Archive of ‘Mom’ category

My 7 year old is my Guru

“Why do you always say I learn from my mistakes? Do I always have to get in trouble to learn stuff?!”
My son was hanging out the car window waving at neighboring cars in traffic until I scolded him to close the window and put his body in the car. “We don’t know those people, Abe! We don’t know if they are kind or safe, and we surely don’t hang out of car windows.”
“Sorry, mom,” he said before laying that first line on me. “Seriously though, mom. Why can’t I learn from something that’s not a mistake?”
It was a really fair question. And without wanting to turn this into long and drawn out “teachable moment,” I tried to leave out my own historical findings as a human and distill my words. “You know, you say ‘making mistakes’ and ‘getting in trouble’ like they’re bad things.”
“They ARE bad mom,” he rolled his eyes.
“Only if you choose to see them that way. What if making mistakes is actually awesome because, like you just said, it’s how we learn new stuff.”
Sometimes as a mom I even surprise myself.
While my child continued rolling his eyes and feeling annoyed, I thought back to all of my mistakes that led to learning really big things. I’d say the biggest mistake was getting married because I thought I had to. Married was what I wanted to be. The man I married, my son’s father, was the obvious choice because I loved him and he asked me. That mistake was never a conscious thought. I didn’t make the mistake while thinking, “This isn’t a heartfelt decision at all. This is a ‘Keeping up with the Jonses’ decision.” Of course, not. I whole-heartedly thought I was doing the very best thing, and it took years to tune into my conscious mind and understand where I went wrong. (It probably took him years to figure out the same thing.) But I learned so many huge lessons from those mistakes. Now in my second marriage, I understand what they mean when they say, “When you know, you know,” and also, “Marriage is difficult.” I understand because I’m here. I’m in it. Consciously. Fully.

I didn’t know you can’t microwave metal until I did it. I didn’t know internet lines run underground until I cut one with a shovel. I didn’t know high heels sink in dirt until I wore a pair to an outdoor wedding. And while all of these caused inconvenient experiences in my life, I learned from them. So how can mistakes really be all that bad? What if mistakes are actually awesome?!

Truth be told I hate making mistakes. I hate being wrong. But I convinced myself in the car that afternoon that, once again, changing my mindset would probably change the way I feel about mistakes.
“Mom! Check out my mistake!” Later that night, my son showed me a picture he drew.
“Where’s the mistake?” I asked.
“You can’t see it. I made the mistake, learned from it, and decided to turn it into something better. Now you can’t even find it!”

Hi. My name is Erin, and my 7-year-old son is my greatest teacher. Everyday.

I was an IDIOT!!

My personal growth over the past two years has been so exponential that I see my former self in pictures and videos and I think, my LORD! What an IDIOT!
I felt pretty self-righteous when my marriage ended, like I was going into this next phase of life with a LOT of information. Somewhere between therapy, self-help books, and all the religions, I guess I just assumed that I had things covered. I knew what I was doing. There was NO better way of looking at the world then the way I was looking at it then.
Now, not only do I think I was an idiot back then…I think I may have been an idiot as recently as last week! I am CONSTANTLY growing and changing. And I’m starting to see what all those old people were talking about when they said that wisdom can really only come with age.
Most recently, I realized that most of my adopted methods of parenting have fallen away and opened up a path to my GUT. I now have full access to my gut, my gut’s feelings, and all the things my gut has to say. Do I love parenting websites with alternatives to spanking and non-stop time outs? I do. I think there’s some great stuff in there. But I’ve also realized that I know my kid better than anyone else, and I know what he needs more than any parenting blog, family member, or pediatrician does.

Like…choices, for example.

"You have to try the edamame. It's not a choice." (He liked it. Suckaaaah!)

“You have to try the edamame. It’s not a choice.” (He liked it. Suckaaaah!)

Around the time Abe was born, there was this huge push to give children choices. “If they don’t have any choices, they will feel powerless.” Well, I bought into this idea hook, line, and sinker. I decided right up front that my child needed choices. All the time. Choices, choices, choices. He was a HUMAN, after all, and he deserved the right to have a say-so in his own life! Come on!
Trouble was, it never really felt like it worked.
If I offered three-year-old Abe the option of taking a bath or no dessert, he’d choose no dessert. Why? Because he was three-years-old. He didn’t want to take a bath. And with no ability to predict the consequences of his actions, he wasn’t capable of considering how unhappy he would be when we were all eating cake and he couldn’t have any. This led to three things:
1. A tantrum.
2. Sad parents.
3. A dirty child.
Guess what? If children feel powerless, it’s because THEY ARE!! I’m powerless most of the time, too, y’all! I don’t have a choice but to work and make food and mow the lawn and pay bills. I don’t get to decide between cake and a shower. I was in no way preparing my child for real life because I was acting like real life actually gave a crap about which CHOICE you want to make!
And, if I may, MOST ADULTS DON’T EVEN LIKE MAKING CHOICES ANYWAY! If I ask Bear what he would like for dinner, do you know what he does? He gets annoyed. Why? Because he doesn’t want to make choices. He wants to eat dinner.
The same happens when he whisks me away to a romantic date night: we get in the car and at the last minute he asks, “Do you want to go to Orsay instead?” I DON’T KNOW. WHAT? I WANT ROMANCE AND WINE.
Literally the only choice I have in life on a consistent basis is how I decide to deal with the crap I have no choice about. I can put in my ear buds and sing without regard while I mow the lawn. I can feel grateful I’ve got money to pay bills and even MORE grateful that I can even take a shower. But choices? I’m not given very many choices in life. Only in my attitude.

So, my most recent parenting strategy has been basically to say, “Yeah. It sucks. And it’s real life, buddy.” And then I show my son how to sing in the shower or where to find the lego booklet for the lego tower the dogs just knocked over so we can rebuild. He likes knowing what’s expected, he likes knowing he can rely on me to call him on his BS, and he LOVES knowing that through it all, we’ll figure out a way to laugh.

Times I Want My Child to Shut Up

If my blog hadn’t been clear at any point, my son talks. A LOT. There are many times I want him to stop talking because he’s A. agitating me. B. embarrassing me. C. waking me up to ask me a question at 5am.

IMG_3422While walking both the dogs the other day, I realized just far enough away from our house that I forgot the dog-poo bags. I told Abe that we would walk the dogs down by the shoreline of the creek so that they could get their poos over with before we walked in the neighborhood. “Because if they poop in someone’s yard they might step in it?”
“Right, and it’s rude to let your dogs poop in someone else’s yard,” I explained.
Both dogs successfully pooped and we went on into the neighborhood. Until…
Charlie decided he had a second poop in him. “Mom! MOM!”
“I know, Abe,” I said in a muffled voice. “Shh. Just. Shh. Don’t say anything.”
“WHAT?”
“Don’t say anything about Charlie pooping and no one will know,” I yell-whispered.
“BUT HE’S POOPING!”
“Abe. ABE. SHH.”
“Oh.”
Charlie finished pooping and we quickly walked away from his steamy little pile and pretended it didn’t happen. Until…
Mr. Nice Neighbor with the Black Lab Guy came out to say hello. We had a lovely little interaction and as we were beginning our goodbyes, Abe…my only son so I can’t kill him…said, “Charlie pooped in that yard over there.”
Pause. Breathe.
“WE CLEANED IT UP!” I didn’t shout it, but I said it loudly enough to not make sense in the current situation.
“No we di…”
“SO GOOD TO SEE YOU MR. NICE NEIGHBOR WITH THE BLACK LAB GUY!”
“We left our ba…”
“BYE!!!! ABE SAY BYE WE’RE LEAVING BYE.”

 

He’s also started a love-affair with the words poop, pee, butt, and penis. He can literally attach them to any other word and in his little 5-year-old mind he’s made a joke. Poop-pencils. Pee-trees. Butt-breakfast. These are all jokes made by my 5-year-old. In fact, I got a note home from school about his “language” and how we need to keep potty words in the potty. I informed him that he was not allowed to say those words unless it was to ME and in the BATHROOM. He agreed. About five minutes later he screamed, “BOOTY-BUTT!!!!”
“ABE! I just said not to say butt unless it was to me in the bathroom.”
“I didn’t say BUTT. I said BOOTY-butt.”
Later I informed him that he was not allowed to say those words attached to any other words or he would lose his legos. Good news! He didn’t come home with bad language notes today.

Farting is a big favorite now, too. We call it “tooting”. He doesn’t know the word “fart” and I’d like to keep it that way for a little while. But whenever he does break wind, he announces it.”I JUST TOOTED DID YOU HEAR IT?” He’s announced it in such places as the couch, the dentist’s office, the frozen foods section, and SOMETIMES TO STRANGERS JUST PASSING BY.

He eats soup with his hands. Today he informed me he wants to be an ice cream baker when he grows up. And he kindly explained to a woman in the shoe store that she was not allowed to his penis. Only MOMMIES AND DADDIES CAN SEE PENISES.

I am so grateful for an intelligent little boy who speaks and expresses himself with a vocabulary similar to that of a 12-year-old’s. But Lord. Let’s speed it up with the anointing of the mouth-filters, could we?!

I Have Nothing in Common with my 5-year-old Son or Just Take a Shot

My son loves legos. LOVES legos.
He loves building cars. He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He loves running through the house after our dogs. He loves Octonauts. He loves puzzles. He loves his mini farm.
He loves talking. Loudly. All the time. About everything he observes and thinks.
EV-ER-Y-THING.

He has been begging me all week to “play with him”. Most days I can’t figure out what this means. I help him build things. We run around in the yard. We read books. We write things. We color. I’VE BUILT 12,000 LEGO CARS/TRUCKS/CITIES. But that’s not enough. He still wants me to PLAY.

WHAT THE HELL DOES “PLAY” MEAN?!?!

You know why I don’t know what play means? Because we have nothing in common. His idea of playing is my idea of slow death by boredom and “this makes no sense.” I am so tired of hearing about legos and he couldn’t care less about Oprah, and so it’s hard to understand how to interact with each other without one of us being miserable. And it’s frustrating when your child is old enough to do things but you don’t share anything in common you want to do together.
So I told him yesterday morning that if he had a good day at school I would take him to putt-putt golf. Because putt-putt golf is a game. A game you PLAY. I hoped and prayed this would satiate his need to play because I don’t know what else he wants and I’m so tired of all his boring games.
He had a good day at school. AND SO! Putt-putt.
You’ve never heard a child more ecstatic about anything. It was like I told him that he was going to Disney World to live there for free for the rest of his life. We were only going to do one of the golf courses, but we did both. Why? Because his leaping and celebrating with every putt made this kind of play actually…enjoyable.

This isn't hole #7, but you get it.

This isn’t hole #7, but you get it.

At the hole #7 on the blue course, Abe was faced with three long, green alleyways through which he could aim his golf ball at the hole. I watched him stare at his options, taking practice swings along side of the ball to try making his decision easier. And then he said something that made me stop and think. He said, “Let me see which one I get.”
Now, I hate to turn everything my son says into some transcendent experience, but it’s what I do. I realized he wasn’t staring at the different paths his golf ball could take and saying, “I gotta aim for this one because it’s more likely to get my golf ball closer to the hole.” No, he was actually saying, “I’m going to take a shot and see where this goes.”
In short, he shot first and asked questions later.
There’s a point during life when that changes. You stop taking a shot to see what it might land you and you start calculating: If I take this shot, then this might happen. If I take this shot, then the other might happen. Which is the shot with the least chance of pain/disappointment/failure? That’s the one I’ll take!
But before that, we were actually gifted with a glorious “Let’s see!” attitude towards life. Yes, it gets Abe in trouble sometimes. “Let’s see what happens when I write on the dining room table with this pen.” (Mommy gets mad, that’s what you see.) You ever notice, though, that the “let’s see” attitude is only cool as an adult like, right before you go on a roller coaster ride?!
Abe had no fear of failing. No fear of getting bummed out. Not even a real concern for getting the ball near the hole. His entire focus was on hitting the ball and then finding out what happens.
And so, Bear and I are going to put in an offer on a house tomorrow. We’re offering significantly less than the seller is asking because of some awesome professional help we’ve gotten guiding us in the right direction. I’ve been avoiding taking real action on this house we love so well because…what if we fail? Get rejected? Wish forever that we would have gotten the house?! Abe’s comment on hole #7 was a reminder that we just need to take the shot…and see what happens.

Abe and I went to a glorious dinner at the Whole Foods hot bar and I told Abe he would have a few minutes by the time we got home before we needed to start getting cleaned up for bed. “Mom. Putt putt golf is so fun. I hope we get to do it again someday,” he told me in the car.
“We will! We definitely will! I had a great time with you, too, Abe.”
“Yeah, mom. I had a great time with you, too.”
We pulled into the driveway and Abe asked, “How much time do I have before shower?”
“About 20 minutes.”
“Ok, mom. Hey, mom?”
“Yeah babe?”
“Can you play with me?”

You get to make up a noise that you think sounds close to the noise I made…

 

Music Makes Me My Mother

Music-Blog-List-LogoI heard a song on the way home last night. I was so offended, so ANGRY with the words in this song that I didn’t change the channel just so I could make mental notes about what I hated about every single line of it.

I tuned in during the first round of the chorus and I responded (sometimes out loud) as follows:

Gonna love myself, no, I don’t need anybody else
(Hey)
Gonna love myself, no, I don’t need anybody else
(I love me)
Oh. Oh ok, you don’t need anybody else? You need NO ONE ELSE? That’s a great message for children.
Can’t help myself, no, I don’t need anybody else
Anytime that I like
(I love me)
Yep. This is what’s wrong with these upcoming generations. Everything is “I love me” and “I need no one”. Let me tell you, that’s gonna work for you in the REAL WORLD.
I’ll take it nice and slow
Feeling good on my own without you, yeah
You’ll take it slow doing what? That doesn’t even make sense.
Got me speaking in tongues
I don’t think you know what that means…
The beautiful, it comes without you, yeah
I’m glad you think you’re so pretty, but sometimes other people bring out beautiful parts of you and you should INVITE those people into your LIFE.
I’m gonna put my body first
And love me so hard ’til it hurts
You’re gonna what? Love yourself so hard it hurts?? I don’t…
I know how to scream out the words
Scream the words
(I love me)
You’re going to scream that you love yourself…awesome. No wonder you don’t want anyone else…they’ve all run away.
Gonna love myself, no, I don’t need anybody else
(I love me)
Can’t help myself, no, I don’t need anybody else
Anytime, day or night
(I love me)
If I ever have a daughter I hope she doesn’t hear this song. It’s great to love yourself and all but when you deny the love and help of others, you deny yourself a COMMUNITY of people that can hold you up when you are low!!
Ah, la la la, la la la la la…
Anytime that I like
(I love)
I know how to scream my own name
Scream my name.
Wait.
Wait wait wait wait…
This song is about masturbation, isn’t it?

The entire song, on PLAIN OLD REGULAR RADIO, was about a chick who’s proud that she’s masturbating. Well, you’d better believe when I finally figured out what I was listening to, I had a whole NEW rant…
HOW AM I GOING TO EXPLAIN THIS TO MY CHILDREN?
I can’t. I simply can’t. And who are you, young person, that you are so desperate for attention that you write a SONG and RECORD IT and SELL IT TO RADIO STATIONS about MASTURBATING??!!!!! Like I once heard someone say, “I don’t say everything I know or show everything I’ve got.” WHAT HAPPENED TO MYSTERY?! What happened to young women taking pride in themselves? Having character?!
OH I got so much more mad than I was when I first started listening.
Also, I am offended and disgusted by songs on the radio. I’m surprised when a man curses in front of a woman. I am disappointed when young people don’t take their hats off in church.
And, of course, at that point I realized that I’m now my mother.

 

Am I Supposed to Like This?

I feel like I’m a pretty good mom.
I make nice meals. I pack sweet little notes in Abe’s lunch box. I make him do his chores and practice things like buttoning his shirts and mowing the lawn. (Just kidding. He doesn’t own button-up shirts.)
But there is one part of momming that I hate, and I feel terrible about myself for hating it. It’s answering this dreaded question:

What do I do here? Does it fly? Do I throw it?

What do I do here? Does it fly? Do I throw it?

“Mom? Do you want to play?”
No. No I don’t.
I usually answer with something like, “Play what?” Because I’m hoping he’s suddenly really in to reorganizing kitchen cabinets.
“Play cars.” I hate this response. Because playing cars usually consists of me sitting and staring at the floor while he intermittently tugs on my hand to tell me, “No, mom. That car goes over here and it says, ‘Chirp, chirp’ like a bird.”
And suddenly I want to ask him, “Why the hell would a car chirp like a bird unless it’s switching gears on the highway and showing off for a girl?”
But I don’t. I ask sweetly, “It chirps?”
“Yes,” he responds promptly. “Because it’s a bird car. And this car is an Octonaut. But right now we’re playing Paw Patrol.”
I mean, how am I supposed to play when we don’t even have clear characters, let alone a story line???
“Oh. Ok.” I go back into my catatonic state until I eventually say something like, “Well, it’s 3:30 and I’ve GOT to cook dinner or we’re never going to eat tonight!”

It’s not that I don’t adore playing with my son. If we go to the park or the library or read a book together, I love it. But his games make no sense and I feel like I’m supposed to just be OK with this. Like I’m supposed to love playing Chirp Cars or Farm Animals or whatever. Do other moms love this? Do they love setting up Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and then “putting them all to bed”? Because love gardening. And Abe never takes me up on an offer to weed the herb bed (except for that one time when he “weeded” all my basil right out of there for me).
I’m not sure at what point in his existence that the gap between what he likes to “play” and what I like to “play” will narrow and suddenly we’ll share in a glorious game of sweep out the garage. But until then I will probably continue playing Lego Crashing for a few minutes until I am forced by NATURE to reorganize the book shelf.

NOM-y Stir Fry (Cheap and Easy!)

Tonight? A simple, NOM-y stir fry. Easy to make. Lots of fresh veg and health!

Cut a few breasts of chicken into inch-wide cubes and throw them in a bowl with a pre-made marinade (I chose a San-J Tamari Marinade because it's low in sugar and gluten-free). Let your chicken swim or float for a few hours while you do other stuff. Other stuff like...

Cut a few breasts of chicken into inch-wide cubes and throw them in a bowl with a pre-made marinade (I chose a San-J Tamari Marinade because it’s low in sugar and gluten-free). This is only a tiny bit of my chicken, I used 2 breasts. Let your chicken swim or float for a few hours while you do other stuff. Other stuff like…

 

Put your brown rice into your rice cooker with chicken broth and a big hunk of peeled ginger. Then go do more other stuff.

Put your brown rice into your rice cooker with chicken broth and a big hunk of peeled ginger. This is obviously the “after” picture. Then go do more other stuff.

 

When you're ready for dinner, heat up some coconut oil because it's got a high smoking point and it's freaking delicious.

When you’re ready for dinner, heat up some coconut oil because it’s got a high smoking point and it’s freaking delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give your chicken a good cookin' on both sides until it's NOM. Take it out of the pan and set it aside.

Give your chicken a good cookin’ on both sides until it’s NOM. Take it out of the pan and set it aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chop up some onion (I only had white onion but I'd suggest green). You might need goggles 'cuz onion make ya cry.

Chop up some onion (I only had white onion but I’d suggest green). You might need goggles ‘cuz onion make ya cry.

 

I also chopped up some leftover cabbage from a stuffed cabbage casserole I made last night. I found it on Pinterest. I would have added more tomatoes than the recipe called for, but it was still delish. I fished the ginger out of the rice and gave it a once-over as well.

I also chopped up some leftover cabbage from a stuffed cabbage casserole I made last night. I found it on Pinterest. I would have added more tomatoes than the recipe called for, but it was still delish. I fished the ginger out of the rice and gave it a once-over as well.

 

I tossed a bag of organic frozen veggies into my pan. I love frozen veggies - already chopped up, in the perfect combinations, and affordable even when organic. These guys needed to hang out for a while since they were frozen. I gave them some soy sauce and some garlic because yum. Take those out of the pan and set them aside.

I tossed a bag of organic frozen veggies into my pan. I love frozen veggies – already chopped up, in the perfect combinations, and affordable even when organic. These guys needed to hang out for a while since they were frozen. I gave them some soy sauce and some garlic because yum. Take those out of the pan and set them aside.

 

I fried up the onions, cabbage, and scrambled eggs, setting each one aside after it cooked up. 

I fried up the onions, cabbage, and scrambled eggs, setting each one aside after it cooked up.

 

Then I put EVERYTHING back in the pan with a little bit more marinade and the chopped garlic. 

Then I put EVERYTHING back in the pan with a little bit more marinade and the chopped garlic.

 

Set it all over the rice and COVER in sriracha.

Set it all over the rice and COVER in sriracha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an aside, my son eats everything we eat. The only difference is I often deconstruct his meals. So tonight he got chicken, rice, and vegetables separately. This eliminates the, "I can't eat any of this because a red thing touched my chicken" syndrome.

As an aside, my son eats everything we eat. The only difference is I often deconstruct his meals. So tonight he got chicken, rice, and vegetables separately. This eliminates the, “I can’t eat any of this because a red thing touched my chicken” syndrome.

 

 

 

Brilliant Moments in Parenting

No, really. Sometimes I have brilliant parenting moments. Like today, in the car on the 5-minute ride home from school:
“Mom, did you bring me a snack?”
“Ummm….”
“I reeeeeally want a snack, MOOOOOOM-uhhhh!”
“Well, what kind of snack would you like?”
“Gummy fruit.”
“Great. I have imaginary gummy fruit in the car and REAL gummy fruit at home. Which do you want?”
“Real gummy fruit.”
“Ok, but then you have to wait until you get home.”
“Oh. Ok.”

Crisis. Averted.

Or that one time we were at the playground and all the other kids weren’t really listening to their moms. Most of them were around the age of two and basically just acting like two-year-olds. I smiled at one of the moms, assuring her that they listen better when they’re four. Because I’m a sage. I’m an experienced mother. Of course, it was at that moment all the moms turned to listen to me, the wise mom, call my son off the playground to go home.
“Abraham!”
“What, Mom??”
“Time to go!”
Please God, please God, please God let him come.
“But, Mom…”
“Abe, do you want to lose a check mark?”
“No. Ok, mom. I’m coming.”
The other moms were quiet as I silently and INVISIBLY did the wave. One of the moms said, “Check marks, huh? So that’s ya do it. Check marks…”

Now, did I stay and explain to those moms that “check marks” on his chore chart JUST started working in the past three months and that there is NO hope it will work on their two-year-olds and a LOT of the time it doesn’t even work on my four-year-old?

No. No I did not.

IMG_1539There are a lot more moments as Abe gets older that I feel like a rockstar mom. Teaching him to write letters and then realizing he remembers them when we play sidewalk chalk. Helping him button a shirt and then watching him do it by himself the next time. Showing him how to hold a leash and then walking the dogs together every night after dinner.
Now Bella did pull him off a curb and into a puddle and he scratched his knee tonight on our evening walk, but STILL. He’s WALKING.

I know as his mom, my own feelings about mothering him will ebb and flow. Some days I will feel like I got it right and some days I’ll go to bed with a bowl of parmesan stove-top popped corn and watch reruns of Intervention not that I’ve ever done that or that I’m doing that right now. Obviously I’ll never stop trying. And I’ll celebrate every moment that I figure out a way to side-step an argument or impress other moms with my skillz.
Ever have your own Brilliant Moment in Parenting?

The Place with the Pepper on Top

59a17a54a5b7e8937b42ce6a4f7c5f26I took Abe to a(nother) doctor appointment today and on the way, I asked if he wanted to do something special for dinner.
“Oooo! Mom! We should go out!”
“Ok, Abe! Where would you like to go?”
“The place with the pepper on top.”
“The pepper? Wait…where is the pepper?”
“On top. And it’s brown.”
“It’s brown with pepper on top.”
“Brown AND dark brown,” he corrected me.
“Ok so there’s a place with pepper on top of something and it’s got brown and dark brown. Have we been there before?”
“Yeah, mom! We ate all the healthy food!”
“Healthy food…”
“And the pepper is on top!”
“Wait, is the pepper a vegetable? On top of the sign?”
“Yeah it’s at the top!”
“What color is the pepper?”
“It’s red. With green behind it.”
“Oh wow. You mean Chili’s?”
“YEAH!”

One time after church we took Abe to Chili’s because I wanted bottomless tortilla chips. I told him that we could all eat the chips but we needed to choose very healthy lunches since there

Big red pepper with green, brown, and dark brown. Healthy food inside.

Big red pepper with green, brown, and dark brown. Healthy food inside.

was no nutritional value to the chips. I felt like a detective today trying to figure out what he was saying to me, but once I got it, everything he was saying made perfect sense. Even the building itself is brown and dark brown. It was INCREDIBLE to me how he described what the place he wanted to eat dinner and the things he remembered about it from the one time we went there two months ago.

We sat down to eat and looked at the menu. He told me he wanted a hamburger with chicken. Again, I played detective while the server waited for me to figure out what my four-year-old wanted. Sometimes Abe likes chicken sandwiches and sometimes he likes hamburgers, but he always calls meat “chicken” no matter what it is. It took a few rounds of questioning and a few pictures using the crayons at our table to pinpoint that he meant a hamburger.

When our food arrived at the table, a mom and her son sat down at the table next to ours. Her son appeared to be about 7. He was either profoundly deaf with other special needs or severely autistic. He waved at me and then hit his mom.
“Oh, no hitting mommy, sweetheart,” she said sweetly. “How old is he?” she asked me, indicating to Abe.
I swallowed my bite of hamburger. “He’s 4,” I smiled. “How old is he?”
“He’s 11. A small 11,” she said.
“Does he have autism?” I asked. I realized after I said it that it was a rather bold question, but I have worked with and known so many with autism that I don’t find it to be a stigma at all.
“He does. He’s completely non-verbal. He also had cancer and has some other special needs. He’s a miracle kid.”
“I saw you signing to him. Can he sign?”
“No, he understands some of it. But I’m usually guessing most of the time.”

I couldn’t help but think about the detective work I do all day long trying to understand what Abe is talking about. Imagine adding to it a non-verbal child. How lucky I am…

This mom and her son continued chatting with us for our entire dinner while I watched her guess what her son needed and wanted. I watched him hit her and stomp his feet, sometimes in anger and sometimes in joy. Abraham waved at him, and sometimes showed him his hamburger.

I handled the guess-work of being a mom really well today. But I don’t always do that. Sometimes I get hella frustrated trying to figure out what my son, who can talk clearly and with a vast vocabulary, needs or wants. Sometimes I’m not the nicest, most accommodating mom. And if we’re all honest, meeting another mom whose son had autism won’t change the kind of mom I am, really. It just gave me pause to love and appreciate these moments of translating, of detective work, even if only for the time I sat at Chili’s with the pepper on top and the brown and the dark brown.

 

Selfish Moms

During the weeks I have my gorgeous little nugget of a son, my life revolves around him. I wake up in the morning and make him breakfast. I pack his lunch. I plan his outfits and get him safely to school.
While he’s at school, I tidy up his toys. I work and run all my errands so I don’t have to run them with him.
After school, I give him a snack and cook his supper. He eats and then we sit on the couch and practice drawing letters and sounding them out. Bath time, snuggle time, books, songs…I’m a pretty typical mom.

Yesterday morning while I finished packing his lunch (pears, sweet potatoes, dairy-free gluten-free grilled cheese, and a little bag of gluten-free snack mix), I patted myself on the back. Well, this looks good enough to eat! I thought to myself. Heh! I’m such a hoot.
Then, like a BOLT of lightening from the blue sky above me, another thought shocked my thick skull.
Why don’t I make myself breakfast and lunch like this?

91ae3d543ea91b38c7f3d17d72822117We are moms. We make food for everyone else. We draw baths for everyone else. We pick out and wash clothes, tidy up, and run errands for everyone else. There are days we even feel resentful, especially you married moms, wondering why you have to do EVERYTHING for EVERYONE and no one is doing ANYTHING for you. I MEAN ISN’T THAT WHY YOU HAVE A SPOUSE?!
So I ask you: is it possible that when you don’t do anything for yourself, you don’t indicate to anyone else you even need anything anyway? You eat the extra piece of pizza on the go while everyone else is eating homemade soup because it’s easy and you don’t want it to go to waste. You throw on the leggings that still fit and a t-shirt to get your kids to school after painstakingly dressing them in appropriate and adorable clothes. You fit in a shower between school meetings (IF you shower) before drawing a beautiful bubble bath in which the princes and princesses can clean their delicate little bodies. All day, you demonstrate to everyone around you that their time is more precious than yours, that their nourishment and self-care is more important than your own. Why WOULD anyone step up to do anything for you?

I put the finishing touches on Abe’s lunch (including silverware and a little note) and then decided that on this day, I would make myself lunch. My lunch would not be eating out of a cold tupperware while I worked or dried my hair. My lunch would be a complete, balanced meal eaten while doing nothing else. Then, after getting some work done, I decided I wanted to go for a walk. And so I did. I didn’t worry about whether or not I would have to run errands later with Abe because I was choosing to take a walk while he was at school. I just walked. And it was glorious.
As moms we are kind of selfish. (Hear me out.) We’re selfish in that we think eventually someone will notice we’re completely depleted and they will fill us up. But you know what? It’s not their jobs to fill you up.

Sorry. It’s not.

And furthermore, it’s not their jobs to GUESS you need filling. It’s is so, so easy to put everyone ahead of yourself as a mom. It’s practically IN the job description. But the fact of that matter is that most of us signed up for this job. Fair or not, we do have to put the needs of other people at the top of the list. It just doesn’t mean that we put ourselves at the bottom and hope that eventually someone near the top of the list notices us. So put yourself on the list. Care about yourself as much as you care about your kids. Make yourself breakfast that consists of more than your children’s leftover eggie bits. Plan a lunch for yourself, including INGREDIENTS. Take a shower, dress yourself, and for heaven’s sake, read a bedtime story. If you don’t do it, no one else will even notice you’re a person in your family who needs stuff, too.