August 16, 2013

My Coffee Cup Holds 3 Healthy Shots of Jack...

I brought Daughter and Son to the park.  And that is when the fight almost happened.  Background is probably needed here.

OK, so I am a full time mama.  I have brought up my "Sanity Squad" many times.  If you are a mom, truth is you need a good group of friends that you can be completely honest with when you're having those moments where you are wondering if running away could truly be an option, those moments where you are thinking you could really understand throwing your child out the window, those moments where you're thinking how did you end up here, those moments when you wish you could go back in time and change it all.  Cuz, sorry to say it, but if you're honest as a mom, you've thought every single one of those things even if you never said them out loud.  If this group of friends is a good group of friends they will tell you they've been there too, tell you you don't want to do that, remind you of all the amazing times you really enjoyed with your kids and follow it all with a shot of tequila before heading onto the dance floor to dance like you were single and childless again.

Here's a secret about me...I'm a better mom when I get the chance to not be mom every once in a while.  I get to blow off steam and have adult time.  I'm able to go out and remember why I chose to get married and have kids and when I get home, seeing those people that I choose to slow down for puts a huge, if slightly crooked, smile on my face.

Yep, time with my "Sanity Squad" usually includes a night out at the bar listening to a band that we all know the members of and shaking our butts on the dance floor.  The night usually ends with hugs all around, we all find safe rides to our homes and we check in on our children to smile at their sleeping beauty and crawl into bed with our amazing husbands that we remember again why we married in the first place.  Sounds pretty benign to me...

I ran into a mom at the park that apparently disagreed with me.

So I'm happily watching my kids play.  They're running after each other giggling and trying to injure themselves on every contraption available at the playground.  There are always other mothers there.  Some are in groups talking, some are staring at their phones, some are running right beside their children.  I'm standing near my children watching to make sure Daughter doesn't talk Son into doing something he can't quite get himself out of when a mother clutching a coffee cup in her hands saddles up next to me.  I kinda give her a sideways glance cuz I don't recognize her and I'm not the mom that makes new friends over the playground equipment.  She stands there for a while before turning to me and saying, "Hi."

The following is the conversation...
Coffee Clutching Mom: "Hi."
Me: "Hello." more as a question, looking at her a little awkwardly.
CCM: "I think I saw you at the bar a couple weekends ago..."
Me: "MmmmKay." awkward sideways glance still in place with cocked eyebrow.
CCM: "I think you were pretty friendly with the band..."
Me: "Hmmm...possible..."
CCM: "The way you were acting I would have guessed you were single with no children..." in a questioning tone.
Me: "Nope...married with 2 kids..." now my mouth is set in a line and my arms are crossed.  Ready for the inquisition.
CCM: "How did you feel that next morning?" trying to hide a giggling undertone.
Me: Turned toward her with a forced smile, through gritted teeth, "Perfectly fine.  Why do you ask?"
CCM: With a sweet, evil grin and a holier than thou tone,  "I was just thinking I couldn't do that and then play mommy the next morning..."
Me: With eyelashes fluttering and a returned sweet, evil grin, "Yeah well, sorry."
I walked away, toward Daughter and Son, grinning ear to ear and they came running to me with smiles shining.

I have grown up.  The old me would have kept going and the inevitable verbal altercation would have possibly even ended with me decking CCM so hurray for me.  Yet, I'm writing now to vent.

I do go out.  I do flirt with band members.  I do drink.  I do dance like a stripper.  I do forget for 4-6 hours every month or 2 about all the rules of being the "perfect mom".  I do act inappropriately, get loud, do things I wouldn't want my children to see me doing.  I am still someone without my children.  I still have an identity other than "Mom"!  And yes, I am sorry...I am sorry that becoming a mom made the rest of your personality disappear.

So here you go CCM...yep, it was me you saw shaking my butt on the dance floor, doing a shot of tequila followed by a shot of whiskey.  It was me you saw kiss the neck of the lead singer and grab the butt of the guitar player.  If you must know, the lead singer's girlfriend is part of my "Sanity Squad" and was sitting right next to me encouraging me to let her man take a shot of tequila from between my boobs.  And that guitar player's girlfriend, she saw me grab his butt and giggled from the seat on the other side of me.  My family knows all those people too.  That lead singer and his girlfriend, A., have babysat my children.  A. cuts my family's hair.  That guitar player showed Daughter his guitar when she was 1 year old.  That guitar player's girlfriend visited me in the hospital when I had Daughter.  All those people knew me before I was a mom and all those people know me as a mom.

Now, even that doesn't really matter.  What really matters is I am still me.  I have different parts of my personality.  If becoming a mom made you JUST a mom...I really do feel sorry for you.  But yet, you were at the bar when I was so did you go just to sit there?  Were you worried what people might think of the perfect mom letting her hair down?  Or were you clutching a coffee cup at the bar too?

I was able to wake up fine the next morning.  In fact, that next morning, I got up with Daughter and took her on a Mommy/Daughter date to breakfast and let Him and Son sleep in.  When we got home from breakfast, as a family, we spent time in the backyard playing and when Son went down for a nap, Daughter and I built an awesome sheet fort in the backyard.

So, look at that.  I was crazy acting single, drinking double girl at night and "perfect mom" in the morning.  Neither one is my secret identity.  I'm very open about who I am.  My wine is on my kitchen counter in plain view, my growler of IPA is right there when you open my fridge and my Jack is sitting in the freezer.  If you want to bring over your coffee cup, I'll fill it with whiskey for you and you can possibly figure out that there is more to you than just "mom" too!

Next time you see me out at the bar, don't sit there clutching your coffee cup and staring on with disapproval.  Call your husband, tell him you're coming home late and come have some fun!  You too are allowed to forget about being the "perfect mom".  If you really feel a need to keep it a secret you can even just clutch your coffee cup at the park the next day and nod at me in recognition.  I'll be "that mom" holding the coffee cup that says, "there's a good chance this is whiskey" and you can be the "perfect mom" with a secret identity but please, stop with the thinking you're shaming me.  I like who I am and so does my family.

August 14, 2013

Stop Running And Just Lean...

Him and I have gone camping a lot.  We love camping.  Our wedding registry was filled with things for camping: a camp grill, sleeping bags, coolers, the like.  We even spent part of our honeymoon camping.  We found out that if your marriage can withstand setting up a tent in a wind storm coming off a lake your marriage is going to withstand most anything...even if at the end it requires a beer to wash it all down!  We had gone camping every summer until the summer Daughter was born.

That summer we took a break from camping because well, camping with a one month old didn't sound like a ton of fun.  Yet, even on our baby registry we asked for one of those folding, hook to the table highchairs knowing we would be camping with our children later in life.

The next summer, we went camping with Daughter and it was awesome.  There's a campground about one hour from our house that Him basically spent every summer growing up.  This campground is on a river which is perfect because along with camping we happen to also love boating.  We bought a boat before having children too knowing we would want to share our love of the water with our children.  In that one week of camping, Daughter learned so much.  She went in non-pool water for the first time, she went hiking through the woods, it was her first boat ride.  It was so much fun to watch all the different looks of joy and amazement play across her face!

We skipped the next year because that was the year we lost MJ.  The next year, Son was only one month old when we normally would have gone camping and camping with a 3 year old and a one month old sounded exhausting.

This summer, Daughter is 4 and Son is 1.  July 16 we set off for a week of camping.  Daughter was so excited cuz I had been showing her pictures from her first camping experience and she couldn't wait to go.  We borrowed a camper and loaded it full with everything we could think of that we might need.  We pulled the camper and one of our buddies that we've been camping with for years pulled the boat.  We got to our campsite and started setting up the camper and all of the chairs around the fire pit and put the table highchair on the picnic table.  We put the boat in the water and moored it in the channel that was right in front of our campsite.  Our buddies had the 3 adjoining campsites.  It was all set out pretty darn perfect!

To be honest, I was dreading this whole experience.  Daughter had been a defiant little butt.  She was screaming NO in my face when I asked her to do something, when I still made her do it she would stick her tongue out at me with little arms folded across her chest.  She was using selective hearing as good reasoning for not knowing what I had told her to do in the first place.  She was arguing with everything that came out of my mouth.  Good example here:
Me: STOP ARGUING WITH EVERYTHING THAT I SAY!  Not everything in life is an argument.  I swear I could say the sky is blue and you would argue with me!
Daughter: Actually, the sky is gray right now...
Yep, she was right cuz it was about to rain but man, did I ever understand wanting to smack a kid right then!  Basically, she had the attention span of a 4 year old with the attitude of a teenager.  Also, Son still wasn't sleeping through the night and trying to keep Daughter asleep while trying to navigate in a small pop-up to get Son and make him food at 2am in complete darkness was not a thrilling prospect.

So, when we arrived and both kids were crazy right off the bat cuz Daughter saw the playground when we pulled in and wanted to go there the second she got out of the truck and Son was just so happy to not be in the confines of his carseat anymore so he was off and running as soon as we set him on his feet, I knew this week was not going to be the normal relaxation I expected when camping!  A little while after showing up at the campground, Him's mom and dad showed up and took the kids to the playground leaving us to set everything up in a little less chaos.  When they brought the kids back later, we had everything pretty well sorted out and the camper all set up.

Right away, upon returning from the playground, Daughter had to go to the bathroom.  Our campsite was situated about 20 steps from our boat, about 30 steps from the playground and about a half mile from the bathroom.  So, I took Daughter on a walk to the bathroom.  Daughter, being a social butterfly, said Hi to everyone we passed walking, people sitting on their campsites, the rangers riding in their John Deere Gator, the guy at the camp store, literally everyone.  I was greeted by each one of them with words about how adorable she was, which put a smile on my face.  When she was done, we started the trek back and she was talking to everyone on the way back, telling them where our site was, pointing out our boat, letting them know we were going to be there for "one WHOLE week".  Upon returning to the campsite, we found everybody getting stuff for dinner together.  I sat down in one of the camp chairs around the fire and prepared to feed Son when Daughter walked up to me and whispered, "Mom, I need to pee again."  To which I reply, "Are you serious?"  The reply was nodding and holding her crotch between crossed legs.  Off on the half mile walk we go.  The waving and talking all the way there was again greeted with smiles and laughter and comments about how much exercise I was going to get camping.  Daughter sat on the toilet for 2 minutes not peeing.  We returned to the campsite, again many stops to let people know everything about Daughter's camping experience so far.  After about 40 half mile trips 3 days in a row, I finally realized, Daughter "had to pee" only because she wanted to go socialize with every single person that she could.  I said to her, "Hey babe, if you're just looking to go for a walk, ask to go for a walk so I can see something other than the same people and so I don't have to spend this much time standing in a hot bathroom for no reason.  We can walk all over the campground if you want just stop pretending you have to pee."  Yep, it took me 3 days!  So after that though, we went on lots of walks; to the ranger station, to the playground, to the beach, all much better destinations!  Everywhere we went, Daughter made sure she was the center of attention, playing up the charmer side of her.  When we were on the boat, she waved at every passing boat.  She caught a grasshopper and had to show all the friends she had met.  One of the rangers told her she should name him Jiminy to which Daughter replied, "No, Jiminy is a cricket and this is a grasshopper!"

Son was off on adventures at all times.  There were sticks to bang on things, stones to throw at things, things to climb on, pinecones to try to shove in his mouth when we weren't watching.  He would wave at all the vehicles that went by our campsite.  He was enthralled whenever the John Deere Gator went by and the rangers would always wave at him.  He loved the boat...he even fell asleep on the boat once.  He had so much fun at the playground, following his sister around.  He was so exhausted most nights he slept from 11pm until 8am and it was wonderful.

I remember there was yelling, there were nights that Son would refuse to fall asleep and days he refused to take a nap.  I remember all the walks to the bathroom getting upset when Daughter didn't actually have to pee.  I remember how early some of those mornings felt when I had stayed up to sit by the fire the night before.  I even remember how I drove Daughter about 10 miles toward home so she wouldn't be able to call me out as a liar after I threatened to take her home if she didn't start listening.

But what I really remember is the great talk we had in the truck, just my daughter and I, on that 10 mile drive.  I remember Son's face breaking into a huge grin every time someone waved back at him.  I loved how Daughter charmed the pants off everyone she met.  I cracked up watching Son try to do everything Daughter did.  I loved seeing the excitement on both their faces when we climbed into the boat.  I was astonished by how awesome all our friends we were camping with were with both our kids.  I was so not excited by our friend teaching Daughter to say, "EXCUUUUUUSSSSE ME!" whenever she farted, but it was funny!  I almost teared up when Son waved at the waves cuz I told him to look at the waves behind the boat just like his sister did when she was his age and took her first camping trip.

What I remember most about the whole trip is the last night.  Sunday afternoon we said goodbye to some of our friends that left, leaving our family and one friend that was the best man at our wedding.  Monday morning, Best Man took our family for a boat ride and pulled Him for a ski ride and then we said goodbye to Best Man and our boat since Best Man is the one that pulled it up there and was pulling it back home.  That left just our family.  There were no campers within 3 sites of our campsite in all directions.  It was like we were on our own island for that last night.  We went down to the beach, just our family.  We made a sandcastle and went swimming.  Daughter collected all the pink rocks she could find and put them in a baby food jar to remember the trip.  We went to the playground and watched as Daughter helped Son climb into the wooden train and Him and I delighted in them both giggling while they rode the teeter-totter together.  We walked around the long way back to our campsite.  We had dinner, just our family.  And that night, Daughter had her first s'more.  She watched in awe as the marshmallow plumped over the fire.  She wiggled with anticipation while she waited for the chocolate to melt.  She was so excited to take that first bite and she got gooey all over.  Her face was covered with sticky marshmallow and melted chocolate, her hands stuck together, she wiped them on her pants and got them all sticky and all with a huge smile on her face highlighted by the glowing fire.  We sat by firelight to read bedtime stories as a family.  We walked out by the river to say goodnight to the moon.  Daughter went to sleep in the camper and Him, Son and I sat staring at the fire and talking about all the fun stuff that happened all week.  Son started yawning and we put him into the pack-n-play in the camper.  Him and I sat by the fire for a little while longer.  We climbed into our bed exhausted but with smiles on our faces.

The next morning, we got up and started packing up and getting ready to go.  I took the kids around the campground as Him took down the camper.  Daughter sadly said goodbye to all her admirers as we walked.  Son was happy to see the Gator one last time.  We climbed in the truck and set off for home.  We waved goodbye to the trees and thanked them for their shade.  We waved goodbye to the river and thanked it for cooling us on those 90 degree days.  We waved goodbye to the park and promised to be back again next year.  On the way home, it had become a tradition before we had kids to stop at an A&W restaurant, so we stopped to have lunch and Daughter was thrilled to get a root beer float.  Son slept through the whole ride home.

Thinking back on the dread I felt before we left and the joy throughout the trip and especially that last day as a family, it's funny to me.  As a parent I get caught up in the day to day things, the things that need to be done, the schedules that need to be kept, the monotony of it all.  I watch my children to make sure they are safe, to make sure they are being nice and good, to make sure they are eating well, to make sure they are careful.  Yet, during all that watching somehow I wasn't seeing.

Camping, the no other distractions of it, gave me the chance to see my kids, to admire them for who they are without rushing them on to what needed to be done.  Of course, back from camping, we had to get back to real life.  There was unpacking to do and that leads to laundry to get done.  Then there's grocery shopping to do to restock the fridge.  Of course those bills didn't stop just because we were on vacation.  There are so many things that need to get done.  Back to real life.

This past Monday was what felt like a really long day.  Daughter wasn't feeling well and was taking it out on me.  Son  is cutting 3 teeth at once and is having a bad time with it.  When Him came home from work, I basically ran out the door screaming, "FREEDOM!"  I was just going grocery shopping but man, was it awesome!  While driving, I popped in a Bob Seger CD.  "Against the Wind" came on and I blared it.  I totally understood the lines, "Well those drifter days are passed me now, I've got so much more to think about, deadlines and commitments...Older now but still running against the wind."  I feel ya, Bob!

Tuesday came and I went on a walk with Son in the stroller and Daughter walking next to me.  We were on our way to the library.  It was really windy and we were literally walking against the wind.  The irony was not lost on me!  All the sudden, Daughter stopped put her arms out and leaned into the wind, letting it push her back.  I stopped and watched her and slowly, feeling a little silly, threw my arms to my sides and leaned into the wind.  Son was giggling, Daughter was giggling and as the wind died a little and I almost fell flat on my face, we all started out right laughing.  Daughter, still laughing, said, "Isn't leaning against the wind fun!?!?"  Man, kids can be great teachers...stop running and just's way more fun!

Daughter and Son, it is my promise to you, I will try to stop running and try to lean more and not watch you grow up but see you in this now...if I start running too far ahead again, please remind me how much more fun it is to lean.

August 10, 2013

They Needed To Miss Me...

So, it's been a while since I posted anything.  My last post was way back in March.  So let me update you through a series of posts starting with this one.

As a mom, I made the decision to stay home with my children.  I was home whenever my kids needed me.  Which also meant I was home whenever my kids decided they wanted me to go away and leave them alone and let them have time with Him.  Daughter had started saying things like, "I wish you would go to work and Daddy would stay home."  "I wish you would leave me alone!"  "Why don't you ever just go away?" and the #1 favorite of mine, "Why can't I have a day without you around?"  Son was the opposite.  He would not let other people hold him.  Even Him couldn't put Son to bed cuz Son would scream until I went into his room, picked him up, kissed him, told him it was bedtime and laid him back down.  Daughter was annoyed by me always being around and Son was so used to me he wanted no one else around.

It was a breaking point.  I needed to be out of the house...for the sake of the family...they needed to miss me.

I went out St. Patty's day weekend to see some of my friends in a band play at this small town bar and grill.  I liked the bar's atmosphere and look and after seeing the female owner toss a guy out without taking any shit...I was in love!  I returned to the bar the following Monday and got a part-time bartending job.  It went first.  I liked most of the girls I was working with and I was out of the house 2-3 nights a week giving everybody the space and time we were all needing.  I went for a part-time job and was fine working the occasional Sunday.  Slowly though I got back into my old routine of offering myself up for all the shifts no one else was willing to cover and I went from 2-3 nights a week to 4-5 shifts a week with every other Sunday.  The month of May came along and I realized I had to work Mother's Day...sucky.  So, I made plans with Daughter to go to a street fair the Sunday before.  We had talked all about riding the rides and eating cotton candy and elephant ears and playing games to win a unicorn a la "Despicable Me".  The Saturday night before our planned Mommy-Daughter outing, at 11:30pm...I was told I was working the Sunday before Mother's Day and would have Mother's Day off.  I said something about how I had plans with my daughter and was greeted with the happily stated response that I should be happy because now I could spend Mother's Day with my family.  Yeah, I should be happy that now, with no notice, I have to cancel plans with my 4 year old daughter?  I should be happy cuz now I got to spend a day with her that we had not made plans cuz I was supposed to work?  I should be happy because this particular day I was now getting the pleasure of having off was named "Mother's Day" even though my day was planned for the Sunday that now I was being told I had to work?  I was not happy!

Like I said, it went first.  I went home and told Daughter that I wouldn't be able to do our planned outing cuz I had to work.  She instantly screamed in my face, with little fists balled, "I HATE your job!" and ran away.  Yep, I should be happy!

Some night in June, I came home from my job that I was slowly starting to dislike at about midnight and got ready for bed.  I walked up the stairs to my bedroom, started crawling my tired butt into my bed when I hear, "MOMMY!" in a frantic scream come from Daughter's room.  I run in there, suddenly VERY awake.  I grab Daughter to me and ask what's wrong.  She tells me she had a bad dream but didn't want to really tell me about it.  She grabbed tight to me and told me she was happy I came home.  I thought that was a weird statement but hey, I was happy that Daughter was happy to see me!  In the morning I asked her about her bad dream.  All she would say is that she was worried I would never come home.  After probing a good part of the day, she finally said, "I was dreaming that you liked your job better than me cuz you don't have to deal with me being bad there and I thought you would never come home."  Oh yes, I cried!  I hugged her tight to me and tried desperately to explain that I love her so much no matter what even when she's being difficult and I don't have a job to get away from her, I have a job so she can have time with Daddy and we can buy her cool things like the big playset we bought her for her birthday.  Yeah, a 4 year old doesn't really understand that but she was happy to hear that I missed her when I was at work too.

Now fast forward to July, Wednesday and Thursday were my normal nights off.  Seeing as how the 4th of July was a Thursday and no one had told me different I planned on it being my night off and Him had the whole day off.  So,  I made plans to enjoy an entire day as a family.  We were going to go to the parade in the morning, boating in the afternoon, grill out in the backyard for dinner and watch the fireworks as a family at night.  It was going to be a great day!  July 2 at 6:30pm, Tuesday night, I was told the "schedule" for the 4th wasn't finalized yet.  I was confused cuz we didn't have a schedule really, everybody had a set schedule, we all knew the nights we were expected to be there.  Apparently, holidays were different.  I was not informed.  I went to the owner and inquired whether or not I was expected to work, letting her know that no, I didn't want to and that I had made plans with my family since as of the 2nd I was not told I was supposed to work.  She got mad and said, "What? You think I can run a busy night with the 2 girls that normally do Thursday nights and so you should just have the whole day off?"  I replied, biting back what I really wanted to say, with, "Since it's Tuesday and the 4th is Thursday I guess I would've thought if I was expected to work I would've known before now."  She stated that she would try to get me the night off but there was little to no chance.  The girl I was working Tuesday night with had made plans with her family too and was equally pissed when the owner then started speaking with regulars and yes, I quote, said, "Here I am 2 nights before a busy night and these 2 girls are whining about not wanting to work cuz they already made plans with their families!"  The girl I was working with promptly went up, and I wanted to high-five her, and said, "The part she's leaving out is that we don't normally work Thursdays and it's 2 days away and we still haven't actually been informed that we're supposed to work!"

At 11pm on Tueday, July 2, we were informed we would both be canceling our plans and we would be expected to be to work at 4pm on the 4th.  Insta-pissed!  I have to cancel plans with my daughter again with little to no notice?  Son won't really care cuz he's only 1 and doesn't get the plans and all but Daughter?  Yep!

So, in the morning I let Daughter know what's going on and she was upset to say the least!  She told me she hated my job and that my job ruined everything and she wished I would just quit.

On the 4th, I still went to the parade with the family in the morning and it was fun!  Daughter got all kinds of candy.  She saw some friends in the parade.  I sat right on the curb with her, hugging her when the louder sirens went off.  I went up on your friend's porch and sat with Son who got to enjoy his first freezy pop.  It was a wonderful morning.  We came home and I started getting ready for work.  When I went to walk out the door, Daughter came running at me, hugged herself tight around my thighs, and with a tear soaked face said, "Mama, you don't have to go!  I've been good all day!"

Mama, me, had a breakdown all the way to work.  I pulled into my parking space and wiped my face as well as I could and decided I didn't give a damn.  I walked in with red rimmed eyes and when people asked what was wrong I just shook my head and said, "Don't have a good reason for being here..."  It was busy that night and I got out right after the fireworks ended.  I got home just in time to miss kissing my beautiful children goodnight and I determined they did need to miss me but not as much as they were.  I went in the next day and quit.  So I am happily job-free now.  That's different than jobless.  Now I just need to find a part time job that will stay part time and won't expect me to choose it over my family.  One thing is for certain though, my family will always win!