Monday, September 10, 2012

Two Precious Little Nuggets

When it comes to parenting, I’m very aware that I don’t have all the answers and I’ve never been one to shy away from asking for help when I need it. Throwing a Big Gulp of ice water in my face? Hmmm, since we’re not allowed to pop them in the nose---not to mention that I have never hit anyone in my life---yeah, no clue! Telling me to “go suck somebody’s &!@#”? After I picked my jaw up off the ground and asked where he heard such talk (“at school”, charming!), again, no clue. And, UGH, the girl drama starts so young these days . . .
          The best, most freeing advice I ever got came from a friend who was a child development specialist and had two very cool grown daughters of her own. An “expert” if ever I knew one (and, believe me, between all the therapists, adoption specialists, psychologists, and psychiatrists I know a lot of them).
When my daughter first came home at 18 months, she was terrified of the car seat. After 2 weeks of cabin fever, not leaving our cul-de-sac, I was climbing the walls. Then my friend, let’s call her Big Sarah, came to visit (and secretly use her Super Child Development Training Skills to check out my newly adopted daughter---who tested beautifully despite her shaky beginning in Haiti). After listening to me moan and groan about being trapped indoors for 14 days, she calmly said, “Sometimes being a parent is boring.” That was exactly what I needed to hear! We’re bombarded with sweet, fleece-lined images and platitudes about being a mother---and those things are clich├ęs for a reason, being a mom is a wonderful, loving, amazing experience---but sometimes it sucks! And when you’ve been cooped up in your cul-de-sac for 2 weeks, it kinda sucks! Hearing those 6 simple words brought out from the dusty, cob-webbed furthest corners of my brain . . . EMOTIONAL HONESTY!
According to expert(s), it’s perfectly okay if I don’t always feel all sunshine and rainbows about motherhood! I’ve never loved anyone, or been loved, like I love my daughter . . . and I never knew what 24/7 really meant until I had kids. Sometimes being a mom is the best thing ever, and sometimes it’s not. Yahoo, I’m free!!! After the expert left, I crammed my ramrod-stiff baby girl into her car seat, screaming and crying (she was screaming and crying too) and proceeded to walk around Fred Meyer like a crazy woman with a huge smile plastered across my face; I had never been sooo happy to grocery shop in my life. Then about halfway to the car on the way out it dawned on me, “oh shit! I have to get her back in, only now the people around me won’t understand and instead will call DHS . . .” Fortunately she popped right into her car seat with no issues at all and our trip to Fred Meyer was a grand success!
The second great piece of advice I got on mothering came from my father. I am the fourth generation of single moms to all girls, so a 7-year-old boy was a complete mystery to me. One day we went to my dad’s house for lunch just after my son had come home to live with us. We were playing in the living room and when Grampa called us in for lunch, I was dumbfounded when my son dove head-first onto the couch’s seat, and proceeded to flip over the back, spraying pillows around the non-child-proofed living room. “Santo! Don’t jump on the couch, those pillows could have . . . ” My dad looked at me like I was a fool and said, “Duh, mom. Why would you walk around a couch, when you can just as easily---and more quickly---flip over it?!” Oh man, I have a lot to learn about parenting a boy.
So, my biggest lessons: Emotional honesty is vital to your sanity---and your parenting. And boys are so much louder, dirtier, and physical than girls.


Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmy god, what happened to my babies and who are those big kids riding on the Kamikaze for the third time?!?  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hangin' A Louie!

i LOVE this quote, it's really speaking to me these days.

Firstly, because it's funny, and i've always got to have funny in my life. Whether it's a funny movie, something funny the kids say (did you know there's a country called "Chicken"? Actually, Sarah meant Turkey), or just laughing at myself (which i do often and always have. How can I not laugh at myself for things like discreetly stepping out of---and leaving behind---the too-big underwear I was wearing over my tights (to help keep them up) . . . before nonchalantly stepping onto the elevator at Meier & Frank downtown . . . during the Christmas rush?!  It's laugh, or cry. Or the massive explosion that let loose as i bent down to pick up the sausage-making machine at Mazzi's . . . with the older boy . . . that i had a huge crush on in high school. it's laugh, or consider moving to Chicken!) So, to avoid becoming a shut-in or moving to an unstable part of the world, i have bravely chosen to laugh at myself.

I often use humor to diffuse situations with my kids, and it works a lot of the time. i don't make fun of them, out loud anyway, but if someone's being what we call a Grumpelstiltskin in our house, a little tickling and silliness can pull them right out of it. Actually calling them Grumpelstiltskin used to make them laugh for a while too, that was really easy. But things are very intense in our house these days, so the humor's a lot harder to pull up, and pull off.

Another reason this is such a great quote is because it reminds me that i might think i have a great plan for getting our family smoothly down the road, but life's got a completely different itinerary in mind for us. We were tooling along with Cruise Control, then . . . BAM! . . . the second child comes home and it's been A LOT of left turns ever since.

But Cruise Control isn't all good, sometimes it can make us tune out, or even get a little complacent. As all parents know, we have to be alert and on-guard at all times, always running to stay a few steps ahead of the little buggers. Especially now, with all the scary stuff that comes directly at our children through their electronics. YIKES! Last year one of my children---the one i never thought i'd have to worry about online, a lesson for all parents out there---Googled "boobs" unbeknownst to me, of course. Sherlock Moms that i am, i started getting suspicious when she began asking me lots of questions of the gynecological nature. not one of my better parenting moments, but fortunately i was far more freaked out by the whole thing than she was. "It's just the human body, mom, i wanted to see what i will look like when i'm older." Eeek, right, left, up, down, which way do i turn with that one?

The final reason i love this quote is because it reminds me to stay creative in my thinking and parenting. All children are a challenge at times, but a child from a Third World country, who spent close to 3 years in an orphanage, brings all kinds of new fun to the party. All the knowledge and insight i gained and wielded so brilliantly when raising my daughter . . . ZOOM, right out the door. Time outs? Scratch! My son was a runner, he'd be down the street before i got to the driveway. Go to your room and calm down? Scratch---after hundreds of dollars in damages to walls, doors, and doorjams. Losing favorite toys & electronics for a while? Don't mean a thang when you're used to having absolutely nothing of your own for very long, before it's taken away by a bigger kid or an adult.

I'm left with Talk it out & learn new ways to handle anger and stress. We're working on it---now that we're both finally speaking the same language, literally---and there's a whole village helping us out: mentors, Big Brother, therapists, psychiatrists, coaches, teachers, school staff, etc., etc., etc...

We used to blast a CD and dance together (but they're really starting to doubt that i taught Michael Jackson all his best moves, and now i can see in my son's eyes that my Elaine Bennis dance beat and kick-ass robot moves are costing me respect, so no more Running Man . . . in front of the kids anyway).

And now that he's on to the true nature of his Jedi Training class, yoga, tai chi and deep breathing are out. Too bad, cuz they really worked---when he thought he was fighting stormtroopers. But openly participating in an ancient tradition thousands of years old, not so much! i still think it's one of the most brilliantly named classes ever. The least likely population to enjoy yoga and breathing exercises? Turns out its super-charged 10-year-old boys: "I hate breathing, Mom!"

We enjoy playing games together, so i created a board game for building stronger and closer families. Note to self: Don't play when son is already cranky; see above reference to kick-ass robot moves and subsequent reaction from son.

Therapists, seminars, classes, workshops, websites, books, friends, family, total strangers---i will listen to anyone with reasonable parenting advice. And now i'm even learning from Cesar Millan. Yes, you read that correctly---the Dog Whisperer! 

And i'm not alone:

Cesar's big thing is being the leader of your pack, and that's one i struggle with. i want us to have a lot of fun and laughter in our home, but it's a difficult balance between that and maintaining my 'leader of the pack' status.

So, yes, getting creative with our parenting is extremely important. And you never know when and from whom you'll receive the best little nugget of knowledge to help you raise compassionate and respectful members of the human race! (In a future blog i will share a couple of nuggets i've received that have made a profound difference in how i see my children and how i go about trying to parent them as best i can.)

So remember, When nothing's going right, go left. You'll find yourself in unfamiliar territory but turning off the Cruise Control can be a really good thing---for you and the kids!


OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMy God, NO, you cannot keep the mouse the cat has just been chasing around the house!!!