Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mom Sabbatical: Week 3 of 4

As I finished out Week 3 of my Mom Freeze, I did so with a smile. That's because
  1. I was well (no more flu!) and
  2. I was headed to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration! Who cares if the beds aren't made?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mom Sabbatical: Week 2 of 4

Number of times my son had cereal and my daughter had spoonfuls of Nutella for dinner this week: Probably 4

Number of times the TV was left on in the den with no one watching it: 1,184

Number of empty food wrappers found in a place other than the garbage can: 23

Number of times I sighed about all this: 0


Could it be that I am enlightened, relaxed and made anew after just one week of biting my mom tongue? I wish, but no.


There was just one reason it was so remarkably easy for me to stay on the couch, not lift a finger, and ignore my children’s organizational transgressions during Week 2 of the Mom Freeze. For the past seven days, I have been incapacitated with that horrible, diabolical flu they keep talking about on the news. This virus is no joke, friends. For six solid days I woke up congested, weak and achy so much that my freckles hurt. My hair hurt. Blinking hurt. Eating was of no interest, and when I did force myself to eat two crackers or bites of rice, food had no taste. (Flu bonus:  I lost three pounds in six days.)


The week prior to catching this flu I had started back working out at my 5:30 – 6:30 a.m. boot camp (it was the first week of January, after all), so it was the perfect storm for me to get sick. My body was tired and depleted from early rising and serious workouts (oh, and about a month’s worth of heavy holiday drinking prior to that).


Sweet mother of mountain climbers, coughing is brutal when your feeble, unused core is sore from a recent re-introduction to crunches, push-ups and burpees. As if being weak and sick wasn’t enough!


As for the report on how my kids and husband are doing with the Mom Freeze, I would have to say… this week I have no complaints, but mainly because I just didn’t have the energy to notice or care if there were toothpaste globs in the sink or if homework was being done. I wasn’t a fully functioning human. I existed only on the couch or my bed. Never even went into the kitchen except to make hot tea to bring back to bed. I don’t remember tripping over anything when moving from said couch to said bed though, so that is a plus. [NOTE: That nail polish remover bottle was moved pretty quickly after that last blog posted. Hubby couldn’t take it either.]


I must give major props to my husband, who was a saint while I was sick, offering me liquids and soups and keeping the kids at bay. He did an amazing job making sure they got lunches made, got to and from school and friends’ houses, and generally kept the house in order.


He did raise his voice more times this week than last when telling the children to pick up their misplaced items that pepper our home. I can tell that being the only person repeating these refrains to the kids (with no backup from me) is wearing him down. I know just how he feels. That feeling is what made me want to start this project in the first place. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you’re not in it alone, isn't it? Thanks, honey, for making me feel like I wasn’t in it alone this week.


Oh! I have to share this card from my son that I found while cleaning out a drawer yesterday. I think it perfectly illustrates this project:



Yep, pretty much.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mom Sabbatical - Week 1 of 4

I started Week 1 of my 30-Day Mom Freeze by explaining to my children that I would not be doing anything for them for the next month. I would not remind them to do things they should do or ask them to stop doing the things they shouldn’t. I would not pick up after them or get them things they were capable of getting for themselves.


My daughter said, “What kind of resolution is that?”

My son said, “That’s not a resolution, that’s a Halloween nightmare!”

My husband said, “---.” Nothing. He’s keeping quiet.


I must say it’s been great not being the harpy in our house, shouting out reminders about things like brushing teeth, going to bed and walking the dogs. On the contrary, I am not only not saying these things, I’m not even saying complete sentences anymore. Why? Because I stop myself mid-sentence every time I begin to say something instructive and mommish, which I’ve discovered is most of the time. 


My “conversations” with my kids this week have gone like this:



                                                        IF I’D FINISHED IT

“Why are you…”                          …shining a flashlight into my room at 6:00 a.m. 

                                                       on a Sunday?


“Are you really…”                        …going to leave that wrapper on the floor?


“You can’t…”                                …have any cake. You didn’t eat dinner.


“The dogs…”                                …are starving. Please give them food and water!


“Please…”                                     …stop picking your nose.


“If you don’t…”                           …clean that scab you’re going to get gangrene.”


Each day I’m getting better at keeping my mouth shut, and also at not picking up things I did not take out. I have several times picked up the three remote controls forever on the den floor, only to drop them back on the floor a moment later. I have closed wide-open closet doors only to reopen them and walk away, leaving them ajar. Old habits die hard.


It has been excruciatingly difficult for me to ignore the random crap left around the house like this nail polish remover. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR.


How does it even land there, and how could someone just walk away from it? I am baffled. I instructed my husband not to pick it up either. I will be fascinated to see how long it lies there before one of the children picks it up or the dogs eat it.


I'm excited to report that since I’m refusing to do anything for my kids that they can do for themselves, they’ve learned some valuable life skills this week like:


1.     YOU CAN USE THE MICROWAVE! My 7-year-old daughter asked me to make her oatmeal on Day 2. I declined, but talked her through the steps of doing it herself. This morning (Day 6) she woke up and said, “Mommy, I’m sooooooo hungry." I said, "Mmm hmm," and went back to Pinterest. Then the light bulb went off and she said, "Wait! I know, I can make some oatmeal!”  Priceless.


2.     DO YOUR OWN DAMN LAUNDRY. She also wanted to wear a particular pair of jeans before the weekend when I usually do laundry. While reading my Entertainment Weekly from the couch, I told her how to bring in all the laundry baskets then sort and load the laundry, which she did.

Here she is on a stool taking her prized jeans out of the dryer.

3.     CLEAN YOUR OWN FLESH WOUNDS. My 10-year-old son got some pretty bad road rash last week while skateboarding, and the scab had gotten progressively filthier as the week went on without me requiring him to shower regularly or apply a bandage. While I couldn’t say, “You should…” I was able to tell him the (true!) story of my Aunt Jeanne who has diabetes and lost her foot (and later her entire leg) when she stepped on a nail and never had the wound properly cared for. She’s now in a wheelchair. After I told him the story I went into my room to read a book. Not 15 seconds later he was in my room with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide asking me, “Is this the stuff I’m supposed to put on it? Then what do I put? Neosporin?” Yep. My boy cleaned up his own wounds right quick. No nagging necessary.


Lastly, the biggest thing I did this past week that was non-mommish was to say YES to a last-minute invitation to go take an out-of-town weekend trip. Here's what happened:  My dad and stepmother were visiting us for the holidays. My stepmother and stepbrother have three tickets to the inauguration in Washington D.C. over MLK weekend, and my dad did not want to go. My stepmother said, "The hotel is already booked. I will buy you the plane ticket for your birthday. C'mon, it will be so fun for us to spend time together! The hotel is where all the movers and shakers stay--and they have a vodka bar!" Normally, I would feel guilty about leaving my husband with the kids last minute, but this month I'm not being responsible. I'm putting me first. I hesitated only a second. "Vodka bar? I'm in." I leave in two weeks to joyously watch this guy enter his second term:


I can report that this project has been a success insofar as I do feel more relaxed not carrying the weight of requiring constant perfection in my home or from my children. But I’m not declaring victory yet. We still have three weeks to go. And my stress levels are low now because I have been off from work for two weeks. I’m an administrator at my kids’ school, so when the school is closed, I’m off too (except summers). Turns out I am incredibly fun and happy when I do not have to work!


But it's back to reality this week as the kids and I both head back to school tomorrow. Will I be able to refrain from reminding them to hurry up and get ready in the mornings... to pack their lunches so they don’t go hungry at school... to wear a Brownie uniform on the right day... to study for tests? I'll keep ya in the loop.  


What chores do you hate doing around your home that your children (or husband) are perfectly capable of doing for themselves? What would it take for you to stop doing them and/or ask your family to help out?