Motherhood/Parenting

Father’s Day

baby sitting on man s shoulder

Father’s Day was two days ago and I’ve come to the realization I have an unhealthy relationship with parental holidays. For years, Mother’s Day depressed me. I even wrote about it here. I’ve progressed to pretty much making peace with that holiday. Although, there was a setback this year that I may or may not discuss at a later date.  Father’s Day, though not as bad, is hard as well.  I have no problem celebrating my husband and his parentage.  That’s easy; he’s a good Dad.  However, my relationship with my Father and Step Father, that’s another story.  My biological Father and Mother divorced when I was very young.  He had little to no contact with me until I was nearly 30.  My Step Father, the man who helped raise me, wasn’t a bad Father.  He was a good provider and solid guy until my Mother passed away.  After that, it all went to hell in a handbasket. He ended up getting remarried to a wonderful woman whom my children call Granny and who I always thought was too good for him.

Now, having explained my situation, imagine how hard it is to find a card that’s appropriate.  Hallmark and American Greetings do not make cards that say things like “Thanks for raising me and finding a lady better than my own Mother” or “Thanks for knocking up Mom all those years ago. I’m glad I’m alive”.  No, the cards usually say nice things about how Dad is the person who loved you and guided you and led the family. There are usually phrases about sacrifice and strength.  And, if you go the funny route, there are comments about dealing with the kids during the teen years and potty training or how we’ll all stop asking for money when you die.  But, here’s my problem, I can’t identify with any of these things.  I never asked anyone for money – not even as a teen. I had a job when I was 13.  If I didn’t have money, I wasn’t going to get anything from my parental units.  I was already potty trained when my Step Dad showed up and my Mother forbade him from disciplining me – which sucked because he was fairer than she was.  I can’t send my biological Father these types of cards because he had no part in my upbringing.  I know I could easily suck it up and buy the card but its such a lie and so disingenuous.  How the hell can I say thanks for leading me when he led nothing?  And, yet, since I have established a relationship with him several years ago, I feel like I have to participate in the facade of appreciating him as a Father.

In the years since I reestablished contact, my biological Father has been somewhat present but I see a difference between his role with me and his role with the children he helped raise with his wife of nearly 40 years.  Part of that is geography, as those children live in the same city.  But, part of it is a connection.  He won’t admit it.  I doubt my half siblings will either. Yet, I see it. I don’t truly blame them.  How can you have a connection with someone instantly, regardless of DNA? They have a history I simply don’t and never will have.  Could more of a connection have been established in the past? Absolutely, but that is the past and nothing can be done about the past. One must deal with the now.  I wish I could come to him with my feelings and he would understand my perspective.  Yet, I know him enough to know he’s a simple, straight forward type of guy and it would probably hurt his feelings.  So, instead of mailing a heartfelt card and thoughtful gift, I bought a generic “Hope your Father’s Day was great” card along with a gift certificate and hoped for the best. I’ll probably continue to do this until he passes and it becomes a non-issue, much like my Step Dad.  It’s sad but it’s the path of least resistance and it saves me from an uncomfortable and possibly hurtful conversation.

I do know one thing.  If my husband and I get divorced or I die, he better be the good Dad he’s always been or he’s going to have to deal with a very mad ex-wife or even madder ghost.

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Motherhood/Parenting

Too Many Choices

img_2353In August of this year, I will officially have a high schooler. I find this fact very hard to wrap my head around.  Just yesterday I was worried this child would never potty train and would go off to college with a case of diapers under one arm and a case of cheap beer under the other.  Yet, here we are.  He is completely housebroken and in the final months of 8th grade.

As of a couple of weeks ago, I started getting emails about random parent meetings from our school district.  Meetings if you wanted your child to do dual credit college courses. Meetings if you wanted your child to go to the career center.  Tonight it’s a meeting to learn about the registration process, requirements to graduate in our state and district, and information on the various electives, sports, and AP classes. To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. When I say this to some friends they look at me like I am crazy.  Apparently, they have either done this before or this was how their high school experience looked.  I do not share their experience.  My grandmother dropped out of school after the 5th grade to help her dirt poor, sharecropping family.  My mother was the first in her family to graduate from high school; not of all of her brothers and sisters did so.  I was the first person in my family to go to college.  Additionally, I went to a very small high school. Our electives were classes like typing, home ec, and Spanish. I had so little choice I wasn’t worried. I just picked whatever fit my schedule and I thought I could pull off a decent grade.  Our State’s requirements to graduate were not that strict. I don’t recall having to have a minimum of two years of foreign language and one year of fine art. Yet now I look at this form my child’s school wants back in a few days and I’m completely baffled.  Electives like Teen Leadership and Intro to Architectural Design sound like college classes, not high school.  The school wants to know what path my kid will be on arts, business, STEM, public service or multidisciplinary.  This kid’s greatest ambition is to beat his current video game.  He doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.  I’m in a downright breathe into a paper bag panic and this kid doesn’t have two fucks to give.

The questions that keep running through my mind is how did this process get so complicated?  Is there such a thing as too many choices?  Is it because my kid goes to a school of thousands of kids and I went to one with just a few hundred?  Is it because it really was 25 years ago and that’s just how things have progressed?  Is it because of our district?  I don’t have any answers because I have no frame of reference for other districts.  As my oldest child, he is my test dummy and this really is our first rodeo.  Then I start to worry about the classes my kid picks.  What if my kid picks the wrong classes could that delay graduation or hurt his chances of getting into a good post-secondary education opportunity? What are the consequences? This is definitely one of those parenting situations where the drama doesn’t go away it just becomes different. Even though potty training was a nightmare, I think I would gladly take a week of nightly pee the bed sheets over trying to make heads or tails of high school registration.

P.S. – At the end of the day I know I’m probably overreacting. Like all parents, I just want to do the very best I can for my kid. I don’t want to let him down or know I didn’t help put him on the path for success. And, I don’t want him living in our spare room until he’s 30.

P.P.S – Yes, that really is a picture of the actual form for my kid’s high school. Those are just some of the electives offered at his school.

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Important Stuff, Motherhood/Parenting, Rants

Just

As some of you know I got a part time job a few months ago.  It’s fun, has great hours and has got me back into the workforce. I’m not paying any bills with my paycheck. It’s more like a vacation fund. But, as someone who had their first regular job at 13 until 30, it fills a void. I missed that validation of a paycheck and stating a profession when asked by strangers.  Whether we want to or not, we tie some of our identity to our jobs. And, I will admit, I felt somehow less of a person when I said I was a stay at home mom. Even though I knew it was a very valid job I looked at other women with jobs outside the home and felt less; like I was a sell out because I didn’t bring in a paycheck. That feeling ended today.

A few hours ago, while at my job,  I listened to a client talk about something that happened to her last night.  She was at a parent meeting at a local school.  She and her husband were chatting with an acquaintance. This acquaintance asked my client, “What do you do again?” She replied, “I’m a stay at home mom.”  She said the acquaintance looked confused and asked, “How many kids do you still have at home?”  She said her youngest is now in the 7th grade.  Then, some guy sitting behind them, a complete stranger who wasn’t even involved in the conversation, piped in with, “Then you’re not a stay at home mom. You just stay at home.”  At that point, a bell rang and the parent meeting was called to order so my client couldn’t say anything in response.   My client described the waves of emotions that hit her after this douchey perfect stranger’s response. She said she felt shocked like she’d been slapped and then ashamed because this jerk basically invalidated her existence which she has tied to her job of homemaker.

Just hearing her recount this story, I became enraged on her behalf. How dare he? He had no right. Then, I realized isn’t this what I’ve been mentally doing for years and what many stay at home mom’s do in general. How many times have I been asked, ‘what do you do’ and I respond with ‘I’m just a stay at home mom.” The key word here being ‘just’.  I’m not ‘just’ anything and neither is my client.  Somehow our society has gotten it into their collective heads that stay at home mothers or homemakers sit around on their ass eating bonbons and aren’t productive members of society.  It wasn’t so long ago that most women were homemakers and those that worked outside the home were an oddity.  Homemaker was a valid career.  And, despite not earning a paycheck, these women ran half the world. They kept the house clean, the laundry done, the items bought and the food prepared. They played taxi and tutor and basically took care of all the family’s needs while the men brought home the paycheck and little else.  How did we as a collective get to a place where those jobs are less valid than the majority of the other jobs out there?

I wish my client had known that asshole’s profession.  I wish she could have said a sneer, “Oh you’re just a insert generic job title here.”  I would have loved to have seen his face fall when he realized that his job isn’t that significant in the grand scheme of things. I would be willing to bet my minuscule paycheck that he’s not out there saving lives, securing world peace or even shaping young minds.  I hope to hell he’s not shaping young minds. He’s probably got some whatever job that pays a decent wage and could be done any number of people with a few working brain cells.  Deep down he probably hates his job and has his own issues.  I feel sorry for the people that live with him.  Can you imagine what this guy is like if he’s willing to say such a shitty thing to a perfect stranger? Bottom line is that guy is ‘just’ an asshole and my client is so much more than ‘just’.

 

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Motherhood/Parenting, Random, Uncategorized

Homecoming

75a7cf508587495cafa7cf790d089863As of last weekend, all the high schools in my area have finished with homecoming festivities; and I am very thankful.  No, it’s not because all the nice restaurants were a madhouse and you couldn’t find a decent cocktail dress within a 100-mile radius. It’s because I can finally go to any grocery store with a floral department or Hobby Lobby and not see the photos like the one attached to this post.

Today’s topic is going to get me de-friended by my Texas bestie but really y’all this is something I will never get used to no matter how long I live in this state.  Now I get that the traditional thing is to give a girl a corsage or flower of some sort before going to a formal dance/homecoming/prom but these Texas mums have moved beyond a flower.  I’m attaching a link here to something I found the other day. It’s a blog post about 50 Gigantic Homecoming Mums everyone has to see.  These things are truly ridiculous.  They are like a car wreck you just can’t take your eyes off of.  High schoolers turn these mums into a competition of sorts – who’s mum is bigger, tackier, has more flair and do-dads, etc.  And let me tell you, these things aren’t cheap.  A small mum is easy $100 with the average mum costing $200-$300.  It’s insanity.

For years I have mentally told myself we have to move away from Texas before my kids get in high school. Now, with high school fast approaching, I’m starting to get worried because we have no prospects for a move. I wonder, will my son have to help foot the bill for this monstrosity? Will my daughter expect to get one of these fugly things and will subsequently want to hang it on her bedroom wall after Homecoming like her peers? I’ve already started campaigning for a move to Florida. It’s about the only Southeastern state we haven’t lived in.

Photo Disclaimer –  I don’t know those girls or the school they attend. I did a Google search for Texas Mums and this was the first one that popped up. Apparently, it came from Pinterest. Whatever, if you find this post and you know these girls and want me to take it down just message me and let me know.

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Motherhood/Parenting

Scared

Not a lot scares me. I will try pretty much anything once.  I squash my own bugs.  I do my own stunts.  Of course, I’m apprehensive about some things.  I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel that way from time to time.  Yet, I only have two real genuine fears.  The first is dying young like my mother.  I’m afraid I won’t get to see my children into adulthood; that I won’t get to see them become decent people and productive members of society.  My second fear builds off the first.  I’m afraid for the safety and security of those I love, especially my children.  I’m afraid something will happen so that they will not reach their full potential.  That second fear has many addendums to it. The fear they will be injured or killed. The fear they will make poor life choices. The fear of war or global societal collapse that would prevent my kids from reaching their goals in life.

Over the past few years, I have added yet another addendum to that second fear.  I fear for my son and how society is and will treat him because of his gender. Over the last 20 years and certainly over the last year, it seems like being born male is the worst thing that can happen.  Our society seems to have a bullseye on anything and everything that has to do with being male.  As a mother of a boy and a girl, I am not okay with this.  I expect, no scratch that, I DEMAND, both of my kids, regardless of their sex, get a fair shake at life.  I have been wrestling with this topic since I started this blog last November.  I have a lot to say on the issue. So much to say that I’ve written at least 10 blog entries only to delete each one and start again.  I have done research, gathered quotes, read other blogs and think pieces and I still couldn’t find the right words.  Then I read an article posted on the Today Show Facebook feed that said everything I wanted to say but somehow could not. I applaud the author, Nadine Bubeck, for having the guts and voice to speak out and say what needs to be said.  I’m begging everyone with a child to read what she wrote.

Regardless of political or social leanings, if we truly want equality for EVERYONE we have to stop building up one gender/race/orientation/etc. and tearing down the other. Didn’t we learn this stuff in kindergarten?  Be nice, treat everyone with respect and clean up your own mess?  It shouldn’t be that hard people.

 

 

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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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