Category Archives: Mama Musings

Talking about tots, teens, the terrific and the terrible

Uphill Battle

But the view at the top… worth the whole struggle.

Kid Connections

Probably only parents with lots of kids make weird lists like this, trying to compare the similarities and differences between their kids. (I guess you’d  need at least two, wouldn’t you?!)

I’ll refer to my kids by their birth order number, to save typing their names over and over.

Here are some of my rambling comparisons:

  • 1 & 2 are from the 20th century, 3, 4, & 5 are from the 21st.
  • 1 & 4 are Tauruses, 2 & 3 are Geminis, poor little 5 hangs out alone in the Libra camp.
  • 1, 2, & 3 were born in Oregon, 4 & 5 were born in North Carolina.
  • 2 & 3 were born at a birthing center, in the same bed, with the same midwife, 6 years apart. 1, 4 & 5 were all born at different hospitals (4 is the only one delivered by an OB instead of a midwife.)
  • 1, 2, & 3 were all born in even years, 4 & 5 were born in odd years.
  • 1, 3 & 5 are girls, 2 & 4 are boys.
  • 2 & 5’s names both start with “G,” the rest are all different.
  • 1, 3 & 4 were all born in May, while 2 has a birthday in June and 5 is in September.
  • 1 was born premature, 2 & 3 were born after their due dates, while 4 & 5 were both induced.
  • 2, 3 & 5 were all born in the same city they were conceived in, but 1 & 4 were conceived in one state then born in another.
  • 1 & 2 were both born in the early morning, 3, 4 & 5 in the evening

I’m not sure why, but when I see two of them hanging out together, their random detail association always seems to come to my mind. It means a lot to me that they be there for each other throughout their lives, so the more connections I can foist upon them, artificial as they may be, the more reassured I am that certainly they will always have tights bonds.

Or maybe I just like lists of random details!

In any case, here’s a photo of me and my fantastic five:

The Volcano in my Heart

Okay, now I fully acknowledge that the story I’m about to relate to you is flagrantly insignificant in relation to events that occur around the world on a daily basis.

But part of the reason I’m sharing it is because I feel like these sorts of momentary, insignificant episodes, to which I too often respond badly, are contaminating my life with negativity. I want to let go of the anger in my heart, and not let it erupt in such awful ways, but then things like this happen, and before I know it I’m far too enthusiastically expressing my disapproval.

Remember how completely awesome (and around my childhood home, fairly rare) those cardboard tubes are that hold the wrapping paper? Well, yesterday my husband produced two of them by wrapping up birthday presents for our oldest. These tubes were smaller in diameter than usual and extra thick, rendering them quite sturdy. As a child I would have incorporated them into my play for at least a week, then hoarded it in my closet for years, occasionally pulling them out to use in some new and creative way (I was an only child until I was 13. Which helps explain why all of the sibling conflict I see between my children on a daily basis makes absolutely no sense to me.)

Our youngest, age 2 -1/2, asked me if she could have them.  I said yes. She played with them for about 15 to 20 minutes, even taking them outside, using them like ski poles, looking through them, tapping things, etc. Having a grand time.

At one point after she’d come inside and was still blissfully engaged in tubular play, our 5 year old son comes in. He asks her if he can have one. She, adoring him like a loyal subject does its king, immediately obliged. He proceeded to bash it into walls, chairs, the floor, and within 30 seconds it had broken in half. He abandoned it and asked her for the other one. Without hesitating she handed it over. He begins to bash the second one.

Enter a crazy, psychotic, raving lunatic, AKA their mother. Shrieking like a demon fresh from the underworld, I grab the still intact tube from him and howl about how he had just ruined everything for her.

Later, as I pondered it, of course he’s 5. It’s his personality to destroy everything in sight (PLEASE don’t tell me “He’s a boy” because there are boys who don’t destroy everything and girls who do. So just please don’t even go there. I won’t be able to hear anything else you say if you do because I’ll just figure you’re a genderist who assumes every single thing depends on genitals.)

But at the time, I was reacting to the horror of what I was seeing, the wanton wastefulness! The gratuitous injustice! The unthinkable evil of taking advantage of a person littler than you who worships the ground you walk on!

Absurd, I know. In the grand scheme of waste, injustice and evil, this wouldn’t even be let in the door. The Judge of all Horror would laugh and tell this incident to run along and play.

And why couldn’t I have just walked up calmly and said, “Dude, really? Give her back that one so she can keep playing. You got your share and now it’s destroyed,” or something similarly chill and wise.

If I could just stay up on the mountain in my mind’s eye, where everything appears to fit into the context of reality, and nothing is blown up bigger than it really is… Can a person live like that? And would it help, or would it just generate new problems?

Because I know that leaving my perspective down in the trenches of nitty gritty daily detail, where the bullets fly past my ears and the muddy bloody walls appear to be closing in, turns me into a very angry, overwhelmed individual that I don’t want to be. Down there, I feel like my only recourse is to explode out of the trench, gun blazing. That’s no way to live, and no way to parent.

Family Pictures

After our latest family photo saga (the whole process seems to take an ungodly amount of time and effort), I looked at this photo and thought:

That’s a helluva lotta work, right there!

Not my most generous thought ever, but for some reason the whole weight of the last 20 years descended upon me at once, and I felt proud and grateful but also overwhelmed at the hugeness of the task I’ve lived (and I’m sure the years ahead loomed large in there somewhere as well.)

Do you ever stand back and just say, Wow!?

 

Paying for Childcare

This article at Kindred Community raises a question I’ve wanted to know the answer to since forever (emphasis mine):

Our society needs to recognise the far-reaching developmental importance of breastfeeding and close, responsive mother-infant relationships in the early years, along with the close involvement of fathers, and aim to create social settings that facilitate and support them. If we are going to pay for quality infant care, why not support mothers to do it? Infancy cannot be re-run later.

Why would the government be willing to pay strangers to watch a baby but not the mother? It has always struck me as a punishment for poor people who dared to reproduce when they “couldn’t afford it.”

The underlying attitude of the family-values-right-wing policy makers has always sounded to me like: “Stupid poor people, having offspring in accordance with their animal urges. They’re just lazy and trying to get out of work! We’ll show them. You get a couple weeks off and that’s it! Back to the factory! Pop out another one and see what happens!”

I’ve always been violently disturbed by the fact that we in our supposedly civilized society allow conditions under which people “cannot afford” children. I believe that children are the only true wealth, insurance policy and retirement plan.

I’m not saying people should have to have children. I believe it should be entirely optional. If a person would rather completely dedicate themselves to a career, hoard money, invest in an IRA account, buy property and make investments, that’s one way to shore up resources for the future.

But when you’re old and you slip on one of your wads of cash and fall and break your hip in the middle of your castle, who’s going to come wipe your wrinkly butt and spoonfeed your shriveled mouth? Oh right, you’re going to hire a stranger to do that. That’s much more pleasant that having someone you love, who actually cares about you, treating you tenderly.

Or NOT.

And shouldn’t a baby have the same courtesy, of having the person they love and need more than anyone else in the world be the person who wipes their cheruby bum and nurses them lovingly at the breast?

But if you can’t afford such an idyllic life, then forget it. Park the kid at the licensed facility and punch that time card, or you’ll be under a bridge faster than you can say, “Subsidized childcare.”

 

A Trip to the Dentist

So Gwen (almost 3) got some happy juice to help her cooperate with the dentist while he filled a couple of cavities. She was loopy as all get out and didn’t squirm or make a peep.

When we got home she couldn’t even walk and was laughing at everything. I’ve never seen a small child wasted before, but I admit I was a little jealous that it was only 9:30 in the a.m. and she was already feeling so good, and I hadn’t even had a chance to have my second cup of coffee.

And the worst part? It’s some kind of memory eraser so if the dental work ends up being traumatic, they will never remember. So all her loop-de-loo fun with me and Rose (her 19 year old sister) this morning was wiped clean.

Good times.

A Child’s Disappointment

I say child, but she’ll be 20 years old in a couple of months.

After waiting FORVER to find out if she got into the nursing program, she got a notice saying that she is on the alternate list.

At my age, with my level of experience, that isn’t bad news. It isn’t the good news she wanted, but I don’t think she realizes how often people drop out, leave town, take a job, get married, or whatever other life-changing event comes along and poof! you’re in.

I don’t want to get her hopes up again too much by saying all of that. I understand that she feels crushed, and she just wanted to know what the hell is going on in her life. That would be pretty comforting, and I can see having the school say, “Maybe…” again is not at all encouraging. Waiting some more is not at all fun or helpful.

But they didn’t say no, so that’s not completely terrible.

It’s hard to watch her go through all this. I want life for my children to be a satisfying challenge with a happy ending. I know we all learn from heartbreak, disappointment, that when one door closes another one opens, etc. etc.

But this is my baby we’re talking about!

*Sigh*