Sunday, February 28, 2010

Silent but Deadly Discipline

Many of my growing up years were in the 80’s, and man, did I love Bill Cosby. Not only did my whole family love watching the Cosby show every week, we also collected all of Bill Cosby’s stand-up comedy and books. We had cassette tapes of his comedy, and later, when I was in junior and high school, I would try to catch his stand-up shows on cable and tape them on VHS.

Bill is hilarious. He is belly-laugh out-loud rolling on the floor funny. I have thought of his old routines many times as a parent. I have even heeded Bill’s warnings and have chosen to only have one child. He bitches about the frustration of having more than one child, which increases hearing, “MINE! MINE!” and “Stop TOUCHING me!”

Some other favorite moments include children thinking that they’re names are “Dammit” and “Jesus Christ,” when Bill talks about his wife’s face being permanently changed into a scowl after having children, and children singing “Dad is great! Give us the chocolate cake!” during breakfast.

One old stand-up Bill moment sticks in my head even more than others, however. That would be Bill’s wife exclaiming, after she had had ENOUGH, “LET THE BEATINGS BEGIN!”

I did not grow up with beatings or the belt. Thank God, and thank you Mom and Dad. I did have one infamous spanking after running into the street, and my dad was known to snap the belt in a threatening manner, but it never touched my body. My dad would sit in my brother’s room in the dark while we were supposed to be going to sleep (my brother and I slept in the same room when we were children, much to my brother’s annoyance). My dad would be frustrated that we weren’t going to bed. He would drop “silent but deadly” farts on us to express his frustration. When we giggled or groaned, Dad would say, “You think that is bad, we’ll get your mom in here and see what happens.” This is all I remember of heavy-handed parenting when I was growing up.

It seems, nowadays, that the pendulum has swung to the other extreme and parents are afraid to really discipline their children. Parents want their children to have more than they did and be happier than they were. Sometimes this happens in conjunction with unintentionally teaching their children entitlement, so parents must be careful and figure out a balance that includes empathy and love with discipline, limits, and structure.

But it’s just so much fun to yell when you have had ENOUGH, “LET THE BEATINGS BEGIN!” At least it makes my husband and me laugh and then we are in a much better place to deal with annoying behavior that requires smarter discipline. Humor always helps. Always.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mad-Skills Mothering

If I do say so myself, I have a few mad mothering skills. Now, I may no longer be able to exclaim (with a fist in the air), “I have a mind like a steel trap!” but sometimes I do not give myself enough credit. I can be pretty self-deprecating when it comes to acknowledging my strengths, but honestly, there are some things I do that I am quite impressed with. If we are to survive at all, us mothers must recognize the amazing feats we accomplish daily.

For example, I have ALL kid-food items’ microwave cooking times completely memorized down to the perfect second. Macaroni and Cheese Easy Pouch?! Two-thirds cup water and three minutes – no more, no less! Graduates Lil’ Entrees cups and trays?! Forty-five seconds (even though the package says thirty seconds)!! Michelina’s smiley face potatoes and chicken?! Two minutes, thirty seconds!! Four Tyson Chicken Fries?! Twenty seconds, flip, twenty seconds!! Hah! I could go on, but you get the point.

I feel this is something to be very proud of. Also, I cannot resist pointing out the fact that anytime my husband needs to heat something up, he has to yell to wherever I am and ask how long the item cooks. I smugly yell back, “Three minutes.” I’m sure other mothers will now think, “I know, geesh, why can’t they READ the package themselves and problem solve accordingly?” But I’ll just say you thought it, and I didn’t say a word.

At the same time I am deftly preparing two entire dinners through microwave cooking (one dinner for my husband and me, and one dinner for the little maniac, of course), I can also step around play cars and tipped tractors (anyone who has seen Disney Pixar Cars as many times as me knows what tipped tractors are) while “disciplining” my child (e.g., “Stop! Get out of the way! Not right now!”). Impressive, huh?

If you have ever had two loads of laundry going while preparing a mental list of groceries, while watering the plants, while the waffle cooks in the toaster oven for your child, you know where I am coming from. Give yourself a pat on the back. We rock. Our skills cannot be denied, and we are allowed to be in awe of ourselves. I gotta go. I need to get back to watching Oprah and reading Us Weekly at the same time while planning our next dinner so I can maximize the time I have before my husband and son come home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm Too Sexy for my Black Lycra Gown

For crying out loud, people, why can’t it be normal to wear gowns as a swimming suit? And if this can’t be normal, then why can’t cellulite and varicose veins be considered beautiful? You may ask, “Why is Kristy ranting so?”

Well, you guessed it.

I did a little swim suit shopping today.

Well, I did a little swim suit shopping in my own home. I ordered a variety of one-pieces with new “magic” sucking-in technology, some with skirts attached, some with detachable skirts, some with sashes and things that can serve a variety of functions (the primary function being DISTRACTION from above-mentioned cellulite, veins, and bulgy things).

I did end up choosing one that caused the least amount of psychotic babble. I sounded like my son, repeating over and over, “Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, dear.”

There is a bit of relief in at least having the damn thing chosen. Now the only step left is to buy a few bottles of self-tanner and wonder just how much I can slather on to make a difference in the appearance of my pasty legs.

You may ask, “Why is Kristy so worried about this in February in Colorado with snow on the ground?”
Well, Spring Break is coming, and no, I am not going to do what I secretly and guiltily picture myself doing sometimes (dancing on the beach too drunk to care what I look like and being wildly excited that “Shoop” by Salt N Pepa just came on. I can here you now, ladies! “Here I go, here I go, here I go again! What’s my weakness? Men!”).

I digress.

My family’s plan for Spring Break is visiting the extended fam in Phoenix, and of course, spending some time at the pool. And here’s the thing, in spite of the body and swim suit issues, I am really, truly looking forward to taking my son to the pool. Parker loves the water. It will be great to see his little two year old face light up when he goes to the pool for the first time again since last summer. I’ll be damned if I let my own insecurities get in the way of having fun with my child. I’ll be the one at the pool, in a black Lycra gown, holding my precious two year old. I’ll have a big silly grin on my face, living it up, and enjoying the best things in life. It took me many years and one child to realize that the BEST things in life are not tanned, toned thighs and a flat stomach. The best things in life are the people you love and who love you (cellulite and all).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Supermom is a Myth

It is time for us mothers to be honest. It is time for us to be more forgiving of ourselves and each other. We all agree that the very best and most precious thing in our lives is our children, but let’s face it, there are times when things don’t feel as rosy, and it helps to know that you are not alone. I think there are some moms out there that are not being honest so that they can perpetuate the myth of their Supermom-ness. Let’s end that right now and be bold and honest and have some fun with this! Here’s my list of things I may have been embarrassed to think or say, but SOMEBODY out there must have felt the same way at some point:

1. I’d like to go to work now.
2. My child is a maniac.
3. How terrible would it be if I had a glass of wine with these chicken nuggets and tator tots?
4. Let’s take the child to daycare, take a day off work, and lay around the house all day.
5. How much time do I have left before nap time/bed time?
6. Can’t I just go upstairs for awhile, and my husband can tell Parker I went to the store?
7. I need to have at least one more glass of wine to feel comfortable with my body in anticipation of “intimate relations.”
8. Are we getting close to when Parker can make his own breakfast in the morning and watch cartoons without us?
9. This child has taken YEARS off my life!
10. Oh, man! We don’t have any more batteries for that toy! (blatant lie)

Of course, these are moments, bad-mommy-moments (there I go judging myself again!). I do not feel this way the majority of the time. But I know you mommies are out there that feel or think these things sometimes too. It’s much more fun to laugh together about it then try to pretend you don’t have some of your own “bad-mommy-moments.” So go ahead and spill it! What do you think or feel sometimes that you keep inside because you’re afraid to be judged? This is a JUDGMENT-FREE ZONE!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Whining Kills Slowly

I have been known to be called a patient person. I have a Bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education. I have Masters and Specialists degrees in educational and school psychology. I have been a classroom teacher, special education teacher, and school psychologist. I deal with children everyday. I am a Positive Behavior Supports Coach. I have read all about Love and Logic parenting and teaching. HOWEVER, when I am home after work, getting dinner ready, and my own child is whining (ooohh, the whining), all I can do sometimes is GROAN LOUDLY and growl, “Stop! UGH!” You would think there would be a reservoir of strategies. But sometimes, none of that matters when you are a tired working mother, especially when dealing with whining. I am surprised whining does not cut glass. Or at least make it vibrate a little. It gives me an eye twitch. I used to think that the t-shirts that said something like, “Mommy drinks because you cry,” were terrible, but now I kind of get it. While my eyes roll back in my head for a moment and I take a big, deep breath, I will TRY to be a good mommy and say (in a sing-songy voice), “I will listen when you talk nice,” and then calmly go along with what I am doing until I hear “nice talk.” Barf. All I really have to say is whining sucks. And it’s killing me slowly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The New Mom 'Look'

On my drive home from work today, I saw a new mom pushing her stroller down the street. I am assuming she is a new mother because the stroller had an attached infant seat. There were other clues as well. It was close to 5 pm and a chilly, breezy 35 degrees. She was walking briskly and had a certain look on her face. I know that look. That look is called, “My-baby-only-stops-crying-on-stroller-rides-so-this-is-our-third-stroller-ride-today look.” Or, it could possibly be, “It-is-the-5-o-clock-colic-witching-hour-and-this-is-the-last-trick-up-my-sleeve look.” If not one of those, then it must be, “I-will-get-out-of-this-house-dammit-even-if-it-means-taking-a-stroller-ride-in-35-degree-Colorado-weather look.” And, the very last thing I would put any money on would be, “I’ll-lose-this-weight-one-way-or-another-even-if-it-means-three-stroller-rides-a-day look.” I keep referring to “three” stroller rides a day because that is about what I did every single day of maternity leave myself. And, any one of those previously described “looks” could have been an accurate reason for that particular stroller ride. Now, of course I also see mothers here and there jogging with their “jogging strollers.” They have a look of, “This is easy, nothing to it. In fact, I have a better body NOW than I did before a baby.” Well, I simply do not relate to that mother. And that is OK. We all own our own experiences – to each her own, right? It just helps to know that there are other mothers out there that have had similar experiences to yours. It may not be the experience you had thought you would have, or it may be just as you intended, but it’s yours. It’s fun to look back, with a smile on my face, and feel gratitude for how far I’ve come. My son grew out of his colic eventually, I only take walks outside with my son if it is warm enough and not for any other desperate reason, and I can chase around a toddler or even choose a workout video (a couple times a month) in order to try and lose that “baby” weight. Life just keeps looking up!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How do you make love stay?

“Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not. Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end. Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm. There is only one serious question. And that is: who knows how to make love stay? Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself. Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and end of time. Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon.”
-Tom Robbins, from Still Life with Woodpecker, (one of my favorite authors)

Well, Tom, here I am to answer your question. How do you make love stay? You CHOOSE to make love stay. That may not be the highly romantic answer you were looking for, and I certainly do not mean that you dryly choose to make love stay by thinking, “Well, I guess this is it.” You choose to let love stay with gratitude and delight in your heart. Love sometimes is a decision you make, and when it is true and healthy love, you are a better person for it. Even after 12 years, you remember to tell your loved one, “You look hot today, Grr! Baby, Grrr!” Even when you’re mad as hell at the other, you trust they’ll be with you until the end. Even when you are tired before bed, you say, “I love you, hunny,” and give a peck on the cheek before you pass out exhausted from the long day of work, dinner, dishes, and laundry. It can be easy to let love pass by and turn stale. Small, conscious choices in the doldrums of everyday make love stay. What do you think makes love stay?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Go Ahead, INDULGE!

Indulgences have a whole different meaning as a mother. During pre-motherhood, I spent about every weekend morning in bed, sleeping, drinking coffee, and reading. I did not even leave the bed until lunchtime! Then, I would usually eat lunch and head off to the gym. I would even work out to the tune of, “I’ll be up at the gym just working on my fitness” (Fergie). Geez, Louise, just remembering this kind of a schedule sounds downright luxurious. Well, here is my new list of indulgences. Every single one of these things brings pleasure and gratitude into my daily life (or whenever they happen).

1. Showering
2. Showering AND getting to shave my legs
3. Showering without being watched
4. Going to the restroom without being watched
5. Snacking on something without having to share it
6. Sleeping past 8:00 am
7. Watching a TV show in its entirety in one sitting
8. Fixing my hair to satisfaction
9. Putting on lotion
10. Watching a movie without computer animated graphics
11. Being in my house alone
12. Online shopping and packages arriving at the door
13. Allowing myself pancake breakfast every Sunday
14. Happy hour with girlfriends about twice a year
15. Scrapbooking without sharing my glue sticks and stickers
16. Committing to laying on the couch long enough to put a blanket over myself

As you can see, having a child really shook things up. But, that is a really good thing. Small things are so much more delightful now. What are your indulgences and daily delights?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Look fear in the face, and let this be your anthem!

If I had my life to live over again,
I'd try to make more mistakes next time.
I wouldn't be so perfect.
I would relax more.
I'd limber up.
I'd be sillier than I've been on this trip.
In fact, I know very few things that I would take so seriously.
I'd be crazier.
I'd be less hygienic.
I'd take more chances, I'd take more trips, I'd climb more mountains, I'd swim more rivers, I'd watch more sunsets, I'd go more places I've never been to.
I'd eat more ice cream and fewer beans.
If I had to do it all over again, I'd have more of these moments.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing but beautiful moments-moment by moment by moment.
-Jorge Luis Borges, Nobel Prize Literature (upon learning he had cancer)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Do you have a moment to spare?

I will never forget when I was pregnant, and I asked my friend (who had just had her baby) how it was going. I was sitting in my big chair at work, I was about 8 months pregnant, and her e-mail reply chilled me to the bones. She wrote that everything was going pretty well, but that “me time” pretty much had gone out the window. I shuddered. I seriously thought, “Oh, well, that won’t be me. ‘Me time’ is waayyyy too important to me to let THAT happen.” Fellow mothers, try not to laugh too hard at my ignorance at the time. As you can imagine, having a baby was a pretty big wake-up call. I was the baby in my family and hadn’t had much exposure to infants. Add that to my insatiable need to relax, and I had some adjustments to make to say the least.

At first, when Parker was an infant, I would sometimes feel pissed off. Yes, that’s right – pissed off – when I hardly had a moment to take care of my basic needs. When I did get one, small indulgent moment, I could hardly relax enough to enjoy it! When that glorious, rare moment ended, sometimes I felt. . . well, pissed off.

I have, thankfully, had a shift in thinking. Of course, things are made better (in some ways) with Parker’s age and growing independence. But I have truly begun enjoying my stolen and unplanned moments, no matter how long they last. I savor my moments. I think I’m just kind of getting used to this mothering thing. A little of the shock has worn off. And my friend, Mr. Zoloft, helps a lot too. You know, the less often you enjoy something pleasurable, the more happiness it brings you when you experience it again (e.g., your favorite song). It’s true. It’s science. It’s been researched (Pursuit of Happiness, Dr. Seligman). It’s also just kind of common sense. I have learned to stash un-read Us Weekly magazines around the house for stolen moments. It no longer bothers me that I can’t read one at once, and that I have no idea when I will get to it. But, in a given week, I do get to it, and I can still be a woman in-the-know (in the Hollywood world, at least). But, please, do not ask me about what happened on the last Bachelor. I am a week behind on my Tivo list with no idea when I can watch it. And that’s ok. I will watch it, sometime, and savor the indulgent, juicy, brainless moment.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reality TV is my Crack

Botox, anyone?

I freaking love reality TV. I know it catches a lot of slack, but dammit, I can’t tear myself away. I even have an excuse for my behavior that sounds intelligent. I am a psychologist and I also love social psychology, and watching an ill-advised amount of reality TV is like conducting observations of real crazies. I know, I know, many things are set up or manipulated, but I don’t care. It is an escape and I watch in horror and fascination. There are other reasons I watch of course, besides professional observation. To illustrate, my husband and I were recently checking out the new Secrets of Aspen (yet another reason why my husband is a saint for living with me. He is subjected to my obsessions). If you have not watched this show, be warned. It is atrocious. In the words of one of my favorite reality TV stars, “It is self indulgent crap!” (If you don’t know who says that, then you do not watch enough reality TV). My husband, in utter disgust, says, “Who are these people?! They are awful! They’re mean! Why are we watching this?!” I excitedly replied, “Because!!! They are so awful it makes you feel like a much better person!” So, there is another reason for watching reality TV.

The real reason I started this rant was to pick on another of my favorite shows-The Real Housewives of (insert city here). Every single time I watch, I am totally blown away. These are REAL HOUSEWIVES? Are you kidding me? If I am living in the United States of America and there is a popular show called “The Real Housewives of such-and-such,” then I’m going to think this is actually a representation of REAL American housewives. Has anyone else noticed that many of these women are not “housewives” at all?! Some are not even married, nor do they have children. And get this, even the ones that are not married and have no children-many times they have no job as well. They must simply be, “housepeople??” certainly not “housewives.” They spend their time getting Botox, buying Botox for others, having Botox parties, oh, yes, and doing charity work. Maybe producers believe that in order for this show to be interesting, it needs to only have rich women on it. But I firmly believe that if they REALLY did a REAL Housewives show, there would be some fun drama to watch! How about “The Real Housewives of El Paso?” Or, “The Real Housewives of Compton?” Or, “The Real Housewives of Pueblo?” Well, these are just initial ideas.

I have already gone on long enough, but before I go, Hey! Reality TV lovers, Survivor starts next Thursday!!! Woop, woop!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I write poetry too.

After a Long Day

After a long day
She softly touches her face
And knows what she will find.
The lemon hand soap
Does not wash away
The hint of garlic,
The scent of onion or oregano.
She has shared her comfort
And hopes it is enough.