Parents Are People, Too (aka A Good Ol’ Fashioned Guilt Trip)

Every so often I check my site stats to see which blogs are being read and shared and what search terms lead people to my blog. (I think a lot of lonely young men attempting to buy their own batsmoke leave my page disappointed.) I can see at a glance which blogs are the most popular and which blogs you are sharing with friends.

Most of my blogs are about parenting and all of the wonderful things that go along with that like cleaning the house, cooking dinner and trying to explain why I don’t have a penis. Those blogs are, by far, the most popular. I also write about movies I like or do not like and I suppose eventually I will write about books again and there will be a lot of blogs about The Bar and live music. Those blogs do not get read as often or shared as much but I will continue writing them. I write for me but I also write for you and I think you need the blogs about music and movies and drinking as much as I do.

Becoming a parent changes everything. It’s a cliche because it’s true. Humans, in general, are self centered. That’s not mean or a negative outlook on humanity, it’s just common sense. All of your most basic instincts are cleverly designed to protect you. Until you have a child. Between your biological urge to protect your child and society’s pressure to do so and do so better than anyone else, it is very easy to forget that you still have needs of your own. When taking a shower becomes a task you have to schedule, finding time to nurture your talents and explore hobbies can seem like a luxury.

Some time after Goldy and Beauty were born, but before my divorce, I discovered that I was boring. I didn’t do anything worth talking about and I didn’t have anyone to tell even if I did do something noteworthy. It would be easy to blame my ex-husband because he did instigate my isolation but it wasn’t intentional and I let it happen even though I know better. Lucky for me, he still had friends and one of his friends was still into girls (that is a whole different blog for another day) and he brought over my future best friend, H-Bomb.

It’s amazing what one person listening can do for your self esteem. My Ex had forgotten who I was before I became overwhelmed with parenting and house work. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though, I stopped reminding him. I suddenly understood all possible meanings of the phrase, “I need to find myself,” which I had always thought was complete hocum. How do you lose yourself? Now I know how very easy it is to lose track of yourself. Hint: You will not find yourself at the bottom of a pile of laundry.

No matter how deep the pile, you will not find yourself at the bottom.

Having someone to listen again made me want something to talk about. I didn’t want all of my fun stories to be about the past. I wanted to read books that weren’t by Mercer Mayer and go places that weren’t family friendly. I wanted to put on lipstick, not chapstick and paint my own nails, not my daughters’. I wanted my own life.

If any of this sounds familiar or you are nodding your head then you are the one I’m writing for. You need support. You need a friend to listen. And you need to know that it is okay to be a parent and your own person. It’s not only okay to have a life outside of your children, it is necessary to be a good a parent. You cannot be your best self if you are only focused on your children. You need a hobby. You need a night out. You need a shower. No really, you need a shower.

I often hear new moms say, “I don’t even have time for a shower!” I feel your pain, I do. Put the baby down and go take a quick shower. Yes, he might cry and you might feel guilty but when you are done you are going to feel so good.  Babies sense your stress and discomfort. They also sense your peace and happiness. Be at peace, be happy. It will be easier to get him to latch on or fall asleep if you are not a sweaty ball of nerves. This gets harder as the kids get older. Cages are frowned upon so you will need a good support system, but you not only deserve it, you need it.

These are not my kids. Do not call CPS.

We went out last weekend on Little S’ birthday. Without him. We spent all day with the kids and then took him to Grandma’s house after dinner. We have karaoke every Saturday at The Bar and our karaoke jockey was having a birthday party. We’ve only owned The New Bar for 6 months so it is important to be present, to meet people, to interact. We also had friends playing in bands on the other side of town. The Barkeep helped set up one of our friends, an old local music connection of mine,  on the bill at the last minute, so we wanted to see the show. I met a fellow at The Bar that night that asked about my kids. When I told him it was my youngest baby’s first birthday he told me I should be at home. Now, you might agree, but I want you to flip the phrase around in your head awhile and ask yourself why I needed to be home with a sleeping baby on a Saturday night when I had so many other options and a trusted babysitter. In case he wakes up and wonders why his Mommy went out on his birthday? This is your first baby, isn’t it?

People might make you feel guilty about pursuing your own interests. You might make yourself feel guilty. Consider this, it is our job to model the behavior we want to see in our children. We cannot raise well rounded people if we feel like half the person we used to be. We cannot encourage them to cultivate their talents and nurture their ideas if we are ignoring our own. We can’t teach them to explore hobbies if we don’t have any of our own. Humans have an actual need to share and enjoy themselves.Why do you think Sims have a social meter and an aspirations meter? They are based on us! (And now you know one of my hobbies…) Our children need us to remember that we are all people, too. Our children deserve to be raised by well rounded individuals.

If none of this convinces you then I have one last thought, a question actually. Think of your child’s favorite activity. Goldy likes writing. Beauty likes fashion. Sharkboy likes constructing. The jury is still out on Little S, he seems to enjoy dancing and eating. What does your child enjoy? Do you do your best to encourage that hobby, take her to lessons, buy the necessary tools and praise liberally? Do you want him to give it up for anyone, ever? Or do you want him to continue building on that interest and learning new ones as he grows?

At the core of everything we want for our children is the same basic premise. We want them to be happy. Se ta good example for your children and remember, your parents wanted you to be happy. Don’t let them down.

Advertisements

How Not To Scar Your Children: Part One

Last night I took a shower at midnight. I couldn’t sleep, I knew I wouldn’t have time for one in the morning and it’s the only way to be truly alone in my house. If everyone is sleeping no one needs to use the potty rightthisveryminute or barge in for eyeliner or knock on the door with questions. This gave me time to enjoy the finer things in life like leaving conditioner on for the recommended amount of time, exfoliating with my daughter’s body wash and other luxuries.

When I got out I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized my stay-at-home-mom tan had gotten out of control. I’m a glowing white Irish girl that spends as much time outside with the kids as possible. My flip flop tan lines are enviable but the tan ends just above my knees. My arms are a lovely bronze but my chest is barely beige. After almost no consideration or forethought I decided to use the sunless tanning lotion I had leftover from last summer. Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.

How To Use Sunless Tanning Lotion:

  • Make      yourself a drink. I prefer Bacardi and Diet Pepsi but you can switch up  the recipe to fit your needs.
  • Use a  good brand. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Don’t buy this stuff at the dollar store. I like Loreal. The gradual types are wonderful for luminescent girls like myself.
  • Exfoliate. It feels good. Slough off the dead skin cells.
  • Use a light layer of lotion on your wrinkles and creases, around your knees and ankles and such.
  • Wash  your hands after applying it to each area so you don’t get a build up on your hands. Use hot water and soap.
  • When you are done, use a tissue to wipe around the wrinkles and creases and anywhere else the lotion may have built up.
  • Do not get dressed for 15-20 minutes. Let it soak in and dry up.
  • Clean  up mistakes with facial astringent on a tissue.
  • Finish your drink. Look fabulous

Just be aware, you may look fabulous, but you stink. Even the pretty scented tanning lotions I picked up at Bath And Body Works smell awful. Don’t do this before you go out on the town. A random Tuesday at midnight is a good time to start.

I applied my sunless tanning lotion in peace, taking time to make it worthwhile, and on a whim I used some of the leftover lotion from my arms on my face. I have to be really careful with this because even though I have pretty good skin it doesn’t take much to upset the balance and give myself a raging zit. Also, as you can imagine, there are a lot of ways to mess your face up with sunless tanning lotion. (All the same steps as above but use a lot of regular face lotion on your angles and around the eyebrows, ears, mouth and hairline.) Don’t worry, I’ve got this covered.

This particular sunless tanner boasted “instant radiance” and I was indeed able to admire a very light tan immediately. I was quite pleased with it… until I looked in the mirror. My face was not orange or blotchy or even covered in acne.

I was sparkling light a Twilight vampire. I blinked and did a double take but it was not from the Bacardi. “Instant radiance” is apparently code for “enough glitter to relive 1999.” I washed it in hot water, then cold, then scrubbed it with astringent but I already knew it was useless. I lived through 1999 the first time, I know how hard body shimmer is to remove and I know how absurd it looks on a face.

So, here I am on this random Wednesday with my ultra sparkly, mildly radiant facial tan, thinking this is probably one of the least embarrassing looks I’ve sported while dropping the girls off at school. I’m an embarrassing mom sometimes. I try to keep in mind how important their social life and outward image is at this age but they need to respect that sometimes their ride to school is my social life and I rarely have time to remember I have an outward image.

It is for this reason that I decided our family deserved some level of anonymity while I write this blog. I’m aware that most readers came here because I begged you to on Facebook so you know exactly who I am. I’m slowly pulling in more readers though and I’d like to embarrass my children as little as possible.

That is why I am giving them ridiculous, embarrassing nicknames instead of using their real names. I suspect that from time to time I will write things about our family that they do not want to be associated with. Little S is my 10 month old that slithers like a Little Snake and he is little and his name starts with S. Sharkboy is my 2 year old son. He had a full set of teeth by the time he was one and unfortunately he uses them aggressively at times. My 17 year old daughter, Goldilocks, or more likely, Goldy, because I am lazy, has locks of gold. Beauty is incredibly vain. I’m kidding but she did pick her own nickname. I believe her excuse was that she loved Belle from Beauty and the Beast and we often use Belle as a suffix to her real name. (Begging the question, why not Belle?)  Confusingly enough, in contrast to Goldy, Beauty also has dark hair and eyes like Belle. Her “boyfriend” was shocked to discover she would not be having a quinceanera. (Boyfriend is in quotes because, seriously, they are 13.)

The Barkeep was hard to name because I don’t expect him to like anything I pick. I thought about The Grill Master but in case you have not noticed I like to keep it short. I have been up every 5 minutes while writing this to drag Little S away from Sharkboy, the cats, the DVR, the mess in the corner… I can’t be expected to type out long names.

Now that you’ve met my family feel free to tell me a little about yours.

What We Really Want For Mother’s Day: Batsmoke

I can’t speak for all mothers but I feel confident speaking for most stay at home or work at home (with children present) mothers on the subject of “Oh my god, I need a lifetime supply of Batsmoke.” Thank you Pregnant Chicken for giving it a clever, male friendly name.

http://www.pregnantchicken.com

My kids are pretty good kids. I mean, obviously, I think they’re awesome. Sharkboy put two triangle blocks together and called it a rhombus and I took about 20 pictures and sent them to various friends and family members. Little S has enough video footage to start his own YouTube channel. I dig my kids. I’m just saying, you know, behavior wise, they are pretty good. Little S likes to pull the cats’ tails and shriek a lot and pull all of the wipes out of the wipey box. Sharboy sometimes says, “I want milk,” followed quickly by, “No, I can’t want milk!” I sometimes feel like I’m taking part in a secret psychological exam. I’ve been blessed with unusual teenagers that are mostly compliant and that don’t sneak out of the house or steal things or if they do they are good enough at it not to get caught which sometimes is good enough, but even good teenagers can be exhausting. They “forget” important things. They procrastinate. Just, you know, stuff, that has to be dealt with.  I should probably mention at some point, we only have one vehicle. This is one of the choices we make to make our stay at home parent situation work. Maybe when this one is paid off we can afford insurance on a second one, but until then we prefer to spend any extra money on driving somewhere fun together instead of driving two seperate cars.  So, I spend all day with five little bitties and all evening with two little ones and two teens who generally disappear into their rooms and only come out to inform me they forgot something extremely important that needs dealt with immediately or to ask if we have any eggs because, “Oh yeah, my egg drop project is due at 6am tomorrow so can you drop me off at school around the same time you normally roll out of bed… and help me do my whole project?”

Sometimes my boyfriend comes home and I have an immediate need to buy… Chapstick, for the diaper bag. I like to have some everywhere, the moisturizing kind with SPF 15. Hand soap. We go through a lot. I need something, anything to get me out of the house. Toilet paper. Still trying to set the standard. So, I make my excuse, which I’m sure reeks of the very bullshit it is made of, but I don’t care and inevitably Sharkboy hears the word “go” and begins the hunt for the two year old holy grail, which is a matching pair of socks. There is no doubt in his mind that he is going because I am a sucker. He’s trapped in the same house with me, he needs out, too. This is a prime example of when a mother needs Batsmoke. I want to disappear into a cloud of smoke, no explanation, and come home tipsy and go to bed for a week, or for the evening at the very least.

Batsmoke would come in handy when I need a new bra, too. I can’t just look at the size and go buy a new one in this size. I don’t know if this problem is unique to me because I have a lot to work with, or if all women need to try on a dozen bras in a dozen sizes to find the right one, but either way, this is not a kid friendly activity. I would like to just get up in the morning, realize my need for a bra, and go purchase one. I have been a mother my entire adult life and I do not remember what it feels like to get up and do what I want without first making sure everyone else has what they need.  Teenagers need rides. So many rides. Infants and toddlers need supervision. Men have needs. Not those needs. There is ductwork to be done on the addition and paperwork at the bar and a hundred other things that are also not kid friendly. Sometimes just getting people to commit to a time frame makes me want a nap… that I can’t take because everyone else needs something first. This is when I want to disappear into a cloud of smoke, no explanation, and come home tipsy and go to bed for a week, or for the evening at the very least. In a new bra.

My Batsmoke wish has conditions, though. First of all, I want it all guilt free. No one, not even the bitsy baby, is ever allowed to give me any amount of grief for needing a break. Next, no reciprocation should be expected. Everyone else has Batsmoke already, its called, “a life outside the house.” Last, but definitely not least, I expect to return from my sabbatical to find the house and children in at least as decent of a condition as I left them in. Diapers changed, meals on time, dinner somewhere other than on the floors and counter, that kind of stuff.

I had intended to write a list of things women really want for Mother’s Day but I feel Batsmoke covers it. I’d like to take a shower whenever I want. I wash the towels, after all. Six people, one bathroom, you do the math. I used to look forward to the weekends because I had the idea that I would get to be the first person to take a shower on Saturday. I would get up early with Sharkboy, who was just a Sharkbaby then, (or more likely we would startle awake after a restless night on the couch when a demon hellcat pounced on us in search of his morning meal) and feed him and change him and get him ready for the day. I was generally covered in baby sweat and spit up because Sharkbaby had an upset tummy for the first year of his life. There is no greater feeling than a long hot shower after spending the evening insane. I’d hear my boyfriend coming up the stairs and get ready to hand Sharkbaby over, only to have him breeze past with a freshly washed towel over his shoulder and say, “I’m going to take a quick shower…”

I’m just saying, if the judge were a mother, I wouldn’t get jail time.

Then of course, teenagers have plans so they need showers and rides and there is paperwork at the bar and eventually I have to throw a tantrum to get in the damn shower. This is when I need Batsmoke. I want to disappear into a cloud of smoke, no explanation, and come home tipsy and go to bed for a week, or for the evening at the very least. Clean.

If you are thinking right now that you want or need something other than Batsmoke for Mother’s Day, might I suggest a nice gift basket from Bath And Body Works? That is, after all, what you get the woman who already has it all.