Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of Self Editing blog 2012

As the year ends, I’d like to share some of my favorite posts from 2012. 

But first, a quick update on Mom Freeze 2013:
  • After posting my original Mom Freeze blog last week, I had a moment of clarity and changed my 90-Day Mom Freeze to a 30-Day Mom Freeze. I know my limits on disorganization.
  • Second, I don’t know if it’s a fear of the Freeze or just a fear of what I might write about them, but yesterday, both my son and husband did a bang-up job of cleaning the house after our holiday houseguests left. I started by picking up and sweeping, and without being coaxed or asked, my husband started cleaning the kitchen and then the bathroom (!!) and my son stopped playing Wii and said, “Mom, is there anything I can do to help?” I almost fell over. I told him, yes, he needed to strip the sheets on all the beds and make his bunks up with new sheets. And he did. No whining or complaining.
  • If this is the kind of participation I can expect next month (and all the time)… this Mom Freeze is already worth the threat.
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Best of Self Editing blog 2012

I’ve compiled my best posts from each month in 2012. I hope you enjoy re-reading them, or if you’re new, enjoy them for the first time. SHAMELESS PLUG: My birthday was last week. As a b-day gift to me, if you enjoy this blog, please forward it to 5 friends (far and wide) and ask them to follow and/or subscribe to my blog. It's a 2013 goal to significantly grow my blog readership. THANKS!


February

March

April
I only posted once in April, and it was a link to a freelance article I wrote for CheapFlights.com…

May > June
I wrote nothing in May or June as my anxieties augmented leading up to my sixth annual mother-daughter trip in July.

July
NOTE: The Mother-Daughter Trip 6 posts were many (6 in all). If you haven’t read them before, settle in with a cup of chai tea and start from the beginning to read about:
August

September

October

Spoon Jackson: Poet, Writer, Inmate

When Your Mom Moves Away

November

Why I Decided NOT to Write a Memoir

 

December

MOM FAIL #4: I Told My 7-Year-Old Daughter to "Man Up"

Taking a Mom Sabbatical: Mom Freeze Begins 01/01/13 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Taking a Mom Sabbatical: Mom Freeze Begins 01/01/13

 Mama Kat posed the following writing prompt: After the holidays I call for a nation-wide parent vacation... where would you choose to go?
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Mamakat, I couldn’t agree more. But not just after the holidays. After 2012 in general . . . I need a vacation. And I need more than a three-day vacay. Like, a month more. But who can afford to take thirty days off work? Not me, lest our kids be ejected from their beloved private school and we live in our cars. I could, however, stay home and take a 30-day hiatus from specific parts of my life. I could:
  • Eat no meat for 30 days (too easy)
  • Drink no coca-cola for 30 days (too hard)
  • Have sex every day for 30 days (meh—who has the energy?)
  • Acquire no debt for 30 days (Bwahah hahaha—just peed my pants a little)
  • Make no eye contact for 30 days
  • Don’t use a car for 30 days
  • Don’t sweep the house for 30 days—EUREKA!
I spent a lot of 2012 burning the candle at both ends, working one or more full and part time jobs in addition to doing the lion's share of the housework, childcare, event coordination and errand running, much of it while my husband was out of the country kicking off his new business.

It is exhausting to work all day then come home to cook, clean, homework-help, play both good cop and bad cop to our children and dogs, and generally be a single mother ensuring that everything at home is as it should be. It is also mentally and emotionally depleting to appear to keep it all together and hide the frustration in front of friends and co-workers (a regular fail). 

As the year progressed and my husband's business trips got longer, I started to feel overworked and underappreciated. My grumbling began, my smiles become fewer and farther between and now I don't recognize myself in the mirror.

Mama’s burnt out.

My husband does try to help, bless his heart, and I do appreciate his efforts both when he’s home, and when he’s away trying to make our lives better by building a business from the ground up. Still, until he travels less or makes enough for me to hire some help while he's gone, I can’t help but feel like a 12-year-old whining, “It’s not fair!”

My husband will argue that his business trips are not fun and that he's working very hard the whole time, which I'm sure is true, but it doesn't make my reality any easier. The fact is, while I’m struggling at home alone, he gets seven or so weeks each year when he does not have to be a husband or a parent or do one single thing on anyone's timeline but his own. He gets seven weeks each year when he can take a poop without someone walking in on him. A seven-week sabbatical of my own would be quid pro quo, but unfortunately it's not possible. Or is it?

More than once in 2012 when I was pushed to my limits, I threatened to stop being a mom. “I will just live here and you all can cook your own meals and wash your own clothes and dishes and remember your own social calendars.” I always wondered how long they would tolerate the mess and the hunger before they started doing things for themselves, but I never stuck to it and thus never found out.

The time is nigh!

A vacation from the motherly duties and refrains that made me grumble, worry and yell in 2012 might be just what I need. After some quick research I found I am not the first mom to think of this. This mom went on a cleaning strike against her three slobby daughters for one week, and these Mom Sabbatical retreats are a real thing (or at least promote "the sabbatical mindset").

Could I take an in-home parenting sabbatical and not be the "bad cop" for 30 days? I may become mute if I removed well-worn phrases like, "Hurry up and brush your teeth, we're late!" and "No TV until you finish your homework," and “No, you cannot have root beer in your Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” Or . . . I may become happy!

Could I really refuse pick up after my kids for 30 days? I get itchy when even one paper or unclaimed tidbit is left on our kitchen counter top. When a lone flip-flop is orphaned out of the shoe basket by the front door I am afflicted. Where is it's mate? Stop everything! It must be found immediately! But no, I will restrain myself. It will take herculean discipline, but I will look past the tumbleweeds of dog hair in the hallways, the cheese stick wrappers around the couch in the den, the balled up socks in the bathroom that no one but me seems to notice. I will do this. I must do this. If not for me, than for Everymom.

30-DAY MOM FREEZE STARTS JANUARY 1, 2013.  

Perhaps this is what the Mayans predicted when they saw the end of the world.” I am anxious to see if letting go of my mom-sponsibilities for a while and finding myself (and my smile) will extinguish my worry and minimize the yelling, or if it will drive me to a new level of insanity. Will I be able to blur my attention to detail around the house? Will I be able to keep my mouth shut when my child is still not ready for bed at 9:20 on a school night and my husband does not notice or get the bedtime ball rolling because he's caught up in a game of Words with Friends? I will have to, for the purpose of this challenge.

Give me a “whoop whoop” in the comments if you feel me. I’m gonna need it. This is going to be painful. For those of you who are my friends:
  • If you visit me during the 30-Day Mom Freeze, please do not judge my home. I can assure you, it will be a shit hole of epic proportions.
  • If my children come to school exhausted and without homework or clean underwear, do not judge me. Applaud me for sticking to my guns by teaching them these valuable lessons of responsibility and consequences.
  • If my child misses a social occasion with your child because I am no longer managing our family calendar, mea culpa. We still love you. It’s just part of the project.
NOTE:  As children and husbands go, I must acknowledge that I have some pretty good ones. My husband does do dishes and fold clothes regularly, and will sweep floors when nagged. My kids occasionally do their chores on their own, but mostly when reminded multiple times by a raised voice. The point is to get to a place where my children notice and remedy their own messes and responsibilities before I have to remind them, nag them or do it for them.

2nd NOTE:  I will not commit to this project to the detriment of my children’s safety. I will continue to be a mom for the important things like reminding my son that matches are not to be used as toothpicks, requiring my daughter to wear a bike helmet, and purchasing groceries so there is food in the house (even if I don't cook it for them). But other than health or safety-related issues, on January 1 I’m done momming for thirty days in the hopes that Value with a capital V will be placed on the hard, often-thankless work done day in and day out by moms everywhere. At the very least I hope to provide a much-needed laugh or I-feel-ya nod for other moms along the way.

Monday, December 3, 2012

MOM FAIL #4: I Told My 7-Year-Old Daughter to "Man Up"

My husband travels frequently for business. This past year his business trips have been longer and closer together, much like contractions. He should be giving birth to our drastic change in quality of life any minute now.

In the meantime, the kids and I struggle through the weeks alone; me, at my full time job juggling all the things single working mothers around the world juggle every day, and the kids, at their full time jobs of trouble-making. Am I being dramatic? You be the judge. Let's take a look at my list of 2012 Misfortunes That Occurred While My Husband Was Out of Town. This year's travails included, but were not limited to:
  • My daughter Jackson Pollack'ing an entire bottle of hot pink nail polish in the kitchen (walls, cabinets and floors) just as we're walking out the door to school (full story and photos here in MOM FAIL #2)
  • Both children, and eventually me, getting lice
  • Our alarm system malfunctioning so that we got 3 false alarms in 3 consecutive days and I had to leave work each day to run home, see if our house was empty and deal with irritated policemen
  • A leaking, dripping dining room ceiling coinciding with 5 days of nonstop torrential rain
  • A hair clog in the shower drain so lethal and decayed that I was certain something had died in the pipes (hired someone to dredge it out)
  • Busted sprinkler heads causing reclaimed water geysers at our doorstep (ew--poopy water)
  • My daughter slamming her finger in a door at school; fingernail detached and fell off 2 weeks later
  • And now here we are... Dad is gone again, and yesterday my 10-year-old son sprained his ankle at his football team holiday party
Luckily (??) I sprained my ankle earlier this summer, so I had crutches and ace bandages on hand to lend him. The problem wasn't really him, it was his sister, a girl so hungry for approval (hmm, wonder where she gets that?) that she couldn't stand that I was giving my injured son attention by wrapping his foot in a bandage and getting him a glass of water.

"You don't love me. You wouldn't do that for me if I was hurt," she cried. "I'm going to sleep on the floor tonight with my head on a plastic box because I don't matter." Cue the Oscar nomination.

I wanted to remind her about her finger just weeks before and how I coddled her for days and brushed her teeth for her (even though her other hand was perfectly fine). But we were on day 9 of my single parenthood, and my blood alcohol level was zero so... I snapped.

"You wanna sleep on the floor? Go ahead! This is NOT what I need from you right now. You gotta 'man up' sister!"
"But I'm not a man, I'm a girl!"
"Then you gotta 'cowgirl up'! Do you understand what that means?"
"No ~wimper wimper~."
"It means you gotta be tough, chick. Now quit yer crying. I don't have time for it, I have dishes to do and garbage to take out and dogs to walk. HE needs me now, and you should be asking how you can help me help him... not acting like this. You're better than this. Now get a tissue and wrap it up! This ends now."

Good parenting, eh?

I would like to say that I inspired my daughter to be tougher and more independent and more self aware that day.

I would like to say that she came to her senses and realized that she should be a compassionate sister and show concern for an injured family member.

I am ashamed to say that all she probably got out of that "man up" exchange was that her mom is a short-fused crazy woman with a misunderstanding about cowgirls.

Regardless, for the next 2 days I couldn't get the "Man Up" song from The Book of Mormon out of my head, and decided I should take a dose of my own medicine and man up about the 48 measly days I spent as a single parent this year. Women with far less make do for far longer, many with no return date marked on their calendars. I get it. Message received, Universe.

Giddy'up, Cowgirls!