Motherhood/Parenting, Uncategorized

Extracurricular Shuffle

img_1748Y’all, I’ve seen a sign that the end is near. No, I’m not talking wildfires, floods, and earthquakes. I actually saw parenthood from my Mother’s point of view – which is a bonafide miracle.  I saw her point of view last night as I sat on a hot as Satan’s balls metal bleacher in calf-high grass watching my son play middle school football. My Mother refused to let me participate in any extracurricular activities. She had every excuse in the world from “We can’t afford it.” to “The Girl Scout leader is a whore who sleeps with all the Dads.”  Yes, that last quote is true. She actually told me that when I begged to be a Brownie. I desperately wanted to wear that cute little uniform complete with knee-high socks and beanie and sell (i.e. eat) those delicious cookies. As I got older, I realized all of her reasons were just excuses.  If I had really wanted to do it, we could have swung the instrument rental or registration fee.  The fact of the matter was my Mother was selfish and lazy.  She didn’t want to cart me 20 minutes across town to a game, practice or meeting. She didn’t want to sacrifice money for her cute clothes so I could have some god awful hot pink tutu that I wore once on a stage and immediately went into the toy box.

When I was old enough to understand, I vowed if I had kids that had the talent or ambition to play sports or an instrument or whatever, I would move heaven and earth to let them have the opportunity.  And, the opportunities they have had.  Between my son and my daughter, they have done soccer, t-ball, swimming, football, basketball, art, theater, golf, dance, gymnastics, horseback riding, band, choir, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and I’m probably forgetting a few more things.  Some of these endeavors have lasted for years while others only lasted a season. I have spent more hours shuttling children from one place to another and sitting on the sidelines or in waiting areas for various lessons to wrap up than I even want to think about.  We have spent enough for a few nice vacations on instrument rental, extra training camps, and hot pink tutus.  We have heard the dreaded, “I don’t want to do _____ anymore. Can I quit at the end of this season?” So yeah, last night as sweat rolled down the back of my legs and the white trash lady behind me rang a cowbell the size of her face everytime our team made a touchdown, I completely understood my Mother’s point of view.

Look, I know I have it easy. I only have two kids and neither of them is at the top of their chosen activity.  I have a cousin with four daughters who all play multiple sports.  I have friends that do elite or select kid sports.  You know, the teams where the kids are recruited like professional athletes and travel all over the state or region for games. These families are never at home. They can’t remember what home looks like.  They barely have time for school and jobs before they are on to the next game.  I actually texted one of those friends last night and told her she’s a saint for being an elite sports mom because I don’t know that I could do it.  Maybe if my kids had really remarkable talent, I would sacrifice and make it happen for them but I don’t know. That’s one of those instances where I’d have to be in that position to accurately make that call.

Tonight, when I sit on a well worn couch trying to read a book while waiting for my daughter to get out of ballet class, I will remind myself I am doing what I always said I would for my kids. I’ll be thankful for an hour that I get to sit on my butt and practically do nothing.  And, I’ll mentally pat myself on the back for not being a selfish twit by allowing my kids the opportunities I never had. But, I swear if that lady sits behind me at another football game and rings that damn cowbell in my ear one more time I may have to snatch it from her and knock her across the face with it.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Uncategorized

Orientation

interior of abandoned building

I hated the majority of my Middle and High School experience. Were it not for a close group of girlfriends I met my 8th grade year, I’m not really sure I would have made it out of school. I wasn’t a bad student. I got decent grades and actually loved the learning aspect. I hated the busy work. I hated the halfassed curriculum and poorly thought out assignments. I hated the teachers who droned on like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off about absolutely nothing of consequence. Even at the tender age of 13, I knew I had better things to do with my time than detail the parts and pieces of a worm and memorize the capital of some Western European State that would get renamed a few years later.

A few nights ago I found myself once again roaming the halls of a middle school, only this time it was for parent orientation. We were given our kids’ schedule and were expected to follow a modified bell schedule for our kid’s classes.  Of course maps weren’t available, so you had to rely on your powers of deduction to find the classrooms.  After going through the motions for two hours, I realized a few things.

First, the middle school experience hasn’t gotten any better.  The building still smells. When you’re short and there are 18,000 people in the halls taller than you it’s nearly impossible to find your classroom.  You will be late to class.  The teacher will give you the stink eye for being late even if your schedule says the wrong room.

Next, educators are still the same. The principal is clueless and only the office staff know what’s going on. Most of the teachers still treat you like you’ve done something wrong even when you haven’t because they expect you to be surly.  To the teacher’s defense, 13 year olds are typically very surly.  Then you have your different types of teacher. There are the ones that have been there forever and are so good you hope every child you know gets to have that teacher just once.  Then there is one that has been teaching forever and should not have become a teacher or at minimum retired 20 years ago. There is the teacher who thinks they are cool and aren’t and the one that is but doesn’t let it go to their head.  There’s also the hardass and the doormat. And, finally, the ones just punching the clock and praying it will all be over soon.

Finally, the kids, err I mean adults, are still basically the same. There are the perfects with their perfect make up, hair and outfits. They are so damn perky you want to slap them because let’s be real no one is that damn happy over mundane crap even if you are trying to have a positive attitude.  Back in the day, they would have called to each other across the hall about a sale at the Gap or maybe a party.  The other night I heard one simper, “Hey Karen, are y’all doing lacrosse again this year? I sure hope we see Chloe next week!”  You know perfect doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Chloe but there she is pretending to care.  There’s the smart kids, the greasers, the hipsters, the artists, the jocks and the suck ups.  You remember the suck ups?  They are the ones all up in the teacher’s face as soon as the bell rings. There were several of those at orientation night. Personally, I know I reverted back.  Much like I am today, I didn’t have time for all the fake bullshit.  I was a jaded adult in a child’s body.  With zero f$cks to give, I was uninterested and above it all. I gave the teachers the ‘Yeah, I’m here because I have to be, now thrill me’ look. In short, think Daria with thing for Disney.

I think the thing that struck me the most was despite how much things have changed since I was in school, it’s interesting to see how much they are still the same. While I’ll never understand the pressure to have a million subscribers on my social media account, I will know what it’s like when simpering Becky or no neck Evan blackballs my kids that never want to grow up or haven’t hit their growth spurt.  Hopefully just being able to remember all those personalities and things that never change will help my guide my kids.  If it doesn’t help at least I showed my face at orientation so the administration will know who I am when I have to raise hell on my kid’s behalf.

Photo credit: Free picture. I’m broke not copyright infringement intended.

 

 

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Motherhood/Parenting, Uncategorized

School Slacker

abc books chalk chalkboard

According to all things WordPress and Facebook, I have been an epic slacker blogger in the last two weeks.  Time got away from me.  It happens to the best of us, does it not?  Mainly, I was busy interviewing for a paying gig – I think I was ghosted. And, I was getting my kids ready for school to resume. Being the epic slacker that I am, I refused to go to every big box store within a 20 mile radius looking for one orange folder with brads and one green folder with pockets but no brads.  I chose to buy the pre-packaged kit offered by the PTA.  For the first time in my kids’ school career, I am regretting that decision.  While it did save me some time there was so much extra in that pack now residing in my junk closet that will never get used.  And, since my kids started back two days ago, I have had to go nightly to a store looking for something that my kids need tomorrow that wasn’t included in said pre-packaged kit.  What a rip off and time suck.

While we’re at it, let’s discuss the money drain. Holy smokes, I honestly don’t know how some parents do it.  I would be willing to bet more ramen noodles get sold in the months of August and September than any other months of the year. Let’s face it, with these fees we are all broke as a joke. So far in the last three days, it’s been $25 dollars per kid for a p.e. uniform, a $35 art fee, a $15 lab fee, a $75 choir fee, and $40 per kid technology fee.  This is a public school I’m talking about, not private. And, thank you baby Jesus, it is public because I know it would be double the price if it was private.  No wonder more people are homeschooling.

I’m not even going to talk about dress code and back to school clothes shopping. That will be a separate blog for a different day.  Let’s just say being a girl sometimes sucks and I wish we had uniforms. Consider that last sentence a preview.

On a positive note, in the last three days, I’ve thoroughly cleaned my house and I’ve mowed the lawn, edged and cleaned out the flower beds. This joint looks like a showplace or as close to a showplace as a really lived in, mismatched furnished 25 year old house can look. I guess I haven’t been a complete slacker. I shall resume a regular posting schedule soon.

P.S. For some reason when I publish blogs, Facebook is not including the thumbnail picture I include on most of my blogs.  I thought it might be because I sometimes use stock photos instead of my own. But, I have found this is the case no matter what photo I use. If anyone reading this is smarter than me and knows the solution I would love to hear it.

P.P.S – Today I used a free stock photo. Yes, I took the obligatory first day of school photo. No, my children weren’t holding signs. None of us were that into it. Apparently, we are far too slacker for that.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Musing

Last Days

backyard chain grass parkI’ve always been fascinated by time but as I have become well and truly middle aged, I’ve become acutely aware of how quickly the years seem to pass, how short some days seem  as opposed to how long others seem, how some moments feel like just yesterday when in fact they happened 10 or more years ago. As July draws to a close, I know we are in the last days of Summer. Yes, I am well aware the temps are in triple digits and many in my state of Texas haven’t seen a drop of rain in over a month. But, according to my school district and the email they just sent out, Summer will officially end in a couple of weeks.  I’m not ready –  not in the least.

No, I’m not worried about new outfits or school supplies. I’ve got that covered – sort of. I’ve bought two shirts and plan to buy the pre-packaged school supplies on orientation day.  I’m gonna be super slack ass this year. I’m not ready because I don’t want to send my kids back to school.  A few years ago it hit me that I really enjoyed summer time with my kids and I didn’t like it when it ended.  I think it all started when the kids became more self-sufficient – probably around age 7 or 8.  They could pour their own cereal without destroying the kitchen. They could do their own projects without me hovering over them or reading the directions. They could ride most of the rides at the amusement park. We were no longer working around naptimes and they knew to speak up and let me know if they were hungry, needed the restroom or were just bone tired without throwing themselves to the ground and staging an epic hissy fit. Essentially, summer time became fun again not just for them but for the whole family.

As this summer draws to a close I see changes on the horizon.  No, not the change of routine back to school. This change has to do with the kids.  They have been spending more time in their rooms alone, not out of punishment, out of wanting alone time.  My son asked for more music on his device. My daughter has been in her room reading. Beloved toys are all but forgotten – even timeless toys like legos only received a few days of play.  The days of “Y’all go play while I do X” is rapidly disappearing. The kids are growing up. I know this will probably be the last summer both of my kids want to hang out and do fun things with mom. Next summer I will have to come up with more creative ways to encourage both kids to engage in family time and not spend all their time on a screen, at a camp or with their friends.  I know this is yet another phase of life – all completely normal and expected.  Deep down, I know this. But, every time I get to one of these phases I find that I’m rarely ready to let go and move on to the next phase. In these last days of summer, I’m going to try to cram in a little extra fun. I’m going to try to have a few more days of childish whimsey, if not for the kids then for me. The days are so long but the years are so short.

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Motherhood/Parenting

Old Mom vs New Mom

boxing glovesWell, I’ve made a command decision, despite all the lovely fodder it gives me for this blog, I just cannot take another minute of these new moms on my mom’s message board.  (Insert record scratch sound effect here.) Before I go any further, this is not me being the Mommy Police or a Mommy Shammer.  Honey, you do you and screw what others think. No shame here. If you raise a kid and they don’t end up in jail, on the streets or dead you did a good job.  Now back to the matter at hand.  It is exactly that phrase that I just typed, “you do you and screw what others think” that has led me to this exodus from the message board.   These poor ladies have no idea how to think for themselves.  In the 9 years since I last had a baby or toddler, it is like women are so inundated with information that they cannot think and research for themselves without asking 2,000 complete strangers their opinions.

Initially, I thought I was just over overreacting about the level of ridiculousness these new moms are putting out there but then I decided to really pay attention for one day. I read everything these ladies posted for one random day. Lord have mercy, let me name a few.  What type of sunscreen should I put on my 2 year old? Did you keep them inside for the past two years?! Can I take a 3 year old to the night showing of the touring production of Lion King? Will my child need earmuffs/plugs for the fireworks demonstration on Independence Day? And, don’t even get me started about some of the other non-kid-centric things they ask about.  After that one day of truly paying attention, I’ve decided this ‘gotta ask everyone and their momma their opinion on everything’ is either generational or it’s the old mom vs new mom thing. Or, gasp, maybe it’s both.

I’m going to go with new mom vs old mom theory for now.  The reason I say this is because I remember asking more experienced moms about big things like feeding schedules and potty training when I was a first time/young child mom but for most of it I figured it out on my own. I was certain one of my kids would go off to college with a pack of diapers under one arm and case of beer under the other.  Thankfully, I had plenty of older moms reminding me that no child goes to college in diapers, to keep the faith, be consistent, and when the kid is ready it will happen. They were right. I still ask moms I trust about things, only now instead of when is my kid ever going to poop in a toilet it’s when should I let my kids date or did your kids get the HPV vaccine. The thing is I’ve always asked family and friends whose opinion I value about important things not random people on a message board.  So, I don’t understand why these new moms aren’t asking their own friends and family? I know having a baby can be isolating but surely they have someone somewhere they can shoot a text message.  I mean at this juncture I wouldn’t be surprised if they are asking Siri questions about child rearing.  And, whatever happened to the tried and trusted What to Expect books?  Those things were like my Bible until my kids there 2 or 3 years old and by then I figured they were still breathing and it would all be okay. Of course, I still hit issues outside of the books and a google search but that’s when mothers intuition usually kicked in.  Are these message boards screwing with these ladies mother’s intuition?  I don’t have the answer but I do know the next time I have a teen mom question I won’t be asking about it on that damn message board.

P.S. Y’all, I’m so excited. I have 48 followers and some aren’t even friends or family. Holy freakin’ shitballs. Forty eight people might actually want to read what I wrote at some juncture in their week.  Now, let me be a greedy ass. Can we get it to 50? It’s such a nice round number. Even if we can’t get it up to 50, I’m thankful and grateful for all 48 of you.

Photo Credit: Some picture I lifted off the internet. No copyright infringement intended. Blood/turnip. You know the drill. I’m broke and I do this for free.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Musing

The Year of the Babies

close up photography of pink birthday cake

For me, 2001 will forever be the Year of the Babies. During that year, quite literally every female I knew of childbearing age was pregnant.  Coworkers, lifelong friends, and even some family members were all pregnant. It truly felt like there was something in the water.  At that point in life, I was happily beating my chest that I was career driven, never wanted to be a parent and had never changed a diaper.  That never changing a diaper stuff was a distinction I would hold until the day I brought my son home from the hospital in 2004.

Most of these babies have spring and summer birthdays, about half have turned 17. In fact, today is one of those “babies” birthdays.  They have all grown into beautiful young ladies/handsome young men and all around good kids.  I knew they would. They all have pretty good gene pools. But, in all honesty, it’s so weird to think about all these children being one year from legal adulthood.  The majority of them are entering their final year of high school in the fall.  I’ve seen previews of senior pictures. I’ve heard about college visits. I cannot imagine how my friends are truly feeling knowing this is their kid’s last year at home.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I can imagine it and quite frankly it doesn’t compute.  There is a disconnect up there in my brain.  I find it exceptionally hard to reconcile that these chubby-cheeked babies, some of the first I ever voluntarily held, are almost grown.  I cannot process that my friends (and me) are old enough to have children who are nearly legal adults when it feels like we were graduating from high school and college about 10 years ago.  I mean, I can still remember in vivid detail getting my senior pictures done. I remember the poses, the clothes, the hair, the makeup.  I even remember the lipstick color I wore – Little Red Russet from Bath and Body Works. Yes, they used to carry makeup along with that lovely 1990s Cucumber Melon body wash.  I remember having to pose against a tree at a park and being worried bugs would crawl on me.  I remember going back to the school and doing the drape picture in the home-ec room.  I remember being stunned that the drape was just a piece of cloth.  Up until that point, I thought it was a dress that everyone had to wear – something like the graduation cap and gown. How can it be these memories are still so vivid and yet I can’t tell you what I ate for dinner two nights ago?

I think the biggest shock of these babies turning 17 is how much I have watched them from afar.  I’m not a person who oohs and ahhs over kids, yet I care about these kids because they are the offspring of some of my favorite people on the planet. Moving around as much as I have over the last 20 years, I have spent very little time with most of these kids.  Yet, I have watched every little detail ever published on social media about these kids lives.  It’s almost like stalking a celebrity.  They don’t know me but I know them – at least the version of them that their dear parents have shared.  At times, I regret that I didn’t live closer.  I regret I couldn’t babysit or help when my friends were in the thick of little kid parenting.  Although, they’d all agree with me that I would have been crap at it back them. I regret I couldn’t be a more active participant in these kid’s lives.  But, as the saying goes, it is what it is.  I’m thankful my friends have shared as much as they have. I’ve enjoyed watching these kids grow up. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these babies. I know it will be awesome.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Musing

Summer Camps

sunglasses girl swimming pool swimming

It’s officially summer at my house. I’m writing this at 9 am and both kids are still sound asleep. The hubs has left for work. I should be outside doing my workout. But, for now, I’m going to finish this post and enjoy the quiet of the house and my coffee.  For the last couple of weeks, all I have heard in eavesdropped conversations and on mommy message boards are parents scrambling for childcare or summer camps. I’m right there with them. I scheduled my kids for a few things but it was camps of their choosing and request – a football camp and a dance camp. They are not all day camps and they aren’t going away to said camp.  Not that there is anything wrong with all day or stay away camps, they’re great but not what our family was looking for or needed.  The thing I am baffled by are the parents who are wringing their hands about brain drain.

Look, I  know kids lose a little of what they learn every summer. It’s why the first few weeks of every school year is a quick refresher of what everyone learned last year. It makes sense. After all, how many of you remember 8th grade math or how to diagram a sentence?  Yeah, unless you’re a teacher you wouldn’t know a dangling participle if it jumped up and bit you on the nose. That’s not a bad thing.  It just is.  But, some of these parents. I just can’t with them.  I overheard a few women at my youngest school talking about all the things they have scheduled this summer for their kids.  One lady might as well have said they are in year around school.  Math camp, English camp, pre-ap prep, cursive writing camp, and that is just the stuff I can remember her saying.  It was all I could do not to jump into that conversation and ask her if the kid had time to breathe and eat.  And, I can’t imagine she’s not exhausted from carting her kid all over creation to do all these camps.

I know it’s not my business and every family has their own way.  Mommy police I am not.  I just can’t help but wonder what this Mom thinks she is going to accomplish with all these camps.  I didn’t get the impressing this was a remedial thing.  In fact, I have a vague knowledge of the kid and know it’s quite the opposite?  Does she think she’s ensuring admission to an ivy league school or a great career? I know it’s hard to get into some places of higher education but geez does she really think all of this is necessary? What happened to playing outside with friends, spending the whole day in the pool or a having lazy day reading books and watching tv? In about 5 minutes, after I proof this post and hit publish, I’m going to turn on the tv, rile up the dog and hopefully get these kids out of bed. They are going to gripe and I’m going to do the mom thing and make them help me mow the grass or maybe we’ll do something fun and crazy like ride our bikes up to the 7-11 and get a slushie for breakfast. We are not going to conjugate verbs, learn Mandarin or train to be the next Olympic athlete. But, hey if that’s your jam have fun; just don’t expect me to do it. It’s summer and time for some fun. Enjoy.

 

Photo credit: Photo by Juan Salamanca on Pexels.com

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