I don’t know about you, but my Facebook newsfeed has been filled up like a fat guy at a buffet with first day of school pictures! And I LOVE it! For all of you looking for good in the world, it’s right in front of you with shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, and some nervous folded arms. For every crappy person you see on the news, there’s a mom or dad who stopped to take a pic of their kids on the first day of school. For every bad guy, there’s a parent freaking out that it’s the first day or the last first day of their kid’s educational career with tears in their eyes. I know it’s easy to notice the bad, but it sure isn’t hard to love on these pics.
There are the “I-can’t-believe-my-mother-wants-a-picture-I’m-so-embarrassed” looks. There are the “I-get-to-ride-the-bus-and-see-my-friends” giggles. There are the “I’m-gonna-throw-up-I’m-so-nervous-so-take-the-picture-fast” smiles, and the innocent “I-get-to-go-to-school-finally” half-smirks, but the ones nobody talks about are the “I-have-to-leave-my-mommy-and-I-can’t-stop-clinging-to-her-leg” cries. And even though they seem sad, they aren’t. Why? Because their mommies or daddies are so sweet to them, they can’t even imagine not being right at their sides, and that, my friends, is good in the world.
Darius Rucker had a huge hit earlier this year with his song about “When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?” For all these kids, it happens constantly, and for a mom of a 3.5 year old, it happens almost as regularly! Lol. Just in the last week, I’ve sat through a children’s show at the Iowa State Fair (never done that before). I’ve received my first paycheck from the Atlantic newspaper. I figured out how to decoupage deck blinds and get purple ink off my couch. Plenty of firsts around here. Lol. But if your life isn’t full of them, you can change it. And you can start with putting good into the world. Open doors for others. Try a new recipe, or if you happen to be local – head to Donia Day if you haven’t before.
Saturday (the 25th) will be a big day in the little town of Macedonia, Iowa. Flea market, craft fair, garden contest, parade, the museums will be open, and the part I think sounds like a riot – bed races – right down the main street in ‘Donia! What a blast! And if you are a local and you’ve been, I hear the new Donia Saloon will be open for business so there’s your new place and 1st time visit! Plus, if you’re a regular, you’re probably happy to hear that the Back 40 will be open for the occasion, too! Lots to get excited about!
So here’s to finding good, having first days, creating firsts, and commemorating it!
Send me those selfies!
Got something to add? Have a recent first? Let’s hear about it! Or see the pic!
Mother’s Day is looming. I haven’t handled Mother’s Day yet for either mother, mine or the husband’s. I know what I want to do but making it happen is a whole ‘nother ball game. The funny part is that I forget that the day is for me, too, now. It’s weird. I guess I still think of my mom instead because she is most definitely a great mom.
I, however, am not a great mom. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for platitudes. I try. In fact, I try really hard, but my parenting fails are vast and many. So instead of telling you how glorious motherhood is and how wonderful the whole experience is, I will do my usual and keep it real.
Parenting fails – I don’t even know where to start on my list:
#ParentingFail #599 – Most nights, there’s more food on the floor at Chez Carley than in her mouth.
#ParentingFail #600 – Yes, she still sleeps with me.
#ParentingFail #695 – No, she is not potty-trained yet at 2 ½. No, I do not feel bad about that.
#ParentingFail #789 – I have already had to restrict her YouTube usage because she was going to inappropriate sites, like ones that had spiders on them and ones that involved laughing after farting. No, no nudity, but spiders are bad enough. Thank you.
#ParentingFail #1050 – My daughter may, or may not, have been known to eat a brownie for breakfast, but in her defense, she saw me doing it first.
#ParentingFail #2000 – My daycare provider is counting the days till she is rid of us, partly in hopes that my daughter doesn’t break a bone on her watch and partly because we don’t follow rules well.
#ParentingFail #2999 – Sometimes, I yell when I get mad or growl in attempt at not yelling. My daughter now grrrs… Clearly, I need to rethink my attack. However, I will consider it a parenting win that she hasn’t said any cuss words…yet.
And those are just the ones that come to my head today.
So here I am trying to remind you that parenting is hard. You shouldn’t feel bad if you think so, too. And, your mom, well, she deserves a new house, car, grand reception, and a mini-bar, but if you can’t make that happen, at least give her a call or a card. They gave us life and we gave them problems and insecurities and, with any luck, some happiness along the way.
That’s how it is for me…
Everyday, I worry about what I screw up. Everyday, I try to be better. Everyday, I know that my daughter doesn’t have it bad and that all I can do is love her the best I/we know how. Everyday, I hope that it will be enough. But everyday, in spite of the things I get frustrated with her for, I see that little face asleep on my arm and I hope I am doing her justice because for every naughty thing she does, she is still my precious little puddin’ pop, and I am blessed that she’s ours.
I’m not really sure that Mother’s Day covers the years of hard work, but it’s a good place to start.
So, thank you, to all of you who try hard, who put food on the table, and give your kids a moral compass. It isn’t easy. I have 2 and a half years under my belt and I think I could use 50 to be good at it. In the meantime, give yourself an umbrella drink and a night out with a babysitter if that’s what life requires right now. You’ve earned it.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Got any #ParentingFails? Got any #ParentingWins to brag about? Got something else to share or say? Let’s here it.
No, I promise it won’t happen every time, but it is going to happen, and you’re gonna have to put up with my “mom” moments. Sometimes, I contemplate life as a mom, something I really never expected to be. As a mom of a toddler, my perspective has completely changed. Props to anybody who can handle more than one. I hear that whole man-to-man vs. zone defense, and it makes me queasy. I’d be in a wealth of trouble. But let me tell you what makes a mom of a toddler happy (well, at least this mom of a toddler):
- A long, hot shower uninterrupted. OMG! I need not say anymore.
- Someone babysitting your kid and texting you that they are running a little late in dropping off your child so you have a few extra minutes before they get home. That’s like a Christmas gift wrapped up with thousands of dollars in it!
- As a toddler parent, I am surprising excited about shopping for the next size. There’s probably nothing cuter than little kid clothes – they’re colorful, they’re fun, and they don’t have to fit YOU!
- They would love to hear, “Oh, I am so sorry. My kid never slept either and we were so worried because he hit everyone at daycare and embarrassed us in public.” Nobody wants to hear about how perfect someone else’s kid was and is when theirs is clearly NOT!
- Another thing a toddler parent wants to hear: “Oh, your child is so well-behaved! You must be doing a great job!” For the record, I have never heard this statement and probably never will, but I know I’d love to hear it as long as it were true.
- Oh, and we love to eat our own food without sharing. Chocolate-chip cookies with milk? Yes, please.
- We dream of watching an entire episode of our favorite show, and again, uninterrupted. If you’re curious, I love me some Younger on TVLand. Love. That. Show!
- But I have to admit, there’s one thing that I had no idea would make me so happy and it happened a couple of weeks ago: my girl said, “Wove you, Mama.” Truly might be the best words I’ve ever heard. I melted. And if you know me, you know I don’t melt all that often. So there it is, the sappy, non-sarcastic thing every toddler mom loves to hear. Sure hope you’ve had the pleasure, as well.
Do you have something that would make you happy as a mom or dad of a toddler, a mom of a teenager, a mom of a college graduate, etc? Let’s hear it!
Can you relate?
Got something else I need to know? Spread it.
I’ll say it. What happened in Connecticut scares the crap out of me, and it probably did you, too. No, I’m not a parent, although I parent every day as a teacher and if you asked me to raise your child, I would. Normally, I refrain from commenting about anything in teaching so I don’t get fired, but today, well, today I have something to say.
If we don’t want our kids to grow up worrying someone will kill them or be the one that kills others, please consider these things:
Please spend time with your kids. I know you have to work tons to pay for them, but if you quit trying to buy them Jordans and make them do chores to earn a couple of bucks, they will learn the value of a dollar and be proud when they pay their own way through college. Yes, I speak from experience and yes, I thought it sucked as a kid, but I can assure you I’ve killed no one, and I give my parents endless credit for making me who I am.
Secondly, please expect things of your children. Expect them to learn their times tables, to do chores around the house, to open doors for the elderly, and say please and thank you. If they don’t, don’t give them privileges like movies, skating, or their phones. You can even take things away like their favorite TV show, their xbox, or their favorite hoodie if you have to. Don’t give in because it’s easier for you, and don’t send them to their room if it holds a phone, a TV, an Xbox, a DVR, and a computer. That’s not punishment. That’s a reward and a chance to avoid communication with adults from whom they should be gaining knowledge and common sense.
Oh, and please don’t give in to your children because you want them to like you. They are not supposed to be your friend. They are your kid. You are supposed to be their parent. Sometimes, they won’t like you. That means you’re doing your job correctly, but if you kiss them goodnight or say you love them every day, they’ll get the message that you love them but you are one who makes the rules, not them. No kid should be deciding what the family eats, watches on TV, or spends the family money on unless it’s their freaking birthday and you allowed it.
Finally, you have the toughest job in the world. You have to raise a decent human being in a world that is not so decent. It is not a simple task, but if you do not want to be the one grieving or apologizing, it is your time to stand up and put kids first. If you don’t know how to do that, ask me or ask someone whose children seem to have it together. If you’re doing all these things already and are just sick to your stomach at the world your kids are seeing, then pass this on and hug your kids one more time tonight.
My prayers to all those who have to deal with situations such as this and for those that can help avoid more.
So, sometimes, it takes a man… (Okay, for that, too, but that wasn’t what I was referring to!) Am I the only one that has things not work for me, but the minute a man is involved, it works perfectly???
Ladies, have you noticed that your kids can be horrible, screaming, other-people’s-children and the second dad walks in the door they’re angels from on high? What about when you want to open the pickle jar lid? You tap it against the countertop. You get the jar gripper. You hold it with your knees and twist with both hands and grit your teeth. Nothing. Then you hand the jar to a man and it pops in 2 seconds. Does this sound at all familiar?
Am I the only one that has this happen?
Here’s how my life plays out. Tell me if you’ve been on either side.
Exhibit A: Our toilet isn’t flushing properly. (Yes, I’m aware you probably didn’t want to know that, but if I had to deal with it, so do you.) As is the logical solution, I plunged it. I plunged it again and again about 6 times throughout 2 days. No luck. I take off the lid to see if anything’s broken, leaking, or generally effed up. Nothing. Next plan of attack: call the hubs’ best friend to fix it. He shows up. Magically, with 2 more plunges, it works.
Exhibit B: I have students that are supposed to go into a program on a cd on the computer. We click on the cd. We keep re-trying for 15 minutes. I tell the kids to wait while I go get my work hubs. He literally walks up to the computer, doesn’t even touch it, and again, magically it starts. EVERY EFFING TIME!
Exhibit C: It is common knowledge among the family that the second my dad leaves the farm, everything will fall apart. The cows that normally are generous enough to stay in on the honor system practically do a jig down the road the minute my dad’s truck leaves the driveway. Not to mention that if a cow is going to calve, she’ll wait till he’s gone, it’s 5 below zero, and we were planning on having control of the remote for once. But the minute he pulls back in the drive, I swear they throw their party hats away till the next time. That’s just how it works!
Why the Hell is that???? Why is it that sometimes you just have to have a man to get the job done? All I can figure is that it’s that whole damsel-in-distress-needing-a-knight-in-shining-armor deal. But then I think it can’t be that because I’ve never been much of a “damsel” and I haven’t seen a lot of armor in the neighborhood either. (feminists everywhere are probably cringing as we speak)
So guys, what’s your secret???? How do you get things to work when we had absolutely no success at all? Is it God’s way of making sure we keep you around? I don’t know. I’m completely baffled.
However, I’ve realized that sometimes I am one drill bit hole away from being screwed, and I guess if a man can walk in the room and get the wood where I wanted, well then, I’m on board. (pun fully intended) Because, if at the end of the day my toilet is flushing, the cd is playing, and no bulls have hung themselves, I will be damn happy about it. I am woman enough to admit that as long as the result is how I want it, I will simply shake my head in dismay and say “thank you.”
So thank you, gentleman, one and all.
Was your dad the “cool” dad that all the other kids liked? Was yours the one that wore those embarrassing wife beaters to your basketball games? Or was yours the one that gave you big hugs in front of other kids even when you were in high school? I was pretty lucky because mine was the one that raced me home after the game if we’d both driven. Shh…you can’t tell my mom that, okay?
But just in case you’ve been living under a rock, or are the most clueless person on the planet, it’s Father’s Day. And when you think about it, there are 3 types of people: the ones that have a great dad, ones that had a great dad, and the ones that wish they did.
My favorite thing to hear about dads is what they taught you. Sure, there are the dads that taught you what you never wanted to be, but even they had their moments. I love hearing how moms taught you to sew or bake cookies or garden or something useful. But let me guess. Your dad taught you how to belch the alphabet? He taught you how to golf (because of course mom said he couldn’t go golfing without taking you because she needed some “alone” time). He taught you how to drive the truck when you were 9! Or he taught you how to gamble at poker in case you were to someday encounter a game of strip poker with a busload of hot Swedish girls!
Oh, and am I wrong? Did your dad give you your first sip of beer? Shocker! Did he give you your first gun and take you hunting? Or maybe he scared you to death by putting a worm on your fishing rod when he was teaching you how to fish (which of course you can only do while drinking beer which is why you had to learn how to drive him home)? Did you learn all your best cuss words from your dad while he was “fixing” something in the garage? These are the great life lessons dads teach. For me, my dad showed me how to play a mean game of cards and how to cuss like a sailor at cattle (just as long as mom’s not around)! And the only thing better than the brilliant lessons dads teach, is the fabulous words of wisdom they give.
Come on, tell me one of your all-time favorite dad quotes. One of my favorites was when my dad said to me, “If you don’t get caught, it doesn’t count” – now, that could be a pretty reckless quote in the hands of the wrong kid, but I of course was a good, wholesome kid and wouldn’t do any more wrong than my dad’s senior goat-in-the-principal’s-office prank. He was always trying to get me to lighten up, except the moments when I was in trouble when he would sing, “You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m tellin’ you why…” Still think of him every time that song comes on at Christmas. Boy, did he win a lot of battles with that one. I’m sure you have your own stories of the brilliant words that haunt you or help you when you need them most.
However, there’s also all that stuff that dads don’t say, because they can’t. That’s the thing about dads. They may completely love you, but they don’t always know how to say it or show it. It’s just part of being a guy and really, they can’t be held accountable for that. As Lady GaGa would say: they were born that way. My rule of thumb is that you should always measure the man by his actions not by his words or the lack there of, as the case may be. I’ve watched my dad save many baby calves’ lives when it would have been easier not to. I’ve watched some other dads drink themselves into oblivion because they didn’t think they made enough money to support you. It’s not right, but I could about bet you money that had I have had a conversation with your dad, he would have bragged about you. He’d probably tell me stories and rave about you the likes of which never came out of his mouth when he was actually talking to you. That’s just how it works. And I bet if you think about it, you can remember a time when he checked your oil before you left on a trip, or he carried a picture of you when you were a baby in his wallet, or he bought you a Coke and a smile after you lost the big game. They sure may not be perfect but then if they knew even half the stuff you did, they’d realize you weren’t either.
But next time you sit down with beers to watch the big game, or throw some steaks on the grill, or duck tape something instead of buying new because you hate going to the store, or even hold your own kid in your arms, don’t forget who gave you that chance. Happy Father’s Day, guys!
Everybody knows the I Hope you Dance song and the Pick More Daisies poem and even a good number of people know Paul Harvey’s I wish for you speech. I’m a sucker for a “good old days” number. So I guess it’s no shocker, I’ve got my own thoughts on the matter. I feel kinda like Sue on Glee. Yes, I’m aware I don’t have children and yes, I’m aware that it’s none of my business, but has that ever stopped me? Hell, no. And so this is how Sue/Bolton sees it:
I ask you if you’re lucky enough to have a normal, healthy child: please teach your children to tie their shoes. No, really, I swear I know a million 13 year olds who can’t tie a bow. Break out the bunny ears, my friends. I also want you to read books to your son or daughter like Dr. Seuss, Twas the Night before Christmas, Sandra Boyington, and Mercer Mayer. Sneak in some Judy Blume and Gary Paulson when they’re older. And while you’re at it, make them do flashcards with you in the car on the way to grandma’s until they have their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts memorized. An old fashioned sing-a-long with the iPod sans headphones might be good, too, especially if you can teach your kid the words to the Star Spangled Banner or Born in the USA. And yes, they need to visit grandma and grandpa because they need to learn where they got their smartass personality and big thighs from and they might just learn a little about ancient history like TVs before remote control and cars with AM radios, let alone the fact that it might be good to respect your elders and help out old people with household chores. It’s called responsibility and it’s not a bad thing. Perhaps they could even learn how to set the table and eat at it occasionally. You know with the fork on the left side and the knife and spoon married together on the right with the knife facing in so nobody gets cut? Yeah, I half worry you don’t remember that either.
You can say I’m harsh, but I’m not. I’m nice to people I’d rather not be nice to because my mom and dad taught me that killing someone with kindness is the best way to handle it and if they get a deathly virus because I had to be that kind to overcompensate for their assholism then so be it, but learning the golden rule is pretty important. Taking them to church sure wouldn’t hurt, but I’m not forcing a lifestyle on you. I’m just suggesting you do it my way because it’s the right way. Have realistic, high expectations for them because that’s what they need.
And listen, I get that you want to give your kids all the things you didn’t have like the real Barbie corvette, a cabbage patch doll, or the beebee gun from Christmas Story. Believe me, I can understand the concept, but don’t forget to give them what you did have, too. Give them love, laugh at them good-naturedly, and buy them notebooks, new pencils, and cool pens for school, maybe even a computer, but don’t give them everything. Every time they want something that you’re tempted to give them because your parents didn’t buy, or couldn’t afford to buy, for you, say, “Honey, I love you so much and want you to have the best in life and because I love you, I’m not buying this for you. If you want it, you can earn the money yourself or save up for it, but I will put that exact amount of money in your college fund today.” After you’ve said that 500 bajillion times, they will say it for you while rolling their eyes in the back of their heads, but they’ll know 2 things – my parents aren’t planning on killing me off when I’m mouthy and horrible in my teenage years because they’re planning for my college and my parents want me to get a good education so I’m not living in their house for the rest of their lives. Mmm… what a concept.
Teach them to do what you’re doing whenever you’re doing it (minus doing “it” of course) – whether it’s cooking, scooping crap, laundry, or suduko. That’s how they learn to be well-rounded human beings. And please, I beg of you, take them places besides the soccer field and the baseball diamond. I’m all for you taking them to sporting events, but don’t forget to go to the free stuff in your area like the kool-aid festival and the ice sculpture competition in the park. It’s called culture – even redneck Olympic game events are cultural – they count, they may scar your child for life like you were when you saw JR get shot on Dallas, but that’s okay. Some experiences in life teach us what we want to be and some teach us what we don’t want. Both are important.
Here’s the thing: life ain’t always gonna be sunshine and lollipops. Your kids are going to figure that out pretty quick if they live with you. The goal is to teach them that life sucks but you make the best of it and handle it without vices like drugs, abuse, or taxidermy (lol). Even though they may never be rich and famous, they will live a good life respected by their peers and you.
And maybe somewhere along the way, you’ll introduce them to Paul Harvey, sing them I hope you dance, and take them to pick more daisies, or maybe you’ll throw snowballs at them so they learn to duck, hike up a mountain with them, or eat cookie dough batter from the bowl with them. I’ll leave that up to you. After all, it’s really your problem, not mine.
But when they’re successful adults, feel free to say, “I told you so” and walk away with a smile on your face, as will I.