Monday, April 30, 2012

Today, in parenting-land: a hope

A Hope for Today...

I will not lose it.
I will not yell.
I will do better.
I will be more patient, more gentle, more understanding.
I will try squash my grrrrr instincts.
I will avoid power struggles.
I will not let my buttons get pushed.
If they do get pushed, I will not blow my stack.
I will negotiate.
I will listen to the unspoken words between the whines.  (ha!)
I will practice better empathy.
I will research special needs.
I will learn how to deal better.

And when all of this fails, as it likely will at some point during the day,
I will not succumb to 'bad-parent-itis and cry myself to sleep

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2 a.m.

I'm trying to look at the positives these days.  You know, dwell less on the empty of half of my glass (the part I more than likely spilled, cause I'm just that kinda girl...).  And so I find myself, the chronically sleep deprived mama, awake at 2 a.m., with an annoying recent bout of insomnia, attempting to see the good.

It's so deliciously quiet, I can hear the clock ticking.  I snuggled with my love deprived cats and revelled in their purring bodies.  I saw the moon.  I trolled for poetry on-line and found one so positively lovely that it made me teary (and I am not that kinda girl...).  I knit.  I sat perfectly still and stared into space.   There are no plaintive requests (demands) for my time, energy, body.  It's just mine.  My thoughts (jumbled though they may be), my energy (however dwindled and dwindling still), my time (always fleeting).   
So 2 a.m., right now I think you're pretty swell.  

In two hours, when I am awakened (and it's bound to be pretty rude), I suspect I may feel differently.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

A big queer fairytale?

“The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill,” is a 23 minute short film  and fairytale by Middle Tennessee State University professor Bob Pondillo, and some folks have their knickers all in a knot about it.  But - as we all know - some of the most interesting things in life and art piss off moral and religious conservatives :)  Have a look!  

Monday, April 16, 2012

walkin' and talkin'

So - the littles and I are walking to the park after school, and they are delighting in counting the NDP election signs as they go (having been properly indoctrinated by yours truly, natch).  But we come upon a Wildrose Party - Alberta's very own tea-party-party - sign, and Boy-o asks what this new sign is all about.  In what can only be described as a knee-jerk reaction, I snap that "it's a sign for the spawn of Satan!"  When this draws quizzical looks, I realize that I've got some 'splainin' to do.  For starters, because my kids don't have a freaking clue who this Satan dude is...

So I begin by telling them that it's another sign for the election, from a party that Mama thinks is, you know, wrong.  (Okay - so it's a bit of a sugar-coat.  What I actually think is that all those bigot-ty, anti-choice, misogynist, poor-hating cretins should be put out on ice floes so they can hate each other to their hearts' content and leave the rest of us the hell alone, but I'm not so sure this is the right time for this particular explanation of my personal beliefs.  Such a fine line between telling your kidlets the truth and scaring the shit out of them, no?)  But of course, the explanation can't end there.

"Why are they wrong, Mama?" Boy-o asks.

"Well..." I begin... (okay, it was probably more like "Weeeeeellllllllllllllllllll," cause I was kind of scrambling in my mid-day brain for the right words to explain to a five-year old why I think the party that thinks his parents should burn in Hell is, you know, a bit off.  Anyhoo).  "I guess I have a problem with the way that they think about the world," I continue, "like, how they don't think that women who love women or men who love other men are as good as other people, or how they don't think helping people with less money or no place to live is as important as we do."

Boy-o thinks about this for a moment, and then asks: "Well, can't we just tell them why this is wrong?"

And here my heart breaks, because, of course it should be that simple.  And of course it isn't.

"People are sure trying to tell them, buddy," I assure him.

"Oh" he nods sagely, "they don't have their listening ears on?"

Yes - well - there that is in a nutshell - right outta the five year olds mouth.

"Yeah - and they also don't believe things like art is very important, so they might try to cut funding to the arts, and to schools, and..."

"WHAT?  No art!"  Boy-o interrupts me, clearly horrified.  "But MAMA!  We can't have NO ART!  The world would be so terrible and SO GREY!  You have to DO something.... Let's call 911!"

And here, I feel stuck.  I don't know what to tell him.  The mama in me wants to pull him close and say, everything's going to be alright.  There will still be anti-homophobia in the schools, there will still be arts funding, we won't close the precious few low-income resources this province has, women will still have a right to choose what happens to their bodies - our basic human rights won't be put to referendum.  But I can't say those things - because I'm pretty sure they would be lies.  Because I am honestly and frankly scared of what this province will look like with the Wildrose Mad Hatter Tea Party in power, for me and for my kids and for so, so many other people.

So I just tell him that no matter what, if the people who we don't agree with come into power, we just have to keep trying to make our voices and our ideas and our values heard.  That this is the really important thing.   And he seems satisfied with this and comforted.

I wish I was.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tough week at the office...

I've had a rough week at the office.  You know the kind.  There were the eye infections (both kids), colds, tantrums resulting from putting in eye-infection-goop, tantrums of the general variety, nightmares of the Girlio variety (resulting in very little sleep for the mama-worker), and then Girlio got sick and Boy-o got squirrelly.

I texted a friend of mine yesterday to ask them to remind me why I was against corporal punishment.  It was THAT kind of Thursday.  The littlest little, sick and clingy like a baby koala.  The biggest little, cagey and wound up and lippier than I was as a teenager.  And I was pretty fucking lippy as a teenager, so that's saying something.  (Really, just ask my mom.  It's a wonder she let me live.)  At any rate - Boy-o and I were not doing well with each other, clashing for the bulk of the day.  There was no corporal punishment (in case anyone was worried), but at one point, after I'd asked him to cease and desist one thing or another for the gazillionith time and made my exasperation at his noncompliance known, it came pretty darned close.  He turned to me, rolled his five year old eyes in my general direction and said "Mooooom - I think you're just crazy."  It was then, after some finding-my-zen-like-inner-calm-deep-breathing, that I said in my deadliest calm eyebrow-cocked-fisted-clenched-don't-give-me-no-shit-if-you-know-what's-good-for-you-child voice that when Mama was getting crazy, he wouldn't think it, he'd know it.  He thought about this for a moment, and then very wisely ventured away.   As it turned out, he may have been foreshadowing his own fate.

At any rate.  It was THAT kinda Thursday.  Between the clinging and caregiving and the worrying and the clashing, by the time my 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. shift was rolling to an end, I was fresh out.  (As an aside, people always give me the gears about being such a stickler for the kids' bedtime.  But I submit, not-so-humbly, that if their regular workdays ranged from 14-15 hours plus nighttime overtime, they'd be sticklers too).  Anyhow - no gas in the tank.  I'm all frayed at the edges.  Bad, bad, bad-assed day at the office.  Exhausted, ready for bed myself, yet thinking about all the things I need to do before that can happen for me, and so on and so forth.  So the kid's bedtime is feeling pretty darned important to me.  Like, really, really, really more-important-than-usual-kinda-important.  Which is, naturally, why Girlio, having been too sick for most of the day to opine about anything, chooses this particular juncture to lose her shit.  And why, being fresh outta sweetly-gentle-handed-mama-guidance-and-patience, I go right ahead and join her in the shit loss.

And as we are scrapping (no, not literally) in the bottom bunk and I am struggling to get the screaming bambina under the covers - all of the sudden, a five year old head pops down from top bunk and says in the voice of an octogenarian:

"Are you feeling frustrated with Girlio?  That's hard.  I know, she's very difficult to deal with sometimes...".  

Now - the humour of having these words come out of the mouth of my five year old, who is dangling upside down like a monkey, bestowing sage and empathetic advice to me from his bunk bed is not lost on me.  Neither is the irony of the words themselves.  At this point, I don't know if I started laughing so hard that I cried, or if I started crying so hard that I laughed.  Because everything was feeling all of the sudden
really, really funny. And desperately fucking un-funny. Let's just say there was some laughing and some crying.  And some wide-eyed staring on the part of the children.  At this point, I decide that I need to take a breather from the smalls in order to become reasonably human, or at least a little more, you know, coherent.  So I tell them I need a grown-up break, and that I'll be back in five minutes.  There was balking.  And then I hear Boy-o tell wailing Girlio - "It's ok - I'll deal with this."  Momentarily, the brave (or...?) child marches out to the kitchen where I am trying to count myself back into calm, and says: "Mama - we really didn't like it very much when you left the room."  To which I respond that sometimes grown-ups need a bit of a time-out, and that it will make me a better parent, and I'll be back in two minutes... or something along those lines.  And then, with a nod and a pitter-patter, he returns to his sister and says:"It's ok, Girlio. she'll be back as soon as she sorts herself out."   Really.  I mean, you can't make this shit up.  

So, I sorted myself out.  And then I got those little buggers to sleep, an hour late, but unbeaten and reasonably unscathed.   (Though I'm not sure the same could be said of me...).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Moms and Judginess...

Check out this spot-on link from Gina at The Feminist Breeder.  It's about how we jump to judge moms who make different choices than we do.  Which is, you know, bad.  Bad, bad.  I've written about it from the other side of the coin (the less attachment parent-y side, I suppose).  But really - c'mon now people.  Let's get our shit together.

Monday, April 2, 2012

adding it up, parenting style

Today (well, actually yesterday, as this is a day-after the hurricane post) was rough.  Like, rough, rough.  One of those too frequent days that leave you wondering what the Hell you've gotten yourself into, and if you're in wayyyyyy over your head.  But they aren't all like that.  Thank goodness.  Here's my mathematical (insofar as I do math!) assessment of my days of parenting.

There are days.  The days your mama warned you about.  (And of course, she was right, dammit!)  Days like today, days that make you want to crawl into bed hours before most toddlers, days that make you crave entire buckets of ice cream and bottles of wine.  Days when you're positive you've failed at this job.  Days, for instance, when you accidentally kick Girlio in the nose doing a pilates move, or when Boy-o comes home from his weekend away so full of non-stop tantrum that you want to pack your bags and move into the magpie nest in the backyard, because it would be much, much quieter.  And you deal with that feeling by, you know, screwing up. You know, just as, um, random examples.   It is hard to be philosophical about these kinds of days.  My internal dialogue here mostly consists of: 'try not to cry til they fall asleep,' or 'you fail.  you fail.  you fail.', or 'jeez, I hope this doesn't all end up like "We Need to Talk About Kevin".'    I'm going to say that over the course of a five day week, I have at least one day like this.  Of late, sometimes more.  These days are brutal.  Exhausting.  Hard on the heart.  And more often than not, by the time bedtime rolls around, I fall asleep beside my smalls, bloody exhausted and heartsore.

And then there are the parenting days that tend towards the not so bad.  These days have tantrums and oopsies and regular kid-like oppositional behaviour.  You deal with things the best you can and know this. And this behaviour gets balanced out by other wonderful things like toothy toddler grins, spontaneous Boy-o hugs, dance parties in the living room, snuggles and books and backyard shenanigans.  These sorts of days are much easier to be philosophical about.  You win some, you lose some - you may even most often lose more than you win - but damn, look how cute and smart and entertaining (if obstreperous) they are.  And look how YOU get to have a hand in helping to nurture these little demons.  Generally speaking, I'd say I have about 3-3.5 days out of the five that I have my smalls that feel, for the most part, like this.

And then there are the wonderful days.  The days full of laughter and outings and GOOD PARENTING MOMENTS.  These days are rarely seen birds, of course, which is what makes them so coveted and deliriously wonderful.  You end these days thinking that having children was the most amazing thing you've ever done, and holding onto fleeting glimpses of what their fabulous futures will hold.  And, though perhaps selfishly, even better on these days is being able to tamp down those inner voices that so often tell you that you are really stinkin' bad at this parenting gig.  These days assure you that you might actually be doing ok.  You might not have to save QUITE so much for the therapy fund (theirs, not yours.  Yours you still have to save for).  I wish I could say I had more of these days than I do - but like I said - they're an exotic and rare sort of bird.  Out of my five days a week with the smalls, I probably average about .25 of a day like this, or one REALLY good, sunshine-blowing-out-of-my-magic-parenting-fingertips per month.

And that's the way it adds up.  Luckily, the mostly present in-betweener days occur more often than not.  And I guess, those .25 days, the sunshiny-full-of-free-and-easy-smiles-and-hugs kinda days, serve to exponentially fortify you for the really tough days.  Because though few and far between, these days are the most gorgeous part of this parenting gig.   And oh man, I live for them.