Tag Archives: motherhood

Simple Moments and Evacuating The Premises … Immediately

7 Jul

Feeling miserable isn’t one of the things I enjoy talking about, you just wake up and that ugh feeling is staring at you. You try to get your inner Wonder Woman vibe on and you feel it somewhere, you know you’ve got it, it’s just hitting the snooze button I guess.

I mean I was feeling good with that 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and ball game, where my favorite pitcher on Earth rocked it and the fireworks just wowed the kids and myself.  You were toe-tapping to R-O-C-K in the USA by Cougar-Mellencamp and just feeling the vibe with Ray Charles singing that America the Beautiful.

That whole experience made for an awesome holiday, so I couldn’t understand why I woke up flat and just feeling the blah … of the day. That bad mood voodoo took over and funkified my whole outlook. And you know it’s you, when nobody does anything and everything seems to irritate you, like the kind of irritated you get when you’re hangry. 

I had to check myself.

I needed to evacuate the premises immediately.

So I grabbed the Coppertone 1005 SPF and the swimsuits and headed for the pool. The beach was too far and the freeway would have made the irritability worse, so I needed a fast fix and the pool seemed to work it’s magic. Nothing like racing your kids on the blue and red water slides to help bring your inner Wonder Woman mojo out.

The fact that we were not sweating out the 104-degree heat at home brought a smile to my face. I sat on the edge of the pool with my legs feeling the light resistance of the cool water and I looked up. I felt the warmth of smile as I watched my kids enjoy the Willly Wonka-like splish-splash structure. And it was good. A calm feel-good vibe sat with me, and I enjoyed the simplicity of the moment. I forgot about the morning moodiness and that’s always a good thing to put in your rear view mirror. If I had that gratitude journal right there, I’d mark that moment as the highlight of the day, bottle it up for the next time.

It wasn’t anything fancy, rich, or epic. It was just old-school and simple, like the times in the old neighborhood when we’d splash around Marisolita’s giant plastic pool from K-mart. Everyone from Apartment 2 all the way to Apartment 9 would be out there swimming around for hours. And when it was time to go because our fingers and toes pruned up, we’d ask for five more minutes. Just five more. Then we’d empty out all the water on the stairs to create our own make-shift Raging Waters slide adventures.

Simple stuff, but pretty awesome when you’re in the moment. So I’m glad I caught it.

Evacuating the premises appeared to be good idea … that and cannonballs.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

The Process And The Hanna Barbera Journey

24 May

It took me back to Saturday morning cartoons. Just like our annual cardboard boat race, this little adventure took me back to the 80s where I dreamed of being one of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and building my own hot rod to race to the finish line.

We were pretty jazzed up to learn that my son’s Boy Scout pack would be hosting the annual Pinewood Derby. We marked the calendar, bought our kit and the kids laid out their Crayola Crayons Blueprint, LEGO drivers included of course.

We made visits to the Do-It-Yourself Center and Michael’s Craft Store to buy all the goods for this epic project. Every day leading up to the big race we worked on the cars … sanding them, cleaning them, painting them multiple times, adding decals and then our final touches. I made sure not to get too crazy though, I didn’t want to turn into Momzilla and take over the project. I wanted to make sure my kids did most of the work.

But you know, the day of the actual race itself didn’t live up to the hype I imagined in my Hanna Barbara mind. After waiting for all the heats and divisions to run through their rounds the enthusiasm dwindled off.

Perhaps because it was a three-lane course instead of five-lanes, maybe there were so many divisions that it became just a repetitive exercise and not a Pinewood Derby Showdown, or maybe it was the return of the stink-eye uptight assistant den leader from region pack meetings, his presence fuels voluntary and involuntary eye-rolls from the masses.

Whatever that wonky feeling was it lingered for a bit. I mean when it was my kids’ turn I was super excited and happy and enjoyed their rounds leading up the final division race. I was happy that my son had tied for fifth place in our rookie year of this event.

But I wasn’t really jazzed up about the other participants. I didn’t really have a vested interest. There seemed to be a pattern evolving, in regards to the type of designs winning each race. I mean once I saw a couple of their races the magic was lost  … until the Outlaw Division started.

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There it was … a rules-out-the-window race, where creativity, imagination, and design were combined. It was about the fastest car but also about inventiveness, the personality of each car and then how it would perform. Those races seemed to be a little more exciting. I enjoyed my daughter coming in first place in the outlaw class and seeing her smile as her car crossed the finish line first. But through this entire experience, from blueprints to paint jobs, I was reminded of a great lesson.

It’s all about the process.

Enjoying the anticipation of it all, sharing our excitement of what was to come, talking, hanging out while we sanded and painted, and most of importantly remembering not to freak out if the paint job wasn’t spot on. They might not remember what place they finished that day, but they will remember that we built it as a family. They’ll remember how that felt. So, for future projects, I’ve got to remember that.

Process … It’s all about the process in the Hannah Barbara journey, or with anything really.

Mother’s Day Still Around With Purple Crayons and Yoda Kites

19 May

It wasn’t a day off, but it was a day of appreciation.

I know Mother’s Day has come and gone and many are now forgetting that it had just taken place. The one day a year you’re supposed to wine and dine and show your mom all the love you got … and then the next day she’s off to wash the dishes again.

But during that quick transition from pedestal to laundry folder, a couple moments stayed with me the whole week. I’m still thinking about them today. I woke up thinking about them and they made me smile. You see during the Mother’s Day escape of the dishes adventure, we decided to go to the beach. It’s my haven. I hear the waves and I feel at peace. It usually shakes off any bad vibes that followed me during the week.

And even though I packed the lunches, filled the gas tank, lugged all the beach toys and dug the hole in the sand, I sat in my tan-colored Tommy Bahama chair, with my toes in the sand watching my daughter race the waves. It was something about that laughter of narrowly escaping the salty waves that captured my attention. She was in the zone. She was happy in the moment, not thinking of anything else, but the beach and her. And it made me smile.

I felt lost in that moment, so much so that I forgot to take a picture. I was just watching her and right then and there it felt good to be her mom. I mean most of the time on Mother’s Day you just want a massage and a nice dinner. You sure don’t want to be dragging a bunch of plastic toys from Target across those sandy hills. You want a day away from kids … a day of peace and quiet.

But for some reason I found the quiet of peace and the love of motherhood as she ran along the shore. She made my heart expand. I thought of the gift bag she made me in class and I felt like I deserved every purple crayon she used.

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And then the feeling continued when I turned to check on my son … there he was taking out his Star Wars Yoda kite from the wagon. I thought ah man I’m gonna have to break this trance of awesomeness and help put this kite together and run along a couple times until the kite takes flight.

But no.

He managed to do it by himself. Determined.

He put it together and then let out the line. He ran a few steps and launched Yoda into the sky … there he was flying with The Force, my young Jedi. He sat on the sand, making a plan, figuring out the physics of flight I imagine. Staring at the sky, maybe in appreciation of his triumph.

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I snapped a picture. He had continued what his sister had started. He got lost in the moment, fully engaged in Yoda’s flight and happy that he had done it himself. Happy in the moment, not thinking of the next, just happy right now.

He turned to look … to see if I was watching. He smiled, as I was, gave me a thumbs up and then turned around to keep flying.

Usually Mother’s Day comes and goes, and it’s back to the grind on Monday. But I found the quiet of peace on the beach that day and it’s still with me.  Definitely a good Mother’s Day gift.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

America Ninja Warriors On The Playground

17 Sep

Feeling inspired by all the American Ninja Warrior madness, I decided to take my kids out for Worldwide Day of Play! Not that the Guats needed an official excuse to go outdoors, but having a Day of Play celebrated across all Nickelodeon Channels … well that just had Playground America Ninja Warrior written all over it.

I can’t tell you how inspired and addicted my kids are to that show. I feel grateful that they get pumped up after watching stuff like the Olympics, Spartan Races and America Ninja Warrior. As they watch, they’re leaping, running, climbing, and stretching across their kid-made pillow infused obstacle course in the living room. I like that they feel like they can come out in their own Gatordae commercial and that they push each other through these imaginary obstacles and time limits.

I used to wonder what kind of kids I would have when they were still in diapers. Whether they would be avid sports fans and enjoy the Saturday college football rituals, volleyball at the beach, 5K mini runs, Olympic TV watching marathons, or catching a game at the stadium. I was hoping they would be, but you never know.

So when they cheered on athletes during the Olympics that made me smile, when they root for the Kings on the ice it feels good, when they  raise their arms in the air and scream as our team scores a touchdown it warms my heart, but when they created their own obstacle racing adventures on the playground and crowned themselves champions because they  conquered Mount Midoriyama I was high-fiving them all day. When they fell off the course and splashed in the imaginary pool, I enjoyed hearing their post interview, explaining what they think went wrong and how they were going “to try harder next year”. However I will say that the monkey bars still leave me with tiny calluses … My badges of honor.

So … regardless of whether we had an invitation, The Guats celebrated Worldwide Day of Play the America Ninja Warrior way. Hope you guys got out too.

 

 

I Earned A Couple More … But That’s O.K. They’re worth it

10 Jun

Some people say that they sneak up on you, that you have no idea where they came from.

Dude, so not true on my account.

I have knowledge of all there whereabouts. I knew exactly when they showed up and why. I wasn’t surprised. Weirded out, maybe. Worried a little? Yeah, maybe at first. But as more started trickling in I thought … dude it’s becoming an epidemic. I might need to purchase a bottle Nice N’ Easy.

But no.

I’m sticking to the salt and pepper look of my long curls.

I earned one this week. A couple actually. Sadness, happiness, and concern all at once.

I had a parent moment as my youngest graduated preschool this past week. I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I mean I knew it was important, but didn’t think it would give me pause. I saw all the Facebook posts from people about their kids moving up a grade or graduating and I thought … hmph that’s cool. But nothing registered.

Then as I saw my own, walking down the aisle in her purple cap and gown, it hit me. She’s going to be walking down that aisle at age 18 soon. She’s going to be heading off to college before I know it, and then life.

I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want it going fast. Did it go fast?

People say it goes by fast, but so far I’m feeling every day. Thus the gray hairs. I notice them. It happened when my son graduated as well. I got a little parent-y.  I thought it was a one-time thing, but nope. It hit me again. And I needed a moment. Some time to bottle it up in a mason jar and close that lid tight.

I thought about how far she’s come, how she curls the J in her name, how she scales that rock climbing wall with no problem now, how she brings something to show-and-tell and says that’s it’s fragile, how she has friends and talks about her adventures, how she shares or high-fives her friends to make for an awesome moment, how she paints more than just snakes now, there are houses and trees and rainbows and sun, and me in those pictures, how she runs faster now and is able to reach the pedals on the mini bikes.

I look at how far she’s come and I see the gray hairs on my head and I know that so far … so far I’ve done good job. I earned a couple more, but they’re worth it.

 

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Lost and Found

28 May

Sometimes you give it 100% and feel like you failed anyway. It’s the Parenthood mantra.

People don’t like to admit their failures. I don’t know, they want to feel like they can be on the cover of Parents Magazine, looking like the weather chick on your local news with three kids in matching outfits, harvesting their organic produce and skipping in their garden. They want people to see them that way.

But it’s all good. I’m not one them. I’m a Failure Survivor. The gray hairs on my head are the scars that prove it. Parenthood is both a joy and a battle.

But most of the time at the end of the day you’re so exhausted that you forget about some of the joys that warmed your heart throughout the day. You forget about the small victories that took place during the day because the failures tend to overshadow such things, which is why practicing gratitude is so important when you’re a parent. Gratitude and finding the funny, those have been my compasses throughout these parenting years.

They help find things that get lost.

Whether it’s in the moment, or at night when it’s just you, Netflix and a cup of tea your compasses help you remember.

Moments of gratitude. They help when chocolate is gone.

 

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Celebrating at the finish line.

 

Like today … I remembered about the front-door parking at the stadium, the smiles of making it to the starting line for the first wave of the race, the laughter and dancing of the finish line party, and the hugs of knowing it was a good Parenthood day.

 

 

 

40 at 40 Accidentally On Purpose Random Acts of Kindness … No. 29 Small Things

19 Dec

Everyone needs a moment of recovery …  everyone, especially the mother of a teenager. A teenage girl that is.

Yeah.

They’re a special bunch, and you see I wasn’t even looking for an opportunity to spread some Christmas cheer, but when a teenager and her diva sass make an appearance the opportunity sort of presents itself.

There I was at the 99 Cent Store buying some festive glitter action for the holiday season. When I began placing my items on the conveyor belt, I saw her walking across the store and stand next to the lady behind me.

Ugh.

The exasperated sigh.

I turned to smile at the lady who had just given me a compliment on one of Christmas centerpieces I was purchasing. She stood there with a giant sky blue CareBear and fuzzy socks.

Sigh. Again.

“Hello? What are you doing! What’s wrong with you? Didn’t you see me over there?” the teenager said waving her arms. “I was next! I was next! Why don’t you ever answer when I call you? I was calling you. Why don’t you ever answer? I was next and here you are standing in line doing nothing. What’s a matter with you?”

The mom didn’t even blink. She held her tongue as the rant continued.

“Ugh! Whatever.” The teenager finally said “Forget this. I’m gonna go wait in the car!”

I stood there while everyone looked on wide-eyed and surprised. I smiled at her and nodded. She looked back at me and grinned. I felt for her, I knew what it was like to be on that end of the teenager wrath as I had met a few of them during my teaching tenure in middle schools and high schools.

I was aware of this emotional and dramatic mood swing beast. I didn’t stand there in judgement. I had a 4-year-old daughter that would eventually be a teenager as well. I knew the beast may be in my future.

So as she stood there having her moment, trying to breathe and just survive the holiday season at a busy store the clerk rang up her purchases.

 

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I dug inside my pocket.

“I got that for you,” I said as she was still a little zoned out.

I paid the clerk for her items and finished bagging mine. After a minute she seemed to realize what had just happened.

“No,no, no. You can’t do that. I got it, I got it.” She said.

“No,” I said. “Looks like you had a tough moment waiting in line, you need a little good. You need a good story today. Merry Christmas.”

As I walked away, she tried catching up in order to give me some money, but I assured her that everything was good. She smiled and thanked me after I turned down her money for the fourth time.

She was a having a moment, a mom moment, and I knew what those were like and how they felt. I knew the look of defeat, it’s hit me plenty of times in private and in public. And I also knew she needed a little kindness and a little grace. I knew that something small could help turn things around. So I decided to be that something small.

It felt good to surprise her, to see my small act of kindness touch her heart. I might not have changed her life, but I hoped I had changed her story that day. Sometimes all it takes is something small.

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A Standing Ovation

16 Dec

After all the dramatic events that led to our induction into AYSO I’d like to say that it turned out fantastic, that the season was filled with plenty of Rudy-Hoosiers-Miracle-The-Natural type of moments.

But … I can’t. Nope.

My son’s first ever soccer experience involved being part of a Bad News Bears squad where they ended up losing almost every single game of the season. And instead of being one of those crazed parents yelling at their kid after the game or the season, I seemed to take the Kurt Warner approach.

I could see that he felt bad game after game, that he knew they had a losing record but I didn’t want to focus on the losing. But don’t get me wrong I did point out mistakes and what needed to improve, but that wasn’t my focus. I decided to concentrate more on what he did do right and how impressed I was at how he knew nothing about the sport at the beginning of the season and ended up being such a great defender toward the end.

He was voted most improved and I was proud of that, because that’s all we really want for ourselves too. We want to be better than we were yesterday and I was glad he had that in mind.

I mean I knew the losing record was a bummer, but still felt like he deserved a high-five, because he was different from the other players. He gave it his best, 100% effort and that was what mattered. His character in the end mattered. Every week he showed up, hopeful that his efforts and those of his teammates would bring back a win. Every week he gave his heart and every week he got better.

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So instead of pointing out the losses that took place throughout the season I paid attention to the courage it took for him to try something new and his perseverance and sportsmanship when things weren’t easy. I decided he definitely needed his standing ovation because losing is a hard lesson to learn no matter how old you are.

 

 

The Danger of Being a Jackass Avoived

19 Oct

I was recently reminded not to be a jackass, which tends to be important when you’re a parent.

You’re gonna have these moments … however your mission in life is trying to minimize them. As a person or parent, this should be a great guideline. And there I was on the tip of it, about to cross into jackass territory when my internal dialogue checked me.

The voice.

I heard it.

It wasn’t a scolding, you shouldn’t do this, watch your tone voice. It was a story. I had heard a story and it stuck with me. I had archived it. Didn’t know when I would need it, but thought it was important enough that I needed to keep it close. Being a sports fan and growing up as an athlete I figured it was just as powerful a lesson as Rudy, Hoosiers, or The Natural.

There I was on the soccer field watching my son and his Bad News Bears team trying to get the ball down the field. Just trying to get it to the other side. Now they’ve had difficulty doing this for the past few games as a number of members tend to kick it out of bounds.

Now seeing how my son is usually assigned the role of defender he never really gets a chance to lead the charge. I guess his ability to check people and clear the ball served the team better as a defender, closer to the goal.

So when he got the opportunity to kick the ball out of the box and down field, I thought he’d be eager and quick to blast it. But as they placed the ball in front of him, he turned trying to find an open teammate. Everyone appeared to be covered and it hadn’t dawned on them to try and move around or closer to my son.

So he waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Then I heard my voice.

Kick it! Just kick it!

Then I heard a few others saying … Hurry, kick it!

And he didn’t.

Not yet.

But after a few more seconds which seemed to feel like forever, he finally passed it down field to his teammate. This happened three times in one period.

So when he came in for a water break smiling about the fact that he was chosen to kick it down field, my thoughts were replaced by the story …

It was a high school football game and two Dads were in the stands watching their kids play the game. One of the players, John, was an all-star offensive player, always getting an opportunity to get his hands on the ball and gain first downs or score touchdowns. The other, George, was a defensive player who never really handled the ball, until that night.

There was fumble and George was able to pick it up. He took a step to the left, then a step to the right, and then got pummeled by huge offensive linemen. It was the kind of tackle where you could hear the crunch of the helmets. Everyone in the stands winced. The only thing people remembered about that play was not the fumble but the way George was leveled by the other team

John’s Dad put his arms around George’s Dad and just as he was about to give him his condolences, George’s Dad said …

“Did you see that? Did you see that! Those were the best two moves ever!”

George’s Dad didn’t see what everyone else saw. George’s Dad was beaming with pride as he saw the best offensive move his son had made to date.

So when my son came in smiling, I handed him his Batman water bottle and told him those three kicks were awesome. Maybe he’d get a chance in the next game to kick four.

The danger of being a jackass … avoided.

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Guarantees … You Get The Ones You Don’t Want So Stop Hitting The Snooze Button

14 Sep

They said it. I was listening to a lecture and they said it.

They didn’t know me, but it was like they were talking to me.

… to the mom that’s worried about the future of her kids, worried that something might happen, you’re terrified about all these terrible things that might happen to your kids … You know what, it might … This happens to mothers. The worst might just happen. But you have to realize that you have today. You get a shot. You get to raise this kid and you only have the joy of trying it today …

You’re trying to get a guarantee that your kid won’t end up screwed up. But you don’t get guarantees. Our desperate addiction to certainty and guarantee robs you of the joy of this moment, which is you get to try it now… you get a few years to raise this kid, you don’t get any guarantees, but you do get this moment to enjoy that kid, to give your best shot of being their mom and dad and that’s what you get … –Rob Bell

He said it.

And he was right. I do look for guarantees. I work hard, try hard, leave it all out there, and hope for the best, but in truth I am looking for a guarantee that my kids will be all right in the future. Isn’t that why I’m giving it all I’ve got?

But he’s right. I’ve got no assurances. And even though this scared the crap out of me, it was also a reminder. Stop hitting the snooze button. Stop! I needed to continue focusing on the present, on the moments between then and now. In life and in parenting, my proactive nature would be for the best in the long run. Don’t hit the snooze.

You wake up in the morning and realize you’ve got another chance to do it right, and at night you go to sleep and hope to put all the mistakes behind you (that piece of advice I just heard recently from Elizabeth Gilbert).

So no matter how well you walk the line, you don’t get guarantees, not the kind you want anyway, especially when it comes to kids or life. Crappy stuff happens. Sometimes it’s stuff that you’ll be able to find humor in right away, and other times it will be stuff that will take longer to recover from because your heart is broken.

But for parents trying to find the humor, here are the Top Seven Guarantees of Parents with kids 7-under …

  1. Just before you’re about to walk out the door, your kid will take a serious poop in their diaper that probably leaks onto their pants.This will require more than just wipes, in fact it will be a complete hose down and you’ll be late to wherever you’re going and for some reason you’ll still smell poop and realize that it’s on your shirt while you’re driving to wherever you’re going and you’ve got no extra shirt.
  2. No matter how hard you try to keep the peace your kids will argue about who had the red Lego first, about who was the first to open the door, about who didn’t want to play with who, about whose turn it was to watch Nick Jr, about which Superhero has the greatest superpower, and about the motion of the Earth … yup they’ll argue at least once a week, or once a day, and that will raise your blood pressure, give you gray hairs, and drain you of every ounce of energy you’ve got. It’ll make you wish you had a chocolate stash in every room of the house but you can’t because those bastard ants are crawling everywhere.
  3. You’ll have to talk to a pretentious prick of a parent the kind you wouldn’t lend your jumper cables to, all because your kid and their kid hang out at school and they’re trying to arrange a play date.
  4. You’ll always have spilled CapriSun, Goldfish Crackers, Wheat Thins, Craisins, Cheerios,  and remnants of a once crispy In-and-Out french fry in every crack and crevasse of your car and you won’t be made aware of them until your kid throws up in the car, which is also an assurance.
  5. You’ll have to go to Chuck E. Cheese  once during your parenthood existence and you’ll vow never to return again to that craziness, but know full well that it’s a lie.
  6. Bedtime doesn’t go according to schedule, between the bubble baths, teeth cleaning, ironing of clothes, reading of books and multiple attempts of trying to sleep in my bed instead of their own, bedtime happens about thirty minutes after you really wanted.
  7. They’ll hug you or smile at you at least once a day. And their laugh will make you feel good.  (This is the one you aim for everyday).

The teenage years bring about a different set of guarantees … more than seven I imagine … I’ll let you know when I get there.

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