacation to part-time live-in Nanny. One year, I think I was in 8th grade at the time, I had so many clients I was balancing at once, all of whom needed my services on New Year’s Eve, that I ended up turning my living room into a temporary overnight daycare with the help of my best friend. Eight families worth of kids and the ultimate sleepover we provided them with earned us just under $400. Each!

When I turned 16 and got my license, my father and stepmother laid down the law in a manner that made sure I would continue to be a hard worker in life. They were sticklers about ensuring that I would always earn my keep because there are no free rides in life without a trust fund. And I certainly was not a trust fund baby, nor were they. In order to have unlimited access to my recently deceased grandfather’s almost decade old, teal-colored 1990 Ford Astro minivan- complete with a wheelchair lift installed in the trunk- I had to work for their in-home small business. A Security Guard service, of all things. (Makes sense, if you realize my father was also a police officer.) For the next four years, even after receiving my own first (gently used, lol.) vehicle as a graduation gift from my mother and stepfather, I dutifully fulfilled my commitment in exchange for free gas and full-coverage insurance. My job was to drive a 25-mile long circuit around a neighboring city at the ass crack of dawn and again at dusk to unlock and lock the gates for the 16 different parks they have for community use so no cars could be in the parking lot after hours. It was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever had because it was actually a lot of fun, though it took a bit to get used to getting up before the sun every day. Oh, the stories I could tell you of my adventures, but that’s not what the subject of this piece is supposed to be about.

Of course, since I was only being compensated by my parents for the gas and what not, I needed cash in my pocket to live off of. At this point, I was getting too old for watching other kids at the same times during the weekend that my friends were out partying, so I found a real job which would give me a real paycheck. At the local Bingo Hall. I ran the concession stand, providing hundreds of ornery and intolerant old ladies with coffee, popcorn, hot dogs, and candy. Again, I could tell you some hilarious stories about working there. It was another of the greatest jobs I ever had. I was heartbroken when the building was bought out by the neighboring car dealership and closed down for good.

After that was my job as a cashier at an upscale Fruit Market and Deli. Most teens and young adults in my community have worked there at some time or another and have many horror stories about how awful it was for them. I guess I’m lucky, because I loved it there, even though it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the other jobs I had had. It didn’t last more than a year before my college schedule of classes became a conflict with my scheduled shifts and the bosses wouldn’t budge an inch to work it out with me. Onto the beloved local deli-based diner as a hostess and carry-out girl. The owner was a dick, but alas, I loved that job, too. Eventually, I became pregnant with my oldest and couldn’t keep up the pace and found a position with my friend’s home daycare where I could bring my baby to work with me and focus on finishing my schooling.

It was right after the birth of my second son, one year and a day after his big brother’s arrival, that I finally got my certificate and passed the exam to become a Health Unit Coordinator. I was hired into one of the 3 major hospital corporations in our area, working the Labor and Delivery/Post-Partum/NICU/Pediatrics circuit. A Health Unit Coordinator is just an extra fancy term for the person who is in charge of the Nurse’s Stations and does all of the behind the scenes work with decoding patient charts and the doctor’s orders within, procedure scheduling, and admission/discharge paperwork. They are the backbone which keeps the nurses and physicians from having nervous breakdowns. Again, this was an amazing job full of excitement and good memories made. Unfortunately, I was hired in on a contingency basis, so after 2 years without being offered a permanent position with benefits, I had to make the choice to leave for another of the 3 hospital chains who would give me the job security I needed for my growing family. I loved that job, too. After finding out I was pregnant with my fourth child, though, my husband and I decided it was more practical for me to become a stay-at-home mom. So I did.

Almost 6 years later, I’ve yet to return to the working world again. So, if I have enjoyed all the jobs I’ve held over the years as much as I have, what could possibly be the worst job I’ve ever had?

The one I’m doing now… as a SAHM.

It sucks for me. I’m not a Pinterest kinda mom, not in the least. Nor am I well-organized, patient, or calm. I’m a blubbering hot mess of a woman and dedicating every waking breath I take to four tiny humans who push my every button, test my resolve constantly, and fire demands at me faster than my brain can process the whine, is just not fun for me. I’m eagerly counting down the days until the littlest of all begins kindergarten this coming fall so I can go back to work without exorbitant daycare costs rendering my income useless. Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my tribe of mini-me’s more than anything, but I don’t have what it takes to spend my entire day chasing, hovering, teaching, and disciplining without any adult interactions to stimulate my crazy brain and relieve the boredom of endless monotony. I need to be more than just a Mom.

 

I have 197 days to go as of today…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject was “ What’s the worst job you’ve ever had. Why?”.  It was submitted by http://www.southernbellecharm.com.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy  

Spatulas on Parade 

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 

The Lieber Family Blog 

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo 

Simply Shannon  

The Bergham Chronicles

Confessions of a part time working mom

Not That Sarah Michelle 

Southern Belle Charm  

When I Grow Up 

Climaxed

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Lunch or Starve

Say all you want about me, but I don’t give my children a choice –  they have to buy school lunch every day. The new government-instituted nutritional requirements have eliminated the mystery meats and bad carbs, so I’m not concerned about the quality of the food being served in the least. My kids can either get school lunch or starve. I received the old school hot lunches as a kid and survived, so I know mine will, too. In fact, the invaluable knowledge I gained from my experience has helped me transition into adulthood easier than my friends who were spoiled with craft-style lunches made by their moms.

Everything I needed to know about life was on that plastic tray laden with eraser bit macaroni salad and boiled gray hot dogs.

Nothing is fair in this world. Nothing at all. Life gives what it gives and you have very little control over how much or how little you get if you don’t try speaking up. You’re not always successful at getting what you ask for, though. Sometimes you are forced to watch your mortal enemy get the coveted piece of pizza with two pieces of pepperoni while you get the all-crust corner piece, even though you hate the crust. It’s about learning to accept life on life’s terms – appreciate what you have, always work hard, and keep striving to reach your goals, making your dreams a reality.

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Sometimes every option sucks. There are three categories on the menu every day to choose from. Despite an array of choices, there are going to be days not a single thing sounds appetizing and you are going to have to settle for the least offensive to your taste buds. Life is good for that. There will be many times when you’ll find the only choices you have been given are nothing like what you had hoped for. Like the first apartment you have imagined moving into in contrast with the options, you will actually be able to afford when it comes time. Or, how you will expect to find work right out of college in the position you always dreamed of, just to discover your choices are nothing comparable for a multitude of practical reasons you’ll one day understand. You just have to pick the suckiest one and hope for a better circumstance the next go-round. Tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities, so hang in there.

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Someone else will always have it better. And someone else will always have it worse. Just because someone has a fancy looking lunch does not mean they have a happy home. If other kids get free hot lunch due to low-income status, it doesn’t mean their parents don’t love them or work hard to provide. Appearances can be deceiving- the piece of pizza with two pepperonis may be lacking cheese underneath. Life gives you what it wants to for a purpose greater than you could ever begin understanding. You can’t let your story give you room to judge others.

That lunch may not measure up to those handcrafted, creative masterpieces, but the option is still better than having no food at all. Enjoy what you have.

Step out of your comfort zone. Waiting in line, making a choice, placing the order, carrying the tray through the crowd, and finding your seat in the cafeteria is a daunting task for some. Whether they are shy, soft-spoken, easily distracted, or indecisive, the daily routine is helping them break out of their shells, one platter of rigatoni with meat sauce at a time. Without a trusted adult, like Mom, Nana, the principal, or a favorite teacher walking you through the process, you’re coerced into gaining independence. From speaking up to classmates who try to cut in line to making yourself heard over wanting a larger portion as you order to excusing your way through the chaos to your assigned seat, you are paving your own course in life. The opportunity often arises to try new foods, as well. Even if you find the food leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can still taste the personal growth. The school lunch experience is almost as valuable as the education, itself. Outside the box of comfort is where all the good stuff happens in life and your true potential lurks in wait.

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Premium costs extra. Just like the real world, all the top-quality, highly coveted items from the snack cart are going to cost a little extra. ‘Tis price you pay for wanting the good things in life. You’ll have to work for what you want because nothing is ever truly free- even if it costs nothing monetarily. Your time, your dedication, your strength, your talents, your joy, your health…the list goes on and on. Only you can determine if the cost is worth the price to be paid and the work that will need to be done to achieve the prize you desire. I can promise you, though, hard work will always be worth it. Then, you can afford all the bags of chips, granola bars, popcorn, cotton candy, and novelty ice-cream your little heart desires. If not, you have no room to envy the kids who do.

My oldest is in sixth grade and has never expressed a desire to have a bag lunch. He’s responsible, outspoken, and driven to excel at anything he sets his mind to. I can’t help but attribute some of this to the lessons he has learned from getting school lunch; especially since his younger siblings are heading in the same direction. If you had any doubts that I’m the meanest mom in the world, I am sure I only reaffirmed you were wrong by now. School lunches are the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll be your Bento box problem one day when Junior grows up expecting his life to be balanced on a silver tray held by someone else while he dictates from his high horse.

Raising Kids Between The Margins

There is a wall between my children and I. A barrier built just to keep their father and I out. None of us intentionally created it- it just sorta happened slowly over time. Years worth of empty promises, broken hearts, and false hope have led the very children we gave life to to mistrust us in a great way. They detest our word being given on anything, knowing good and well that we rarely follow through.

It tears me up to see that this curse of failure I live with has affected the foundation of our familial relationships. If there was a way to take it all back and do differently by them, I would. They haven’t done anything to deserve the hand life has dealt them. Not at all. They are all great kids, but the fact of the matter is that they are suffering for their parents’ mistakes. They feel the trickle down for all of the consequences we have to face for what we have done over the course of our own lives. It is beyond the point of not fair for them.

Seeing the looks on their faces every time we have to break the bad news that this, that, or the other thing cannot go on as planned, is like being stabbed in the back with the sharpest knife known to man. It brings me to my knees.    

                                                    These kids are supposed to be able to count on, rely on, their parents. Not be disappointed by them, continuously.

It’s one of those cases where I wish I had known what my future would hold way back when my husband and I were young, stupid, and reckless. Now I’m helpless to change the direction my life took all those years ago; and my kids are helpless to change the state of misery living like this has caused for them just yet. Struggling on the fine line between low and middle classes, our family gets the short end of each stick. We get no assistance because we make just a few hundred too much, but we cannot afford anything outside the basic bills. All because we were too selfish and self-centered to plan for the rest of our lives before and after marriage; before and after making a family.

Not a day goes by that some need or necessity is asked for that we have to put off until it cannot be put off any longer. Shoes are worn until toes come through the tips, bikes are left to rot because they simply need a new inner tube. We use bath towels for everything because paper towel and sponges cost too much. We have piles of dirty laundry because we can only budget in 5 loads a week, which ain’t much considering we are a family of 6 who use towels for everything. There is no eating out, not even for fast food. No family vacations, no trips to bounce zones, Chuck E. Cheese, or movie theatres. There are no sports teams with weekly practices and saturday morning games. No dance lessons. Every answer is a “maybe later” or a flat out “no”.

The kids hold it against us. Coming from families way more well-to-do on both sides plus the influence of YouTube, our kids have inside looks into the lives of other families across the globe who live above our means. There is no hiding what they are missing out on in this family. These kids have to listened to the “never enough” talk so much that they hesitate to even tell us when they need things and rarely make mention of wants. Walking on eggshells so young, in order to keep the peace and stress in our family to a minimum; it shouldn’t be this way at all. They deserve a real childhood full of freedom and innocence from the struggles of the adult world.

My kids deserve to enjoy all the luxuries childhood brings.

We don’t even have a reliable vehicle if we actually found a little wiggle room in our budget every now and again. Right now, in fact, it’s sitting in our driveway waiting until we can save enough to pay for the new wire harness and ti-rod that it needs first and foremost. There’s another dozen or so issues, but those won’t affect the way the minivan runs just yet, so they have to wait. Wait until the day they do cause serious problems and leave us stranded once more, that is.

Living between the income margins is tough living. It isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Love overcomes all is such bullshit. If it were enough, my kids wouldn’t feel so ashamed to be part of this family. They certainly would find it in their hearts to be more comfortable being themselves around us. The kids wouldn’t feel the financial stress radiating from us. The love would be worth more to everyone than our outward appearances and material belongings. In this day and age of bigger is better and disposable materialism, it is impossible to convince my babies that less is more.

Disappointment will forever be all they know until the day they are old enough to take control of their own lives – responsibly. If there is one hope from this seemingly purgatory I  knowingly have to raise them in, it is that my children take the disdain they’re  harboring and rise above in ways their father and I never could. The future holds for them everything we, as parents, have failed miserably to overcome themselves. I cannot wait to see them make life everything they always wanted and own it proudly. Then I’ll be able to rest assuredly, that this agonizing struggle to live was not all for naught. Until then, between the margins we remain.

 

UYW – June. Losing Out On Grandparents

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Whatever happened to the good ol’ days, when grandparents actually embraced their roles? When grannies were as warm and plump as their freshly baked cookies and hugged you with an embrace so mighty you knew things would always be okay. When poppa’s were full of tales and legends to be told while perched upon his bouncing knee. There was a strong sense of pride found in the continuance of another generation that just isn’t there anymore. Seriously. Grandparents of today are nothing like they used to be.         

When I was a kid, there was still a magical quality about those people we knew to be our parents’ parents. They were mysterious and familiar all at once. I felt loved and wanted when they were around in a way my own loving parents couldn’t fulfill. Having grandparents to dote on me was the best feeling in the world. At the same time, I knew they were no-nonsense people who were to be respected much more than my own folks. My friends would testify that it was all the same way with them, as well. They knew that when it came time see them, it was going to be great.

We were able to just be kids when our grandparents were with us. They put forth an effort to come and see us as often as possible and have us over even more, giving our parents plenty of time for themselves. They played cards with us, teaching us how to play poker to our parents’ dismay, letting us gamble with peanuts and M&M’s. They taught us how to bargain, how to cook, how to fish, how to pray, and how to stand strong in the face of adversity. How to do things better. They even lent a helping hand to their kids outside of occupying their grandbabies; cleaning house, getting the groceries, and doing household repairs. Grandparents welcomed their roles as head of the family.   

Then my generation went and started having kids.

It was after I had become a mother for the second time that I began to see how much time had changed things. At first, I thought maybe it was just me. My parents and I had never been particularly close. Then I began looking at my friends’ families and saw the same thing I was experiencing within my own extended family. The old-fashioned values beheld by the role of grandparent had ceased to exist. This generation of grandparents have left behind the butter soft appearance of older age in turn for the look of chasing youthfulness. In doing so, they have let go of the traditional roles grandparents once played. They no longer offer their unconditional services to their children, no longer find purpose in rearing the next generation of the family tree. Where they once could be found donning an apron or coveralls, they can now be found dressed to impress out on the town or the golf course.

The sense of responsibility for the continuance of an upstanding reputation carrying on the family name seems not to matter any longer. The elders of the family are using their retirement solely for personal gain. Everything else- extended family included- are after thoughts. I realized I was lucky my parents would even return my call and talk to their grandbabies for a moment. They had no desire to bake goodies with their namesakes, teach them how to run game with a smirkless face, or keep them overnight. They do not want to spend any more time being responsible for anything but fun. Unlike their parents before them, they seem to have had enough of giving up their time for everyone else. This generation of grandparents do not find the role of grandparent fulfilling or satisfying.

What they don’t seem to take into consideration is how much the kids are losing out on. While they are off gallivanting around as if they are twenty-one again, their grandkids are at home absorbing the culture that says they need to act that age, long before they are grown. Mom and Dad are left scrambling to balance everything on their own without the wisdom of someone who’s been down the same road to step in and show them the way. Marriages are struggling harder than ever with the lack of experienced guidance stepping in for support and giving them an opportunity to get away every now and again. The unity and loyalty of the family unit is fading fast. Children need their grandparents.

 

***Today’s post was a writing challenge*** This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

Your words are:

seriously ~ groceries ~ butter ~ better ~ call ~ return

They were submitted by: Baking In A Tornado  

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        

Southern Belle Charm                                                

Not That Sarah Michelle                                  

Spatulas on Parade                                          

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver   

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                

My Brain on Kids                                

The Bergham Chronicles                     

Confessions of a part time working mom        

Climaxed                                         

 

You Might As Well Be A Gorilla – When The Village Fails Its Parents

The recent incident at the Cincinnati Zoo where a young male gorilla was dispatched without care for interacting with an unharmed child after it fell into the exhibit has gotten many people into an uproar. Most of the raging controversy stems from whether or not the gorilla should have been shot dead or not. There is, however, a whole onslaught of pandemonium rising over the blame of the parents for allowing such a tragic, and deadly for the young, endangered gorilla, experience from taking place. Everyone thinks they are the worst parents now. They should be punished for neglect. They are to blame. They should have been vigilant over their child and none of this should have happened. The gorilla would still be alive if it weren’t for their inattentiveness.

But it is NOT their fault. Not alone, at least.

Only in a perfect world could it ever be remotely logical to hold those parents solely responsible. If blame must be placed and anyone needs to be held accountable, it is the entire community as a whole. Society, if you will. Hundreds of people were in that zoo. All of them congregating in the same place, yet completely unaware of one another. A place designed for families, nonetheless. The majority of these visitors were probably families with kids in tow. Everybody was only concerned about themselves, paying no heed to anything going on around them that wasn’t part of the animal attractions they were there for. All those people mingling in each other’s personal space, coming from the same common  ground as parents making memories with their children, and not one felt any sense of unity in being there together; lost in their own worlds. Where were any one of those people who bore witness to the terrifying events that occurred as the child made it’s way through not one, but two barricades before falling two-stories down into a moat of water?

OH, YEAH. That’s right. They were standing right there lost in their own memory makings with those they belong to and the animals they came to see, with no care for anyone else around.

None of the other life around them was worth their attention for a split second. Not that all the hundreds of people that were there that day were all at that one gorilla exhibit simultaneously, but I’ll be damned if there was at least one adult standing there, the news reports account at least a dozen it seems. Either way, each and every one of those people could have prevented this entire ordeal from happening. They were unaware as much as the parents who weren’t even as close, as the child had ran off a bit. As children do. It happens to the very best of parents. Grandparents. Nannies. Babysitters.

In fact, my husband and I accompanied our four year old to the zoo for a preschool field trip. She is a very curious, strong-willed, and free-spirited child who fears nothing and embraces her independence. She ran off on us no less than a half dozen times. Once while we were checking with staff about an animal who looked by all means dead in the exhibit (thankfully, the weirdos just sleep that way and it is very hard to see them breathing, even that close up). At this age, impulse control is worse than ever because the littles have gotten a taste of the existential freedoms life outside of Mom and Dad’s protective arms hold. Older toddlers and young preschoolers are hardwired for such inquisitivity to foster learning development. You may as well have a pet rodent at this stage – 3- and 4-year olds are lightening quick, rather sneaky, good at blending in, focus-driven yet simultaneously indecisive, and extremely eager to test all boundaries and obstacles, especially when they have a mission in mind needing to be accomplished. They will give their parents hell all in the name of growing up. There is no way to keep them still and tame their wanderlust, short of putting them on a leash or strapping them down to something they cannot unbuckle on their own; revoking the freedom they treasure as greatly as the love of their parents and nurtures their love of knowledge and discovery. (Good luck enjoying your family adventure after doing as much, too, because you’ll find the mood of your preschooler as constricted as they are while physically under restraint – much like the very animals they came to see.)

People wouldn’t need to worry about incidences like this one if society still held any value in the village raising the child. We could have faith that in the struggle to keep up with someone younger, prettier, and lighter on their feet all while trying to assert the boundaries and self-control you are working to instill in them, you know there is the support of the community surrounding you to back you up. To step in if it becomes apparent your child could be in serious danger. To offer you a hand when you look worn out or confused about how to handle a situation. To be a second of set of eyes, hands, and legs always present in a crowd. Not in a “you’re doing it wrong and someone needs to teach you to parent right” perspective, but in a “been there, done/doing that and we’re all just trying to figure it out and do what is best for our own families” way. It takes more than ten seconds to climb through two barriers before falling into harm’s path.

If we cared for humanity a little more and our outward appearances and possessions a little less, someone would have had eyes on that child as it slipped away.

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We are all to blame for failing not only the child, but the child’s parents and the gorilla, too, in this situation. There’s no two ways about it.

And while we’re casting the blame around instead of taking the high road of compassion, let’s bring up the fact that every single one of those bystanders who allowed the child past them unnoticed, did nothing to protect anyone but their own shared DNA by ignoring the going ons around them. Only when it was too late did anyone decide they finally wanted to get involved. By screaming. Running and panicking, like a herd of antelope with hyenas biting on their heels; no logic or reason to their actions at all, just sheer panic. Definitely not very conducive to saving the life of a child who’s fallen in the home of a scared and confused wild animal of powerful force. Or the poor animal wondering why this is all happening to his typically calm, quiet environment. Panicking is something untamed, uneducated animals do. Not humans who can think conscious thoughts and rationalize in a situation using the higher intelligence we were gifted with, being at the top of the animal kingdom and all. It didn’t take a genius to know the zoo staff would handle the crisis and any unusual noise and ruckus could make the situation go from bad to worse. Yeah, it was probably scary sight to see. There’s no denying that. Yet, here people are, verbally beating down a mother for her child’s lack of impulse control while overlooking the fact that those bystanders couldn’t even control their own impulse to freak the freak out – something that accomplished nothing more than riling up the gorilla more than it already was with the surprise package that dropped over the side of its enclosure.

Shit happens. That’s why humans are social creatures. We live in communities and build families so we can support one another. Lend help, lift each other up, and stand behind others so they can accomplish, succeed, and overcome all that life throws in the way. Trashing parents for something purely accidental, no matter how tragic the event actually was, just proves how far we have come away from our humanity, the very thing defining us above all other species. We are receding back towards the ways of our not-so distant cousins – those same overly territorial gorillas who have no problems killing others of their own kind for not being of the same bloodline. Selling each other out for a moment of superiority is something expected from an animal with no empathy or compassion, not a human being.

It is way beyond time to bring back the village mentality. Stop throwing around blame and looking to judge others for faults and failures we are all equally susceptible to. Unless, of course, we prefer to be apes again – because that is all we are doing when casting stones for the sake of a temporary sense of power – acting like the very animals we cage in the zoo. Might as well just be a gorilla then.

Resenting Motherhood

 

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I don’t want to be a mom anymore. I’m done. My nerves are shot, my fuses are short-circuiting, and my brain has backfired on cold, stale coffee for the very last time. The lone spark plug of sanity keeping me out of the loony bin has finally fizzled out. The mounting pressure has become too much for me to bear another tantrum-filled moment of motherhood. This mom is burnt the fuck out.

Sorry but I’m not sorry for admitting aloud how I feel. The little voice in the back of my head chants, “run away and save yourself”, on loop like a Scientology auditor during an audit session. Thoughts of being childless again and only responsible for my own self follows me around like, well…ughm…like my children; constantly tempting me to give in to its illicit demand. For Christ’s sake – I need space to breathe, too, dammit. Some time alone to grow as an individual would be lovely. Maybe even remember how to take care of myself again, because I am pretty sure after my billionth ass wiping, it all went out the window.

Four children, a rollercoaster marriage with The Right Guy (after The Wrong One gave the genetic data sample, which led me to motherhood in the first place), and the lack of familial support over the past twelve years has led me here. The point in my life where I resent my role as a mother.

 

Brilliantly, I managed to trash the infinite amount of unexploited potential my future still held in a matter of five, sweaty, skin-slapping, fluid-swapping, orgasmic minutes. With that guy who had no future potential once the party phase was over. Between his lack of work ethic and love of getting high, he was the farthest thing from husband and father material I would have looked for – if I had actually been looking to start that chapter in my life. Alas, I was not. This was back before the medical field thought women should be aware of the correlation between taking prescribed antibiotics and birth control medication failure. The newly embraced freedom from the unnecessarily prolonged hampering of my youth was lost forever in the bypassing of a condom, under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, at 4:26 a.m. that 16th of December. Twelve loooong and painful years ago. We had trusted in The Pill far too much.

That decision cost me everything.

Now, here I am at my fucking breaking point; being crushed under the weight of pure exhaustion and the endless amount of bullshit responsibility dumped on me. I was far from ready for it all and the struggle to keep my head on straight has become far too real. I desperately need a timeout from motherhood. From the snot, poop, vomit, farts, and spit. I want to sleep one whole night without smelling stale piss emanating from my mattress. Or being pissed on. For the love of all things holy and sacred – I just want a whole damn night’s sleep without those bratty hoodlums hijacking even the little voice of control freak level paranoia worries in the back of my head. Deciphering crashes at random while I keep one eye open for uncoordinated sleepwalkers cannot possibly be considered a good night’s sleep, in the first place. Even if my bed remains dry. I cannot escape my children, no matter how badly I need to. They are always on my heels, crawling up my ass, attached to my hip, and in my face with their milk breath (which was no longer so sweet-smelling after their first birthdays came and went).

I created the greatest Catch-22 of all time with the choices I made and I cannot help but be resentful for it. Having kids before I was fully grown and matured forced my hand to play along with the expectations of society – becoming another nuclear family stereotype in order to rectify my societal disgrace. In my depraved naivety at twenty-one, I wholeheartedly believed the fantasy happily ever after with The Right Guy would go just as I had daydreamed it to be. I have to stop and laugh at myself, now, for once thinking such girlish delusions. The Right Guy is not perfect, by any means; his own flaws will be so disenchanting at times, life can seem even harder than it needs to be. He certainly was not responsible for controlling what life handed me… and the decisions I made thereafter, either. What one brings into a marriage and supply the family dynamic with, is exactly what one will get out of it. I had to learn that fact the hard way. My struggle to grow up overnight has created the storm threatening to sink this ship that is motherhood and marriage rolled into one. My husband is already stretching himself too thin in order to allow me the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mom. It is not his duty to get a grip on my reality for me.

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Don’t get me wrong. I love my children more than life, itself. They amaze me with their continuously blossoming personalities, playful antics, and kind-hearted compassion for others. I am just so Goddamned sick of the ear-piercing whines, the sibling rivalry, the unnecessary defiance over the smallest of tasks, and the never-ending demands for everything under the sun when my hands are full and my back is breaking. Disgusted by the dirty faces, sticky hands, shitty pants, and broken record tattle-tales over petty nonsense. Motherhood has pushed every nerve I have left. OKAY!- the only nerve I have left. There is no time allotted for my self-preservation, whatsoever. I cannot even take a shit or shower alone. This mom is fresh out of fucks to give and needs an escape. STAT. Reinforcements never showed up to give her the slightest reprieve to catch her breath.

So, if you happen to see some strange woman with her dirty, disheveled hair in her fists, screeching something along the lines of “They’re coming! They found me! Hide me! Better yet, just shoot me and put me outta my misery…pretty please with a cherry on top,” don’t be alarmed. It’s just me. In the throes of a nervous breakdown, trying to save myself from those relentless children of mine who have flipped turned upside down the life I had dreamt of for myself. At least I have enough maturity and wisdom under my belt, now, to know I won’t feel this way forever. The resentment will pass, as with everything else life throws at me. Even my children.

One day, when they’ve all flown the coop and can no longer torture my sanity with pulsing migraines and bad attitudes galore, I will look back on this and resent ever feeling such resentment – for deep down under the grit of the daily grind, I know I painstakingly built this tiring, but ever-so fulfilling life out of the unconditional love and adoring affections I could never live without now. Even if it makes a lovely, albeit temporary, daydream.

Park It Elsewhere – The School Drop Off Dilemma

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Mornings are always hectic when there’s children involved. Those cereal munchers have no respect for time. They dilly dally like little squirrels bouncing from one cracked acorn shell to the next, hoping to find a meaty one. Only, in this case, it’s a missing shoe that is the prize. We pack ourselves into the minivan like a tin of sardines. I am more than ready to celebrate the hoodlums departure at the institution of education six blocks away.

Bad enough that it takes fifteen long minutes to get through the four-way stop and the formidable crossing guard between us and the school, but when I get around the corner just to see the drop off zone full of parked cars, my blood begins to boil. The urge to start throat chopping everyone in my sight grows with every brake light in my way that can’t pull in because of these idiots.

I do not know what makes other parents think it is okay to do this shit without realizing how many of us are scornfully imagining ramming their vehicle right out of the line. It is rude as fuck. Every parent knows damn well this behavior violates the drop off code of conduct. The school asks everyone not to park there, but apparently these parents are so shitacularly special they are exempt from following authoritative requests. (Yet they wonder why Junior keeps getting suspended for bad behavior.)

Our parking lot is located behind the school and is the size of a shoebox, it is restricted. Staff only. The drop off zone is located directly in front of the school for grades 1-5 for a reason. If we cannot let our kids off there, we are forced to let them off down the street, past school property and into the neighborhood, and walk the block by themselves. Not all of us are capable of walking with them for many reasons, which is why we want to use the drop off zone as it was intended. Some parents are handicapped or have a chronic illness which physically prohibits them from making the trek down to the building which is why they drive. Some parents have to go directly to work… Or drop other siblings off at their schools or daycare… Or be anywhere besides this should-be routine eviction of the demon spawn for the mandatory brain stretching.

Then there are those, like myself, who simply are in a hurry because they have exactly 3.25 hours to spend alone before a child returns home again – shattering the silence and the corresponding fantasies of what it must feel like to have an identity undefined by the role it was named after once more. Damn preschool for not offering an all day program!

Consider, as well, how our kids feel on bad weather days- having to walk the length of a football field in order to get to the schoolyard while your kid gets to sit in a warm, dry car. Less than fifteen feet from the entrance, no less. The only other option we rule followers have is to pull up alongside of you or try to squeeze where some of you have left. It is pure chaos as this unfolds, and it looks more like bumper cars at the county fair than school arrival. Think about how absolutely dangerous it is for everyone else’s children to be darting between double-parked cars trying to push in between and around one another.

You, you selfless assface, are solely responsible for creating this hazardous game of musical vehicles which endangers everyone… except your stinky little brat. Of course!

May I ask while we’re here, what in the balls are you even doing parked there?! C’mon now! You have nothing better to do with your time in the morning than to show up for school a half an hour (or more, sometimes!) before school actually starts? To hang out in a NO parking area, nonetheless? I can think of almost fifty dozen things to do off the top of my frazzled head with the extra time you somehow find yourself with. Hell, you could swing by my place instead and help me finish getting my kids out the door on-time. You obviously have this morning productivity thing down pat – and me, well, I’m still just a beginner. (Might I add that it scares me a little that you do mornings so fucking well?)

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Now, if you are trying spend with your kid, why in God’s name are you doing it at school…in the damn drop-off area!?! Why can’t you go park down the street, if you must sit there with your kids, then you can drive back around to the doors when the bell rings? Take ‘em to the Tim Hortons just out on the main road and enjoy some real conversation over donuts and coffee, for the love of cheese and rice!

I’m pretty sure some of you nitwits are only sticking around because you want to keep an eye on your hooligans once the rest of us begin evicting our uterine trophies so they can play before the bell rings. Our school actually asks for this because it helps the kids transition into their school day better. They provide plenty of safety monitors to watch them on the playground and at the doors for each grade level- both with paid classroom/office aides and with PTA volunteers. Plus, the student safety patrol is there at the doors once they open to make sure kids don’t leave again after they enter the building. There is no need for you to cause a domino effect of problems bringing your children every morning by hanging around. If you cannot trust the school to do its job taking care of your babies, then park your vehicle down the street and go sit on the playground yourself, dammit!

Whatever your reason, please just stop parking in an area where you are not fucking supposed to.

I mean, do you really believe you are above being conscientious of other’s needs and entitled to hog what should be a free flowing drop off zone? Sure seems that way to the rest of us who follow the code. That makes you just as big of a twatwaffle douchemuncher as the evil souls who park in handicapped parking spaces without being disabled or parking in the middle of four parking spaces – as if their car is something extraordinarily priceless.

Get over yourselves already and do the rest of us parents a favor already…

Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way
Move bitch, get out the way
Get out the way bitch, get out the way

There, There…Everything Will Be Just Fine: Failing In School And A Teacher’s Love

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Sitting in a child-sized chair that is forcing my knees to my chest, I resist the urge to get up and walk out. To run away before anyone notices I’m here. I don’t want to be here. This well put together woman with the strong facial features and a warm, inviting smile, wasn’t about to set me at ease as it appeared by the sympathy she wore on her face. I knew what was coming and it was going to sting worse than a slap to the face.

And it did.

It can never be easy for any parent to hear their child is not doing what they are capable of. To know they are just about failing in school. To find out that they are not even trying a bit. Her face didn’t change as the worst words I have never heard spoken about my kid came tumbling out of her mouth. The there, there everything is just fine look on her face made those words even harder to digest. Surely, everything was not just fine if my son wasn’t doing well in school. Something is wrong here! Very, very wrong.

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I don’t know how we got here to this point. Why I am now sitting in this shrunken down seat being patronized for failing in my duties as a mother. I mean… I kinda know how, but not really why. The so-called expert reports say, a love for learning starts in the home. Great readers are made when you make reading a priority from infancy. You lead by example. Your children will come to love what you love. Bullshit. I’m calling bluff on this hooplah, because I wouldn’t be in this brightly lit, child-sized plethora of educational materials and artwork, otherwise. My four kids have owned more books than I have in my entire lifetime, which is a lot because I love to read! My children have been read to consistently since birth. They see both their father and I reading often and learning to do new things through the wonders of the internet. We math in front of them, talk current events, encourage their exploration of nature, mechanics, and mess-making fun. Where did we go oh so wrong then, to have a child who is not only failing school, but one who hates it, too?

Now, I don’t expect the kid to love learning and always want to go to school. I certainly do not expect to raise geniuses who never have difficulty picking up fractions, understanding colloquialisms, or memorizing all fifty states capitol cities. It matters not whether my kid makes it on the honor roll or pulls a straight C- average. As long as he shows up to learn and gives it his all. He has all the tools he needs for success at his disposal, yet he doesn’t use them accordingly. Routines are in place, homework agendas are being strictly monitored, communication lines with his teacher are open, and he has a place to do his schoolwork away from distractions in our home. Our system works well for the other kids in our family; just not him, as I’m finding out now. All I want in this moment is for my son to find his self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning. To stop waging war against the system he still has another eight years left with which he has to stick it out.

He is his own worst enemy, after all, and I can’t help but to think this is all my fault. I know in my heart it is not… But I have to blame somebody, so I blame myself.

Facing the facts of your child having some sort of learning disability or disorder is a hard pill to swallow. When your child’s teacher is telling you, earnestly and sincerely, that he is sabotaging his own self so he cannot absorb anything into his mind, enough must become enough. Action must be taken. There’s no way to deny the transparency of the situation; something is broken wrong dysfunctional not working right inside my son and it needs to be handled with care. STAT. This is my baby we’re talking about here- no matter if he is ten years old already, or not. Any mother knows exactly what I mean here. They will always be our babies. And my baby has come to hate his schoolwork so much because something isn’t writing right in his brain, that he is destroying the learning process for himself.

We have all kinds of appointments and meetings coming up in order to tackle this problem. My emotions are all over the place, wondering how we’re going to get through this; how I’m going to help my son get his mind on track and find his happy place at school again. I know he has it in himself, because he has proven it in years before now.

Something has changed, though, and I beat myself up for not seeing it coming and doing something about it sooner. For most of the conference, I keep my head bowed, for it is beyond impossible to look this teacher in the eye and say what has pained me so much to admit:

“I’m defeated. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how to help the very child I gave life to.”

When I do finally look up, into her eyes, it is after I hear her say to me, “Only a good mother would truly care so much to be as visibly hurt as you are by the situation.” I’m met with the same look as when I came in. The there, there everything is just fine look. Now, though, it is quite comforting. And I understand why. Everything will be just fine in the end. This is isn’t the end of the world, or, even the end of our road. It’s just a fork in the path and the time has come for us to change course. This wonderfully patient and gentle-souled teacher already knew it, before I ever came through the door of her classroom. She had softened the harsh blow into an encouraging push in the right direction for my child and I. We can make this work, no doubt. We can get him right back on track again. My son doesn’t have to be his own worst enemy for a minute longer. We got this! Everything is going to be okay in the end.

As I push my tiny chair back and release myself from its hold on my plump rear, I thank her through the tears in my eyes. She pulls me directly into a hug so warm and comforting. “I know you want to blame yourself,” she says in my ear. “I know you think you’ve failed your son and this is all somehow your fault. But it’s not. And only a great mother would sit here with the tears that tell me so, desperate to break down the situation and fix it in one fall swoop. YOU are that great mother and YOU are the greatest mother your child could ever have to face this situation with. You are amazing. Don’t ever doubt yourself again.”

I can’t promise her I won’t, but I know her words will be there in my heart to set me straight again and again. Because I AM a great mother to one fantastically awesome boy who will have my heart forever. Even if, just temporarily, he is failing school.

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By: Kristina Hammer, aka, The Angrivated Mom