My 649th mistake as a parent - camping with young kids. Hands down one of the top 10 most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas I have had. I advise NO ONE to ever do it...ok...that isn't true - but be prepared...it sucks.
It started out innocently enough. "Hooray! We are going to take the kids into nature and let them get dirty and unplug - yay for our inner tree-hugger!" We picked a location that was remote enough to feel like a real getaway, but like 30 minutes from home, just in case all hell broke loose - we could go home.
We got there, set up camp and only had to make one run home for stuff we forgot. YAY for awesome parents and being outdoors! Of course, it wasn't until after my husband came back from that run home that I realized I had packed everything for everyone, but had forgotten some essentials for myself. No need to get into details here, but things may have been a bit breezier than normal for me.
In any case, here are some of the lessons I learned on this trip:
6. I don't like camping. I really just like drinking with friends next to the campfire. And since I am on a no-booze for 30-days kick, sitting around watching other people drink kinda sucked. So if it weren't for the people we were with, I would have liked absolutely nothing about it. Ok, that is sort of a lie. I liked that the kids had fun - and since life now is all about them...I guess that is a good thing.
When downloading on the last day with Overachiever that we co-camped with, somehow we came to the conclusion that it wasn't all that bad. And admittedly, it wasn't. So many things could have gone so wrong, and yet all we really dealt with was dirt shit, pain-in-the-ass dish washing, the unforgettable image of my son munching on dirt and the occasional 5-Year Old girl tattle-tale explosion. For that struggle, we got 36 hours that our kids actually played outside, didn't ask us for any media and took a genuine interest in animals and nature. #ParentWIN!
I was on a plane once with a neurophysicist (guys, had to google that and spell check can't even find the word so you know that is some deep science shit) and he said that you must have your kids play in dirt; apparently it creates certain pathways in the brain that are scientifically correlated to intelligence. I don't remember the details because I was a couple of cocktails in and it was red-eye, but the gist I got was that dirty kids=smart minds. Doing these things are good for our kids, and when all is said and done, we are good parents for doing it.
That being said, does it count if you just rent a cabin and stick your kid outside in the dirt to play? I mean, do I really need to sacrifice my kids intelligence potential at the sake of a shower? Surely not, right? Can you say "Glamping anyone?" Same difference right? HOORAY for Nature!
I may have had a revelation today. Over the last couple of months, it has been pointed out to me multiple times that I walk around looking really mean or angry. At one point even, one of my coworkers that I only see at events said I needed to smile more, which of course pissed me off (Douchebag) and had the opposite effect.
In any case, it has become painfully aware to me that I walk around with what has been defined by Urban Dictionary as a "Resting Bitch Face" or "RBF". From what I hear, if I am on a mission, or thinking really hard, or actively listening...I look like Wolverine coming to slice your face off. This, as you can imagine, becomes a major problem, since I constantly walk with purpose, am often deep into 17 monkey brain thoughts at one time, and am always at least TRYING to listen intently to whomever is speaking. As the head of Business Development, if you are walking up to me and I resemble whatever the angriest of the Angry Birds looks like, it is sort of bad for business.
So now to the revelation. It dawned on me that I have had so many jobs where I contribute so much and work really hard, but people either love me or they hate me. And when they hate me...it's like Christian Slater gets one Heather to kill you, hatred. I could never understand it.
Let me pause for a second and point out that I am fully self-aware of the fact that I am a super high "D" on the DISC assessment, a crazy Type A, and a total Driver -so ya, there is a natural Bitch factor to me anyway...but this idea that people SEE a Bitch as I am walking down the hall, without even speaking to me is making me realize how much more my fault this dislike is. And that pretty much sucks, because 1) I think I am a really fun gal, and 2) I really like playing the victim and blaming other people for my misfortunes. Revelations blow.
In response to this recent discovery, I have been actively trying to change my facial expression as I walk around the office. This is tough, since people who walk around with huge smiles on their faces either creep me out because I think they are high, or look like complete dildos because they look goofy. I am already goofy enough when I open my mouth - I don't need to add more fuel to that fire. I am working on softer; relaxing my forehead, smiling with my eyes...looking approachable.
All I can say is that it's progressive. I am sort of stuck between The Godfather and the Confused emoticon at the moment, but hopefully getting better. I will admit that physically, it does FEEL lighter and happier. I am telling myself that the release of the forehead pressure is enough to hold me off from Botox for another couple of years. I doubt that is the case though, since 40 years of RBF has taken its toll. The swimlanes on my forehead and crows feet on my nose are the side effects of thinking really hard all my life. Sue me for being an intellectual.
But we shall see. I am going to take this as an experiement to see if I can change perceptions, by simply changing my resting face. Then, if not, then fuck everyone...it's all your fault.
Is anyone else out there just as fucking terrified as I am? Not about anything in particular, but just everything? I think my whole life stems around fear - and I wish I could kick my own ass and tell my head to shut the fuck up. I wish I could simply just BE...and from that, be happy, be content, be present and be ME.
I am pretty sure I spend the majority of my time in my head - doubting my abilities, worried about what people are thinking, dwelling over what COULD happen with my job, wondering if I should be someone I am not...it's fucking maddening! How many times do I need to tell myself that I can only be who I am, and dammit, that is good enough, before I start listening? I think I must love to be psychotic, because I sure as hell love to live in my personal drama 24/7.
All this being said, I realize that my self-talk is so terrible, I wouldn't say it to my worst enemy. I am also very aware of the fact that if I ever heard my daughter saying any of these things to herself, I would jump on her like stink on shit and change the energy. So tonight, I am going to try to give myself advice I would give my daughter.
Honestly, this shit is so hard for me to live, I don't know what else to say. I give great advice...but I very seldom follow it. And with that...I am going to go wallow in how bad this post is...and go to bed. Good talk.
A Wish for my son, on the first anniversary of his birth. Yes assholes, this post is two weeks late, but at least I am doing it - screw you and your judgements. Oh, and Piercey - sorry Little Man, this is going to be printed out and added to your book because Mommy is too friggen exhausted to write a separate entry - when I live to see your ass graduate from grad school you will thank me for saving the extra 40 minutes to sleep off all the sleepless nights you have provided me in your one year of life. You're welcome.
So Piercey - in my 40 years on this earth I have learned a thing or two - and quite frankly, I am still learning, will most likely never stop. I struggle, just like you will, to figure out where I fit in, what I can do better, and how I can make an impact. I doubt myself everyday - and then find myself telling my Ego to Fuck Off - it's an internal struggle, and ya, I am pretty neurotic (don't worry, your sister got the crazy lady gene - it's sort of a thing with the women in our bloodline - we're all nuts - congrats for being a boy). Every minute I have to remind myself how incredibly blessed I am, because it is so easy to get caught up in all the day-to-day bullshit that you can lose sight of it all. Honestly buddy - it's hard growing up, and newsflash, I don't think you every really do. You are constantly hiking up a big hill - but at the end of the day, regardless of how hard it is, every little thing, is gonna be alright.
So on your first birthday, I wish you the following in life (some of these I need to remind myself of too):
Ok, so that's it. Basically I want you to be more than I have ever been or could be. You are going to be amazing Little Man...and I hope to God I am here long enough to see it. I love you. Good Night.
I would like to start out by saying, Happy Mother's Day to every single woman on the planet, and NO, I don't give a shit if it is un-PC. Here's the deal - every single woman has, or will have, mothered SOMETHING in her life before she dies. Sure, some of us have human kids (although at certain points in their life we may wonder if they are alien) but you don't have to have those human kids to be a Mom. I mean, I know in my lifetime I have mothered at least 3 boyfriends - hell, I am raising a Husband today - not to mention the kids I actually gave birth to.
And what about all my PowerChicks? Not all of them have human babies, but all of them are currently mothering someone - mostly Furry. Take OnPointe for example, she has two dogs, one helpless and one a total asshole, that she treats like royalty. I keep special towels at my house for when they visit - cuz I don't want Condor like talons digging through my couch cuz they have never laid on a floor in their life. My kids already make it that I can't have nice things...I honestly don't need someone else's kids fueling the fire.
Then there is MaterialGirl - I swear to Heaven that she cooks gourmet meals for her dogs - they eat better than my kids, no joke. I honestly think when my kids get old enough, they may ask her to adopt them. She would give her dogs a kidney if she had to.
BabySis has to friggen mother two kids, and a husband! If her oldest was slightly less ADHD in training, he might actually be easier and less of a pain in the ass then her husband. I love him to death, he is my brother in law - and very few people can put up with my Sister's crazy, but geez - I would possibly drop kick him on occasion if in her shoes.
The point I am trying to make is that all women should wish all other fellow women Happy Mother's Day. The last few days have been agonizing for me. You can't say "Happy Mother's Day" because you don't know anyone's individual situation. Do they have kids? If so older? Younger? If not, did they try? Do they not want them? In either case, you lose if you ask, so you simply say nothing at all. And quite frankly, that is BULLSHIT.
Whether you are a mother to Humans, Furrbabies, Deadbeat Brothers, Work Bosses, Co-Workers, your InLaws, Outlaws, or Reptiles - it doesn't fucking matter. You are a woman - you are cultivator of life - yours and anything you come in touch with. So you know what, Happy Mother's Day to you...ALL OF YOU. Rock on!
So let's talk for a moment about "appreciation". This week is "Teacher Appreciation Week" at school. What does that mean? Basically it means that every day of the week (yes at our PreSchool it is all 5 days, not just once during the week) is earmarked for some sort of gift for my children's many teachers.
Now, let me pause here for a moment and say that I value and appreciate every single one of the teachers that care and teach my children. They are saints, no doubt about it. I couldn't be a functional working mom without them - and for that, I am forever indebted. Honestly, I feel I should buy them all a Wine of The Month Club subscription, because if I were them - I would go home nightly and throw back a couple bottles.
That being said, the structured and silently mandatory week full of gift giving is freaking unbelivable. Basically, every day of the week is earmarked for a diffrent gift. Monday=Flowers, Tuesday=Relax (aka spa/bath items), Wednesday=Sweets, Thursday=Personal Note, Friday=gift. Yes, because apparently everything you take Monday through Thursday is not a gift - they have to tack on a Friday gift day which is a suggested mug or gift card.
Now, if my kids each had one teacher, that would be a piece of cake. BUT NO! Each kid has at least 3 teachers. So basically, teacher appreciation week is five days of gifts for 7 teachers!! That shit adds up quick! Let's do the math for a minute.
Monday - Flowers: $20 - Well, you can either buy 7 Sunflowers for like $3 a piece, or buy the dozen flowers for $20. I opted for $20 - looks better taking two flowers anyway.
Tuesday - Relax: $35 + $10 Have you ever tried to buy 7 bars of gift soap - it's ridonculous. I have opted to buy a 24 variety pack of bath bombs that I will repackage into candy bags and gift accordingly. Of course, it won't come out even, so one class room the teachers will get 2 each and the other the teachers will get 3 each. I haven't decided which is which - I am going to see who pisses me off more this week and give them the dime bags.
Wednesday - Sweets: $30 Ya, so what am I going to do, buy them each a candy bar - no. Women are as particular about their candy bars as they are their tampons - you just don't buy those generically for each other - it's weird. So, since we are out of Valentines and Easter season, when you could purchase little cheap boxes of Whitmans, I opted for the favor box full of Hershey's kisses. But again, you need to buy like at least a dozen boxes, and then a bulk bag of kisses...assembly is required...bastards.
Thursday - Personal Note $Priceless - it's like 30 minutes of my life while I dicate every letter to my 5 year old so she can write a personal note to three teachers. The Infant Room teachers for my one year old will be getting a very generic thank you from me.
Friday - Gift: $70. Ok, so again...the whole fucking week has been gifts - but wait! There's more! So, when you think about giving $10, that is all fine on a teacher by teacher basis, but when you have 7 to buy for, that shit adds up to $70! I mean, that's like half a cell phone bill. My ass is cheap - it kills me every time.
So grand total = over $160 cash, and then all the time it takes to organize and put this shit together. You can't exactly walk into the room and start throwing bath bombs and kisses at them. They need packagiang and transport.
So here's where it gets worse. Not only is there a silent requirement to give gifts all week, but then you have the pressure of what other moms are going to give. Now, I personally don't really give a shit about that noise - fuck what the other moms think. But for some of my friends, namely Overachiever and PinterestQueen, that struggle is real. They stalk Pinterest and figure out the best presentation of the gifts, and then put in countless hours creating the best gifts in the room. I mean, at the end, they are magnificent - no doubt about it - thoughtful and lovely, but seriously, for them, it must be maddening! The pressure to be as good if not better than the other gifts being dropped in the room is friggen outrageous. Honestly, when all is said and done, the idea of the appreciation is lost in all the pressure to just do it well.
What we need to get back to is the spirit of the week - appreciating the men and women that care for our young all day, most days of the week. We need to drop the pressure, and the drama one week out of the year and simply just say "Thank You" every day. While giving gifts is a great gesture, let's teach our children that you don't have to have an occasion to give thanks - you just should at any time. And we as parents need to fess up to the fact that we SUCK at appreciation on a daily basis. We need to step up and be kinder to the people out there raising our kids. And that isn't through flowers and bath bombs and notes and giftcards - it's simply through every day kindness. That is what appreciation should be about.
I realized recently how amazing the women in my life are. It all started at dinner with friends, where I was told that two people wanted to be called "Overachiever" in the blog. One of them actually was Overachiever as mentioned in previous posts, the other that was bummed she hadn't received the title.
I would like to believe that you are what you surround yourself by...or at least...that is what I am telling myself, so in honor of all the amazing women I know, today everyone gets their name. I am pretty sure all of you will know who you are, and many of you will know who the other is - which is why I love you all.
BabySis, aka Shammy, aka FreakishlyStrong, aka ControlFreak, aka ManicMama - all should be self explanatory, especially if you know her. She is my rock, my best friend in the universe and the only person that can tell me what I already know and don't want to hear, because she is pretty much the only person I won't brush off in denial as being an asshole. She knows my shit and I know hers, so we just tell it like it is is. I love you BabySis.
Overachiever - you know who you are - but thank God for you...you remind me that I am a parent and have responsibilities and your presence in Lagree suddenly makes me work harder - which is funny because I am totally not competitive and usually don't give a shit...so thanks!
Pinterest Queen - you were bummed you weren't Overachiever, but I personally think a Queen of anything is the best title ever. And honestly, if it is on Pinterest, you can do it...that's pretty friggen awesome. You are also a weight-lifting badass, but couldn't think of a good name for that. Feel free to Pinterest suggestions there.
SmallButMightyMama - Only girl I know that loves her some CoorsLight over anything else in the fridge - unless there is a bottle of Captain. She's hot, she's funny and for her pint size, is one of the most fun people you will ever hang with - her smile is infectious. Oh, and she is the only person I have ever know that pulled off the official CoorsLight bikini at the White Trash Pool Party - it was epic.
MaterialGirl - she owns more luxury labels than any of my other friends combined - but is not only unashamed, but one of the most generous and caring people I know - especially to her dogs. Seriously, this girl is all heart - she would give Louis to a Loser - just to make their day.
OnPoint- this one was the hardest to name. She exudes confidence, character, positive energy, and the world just gravitates toward her. She is the one always chosen to be on stage, and her presence lights up a room, because her EVERYTHING is always on-point - but her dogs are punks and they poop everywhere, so she can't be called "Perfectly OnPoint".
SuperPower - she's a PowerMama with two STEM degrees, freakishly strong, could pretty much kick anybody's ass, but her quiet nature keeps it all inside. She always does the math for me when I try to pay a bill, and honestly, no matter where she goes in the world, she will always come out on top. I don't know why she ever let me hang out with her, but how lucky I am that opposites attract. Cuz no shit, she is the ying to my yang 100%.
SuperMom - has twin pre-teen girls and another teenage daughter, all in club sports. She works a full time job, has two side businesses and is a MASTER bow and tutu maker. I owe not going crazy while pregnant and post baby #1 to her...she's amazing.
MontreLovely - one of my favorite people from one of my favorite towns, Montreal.
TheFighter - seriously one of the most talented Brand women I have ever known - she can make people believe dirt and concrete are an urban Oasis, and oh ya, she almost died trying to be a mom, but kept fighting and is now an amazing mom to a gorgeous little girl. She is also a freak show athlete and got me into Lagree...I love and hate her for that.
BrainBabe - seriously the smartest woman I have ever known - funny, witty, throws the meanest Derby Party on the planet and is the best damn Steeplechase and Honkey Tonk buddy you can find.
TheBreeder - my oldest and one of my dearest friends - she used to use the term "Breeder" about people with lots of kids - then she had 5. She is going to HATE this name, but there is no denying - she has made some GORGEOUS kids. Yes, you know who you are, you are AMAZING and I love you forever.
D - another one of my oldest friends and confidantes. She is the reason I moved to Nashville, made some of the best friends I have ever had in my life and met my Hubs. I owe a lot to her. She is gorgeous, smart, strong and just an all around incredible woman.
My mom is of course at the very top of this list - but she doesn't get any new name, because Mommy is the most special name I could give her. She is the reason I am alive and thrive and honestly, she makes me want to be a better person every day. I love you Mommy.
That being said, I know there are more of you...I may just have had a few too many cocktails to remember at this point. Feel free to bitch at me and I will give you a name. Actually, on second thought, maybe wait until tomorrow. Sobriety may keep me from calling you a bitch. Merry Non-Holiday to all and to all a good night.
What happens when you mix extensive work travel and exhaustion with an attack at your parenting? Answer - nothing good...ever.
After two weeks of travel, I am on my last leg connection in the Phoenix airport. When I land I have a message from the Pre-school Director - we shall call her P.A.B. - for Passive Aggressive....fill in your own "B" word. The message is asking whether they can give my son a banana, because he is starving and I apparently had stopped packing him enough food. Ok...let's investigate.
As I sit in an airport grab-and-go place, sipping on some soup, because after 6 hours of flying in coach, I am famished, I call her back - only to be told that the feeding schedule I have specifically set up and require was no longer going to be adhered to. Apparently my kid is watching other kids eat all day, and that's a problem. I'm sorry - "No", I simply respond.
And then, all hell breaks loose. Accusations start flying of me not providing my kid with proper nourishment, cuz ya, at 26-pounds at 11 months and wearing 18-24 month clothing- clearly he is withering away. I start getting super condensing about their inability to follow a simple plan, and the financials of the whole situation - and now shit has gotten heated.
Next thing I know, I am standing at a window at an adjacent gate, screaming about the audacity they have to challenge my parenting, and how dare they change my very important schedule because they want to entertain my kid with food. It got ugly - and I am pretty sure most of the 6:15 pm flight from PHX to SNA heard about it.
Now, I want to make sure that I make something perfectly clear - I - in every fiber of my being, am more than greatful - in fact, I am indebted to the women that care for my children all day. They are on the front lines, and I can't even imagine what it must be like to have 10 babies in a room at once - I would go postal, seriously. This isn't about them. This is about someone attacking my parenting when I am running on 3 hours sleep and airport food. Homey don't play that.
Here's the thing, I do not think it is too much to ask to require the people you pay to care for your kids, to stick to a schedule that you have in place for a reason. I get it, it's not the same as the other kids, but that shit just ain't my problem. My son eats four times a day, two times while at school - it's his routine, and it keeps him healthy, happy and sleeping well. That's all they should worry about. Let me know he needs more food and maybe a different mix of nutrition - sure - I'm on it. Tell me I am starving my kid and you got yourself a brawl.
P.A.B. and I do not speak now. We glance at each other and barely nod - we have an unspoken law of the west between us now. Could she kick my son out of school and ask us not to come back? Sure. Would I be hurt? Nope. I will go to jail any day for defending my right to know what is best for my child - I'm the Mommy bitches - rest of you be damned.
I am sorry to say it, because he is a perfectly good piece of cardboard, but I fucking hate Flat Stanley. For those of you that don't know, Flat Stanley is a character from a book that gets flattened for some reason (I have never read the book) and now gets the pleasure of making parent's lives a complete nightmare for two weeks.
I have decided that I am fundamentally against this project for 3 reasons - 1) Basically, since my kid isn't reminded about the assignment in school, I have to do all the work; 2) Who the hell can remember to cart around a piece of cardboard into the 10,000 things we do in our lives; and 3) Why the FUCK does my kid have homework in Preschool? Don't I at least get reprieve from this crap until Kindergarten?
Honestly, I think I am most angry at myself. Why the hell did I just stress for the last hour, at 9:00 pm on a Sunday night, when my kid has not mentioned this project ONCE. Not once. The only reason we had any pictures was because I saw the damn thing on the counter and threw it in my purse. I am pissed at myself for not forcing my kid to do the work and doing it for her, because I don't want her to get a failing grade. In Preschool. That's fucking neurotic, but true. This will NOT be happening again.
In the meantime, we will be talking to C.C. in the morning and walking her through the Travel Journal that she did absolutely nothing on, so that it isn't a complete surprise to her if the teacher reads stuff out of it. So ya, that happened, and so it begins. I look forward to 12 years of making sure my kid does her own shit...I got my own deadlines.
Tonight we are going to discuss the first of what I can see being a series of posts about signing your kid up for public school. This epic biopic has been conveniently named "Kindergarten Round Up" because, well, that is its actual name. Yes. Yes it is. The open enrollment period for Kindergarten is called a "Round Up". WHY?!? Do you know where my mind goes? It splits between visions of Woody, Buzz and Jessie playing out western scenes from Toy Story and a huge bottle of weed killer that I need to buy to kill all the grass in my backyard. I absolutely DO NOT think of filling out paperwork to put my kid into school. But clearly that is just me, because apparently it has been called this for years.
That being said, Part 1 is all about the adventures in figuring out what the fuck you are actually supposed to do. I still don't know. I have now spoken to several parents, all of which have a slightly different opinion on how this has to go down. I have at least one over-achiever friend, yes, you know who you are, we will call her Overachiever from here on out, that was patient enough to call the school and get some more info. Unlike our daughters that are basically in competition every second of everyday, they in fact are the living definition of Frenimies, I have decided that attempting to compete with Overachiever on the mothering front is an exercise in futility - she would win. She sews costumes, hand makes invitations, is on-point with all homework assignments, and yet is still uber cool and down to earth. I should hate her, but, I just can't - and I hate that. She's awesome, and thank God for her, because she takes the time to figure out what we are supposed to be doing. As you can imagine, I am RARELY the responsible one in relationships. Shout out to you Overachiever - you are the rock.
Anyway, I am thinking the confusion thing may be a strategy by school districts. Perhaps they want you confused, so you screw it up, and thus don't get your kid enrolled. Maybe that is a school overcrowding tactic. I don't know...but I want to know why the hell it has to be so hard?
To me, it should be simple. Kid is of age, kid goes to school. But NO...there is paperwork, immunizations, utility bills, birth certificates, after school care lotteries, etc etc etc. IT'S MADNESS! And like you didn't already feel like an asshole parent all the time already, now they have to have you guessing whether you are going to forget some form and be shunned to the corner begging the school to let your kid get in - even though that is their zoning designated school! I can't imagine the idea of going to a selective private school and begging and praying that your kid gets in. I would give up and move to Canada. I have zero time or tolerance for that nonsense.
Tonight I spent 40 minutes in an online system doing "pre-registration". I then have to figure out when to take said pre-registration work, along with all my additional proof of existence to the school to sign her up. Please note the same website that took my pre-registration, lists the dates for Round Up for LAST SCHOOL YEAR. So ya...they are fucking with us some more. Strategy.
ADHD MOMENT - My husband knows that I can't listen to music with words when I am working or writing, so he was nice enough to leave the room when he felt musical just a few moments ago. But now, he is upstairs, no joke, singing LOUDLY to a Spotify playlist that I can only explain as the Seattle Karaoke Suicide Set. This is the second night in a row. I think he may actually be practicing for the next time we go to Live Band Karaoke. That isn't distracting at all Hubs. Thanks.
In any case, the next step in Kindergarten Round-Up is to determine the dates that I need to physically go to the school. I will keep everyone posted. Overachiever, if you are reading this, I will be texting you for the next 4 days to find out when we need to go. Yes, I will attempt to call the school myself, but I would rather not become the black sheep quite yet - I'm saving that shit for the PTA.
Foul mouthed, outspoken and pretty much an eternal realist.