Monday, October 23, 2017

When Did They Stop Smiling?

I realize my life could be so much worse. I realize that I could have lost my child, or worse have been a “mother” that was never able to have children of my own.

But thankfully, God has blessed me with three gorgeous, smart, wonderful little boys. All up until one hit puberty! And then it happened…the smile disappeared.

I always heard it was going to happen, but I thought it was a myth, a folk legend. I never thought that this bouncing bundle of joy, that I played with, gave up my career for to stay home with him for the first five years of his life, stayed awake for hour after hour when he was sick; laid on the floor with my hand through the crib slats, just so he knew Mommy was lying on the floor next to him; consistently smelled of vomit; always had Goldfish as an accessory, rather than a diamond stud earring; and put more miles on her car than an Indy 500 race car driver could ever even imagine putting on their car…all for what?

All for them to wake up one morning and go… “Hmmmm, that really annoying lady that is always in my life, always dropping off my gym clothes that I have forgotten, always making sure I don’t forget my school activities, always making sure I have entertainment on the weekends…Yep, I think I will just stop smiling at her today, stop being nice to her today, and overall just be a little toot!”
Because in the end, I know she will always love me, right? That’s her job. That’s why she was put here on earth. I know her love is unconditional. I know she would stop a train for me. I know that I can treat her like absolute dirt, and the very next day, pick up the phone and ask her to order my girlfriend’s homecoming mum and she will of course do it with a smile.
I don’t think I am doing this to her to be mean. But there is something fundamentally wrong with me. And I am told I will act like this until I am about 18 years old. Man, from 13-18 years old to treat my mom like dirt, that is a really long time for her to have to hang in there. Maybe I should try to find my smile every once in a while, and not think she is a totally idiot. After all, she does run our entire household, she does build and fix stuff, she did go to college, she does raise my little brothers and me, she’s pretty cool (at least my friends like her and like coming over to my house); so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on her.
After all, she may yell at me, or get on to me for not doing my chores, but according to my friends, what mom doesn’t? I guess she is just trying to make me a decent responsible human being…or so she says. And I know she’s right. I can’t have someone picking up my dirty dishes, my shoes, my socks, and all my bags all the time for the rest of my life. At some point I will have to become accountable for my life and my things.
So, I might as well find my smile again, sooner than later; because after all, my poor mom has two more boys to deal with after me, the first teenager. So, I guess giving her a hug and smile, and a “Thank You” every once in a while, wouldn’t be the toughest thing to do in the world. Oh, and to remember to put my dishes in the sink.
But after much insider research, mom talk, and lost hope…the truth has been discovered. The frontal lobe is not fully developed until they are 25 years old! Yep, you read it right parents! You have two and a half decades of them being total mush brains, but somewhere in that manual, that a wrote about a while back (that we never received) …we must love them anyway. So, hang in there.

Monday, October 9, 2017

What About the Parents?

Our family had to endure the pain of losing a pet this weekend. It was a pretty traumatic ending to this little creature, but Mommy tried to downplay it as much as possible. To most folks, I know she won’t seem like much of a pet, but to me she was. She was our French Angora bunny rabbit, that we got from Atwood’s almost 8 years ago.

I know, I know…” WOW! She lived a long time for a rabbit!” And yes, she did, you are right. But I recently found her with a severe injury to her eye, that was terribly infected, so much so that ants had gotten to the infection. I called our wonderful vet, Leslie Ivie at Animal Care Clinic, and she met me on a Sunday with some antibiotic ointment, and told me what I already knew to be true. That we were going to have to have the eye removed.

So, under her suggestion I had called around searching for an exotic vet, and I couldn’t find one anywhere that worked on rabbits. Which lead me to call my friend, a vet in College Station, he suggested the Small Animal ER at Texas A&M University. Of Course, my alma mater!

Monday morning, I had planned to load her up, drive her the 4-hour round trip, to have the surgery she needed, and life would be great. But, as God would have it, even though I had been nursing her with the antibiotic, and milk in an eye dropper, and warm compresses; He knew it was her time. So, at 4:37 on Monday morning, our adorable, fluffy, boat-riding, lake-swimming Oatmeal went to Heaven, in my arms.

Of course, I bawled like a baby, and my husband had to talk me off a ledge. But my biggest fear was telling the boys. But for some reason, kids’ level of resilience is so much higher than ours. Maybe it’s because we are the ones that clean out their cages, or we are the ones that nurse them back to health, or we are the ones that bathe them. I don’t know, but they sure seem to take the death thing in stride way better than we do.

So, what about the parents? Are we just too emotionally attached to these creatures? Are we exhausted? Are we so worried about the impact it may have on our children? What is it? I don’t know, but I do know that I wouldn’t trade my tears for anything in the world. I loved each and every minute I had with that little fur ball. In fact, as I sit here typing on my laptop, I remember all the times she would literally sit on my feet in bed, during the winter months, while I wrote, not moving a muscle, just sitting there and taking it all in while I typed.

She was sort of my little furry sidekick, if you will. So again, who do the parents turn to, when their little buddies go to Heaven? When we need to maintain a strong front for the kids. Heck, I’m that mom that cries in front of my kids when I put her in the cemetery before we said our prayers. I think it’s okay for them to see your emotions, and to know you cared so much for a living creature. To me it teaches them compassion, and kindness towards others. But as a parent, you should learn that it’s okay to be weak, and show your vulnerability. After all, we are just human.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Strengths you Didn’t Know you Had

Being a mother is recognizing strengths you didn’t know you had; and conquering fears you didn’t know you could.

Let’s be real, everyone always talks about the joys of motherhood…how wonderful our kids are, how proud of them we are, how beautiful they are, how they made the Honor Roll at school.

But what gets swept under the rug is all the times they break us, or test our limits, or assess our strengths. Strength during motherhood comes in all forms, starting from the very moment they enter this world.

The strength and pain we endure to create them and give them life is unimaginable, yet women do it every single day; day after day; and some of us even choose to do it multiple times. Because the love we have for our children blinds the pain we go through on the day we bring them into this world, and every day after that.

We cry ourselves to sleep from pure exhaustion when they are babies that won’t sleep through the night; or we run to our closets or our warm bathtubs to weep into our knees, to somehow find the strength to go on another day loving them, feeding them, and nurturing them when they have told us we are dumb and don’t know what we are talking about.

But when the day arrives that the forces of strength and fears collide to create that “Perfect Storm” of dread; the day when you child tells you something so hurtful or painful, that it takes every ounce of strength in your soul to respond properly; yet your worst nightmare has just been realized. Somehow you still have to figure out how to keep breathing, how to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You know they aren’t old enough or mature enough to make this decision; yet the courts say they are, so unfortunately you have to go along with it. But still, just 24 hours ago, they were asking you for help on an English project, and how to ask their girlfriend to Homecoming. They still need their Mommy so much, yet they tell you they want to go live with their other parent fulltime, and you are just supposed to accept that decision.

Or your child could have come to you in confidence and finally mustered up the strength and truth to admit their sexual preference. Or they have finally come forward to tell you about an error they made, and I mean a huge error, one that is illegal or life changing.

It goes back to that “Mom Super Power”, digging deep for that strength to continue to love them, and support them, and accept them for who they are, even though you may disagree with their choices or actions right down to your very core. But that is the strength of a mother, and every fear realized. The strength that God made you a woman, and the fear of knowing it was inevitable.

But you just have to remember to keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and focus on the here and now; not the past, not the future. And always remember that being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had; while dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Why do you have to go to work?

When my first baby was born, I decided to give up the career and the professional world and stay home with him. I was in my late 20s, and thought that was the best thing to do, for both of us.

And I still feel that way. I know those first few years of a baby’s life are the most crucial for bonding, development, and maturation. I truly enjoyed every minute I spent with him. But I soon began to realize, that I also love to work. So, I devised an in-home job for myself; with my innate entrepreneurial personality (that I gained from my great-grandfather, my grandfather and my dad) and started my own resume writing business.

Amazingly, it took off! I was super busy, but I always managed to realize what was most important, and that was that little baby boy. I never let my business interfere with my time with him. I would work while he napped, or after he went to bed, but through it all I was Mommy, first and foremost.

Then after some changes in our lives, I had to go back to work full-time. But luckily by this point, he was old enough to go to “big boy school”. These changes left me as a single mom, with a little boy to care for. But I knew I could do it, and I did.

Fast forward almost 12 years, and I am happily married with two more boys, that keep me active and busy. But this time around, I have been a working mom the entire time. I am not going to say it has been easy. Because there are those days that I take off, to for some “me time” and I end up cleaning the house, or getting ahead on laundry, or actually having the time during the day to cook and plan a wonderful meal for my family.

But after the initial changes in my life, I made a promise to myself, that I would always be able to support myself, and my child (or children). With that, I am very lucky to have a job, that I can leave in time to pick them up from school every day, spend time with them in the afternoons, help them with homework, and still get them to whatever activity is on the calendar.

As I coasted through my 30s and into my 40s, I soon began to realize, that I love to work. Not only do I have my full-time job, but I always have another project on the side going.

Unfortunately, though, my job requires that I work year-round, so summers are always the hardest. And this summer was particularly hard. My two youngest are old enough now to realize that mom leaves all day, and they are home with a caregiver, if Daddy is off flying, too.

So, this summer, I faced the hardest question a Mommy will every have to answer… “Why do you have to go to work?”

At the beginning of the summer it wasn’t too bad; but as the days progressed, I was asked that numerous times, especially by my youngest. It broke my heart. And as an adult, I wanted to scream “Because I must pay for groceries, and clothes, and pay the bills, and buy things you want, and save up for your college education!” OR “I will never be caught in the same situation I was in 12 years ago, without a job, on my own, and raising a child!”

But looking into those two sets of blue eyes, I knew that would never go over well. So, I tried the simple answer… “Mommy has to help Daddy pay for the house, and all your toys, and if we want to go on a vacation, Mommy has to help Daddy with that too.”

And so of course, my middle one, who has an answer for everything, said, “You quit working mom, make dad pay for it all, and we can sell the house.”

Sounds pretty simple to me, doesn’t it you? If only they understood, what we, as parents, do for them; and how it does actually break my heart a little every day that I’m not at home, making beds, cleaning dishes, and preparing dinner. Instead of running in at night, on activity days, eat whatever is in the crock pot, do homework and rush off to bed.

Hopefully one day, those blue eyes, will wake up as an adult, and realize exactly what their working Mommy sacrificed for them, to be able to give them the moon.