Mama Makes You Feel Better…

milestones
Is “No Effing Clue” an acceptable answer?

Because you aren’t the only one who forgets your children’s milestones. I recently had to fill out some paperwork for my soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter. It was all fun and games until I got to the questions about her “Developmental History.” Say whaaat? You expect me to remember how old my kid was when she pulled herself up to stand? I can’t even remember to sign the field trip permission form that I got yesterday, but I’m supposed to remember something that happened over three years ago? At least, I think it was three years ago. Seriously, how old are kids when they do this?

For a while I considered just writing “typical age” across this entire section, but then I realized that I had gotten a little too specific on previous answers. On the question about accidents, you might notice that I wrote in that she chipped her tooth when she was two. With that type of ridiculous specificity, they would now know that my “typical age” answer was not due to my practicality in form completion, but know that it was my pathetic attempt to avoid saying, “I have no clue.”

So, like any reasonable mother who never got around to making a baby book, but is overly concerned with stranger’s opinions of her, I lied. Well, in my defense, I searched through old emails and iPhotos to find the answers. When I came up short on a few, I googled the typical ages for these milestones and put it down on the form. Now the occupational therapist would think I was Mother of the Year for sure. Unless she receives the form late, which will most likely be the case. I’m not good at mailing things.

In related news, my own mother was aghast when I told her that I do not have a baby book for either one of my children. She then suggested I have a third baby so that I could get a baby book and do right by that one. Well played, Mom. Well played.

An Open Letter to the Parents in my Child’s First Grade Class

fashion-person-woman-hand

I am deeply sorry. Truly. I humbly ask you for your forgiveness, though I surely do not deserve it.

My transgression is one that I’m sure you believe to be inexcusable. I agree. Had I been on the receiving end I’d think the same thing. I’d be cursing your name, gossiping about you, and questioning your ability to function in society, let alone raise children in one. Please believe me that I know what I did was wrong. It was a mistake. An honest mistake made in a mother’s rush.

I am so sorry that I hit “Reply All” in response to the email asking for Halloween party volunteers.

You see, I never get to volunteer for school day events. As you know from my email, my work schedule rarely allows me to get to school while it’s in session. I long to experience the climate of my daughter’s school while the students are there. I desperately want to see her interact with her classmates and teachers. If I could be a fly on the wall of my children’s classrooms, I would spend all day spying on them. So when I realized that I actually could volunteer for this event, my excitement caused me to act in haste.   

Please know that this one act does not define me. I (almost) never do this. In fact, when I saw an email at work recently that asked people to kindly respond only to the sender and not to all, I scoffed. What heathens were on this email list that would need such a reminder? What kind of adult doesn’t know that no one else cares whether they are attending a meeting? By my own standards, I am one of those heathens in need.

The minute I received a “Delivery Failure” notification, the first thing I felt was confusion. How could my email have failed when I’m simply replying to an … Ohhhh, noooooo. If I could have taken back what I’d done just a moment before, I would have. But that’s not how life works, is it? Decisions, mistakes, actions made in a split second do not get a do-over. Think of the utopia we would live in if they did.

I understand if my infraction ostracizes me from the PTA or earns me a cold shoulder at birthday parties. Sure, I could argue that my intent was not to inform you all of my work schedule or my willingness to send in a healthy snack for the party, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? Negligence, after all, is just as alarming as a flagrant misuse of email.

All I ask is that you not force my daughter to pay for my mistake. Sure, she’s posted random YouTube videos to my Facebook page and accidentally called folks and left them 6 minute voicemail messages, but believe me when I say that she would never do this. I’d like to say it’s because I have raised her well, but, after tonight’s incident, many of you will likely assume she was just lucky enough to be born with character more becoming than her mother’s.

Regardless, please don’t allow a child to suffer for the sins of her mother. I beg you, fellow first grade parents that I have wronged, please don’t cancel playdates with my daughter or skip her name when writing birthday party invitations (unless it’s at Chuck E. Cheese, and then feel free to “lose” her invite). I promise to do better next time.

All I can do now is ask for your forgiveness. If it helps my case, please know that this incident has left me with a greater sense of empathy. No longer will I be filled with a fiery rage when I receive an email that I, under no circumstances, needed to read. Instead of assuming that the sender has deliberately shattered the laws of email etiquette, or, perhaps worse, lives in a bubble and is unaware of it, I will consider alternatives. Perhaps, it was a simple mistake and I shall react with kindness. Unless someone sends me a group text. Then it’s war.

Yours in Regret,

Teresa

Mom Guilt: There’s Only One Solution

guilt
There’s only one solution.

I have spent my entire day feeling guilty. All encompassing guilt that has seized control of my every thought, making me second guess every decision I’ve made within the last 24 hours.

What, you may be wondering, did I do? Cheat on my husband? Nope. This Mama digs her guy way too much to do that. Plus, what parent on earth has time for adultery? Book a solo spa vacation for myself? That seems fun in theory, but I hate being alone. I’d be bored after the first hot stone massage. Rob a liquor store? Please, as if they wouldn’t recognize me. So what was I agonizing over all day?

Staying home with my sick child.

My 6-year-old daughter had a fever last night. I knew we were in major trouble when she didn’t want dessert and actually requested we bring her to bed. After the kids were asleep, I hopped on the computer to request a substitute for work the next day and got to work on my sub plans. That’s when the guilt started in. My students have an assignment due the day after tomorrow. What if they have questions? Will some of them have anxiety because I am not there to answer them? Will their parents complain that I wasn’t there the day before it was due? Nevermind that it’s 2016 and my students can always email me questions and that they’ve had a week to work on this with me present. Still, I felt guilty.

I woke up and checked my email to discover that they were unable to find a sub for me. I now pictured the stress my absence was causing other people at work. Who was frantically trying to get people to cover classes for me? Who was giving up their much needed prep time so that they could fill in for me? Whose day had been disrupted because I didn’t go to work?       

Then there was my daughter’s after school club. The one I had no business volunteering for, yet I was supposed to teach that afternoon. I couldn’t meet with the other volunteers last week in order to plan because I had a meeting when they were getting together. Plus, because of my work schedule, I will have to arrive to every session 15 minutes later than the others. And now I wouldn’t be able to attend the very first session. I emailed the volunteer coordinator and one of my fellow volunteers to explain the situation. My daughter was sick, I’d have to stay home with her. I got a nice reply letting me know that they would find coverage and sent well wishes to my daughter. It should have been done, but guilt had other plans.

I spent the entire day agonizing about missing a single one-hour session of Arts and Crafts Club. How will they cover for me? How many people will be put out by my absence? What will my fellow volunteers think of me? I fantasized that my daughter would be well enough by the time it started at 3:30 and that I’d be able to fulfill my commitment. A mid-afternoon fever took care of that dream. I seriously considered making arrangements for someone to come watch my sick child so that I could go to the school and help out. Leave my sick child so that I could volunteer at an after school club. Thankfully, common sense prevailed on that one…eventually.

Guilt is an evil mistress. Because no matter what decision I made today, she would have been there, whispering in my ear. No matter what I did, I’d be letting someone down. No matter what I did, I would be causing someone extra work or hardship. If I’d gone to work, I wouldn’t be there to care for my sick child. I’d be asking my in-laws to expose themselves to pungent kid germs. I’d have felt guilty. But I didn’t do those things. Today, I made the right choice.

Today, I felt guilty for doing exactly what I needed to do as a mother.

Guilt comes easily to a gal like me. A people pleaser who has a crippling fear of saying no to people, a person who will subject herself to anxiety and massive inconvenience just to make other people happy,  I care what other people think. I care about other people’s feelings.This is never going to change. I never want it to. Sure, I could do without guilt and anxiety, but all of that comes in partnership with an intense sense of empathy. I don’t ever want to take on a “screw it” attitude. I don’t want to think that my problems are more important than anyone else’s. I never want to lose my connection with the world around me. So what’s the solution when even doing the right thing still results in crippling guilt?

Stop imagining that the world is full of assholes. Profound, I know. Today I realized that my guilt is rather insulting to the very people I am concerned for. Am I not assuming the worst in people by feeling this guilt? My guilt is telling me that my co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors are incapable of empathy and understanding. Haven’t I given up prep time to cover a co-worker’s class? If I had received an email from a volunteer, wouldn’t I instantly reply that I hoped their child felt better and not have given it another thought? Wasn’t it pretty goddamn arrogant to think that no one else would give me the same courtesy?

It takes a village, and today I realized that guilt makes you the village idiot. Have faith in your fellow villagers. Do your part when others are in need, and they will step in for you. The next time guilt tries to whisper in your ear, you tell her that your village is too good for her. And if any of the villagers prove guilt right, kick that asshole out of town.

 

Mama’s Drinking Wine…

onion cry

Because I’ll never be a television chef. Gordon Ramsey will never call me a donkey, Rachel Ray will never say anything I’ve made is yum-o, and, most tragically, Scott Conant will never be so swept away by my cooking that he asks me to immediately flee the Chopped studios and run away with him. Why? Because I cannot cut a damn onion without looking like I’m watching the series finale of Parenthood.

I just chopped an onion for dinner, which means that moments ago I had tears and snot streaming down my face. What everyone wants to see in someone preparing their food. I decided nothing paired better with broken dreams and a Tammy Faye Baker look than a glass of red.  Then I thought of the silver lining.

I’m pretty sure this onion “allergy” gives me an excuse to make boxed mac and cheese, frozen chicken nuggets, and/or pasta with jarred sauce for the remainder of the week. I mean, when Mama’s suffered this much to make dinner for her family, she deserves a break. I’ll drink to that!

onion cry

Mama’s Drink of Gratitude

My morning started with a healthy dose of what my friends and I like to refer to as RLS (Roommate Letdown Syndrome). After an amazing long weekend with some old college roommates, the first day back to the grind was a tough one. Fast forward an hour and a half later and I was strolling into a meeting 5 – okay, 10 – minutes late after being caught in road paving traffic. My boss was in attendance, an agenda item I’d completely forgotten about.

From there I was frazzled and off. It was one of those days where self-doubt consumes you and you feel like the jig is up – this is the day everyone realizes that you are basically inept at life.

I then stopped at the grocery store and got in the line with the new cashier. This meant watching the people in the surrounding lines leave in droves well before me.

I got home to find that nearly everything had fallen out of two of my grocery bags. When I climbed into the trunk of our SUV to retrieve them, I bashed me head against the roof of the car. I immediately let out a chorus of expletives that I was immediately grateful no one else was in earshot of.

Onto my favorite activity – making dinner! On tonight’s menu – chicken. This means dinnertime will be filled with both of my children shouting about how repulsive their meal is.

Then I got on the treadmill. Ever so subtly, the day’s offenses melted away.

I got off with a different perspective.

  1. I got to have an incredible weekend with people I love dearly.
  2. I got to (finally) meet the kind, thoughtful, lovely fiance of a friend I love with my whole heart.
  3. My children got to play with the adorable, soulful, and vivacious children of one of my best friends. And they hit it off big time!
  4. I have a job. One that, even on rough days like these, I love.
  5. I have money to stop at the grocery store whenever I need to. I have a car (with a hard ass roof) that gets me there.
  6. My children have the greatest grandparents in the world. My mother and father-in law took care of my kids all day, as they always do, so that I can go to work knowing they are safe and loved.
  7. Today is Irish dance day and my father-in-law, the most caring and generous man in the world, took them and brought them home so that I didn’t have to rush like an insane woman to do it.
  8. I made dinner before my kids were home from school. Let’s be honest, the entire list could be deleted and, if only this remained, it would be reason enough to celebrate.
  9. When I arrived home, I discovered that my husband had washed all the dishes (we were both WAY too tired after our trip to deal with our takeout dishes last night). Oh, and, doing dishes or not, I get to be married to a man that makes my heart burst with love and whose sense of humor makes me, sometimes begrudgingly, laugh every day.
  10. My children came home from dance happy, healthy, and adorably messy. Hair askew, wearing not quite the right dance uniform, they fill my heart and soul with more love than I ever imagined was possible.
  11. Lucky number 11 bonus – my mom and brother are on two separate trips to one of my favorite places in the entire world and I cannot wait for them to get back so I can hear all about it and live vicariously through them.

I could be home drinking in frustration, but instead I am sipping wine with a heart of gratitude. Because it really is all about perspective. And if any of you want to drink because my positivity is making you sick, go for it. I totally get it. I’ll probably be right with you tomorrow, but for now, October 11 is a good day…

drinking to a good day

Mama Makes You Feel Better…

Because every school project is a fail. It begins in an idea stage full of beauty and grandeur, and then quickly deteriorates into garbage. You see, Mama often forgets about the school project until the very last minute and is left to throw something together in a rush.

This time around, Mama forgot that a certain first grader was Student of the Week until the very morning of her reign’s commencement. Since my daughter was still sleeping, I set it out her Student of the Week responsibilities, ready to be filled out when she awoke. Gone were my illusions of creating a page full of cascading colors and brilliant responses, and the realist in me set her up with a dull pencil.

kidproject

Then I saw the attached note that said we should send in 5-10 of our child’s favorite photographs. Regardless of the fact that we take roughly 40 photos a day, I haven’t gotten a picture developed since 2014, so this proved to be…challenging. While rummaging through a junk drawer I happened upon our Christmas cards from the last two years – looks like those add up to 5-10 photos to me! Done and done. I’m sure her teacher was very impressed.

first grade project