Some people talk about how exhilarating living life to the fullest and taking chances, pushing themselves is. Some people are not me. I used to think I wanted to be an exciting person. Be fast, impulsive, spontaneous. But reality is, those things kind of scare the shit out of me. Call me chicken, I don’t care. I am starting an online accounting AAS program next week. Online. Never have to leave my home. Scared shitless. Beyond the obvious that I always sucked at math, I cannot afford to take college courses at this stage in my life and not do well. Which means I am going to have to acquire some kind of freaky Jedi mind powers in the next week if I am going to harness any sort of math powers. I am scared I will be the permanently cranky mom who is trying sooo hard to wrap her mind around some elusive math problem that I will entertain the idea of locking the children in our dark dungy basement just so I can get 10 minutes of quiet to focus. I am scared that by taking accounting, my life will begin to revolve around money, which I have always hated and I am crapping nuggets that I will fail and it will be something else in my life that I started and didn’t finish. I like my comfortable spot. Do you know what I am good at? I am good at being mama. I like that part. I like being a wife. So why life has to provide that uncomfortable pinch that you start thinking things like “maybe it would be a good thing to go back to school” or “it would better my family for me to have this knowledge”……I don’t know. I see how ridiculous it is….I am not trying to become a trapeze artist or a stripper in Vegas–or Williston, which would make more sense geographically for me. It’s an accounting program. I think a lot of it is all the freaking hoop jumping one has to do. I have transcripts from 4 different colleges, which sounds bad but since I had post-secondary classes while in high school, attended college in Crookston before I decided it was a hole, came back home and started at the tech, decided I should go for my BA at the 4 year, nearly flunked out at the 4 year because I was trying to juggle 2 jobs, full time school and a baby by myself, and then went back to the tech and got an AAS. It was just life. And I was shitting my pants then, too. Does anyone else feel like life is just one bumbling experience after another? So here it is, 10 years later and I am back in the same boat, only with 5 children and an old man, still crapping my pants, and trying to conquer the one thing that I only managed to get D’s in in high school. Ah well. I would love to meet one of those ‘life coaches’ and tell them to go jump off a cliff. There is nothing meticulously planned in this life! It’s only shitting ones’ pants and discovering life is just one series of crapping your pants after another.
It has been a while since I have written and I admit I am using this more so as a journal than a public forum to get some kind of message out. I have never been much of a faker. Well, maybe when I was little and it got my older sisters in trouble, I could turn the tears on and off but as an adult, I just don’t know how to function socially when I am expected to present myself in a certain way. I have recently had a chain of events happen that have me struggling with how I want to proceed in this life. They are petty and shallow but such is the nature of human life, I guess.
There are some things I am fiercely proud of: my family and my 5 children who so far, behave acceptably, at least in public, most of the time. It is a lot of work but they are NOT spoiled in the sense that they have a lot of things. They definitely are not perfect….I work to teach them to be kind and compassionate, to be spiritually strong. But kids lack filters. And mine have some sharp little tongues sometimes. They will reference my weight at times, which sometimes I can laugh off but I have to say, sometimes it really does bother me. The most recent incident was when my 8 year old daughter made a joking reference to me being 300 pounds (which I am not, she was about 100 lbs off, although I lied on my latest drivers license and said I was 190lbs) and I tried to brush it off but the thought struck me that…is that all she is going to think of me? Is that all her mom is, is a fat lady and that’s what they’ll remember? And if I wasn’t overweight….would there be something else that they would find to make fun of? That piled on with an incident where a lady at church thought I was 10 (TEN) years older than I am, and another where a coworker complained about my ‘ugly grandma’ purse, I am struggling. It’s not like I wouldn’t love to be a ‘trendy’ mom….but I really don’t know how. I like what a I like and I want to be ok with that. I tried to defend my ‘grandma’ purse–actually, I thought it wasn’t bad at all so I am not sure why she took such offense to it, and I really thought she was a pleasant person before she so vehemently voiced her opinion. I was at a loss as to why someone would find it necessary to speak out in such a way and still don’t get it. Did she think she was doing me a favor? Or just compelled to be bitchy and judgmental? The age comment stung but I could tell she was embarrassed…which really kind of makes it worse in a way.
I don’t have a talent, and never have, for going into a thrift store and making things look stylish, nor can we afford to buy that look new. My visits to the hair salon are few and far between and the do it yourself dye jobs have not turned out very favorably so I am painfully aware that yes, my hair is getting a little gray and I do not like it but if I have $80, it will go to something much more necessary than my hair color at the moment–like winter necessities for the kids or groceries. It makes me wonder if it is my appearance or my personality that attract these comments. Do I lack the appearance of confidence and is that why people (including my own children) feel that they can make these rude and snide comments to me? I do not feel deprived in any way….I have a loving, loyal husband, I like being a stay at home mom, even if it means we cannot afford to keep up with the Jones’….I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a tiny part of me that wishes I could run off to get my hair done or the gym or a store other than the thrift store to buy any of my clothes but I really thought those things were not priority right now when we are in the midst of raising our children. But is this something I will pass on to my children? Is that a bad thing? My mother, who is one of the sweetest people you will ever know struggled in the professional workplace and I always felt it was because she refused to play that game of maintaining her appearance to always try and look younger, to look stylish. People in the workplace were mean to her and did not appreciate her gifts. If they had taken the time to get to know her, they would have found a passionate, intelligent, beautiful woman. But they didn’t.
I am blessed to have a husband who does not seem to mind that I have gained weight and struggle to lose it, or that I don’t know how to fix my hair, let alone keep it maintained with color and highlights, and he certainly doesn’t give two shits about my purse. That is comforting on a certain level but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cross my mind that he is simply too much of a gentleman to comment. I am not sure where this leaves me. Just that people suck. And I wish I was a stronger person that that didn’t bother me. The bottom line is I am 33, I have five children and we live within our means. Isn’t anything else just pretending on some level? I will not be a hypocrite and swear I will never color my hair again because I am ok with my grays, cause I probably will color those fuckers up and I will continue to try and lose weight because I want to be healthy. But I can’t be ok with spending money on clothes or accessories that we don’t have the money for the acceptance of people that I really don’t like and it sucks that on that most basic level, that is how we judge each other. I don’t know how to fake being a trendy mom, cause I am not….I think it makes people uncomfortable. When I think about all that goes in to creating the illusion of being younger, having money, and being socially acceptable….I just don’t have the time or patience for it. I was not blessed with the innate ability to fake it. It’s dumb, really, when you think about it. I mean, I can go get a new purse but that lady can’t really fake not being an uppity bitch.
I think by most counts, I could be considered a pretty wholesome person. I have a secret desire to be a slightly ‘edgy’ mom/wife but anyone that actually knows me knows that is laughable, if not down right hysterical. I am in no way smooth enough to be hip or edgy and being the ‘cool’ mom boils down to me willing to drive my 14 year old to Speed and Strength workouts at six friggen thirty in the a.m. every morning.
Any mishap of coolness on my part is more than likely just that–a mishap. I have recently become very aware that my 8 year old daughter loves to sing and actually knows the words to most of the songs on the radio. When I hear her singing about broken hearts or scorned women, or toes in the sand, I try to remember she doesn’t really know what she is singing about. After all, one of the very first songs she responded enthusiastically to was, ironically, Crazy by Cee Lo Green. I mean, come on–who can’t really relate to that one?! Ok, so not exactly Mary Had a Little Lamb but she was little. I was trying to get motivated to clean the house without the use of a pressure washer and snow shovel this morning and turned some music on on the tv. I found an underground club techno station that had some really fast, upbeat music that made the kids giggle and want to dance and hell, they were even cleaning so I figured it was all right. We stayed busy for a while and a new song came on that had a repeated line that I couldn’t quite catch as I was scrubbing dishes but I didn’t pay much attention. I happened to go through the living room and glanced at the screen and saw the displayed title of the song on the tv screen and much to my horror it was ‘Slap My Bitch’. WTF!?!?! I nearly killed myself getting to the tv to change the station and cover my babies’ ears at the same time and of course, once I saw the words, I could decipher it very plainly as some asshole repeatedly chants ‘Slap My Bitch’ in the background of the dance music. I don’t think the kids caught it, I hope not, as their chorus of groans further appalled me when I abruptly cut off their dancing music, but its hard to tell.
I recently read an article about how women shouldn’t consider being called ‘bitch’ an insult, but as empowering. No thanks. I’ll stay the podunk, backwoods, lame and boring housewife and mama and attempt to retain some of my dignity (somewhat diminished after tripping over furniture and toys this morning) and dare I say class and refute the claim that being called a ‘bitch’ could, in any way, be a compliment. Nor do I EVER want my daughters or my sons to become that desensitized. I can tell you right now who would be getting slapped if I heard my sons ever utter the phrase ‘slap my bitch’.
This is most definitely a world where role models are most often mistakenly celebrities and musicians and what is it that they are actually inspiring? I have so often heard the phrase ‘that’s just the norm for kids now days’ it makes steam come out of my ears. That is the biggest cop out for parenting that I have ever heard! And don’t get me wrong, I know it is not easy to be a parent now days, but that does not remove any responsibility. We have a duty and responsibility to be the filter for our children. Or correct the mistake, as in my case. Every child grows and matures at a different rate so don’t tell me every 10 year old has a cell phone or ipad, or that they all should. Because, let’s be honest, they cannot handle that responsibility and it will bring drama and trouble-it is the same with any other form of media. Don’t accept that as normal. Society is incredibly deceptive in convincing us as to what is acceptable, modern behavior and necessary items for our children.
Teenagers (obviously younger than 13, too, as I pointed out my daughter of 8 years is already developing her favorites) are going to want to listen to different music and will connect with certain musicians. But if they listen to music that is bluntly degrading, why would you be surprised if they treat their parents, sisters, future girlfriends poorly with little or no respect? The same goes for the girls–being nasty, vindictive, and selfish seems to be basic training for elementary, let alone high school and beyond.
From what I can tell, my kids are blissfully aware of my mommy blunder this morning and will have no knowledge that our ‘awsome’ cleaning song was actually ‘Slap My Bitch’ and I will try and scrub the memory of them innocently giggling and dancing to it from my mind!
I am learning that one of the most valuable skills a person can have is the ability to take criticism. And how do we teach that to our children in a world saturated with lazy children and instant gratification? That criticism or even to be corrected (or heaven forbid, actually disciplined) isn’t the end of the world and is an attempt to improve, or adjust one’s behavior. If only I could be perfect like my teenager…….if only I could always be right and never doubt my resolve. If only I could be singularly selfish and only care about the ridiculous drama that only occurs in your teenage years. And it’s not like I am not painfully embarrassed by my own memories of severe injustice inflicted upon me by my own parents. The shame…..unfortunately, if we are lucky, it will be years before or oldest begins to taste the shame of the arrogant disrespect he has shown us.
Case in point: Our neighbor lady for whom I work asked for help weeding her flower beds last night. She said all the kids could come, it was a beautiful day. So when my oldest got home from school, I told him he had a choice-he could come with me or he could go to town with his dad, but he was NOT going to sit home by himself playing on the computer or watching tv. Of course, he adamantly denied that he would do either and said he had planned on doing his math homework (yeah, right–if only I thought all people beside myself were idiots, I too, could be as wise as my teenager). So the sullen attitude kicks in as he contemplates throwing himself from the vehicle as we drive to the neighbor’s. Once there I was surprised to see him get out of the vehicle. Oh, crap. I had assumed he would go to town so now I am stuck with for children AND a crabby teenager. If I had been smart (like my teenager) I would have video taped his lazy, rude behavior to show him exactly how he appears to other people. Our neighbor lives on a dairy farm so by comparison, her 16 year old son truly does know what work is–he awakens early every morning for chores and does chores every night, often many many chores in between. Things that must be done and cannot be neglected. That teenager is a man. By all accounts, mine is a ‘good kid’. But does he know what real resonsibility is? Accountability? No. While I weeded and the little kids ran around and tried to help, he begrudgingly did a few pitiful jobs and would plop back down in the patio chair, snap at the children, argue with my oldest daughter and make them fuss and cry. The confusion of what authority he thinks he has over them is infuriating. When he thinks he can supercede me, I want to put him over my knee and spank him like the bratty little child he is. But he is 6 foot and I am not sure I could pull that off anymore. It is embarassing, as he gets after the kids about something I said they could do and then chews me out in front of one of my peers. There is no self awareness, only injustice as his stupid mother doesn’t listen to him. What does she know about raising children, anyway? And to further add insult to injury, I took away his cell phone (text was taken away months ago for good reason) and told him he was not allowed to go to the movies as planned tonight because he continued to show disrespect this morning. If only I could feel as self rightous in my actions. Truly, I must be gifted with a child prodigy of infinite wisdom and rightousness. Oh, and if only I could be the perfect martyr, as he is. How unfair he has it. Lucky me, I get to see which son will come home from school this afternoon–will it be Dr. Jekyll, who will kiss my ass, tell me what a wonderful mommy I am and how much he loves me in hopes that I will change my mind and let him go to the movies? Or will it be the crabby, grouching, insufferable Mr. Hyde who will make it clear his life is but one miserable day after another and that he has been cursed with the drudgery of having to endure this ignorant, oblivious family to the gift that is him? Ah, if only I could be more like him, everything would be perfect.
I know each parent believes their child is unique and special. And the amazing part is, they ALL are! The miraculous part of God’s creation. Each of their little minds work in such different ways and it keeps life so very, very interesting.
I first figured out I needed to find my faith again when my oldest son posed a very simple question after being told he needed to behave–‘Why?’ Why indeed. What is the point? Why should I try and raise my children to be compassionate to others? Kind? Forgiving? To reserve judgement? Lord knows I am not the perfect example I want them to follow–not by a long shot! So began the humbling, pride swallowing trip back to church. Thank goodness for that child’s one simple question. Until then, I was able to deny I needed any presence in my life to guide me from right or wrong. The belligerence of a teenager took one conflicting experience and jumped to such a hasty conclusion. I am happy I was wrong. And it took the wisdom of a five year old to show me.
Even if I am still on a journey with my faith, it has been incredible watching my children build an understanding of God. A couple weeks ago, putting my girls to bed, my 7 year old, Piper, commented out of the blue ‘So, Mom, you know how childbirth hurts?’ Well, my dear, I am awkwardly caught between a fight or flight feeling. On the one hand, I am terrified to know where she was going with that loaded statement. On the other, where the heck is she going with this statement? So I humor her and reply, ‘Yes, honey, I am aware of how much childbirth hurts.’ “You can thank Eve for that, Mom!” Followed by a fit of giggles, because yes, childbirth pain brought the giggles out in me for sure. Of course I laughed and asked her how she knew that and was informed the Sunday Bible lesson was all about Adam and Eve and the consequences for eating the apple and being kicked out of the garden. Her little mind must have been humming applying all that happend so long ago to a very present, very real consequence of today.
And today, Cabel, my 6 year old asked me out of the blue why people killed God and hammered nails into his hands and feet. How do you explain that? Part of me worries I will give him the wrong answer. After a very sober little conversation, he sat quiet for a long time and asked me the question I believe he was truly concerned about the entire time. “Mom, when I die…..and go to heaven……do I have to wear a dress?” Oh, son. I told him he he could probably wear camo if he wanted.
As much as I get frustrated and want to tear my hair out and have anxiety over being a are we raising these children right, the laughter is such a blessed gift. I love how their little minds work. I love watching them put things together in their special little ways. I love that all their questions affirm the faith I am trying so hard to grow and trust in myself.
I sometimes daydream about what our household could/should run like. Obedient, polite children who only need to be asked once or even better, just know what their responsibilites are and fulfill them dutifully. A beautiful, tidy home where our children’s friends love to come and visit and leave wishing their parents were as cool as we are.
Reality….there is usually at least one or more partially clothed or naked child streaking through the house at any given time during the day. If the house happens to be tidy in one corner, it usually means another corner looks like a bomb has gone off.
It seems to come and go in cycles. Especially since I started homeschooling Piper and Cabel, I feel an incredible need to keep the house tidy and stay up on the dishes. It’s not bad! I actually enjoy that the day is more structured. That change has been unexpected and sweet and I hope it stays. I feel more productive and like I am fulfilling my true potential as a mother. I am teaching them skills and watching them learn, grow in confidence and express their happiness and get the instant gratification of seeing the pride on their face when they are praised.
The other side of that is when you are forced to ask your lovely, beautiful, sweet children for help cleaning the house. Abruptly, they turn in to whiney, teeth gnashing, screaming, ogres. And when the husband is around to ‘help’…..*sigh*…..sometimes it is nice not having to be the naggy mom. Having him yell at the kids from his recliner isn’t ideal, but at least it isn’t coming from me for once! I think it’s important he see how hard it is to keep house with 5 (let’s say 6, who are we kidding!) little piggies running amuck. The whole point is consistency is hard! It absolutely would be ‘easier’ to just do it myself than try and train the kids to pitch in. If the day were 36 hours long and I were Mary Poppins. But Mary Poppins I am not and the wind that blows over here when mom an dad get fed up with lazy children is not sweet! I would like to think our efforts would effect a permenant change in their thinking….and ephiphany that if they did their little part each day, it wouldn’t take nearly as long or be nearly as terrible. The sweet irony is the one that was the most angry about having to help clean was my oldest, Anthony–the silent treatment, sullen face, beligerent attitude of a 14 year old. Even he admitted he was glad the house was clean(er) when it was done–everyone feels better. I would like to think all the yelling tonight, grueling persistence, made an impact that will set a precedent from now on.
But let’s face it….the kids will be busy….I’ll get busy…..the house will slip back and so will the new rules. I do dread the cycle that mandates I get fed up with being everyone’s maid, the eyeball develops the telltale twitch and I begin muttering to myself while I angrily scrub at dishes in the sink. You can almost smell the change of the wind…..at the first whiff, the kids get a little cagey and over affectionate like they hope they might be able to escape the impending whirlwind. But no one is safe! To be perfectly honest, I am aware that if I were only more consistent in those rules, I might not have such a terrible time. But I don’t know if I have it in me to be that relentless. Which is why the winds of change will remain a bit rank and fleeting around here! The end of of a long night, I kissed all my babies goodnight and thanked, thanked them for getting it all done and thanked God for our five little blessings.