I Blew It

I blew it.

Again.

Every day I wake up and tell myself to make the most of the day. To be patient. To be understanding. To be the parent our boys deserve.

Some days I hit a home run. I engage, create, play, listen, comfort, and console. Those days I tuck them in at night and feel content and hopeful. Hopeful that I’m doing this whole parenting thing right. Hopeful that this day’s good will spill over into the next one, and the next, and maybe even the day after that.

But the next day there are shortened tempers, tattling, demands for favourite pants that are still wet from the washing machine. But I cling to the good from yesterday and dig in deeper to make it return. But this day there are battles over diggers, refusals to put on socks, back talk over packing vegetables in their lunches.

There’s still hope to turn this day around before yesterday’s good slips away completely. I take a deep breath and remind myself that they are young and selfish and sometimes just jerks. I need to model patience and compassion, tolerance and forgiveness.

He’s giving you a message, are you listening? He’s asking for that back, talk it out.

I feel yesterday’s good seeping out via yelling and slamming and stomping and then finally realize that I am doing it, too.

Don’t talk to me that way! STOP IT. STOP. IT. I WON’T HAVE IT.

My hand comes crashing down on the countertop for emphasis.

Emphasis? Or just frustration? Anger? It is anger.

Anger that they are cruel to each other. Anger that they deliberately set each other off. And anger at myself for losing control of my temper – the very thing I try every day to instil in their young personas.

I blew it.

Again.

We talk it out and we try to smooth over the powerful emotions. Apologies are offered and forgiveness received. But yesterday’s good is long gone – there’s nothing reserved for today. Today we start from scratch.

A friend texts and I share the struggles of the morning. I’m getting better at that, the sharing of the real stuff. Admitting that sometimes parenting is difficult makes you vulnerable, but I’m learning that I can’t do it on my own. I can’t even do this with just my husband. I need to be honest with my friends and let them be part of the funny anecdotes and the uglier moments.

I blew it.DSC_0200

Again.

This day I tuck our boys into bed and whisper into their hair how much I love them and I get a giant squeeze around my neck. There it is, I can see it – tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day, full of good.

————

Thank you,  friends who walk this path of parenting that is both terrifying and joyful all at once. I could not do it without you.


Love, With a Side of Passive Aggression

Gathering together to enjoy a meal is a powerful pastime. It brings people closer, allowing us to pause from busyness and share stories or solve problems as a family. If not for Family Mealtime how would we know that a classmate at school can burp the entire alphabet? If we didn’t eat dinner together we’d never know about the time our seven-year-old’s class put a whoopee cushion on the music teacher’s chair. I still don’t know who broke my hairband, but we did find out who keeps forgetting to flush. But most importantly, how would we teach the boys about passive aggression?

Allow me to explain.

After a lovely meal that everyone enjoyed (as always) and praised their doting mother (me) for cooking from scratch, the light-hearted banter transitioned into Family Devotion time. It began with a simple question: How can we show God we love Him? and the answers were as follows (I wrote them down as soon as I could for the sake of accuracy).

What’s for dessert?

We’re having Halloween treats, remember?

Let me try that again, “How can we show God we love Him?”

By not saying “shut up or stupid”.

By not hitting.

Asking before you take someone’s Lego that they were only putting down for a minute to go use the washroom.

This line of response was deteriorating quickly into a laundry list of sibling infractions – they started throwing everyone under the bus.

Stop waking up so early.

Not arguing about sleeping later.

Not arguing about having no clock in your room. Ahem.

Not whining about taking off your shoes by yourself. (that was mine, I confess)

Not poking people.

Not peeking at your birthday presents.

Not breaking toys and then they are broke.

They were volleying their thinly veiled digs back and forth at a rapid pace. I tried to change the tone of responses and frame it more positively.

Maybe say ‘sorry’ if you break something?

Yeah, and not staring at people when we’re at the table.

Keeping your feet off someone else’s leg. (that was Bearded Husband, he really likes his personal space)

Not pitching a fit when it’s time to get in the van. (me again)

Letting me someone else empty the top rack of the dishwasher instead of always calling it first because it has less dishes.

Or how about not always taking the seat closest to the TV every time?

"Letting me off the swing when I said I was done"

“Letting me off the swing when I said I was done”

I’m sure God appreciated the many specific examples we generated. And that we followed it up by holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” like we do every mealtime. Scouts honour.


The Sting

A big welcome to guest writer, Andi. You can’t find Andi anywhere on social media, but take my word for it, she’s real. She even buys me American Reese, so you know she’s a solid person. A true friend. And she has some great stories – like this one.

————

I’ve never considered myself an unlucky person but the last few years of my life are tempting me to reconsider. I think that what may have sealed it is what I have started referring to as “the wasp incident”.

I was driving home from a rather discouraging day at work. It was one of the last lovely days of the season so I decided to  pull my day out of the dumpster: tunes turned up and windows rolled down. Five minutes from home and my spirits were lifting when suddenly I went, “Ow!” immediately followed by, “MY BACK IS ON FIRE!!!”

Not a wasp

Not a wasp

Now I may or may not have been moving at a good clip in the passing lane at this point and in the excitement, may have transferred my stress to the accelerator. I reached behind me with one hand to hold my wildly waving shirt (reference wide open window comment above) away from the spot on my shoulder that felt like it was pumping fire into my back. It’s amazing how quickly your brain can fire when you feel that level of pain. After about two seconds I deduced that I had been stung by a bee. I also realized that I needed to get home as quickly as possible to make sure that the stinger was no longer in my back as it felt like bursts of electricity were shooting into my shoulder blade.

A few seconds later I decided I should close the windows to prevent the wind from working against me by blowing my shirt against said ‘ring of fire’. I switched hands to hold my shirt away from my back while trying to roll up the windows and that’s when I realized that this was not a bee sting but a wasp sting. Fun fact: Wasps do not die after stinging their target. I can confirm this as the wasp flew up and stung my finger and then fell down the back of my shirt and stung me under the waistband on my pants. Thankfully, the music was loud to muffle my loud exclamations of surprise.

For the record, I did consider pulling onto the side of the road to get rid of the wasp and try to address the fiery inferno on my back, but quickly decided that was a poor choice. I was only two minutes from home and to address the stings, I needed to remove my shirt. Although I live in Ontario where it is legal for women to go topless, I’m not comfortable personally applying this legislation to the side of the road two minutes from where my kids go to school.

Also not a wasp

Also not a wasp

When I got home I quickly (and likely a bit distractedly!) dismissed the babysitter and then dragged my eleven-year-old daughter into my bedroom to take a photo of my back since no other adults were around. The photo showed an angry red rash the size of a dessert plate so I did the logical thing and rushed to Dr. Google for advice. This was when it was confirmed; the first webpage I clicked on read, “Bees and wasps inject their venom into unlucky people.” Clearly, had I been a lucky individual I would have been wasp-proof.

Easily one of my most exciting rides home ever and clearly, I will not be wasting my money on lottery tickets any time in the near future. As well, no more open windows. Ever.

Evil in winged form

Evil in winged form


Boo

Whenever my twitter notifications start blowing up it can mean only one thing – someone is talking about scaring people. And that someone is usually me, Cindy Warren, or Jessica Buttram. Who knew that social media would let those of us with a passion for frightening friends and family celebrate this well-honed skill together? ONLINE? It’s a technological miracle, really.

There are some among us (Ricky Anderson) who feel it is cruel to hide under your child’s bed and jump out unexpectedly, or lurk around a corner as they exit the washroom unaware that you are about to pounce. To those people we say “it builds character.”

And so, in honour of Ricky and Halloween we will share our favourite frightening stories with you, kind readers.

Be afraid

Let us begin with Scream Queen, Jessica.

—————

There’s something so rewarding about crouching in the dark lying in wait so long your muscles start to cramp and you suddenly have to pee like SO BAD. I never have to pee as urgently as I do about ten seconds into hiding.

My son is my favorite to scare. He’s ten now, and naturally skeptical. My daughter, age four and a total wimp, just cries when I, or her brother, try to scare her. Just the other day when I picked her up from preschool, I hid in the girls’ bathroom right outside her classroom while she grabbed her stuff from her cubby, and before I could even get a good crouch going she ran out into the hallway in hysterics. I’m hopeful she’ll outgrow that reaction, but meanwhile, scaring my daughter makes me feel like the terrible parent I am for hiding in the dark peeing myself.

And my husband is virtually unscareable. He’s the worst. The one time I can remember actually successfully scaring him, he just sat up a little and said, “you scared me,” so the payoff isn’t even worth it.

But my son is a FANTASTIC mark. His reactions are emotional GOLD. He is the reason just last week I crouched behind his dirty, smelly basket of laundry for like, TEN MINUTES waiting. He’s the reason I’ve bought a pack of adult diapers. (Just kidding.)

I’ve tried to get it on video for this post, but the lighting is always pretty bad, and the video always turns out shaky from trying not to pee. So here’s just a little taste of the joy I experience.

Again, he is ten, skeptical, and alllllll prepubescent boy. Timing is EV-ER-Y-THING with his scares. It has to be in a dark or dimly lit room, and I have to space them out just right so he doesn’t expect them.

Frightened rage looks a bit like this.

Frightened rage looks a bit like this.

I realize everyone responds to fear differently. Like, I squeal and literally jump in the air. My daughter has an emotional breakdown. My husband shatters my dreams of being a professional scarer.

My son, however, screams and tenses up with a pure and unapologetic RAGE. The fury that flashes across his little face is AMAZING. I have no doubt he is more Fight than Flight, and if he were to ever TRULY believe there was a monster in his closet, I guarantee he would instinctively try to karate kick it before running away. In the split second before he realizes it’s just his sweet mother lurching out at him, I imagine his thoughts going, “I AM SO TERRIFIED AND THAT MAKES ME SO ANGRY oh wait, —it’s just you, that was hilarious, let’s do it to Dad.”

I look at it as reward for all the thankless jobs that come with parenting.

——————

Dear readers, Jessica is right that scaring husbands is challenging, but with commitment and stealth it can be done. Here’s my story.

——————

When I go for the scare, I don’t shy away from the long game. I’ve been known to fall asleep in my hiding spot on more than one occasion. Limbs going numb will not deter me. I will lie in wait with the patience of Job.

Keep looking, you'll see it in a second.

Keep looking, you’ll see it in a second.

One evening, Bearded Husband came home late from his baseball game and clearly assumed I was already in bed. I heard him unlock the front door and panicked at all the possibilities at my disposal. Do I lie on the floor and play dead? Sit on the couch and silently turn the light on? SO MANY OPTIONS. My indecisiveness forced my hand – I lurked in the living room watching him unpack his gear hoping he would glance over and then be terrified by my silent presence.

No. He was oblivious. So I did the obvious thing and just casually followed him into the kitchen and whispered, “how was your game?”

Turns out he has the same terrified range as Buttram’s son, and IT WAS AMAZING. His revenge was swift, but it was completely worth it. And rest assured, he had it coming.

—————

This tribute is wrapped up with perhaps the best spontaneous scaring I have heard and I tip my hat to the one and only, Cindy Warren. I wish she lived closer so I could shake her hand.

—————

If you can tour a church building at 9:00 PM with friends, and NOT take advantage of the opportunity to scare said friends, then we need to have a conversation about missed opportunities. My church was given a building this year, completely free of charge. One night, before it was officially ours, the pastor took several of us on a tour of the building.

Churches are not creepy after dark. Not at all.

As we walked around in the dark (why did we not have lights on- I really couldn’t tell you), I wandered off on my own and happened upon the nursery before the others did. There it was in all its glory, a terrifying room full of cribs, with the light from the moon (or maybe from street lights- who can say) coming through the window.

So I did what any good person would do. I sat in the lone rocking chair and slowly rocked while staring at the door looking like the ghost of nursery workers past. I heard the lighthearted discussion as my friends got closer.

“What’s this room? Ohhhh, it’s the nursery. That’s so creepy…I don’t wanna go in…”

*unsuspecting friends slowly push door open*

They scanned the dark room from right to left, and landed on the moving rocking chair lastly. There was screaming and genuine fear. It was glorious.

Y’all- greater joy hath no me than this: to watch my friends fight each other to get out the door the quickest.

My only regret is that I didn’t video their reactions…and that they didn’t swear. A swear is the only thing that would’ve made it better.

———-

We have one year, ladies - to accomplish the ultimate scare, preferably on video.

 


Why, it’s your Uncle Q, of course

Unknown

Why is this guy on so many of our boxes?

Oh, him? That’s your Uncle Q – don’t you remember?

He’s our uncle? 

Yes. He’s really into oatmeal. We used to go camping all the time together.

Really?

He’s a pretty good guy except he always brings that terrible layered Jell-o salad to everything. Uncle Q, guys, stop pretending you don’t know him.

Well, maybe we’ve seen him. Was he at the big party in the park that time?

YES – and he was laughing at all his own jokes, wait, no, that was your other uncle.

Jell-o salad? The kind with all the different colours? 

That’s the one. And that’s why we stopped inviting him to Christmas.

————

Sometimes, I CAN’T HELP MYSELF.

#YearofJan FOREVER


Dancing Flowers

“Guess I can mentally plan my to-do list,” I thought as I bemoaned my driving decision.  Of course I had chosen the route to the store that was under construction.

Library, bank, maybe the dollar store – do we have time for the dollar store? What did I need to get there again?

A tiny voice pulled me out of my reverie. “Look! Mommy, the flowers are dancing!”

I turned my gaze in his direction and discovered he was focussed on the weeds at the side of the road that were flapping in the wind.

“They like this song, too! They are dancing. Like me!” he said with an added little wiggle.images

I wasn’t particularly stressed out or harried that morning, but his preschooler observation derailed me from my “gotta-get-it-all-done” attitude of the day. The days when I keep looking toward the next thing. You know what I’m talking about. When you aren’t present in the current moment, but rather jump two steps ahead to your other tasks or obligations.

Life is busy, and some days are more hectic than others. Seasons of life bring their own challenges and obstacles. But with these hurdles also come opportunities for joy and wonder. It is easy to let the stress and pressure dictate our responses and attitudes, but it is so much better when we don’t.

I can choose to look toward the next chore on my list, the next meal I need to plan, the next load of dishes I need to wash, or I can take a breath, pause, and put on the lens of a three-year-old. Try it with me, you’ll be amazed at what you see.

Rainbows in the patch of oil in a parking lot.

Birds perched at the highest tip of a tree.

Leaf impressions left on the sidewalk.

A bean bag chair can be a pirate ship, beware the alligators on the bedroom carpet.

The floor really is hot lava.

The farting noise when you close the garage door.

The realization that you can be invisible just by closing your eyes.

The way a stick takes on magical properties and transforms into endless possibilities.

When I let these moments take priority in my day I smile more, feel more at ease and calmer. Yes, those chores need doing, children need to be fed, toilets need cleaning (repeatedly), but they needn’t be my focus.

Every day we make choices. We can choose to begrudge the extra few minutes that road repairs cause or we can watch the flowers dancing.

I see them, you’re right – they are  dancing. Thank you.

 


My New BFF

Being home full time is great, but truthfully it can also be lonely. The majority of my day is spent with a three-year-old. While he is a decent conversationalist, the content is somewhat lacking. I can only discuss the plot of “Umizoomi” for so long and he’s really not that interested in “Friday Night Lights”.

That’s why I made a new friend. I highly recommend it if you, too, are a stay-at-home-parent. How else can you make the most of nap time? By exercising or resting? No, having your own personal companion keeps you alert and helps your productivity level stay high.

There were many options for a new friend, but I finally decided on this guy, and let me tell you it has been amazing.

photo 1-17

He is an excellent listener

We do all kinds of things together.

He has excellent meal ideas

He has innovative meal ideas

We have so much in common

We even take our coffee the same - black, of course.

We even take our coffee the same – black, of course.

He's become a bit of a muse

He’s become a bit of a muse for me

Chores are no longer tedious.

He is a whiz at folding fitted sheets, I don't know how he does it.

He is a whiz at folding fitted sheets, I don’t know how he does it.

A good friend takes on those tasks you might find overwhelming.

His accounting skills are astounding.

His accounting skills are astounding.

Life is short and the days pass quickly, make the most of them with your own special friend.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers