No, She’s Not Potty Trained – GFYS

There is no bowl of M&Ms in my bathroom. We don’t have a cute sticker chart and we have not read It’s Potty Time. My “baby” will be two years old in a month and she has not made a single Peepee or Poopoo in her hand me down princess potty.

Go ahead and judge me.

I refuse to feel bad about our progress, or lack there of.  Why? Because I am secure in my parenting. I am an experienced mother of three who has developed maternal instincts that have not steered me wrong thus far.

My firstborn was completely potty trained by 18 months old. She was ready. She woke up dry most mornings and she hid in the corner when she took a dump. when baby number three turned 18 months, I bought the pull-ups and started attempting to squeeze her into the mold of her older sister. She quickly made it clear that she is her own individual with her own timeline and readiness.

My “baby” wakes up soaking wet every morning. She has just started to say Poopoo while filling her diaper. She has a potty and she sits on it when she wants to; I will never force her. She’s getting there, but she is just not fully ready. And maybe I’m not either… and that is okay.

It was certainly an easier task when I was home all day with just one child. There was no morning school rush, no PTA meetings, Girl Scout cookies to sell, preschool pick up, Softball practice, My Gym….and I didn’t have a husband working 60 hours a week and traveling out of town while I keep up with laundry and getting dinner on the table for a family of five.

I will admit, I thought I was the world’s best mother when my 18-month-old could wear big girl panties all day without an accident. So maybe I was slightly judgmental back then of anyone who didn’t meet what I thought should be the timeline. But I have grown as a mother and as a person. I also kind of enjoy not having to pull off the highway or sprint across Target with 3 kids in town and a toddler screaming,”go potty!”

So, to the Judgy McBitches who have something to say, your time will come. At some point in your parenting, your child will reach a goal or meet a milestone at a time that doesn’t meet someone else’s standards. Hopefully you have grown enough not to judge yourself so quickly.

Maybe We’re Not Friends

“Oh my God if I see one more picture of your kid or those damn abandoned dogs in my news feed!”

What? What are you going to do about it? Talk shit about me? Wish for a ‘dislike’ button? Maybe what you should do is delete me because I’m kind of thinking maybe we aren’t friends.

Last I checked, friends (meaning actual people who care about one another and value each other in some way) applaud the other’s acts of kindness, support areas of interest and feel joy when they see their friends’ happiness. But, there’s a big difference in Facebook friends and real friends I suppose.

So I posted a picture of my toddler scooping dog food. It made me laugh.  It made me realize that at 18 months old, she is learning how to care for animals. It made me proud.  I had my phone close by and snapped a picture that would be perfect for her baby book.  Almost instinctively I clicked “share” because this moment brought me happiness and I can think of at least 10 friends and family members who would also get some joy out of seeing it.  Not every single thing I post is just for you.

post maria photo

Later that day while sitting in my car waiting to pick up my pre-schooler I scrolled through Facebook.  I saw a picture of an emaciated mastiff that a rescue group I follow was trying to help.  Ding! I know at least 10 people who would donate or literally pray (not just type “praying for you”) for this animal.  Shit, I can think of a few who may even want to adopt  this type of dog. Shared! Oh look, that puppy who was thrown out of a moving truck has healed and is up for adoption now! Maybe one of the 345 people on my Friends list is looking for a puppy. Shared!

post puppy imageHere comes my son. What’s he waving around as he runs to me?  Oh my God, he wrote his name. And it is damn near legible this time! I gotta get a pic of this. Shared! Awww, look what my Time Hop app showed me today, they were so little a year ago! My uncles in New York and my brother who lives 5 minutes away but I only see 3 times a year, would probably like to see how much they’ve grown.  Shared!

timehop screen print

I also probably shared a political story and a picture of a dress I just learned how to sew.

Oh I’m sorry, did that annoy you? Was your news feed clogged with my life moments and interests? Well here’s an idea – scroll on by if you don’t like it.  Better yet, reconsider our friendship.  Why do you even have me on your friends list? If pictures (albeit many, many pictures) of kids and animals bother you, I’m thinking we don’t have much in common. If my foul language (especially when used in a moment of mommy-rage) offends you or if you can’t look at my posts and think to yourself, “there’s a friend of mine who spends quality time with her kids and tries to make a difference in the lives of needy animals. I like that about her.” then maybe we’re not friends.

I’ll tell you what you won’t see on my page — vague, attention seeking status updates that say things like,  “You think you know people!” or “Don’t even ask.”  You won’t see me going on a selfie marathon. You WON’T see me complaining publicly about my husband, my mom or anyone else who deserves any amount of respect and I will not be sharing my dirty laundry (figuratively speaking, that is).   Now if you use Facebook for these purposes, that’s your prerogative.  I would suggest you surround yourself with people who either have similar interests or truly care about you, otherwise guess what? You are the annoying poster.

 

Chasing Down What Was Lost

It seems like just yesterday I was cringing when a stranger would walk up to my shopping cart reaching in to stroke my little one’s head or offer their finger for my baby to hold. I’d become a pro at anticipating their advances and could position myself just in time to block their grimey paws from getting too close. Nine years and 3 kids later, I’m standing in the cereal aisle when a man hears my toddler’s babbling and makes eye contact with her.  I saw the smile grow on his face and his eyes lit up.  I know  that look. It’s the same look I get when I see a new mom holding a little balled up newborn on her chest.  I’m transported back in time – that feeling of soft, peach fuzz hair against my cheek, that sweet newborn head smell, the warmth of that cozy little bundle of perfection in my arms. I’d give anything to have that feeling again, even if only for a moment.  My toddler gave the man a big smile and held up her smooshed cookie as he walked toward my shopping cart.  This time though, I stepped aside and let him approach. “What you got there? A cookie?” he asked.  “I love your pretty dress,” he said as he pointed to the princess on her chest and asked, “is that Cinderella?” He told me he had 2 daughters, one who was about to get married.  In that brief moment, my baby girl had transported him back to a time when his girls were just little babbling babies with sticky hands and princess dresses.

And that’s when I realized, or rather when I accepted, that I am going to be that crazy lady in the grocery store chasing down people’s babies to talk to.  Chasing down something I’ve lost and long for terribly.  As my infants turn into toddlers, and toddlers turn into pre-schoolers there are parents out there with teenagers turning into adults and daughters turning into wives and mothers.  I have lost a lot as a parent, up to and including, my sanity, my muscle tone and my privacy.  The one thing that can never be replaced though is ‘today’.

A Letter To A Dog, by my 4th Grader

Today I cried, twice.

But, these weren’t my usual  tears of utter exhaustion, frustration or disappointment in my parenting.

I had hit that afternoon wall at the corner of I’m-Over-It and Is-It-Bedtime-Yet? Baby was in the highchair watching Dora, 4 year-old was playing video games and 9 year-old was drawing,  so I  was checked out.  As I scrolled through my Facebook news feed I came across a post from an animal rescue group I follow.  There was a picture of a completely emaciated Mastiff and his sad eyes touched my heart.  Among many needs, what jumped out at me was that he would need heart worm treatment.  A little background – before I had kids I was very involved in animal rescue and took in two gorgeous,  6-year-old Weimeraners. Their owner had bred them, made money off the puppies and apparently didn’t find it important to put a single cent toward heart worm prevention.  I poured every ounce of myself into their recovery.  It was emotionally draining and expensive.  This was before the days of social media so the only fundraising I thought to do back then was yard sales with proceeds going toward their vet bills. Long story short, they lived to be 11 years old, they were my special gentle giants and stories of dogs suffering from heart worms are very personal to me.

I clicked on the donate link and must have sighed or something because my 9 year-old daughter asked what was wrong.  I showed her the picture of this mastiff, Winston.  I read his story out loud and saw the sadness hit her eyes.  “I want to donate my allowance to him,” she said. She handed me all of the stars from her chore chart and told me to give the money to Winston.  This, from the kid who earlier in the day was asking when I’d take her to Target to spend her money before it burned a hole in her pocket. On payday she always NEEDS to get more play makeup or the 37th ‘different’ mechanical pencil. But today, she had another plan for her money.

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Ok, so this isn’t when I cried.

Later in the day there was an update on Winston, he was in a foster home now and even wagging his tail. We were so happy to hear the news.  She started to write him a letter.  Yes, she wrote a letter to a dog – this is what it said:

Dear Winston,
When my mom told me your story I felt heart-touched. I thought you needed that money more than I do.  You worked so much harder than I did.  You worked by surviving.  I have fostered a dog.  We adopted him.  Right now we’re fostering another dog and trying to adopt her.  Also, I hope someone adopts you soon.  I hate to hear that a dog like you, so sweet, nice and kind is in such a bad place like that and to be starved! To hear that, made me want to help you.  Here are some things about me. I’m 9, my name is Bella and I LOVE DOGS. I have a question for you, how old are you?
Love,
Bella

Insert tears here.

I question my parenting on a daily hourly basis. A majority of what I write is focused on the chaotic and disgusting aspects of our family life.  This afternoon though, I finally got some of the pay off I’ve been needing.  I was validated.  I was rewarded.  I was proud.

I can’t take full credit though.  Her father and I are divorced and she spends plenty of time with each of us. I like to believe that it’s our combined influences and ability to co-parent that are helping her grow into this compassionate and thoughtful person.  She spends a lot of time with my mom (AKA her favorite person in the world).  She has a great relationship with my husband, her stepfather.  And she has full faith in God.

Later that evening I heard her reading her letter to her step dad. I cried again.

 

Winston, photo from A Way for a Stray Facebook Page

Winston, photo from A Way for a Stray Facebook Page

 

To read some of Winston’s Story from the rescue group A Way For A Stray, go here. To learn about the group helping heart worm positive dogs, including Winston, or to donate visit Rooster to the Rescue.

 

 

How You Know You’re NOT A First-Time-Mom

1. Because babies get rashes and you’ve accepted it. No need for 5 trips to the ped and a specialist referral to know it’s eczema … it’s always eczema.

2. Because you don’t give a single F what anyone says about bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding.

3.  Because there is a difference between whining, crying and screaming in pain and you can decipher which is which in your sleep.

4.  Because if a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the only thing your kid eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days in a row, so what?

5.  Because you no longer feel like everyone is staring at you and judging your every move during a full-blown Target meltdown. And if they are – tough shit.

6.  Because you know the saying, “this too shall pass” is true.

7.  Because as long as poop isn’t bloody or happening 8-10 times a day, you don’t need to talk about it.

8.  Because hand-me-downs and consignment shops are the bomb.

9. Because you only carry ONE mini bottle of hand sanitizer, and usually forget you even have it.

10. Because you know that the only time you really need to worry is when things get quiet.

If They Were All Like This, People Would Only Have One

Anyone who saw me at my fourth-grader’s school orientation yesterday must certainly think I have no clue how to manage a child. I tried to introduce myself to her new teacher but there is no way she could hear me over the screaming and thrashing toddler in my arms. She probably just heard, “Hi, my name is Shitty-Ass-Parent, nice to meet you.” Before we even walked into the classroom I tried, I really really tried, to get my shit together. I brought snacks, a toy cell phone, the Ipad with Sesame Street cued up … I was prepared. Between the moment we walked into the building and the few seconds before we entered the classroom, every one of my preparations had been hurled out of the stroller – including my child herself. I tried to bend and push her stiff-as-a-board body back into the stroller but the skreeches echoed through the halls and before someone called Child Protective Services on me, I opted to just hold her. Do you know how much it sucks to hold a writhing 21-pound kid on your hip while pushing a stroller one-handed through crowded school hallways?

And this is the norm. This chaotic, loud, wrestling match is part of our every day life.

What the fuck did I do wrong? This is my third kid. I should have this totally figured out by now. Am I too old this time around? One of my best friends said sarcastically, “Have a 3rd, you said. It will be fun, you said.” Well hell, I had no clue my third would be THAT kid.

The other two had their challenging moments as toddlers, but this kid … she is comprised almost exclusively of challenging moments.

Baby gates? Ha. She laughs in the face of them. Child locks? Just a fun puzzle to figure out. The leather rocking recliner? Trampoline. My desk? A stage to dance on. The toilet (that our 4-year-old never flushes)? Fun water play! And that’s all before we even have breakfast.

I’m pretty sarcastic, I say things with flare to add dramatic effect, but I cross my heart and hope to die – I’M NOT EXAGERATING about this kid. I’ve become that annoying helicopter mom who can’t even hold a conversation at a birthday party for fear of what my terror is getting into. And I did nothing differently this time around. I’m setting the same boundaries, enforcing the same rules.

The difficult child makes you question your previously successful parenting, exhausts you by lunchtime and drives you to drink, curse and throw things. Ok, I may have done those things pre-kids, but it’s more frequent now. Once I lay her down in her crib for the night (after saying a quick prayer that tonight isn’t the night she climbs out and finds the knife drawer) I plop down on the couch and breathe a huge sigh of freedom and relief. I’m off duty! And then I smell her on me … and I miss her. I do believe God takes these difficult ones to a whole new level of edible cuteness as a survival mechanism though. So there’s that.

maria floor

The Not-So-Little Voice In My Head

So I read an article about the ‘little voice in your head’, the one that tells you how awesome it is to be pregnant and have babies over and over again.

Well, let’s talk about the not-so-little voice in my head.

 

KID ASKS FOR A SNACK

Mommy I Try To Be: I should grab him some carrots… maybe cut up some melon and make a cute little plate surrounded with grapes.

Not-So-Little Voice: Fuuuuuuuck that. Chips Ahoy. Grab the bag, hand it to kid. Done.

 

KID ASKS FOR *MORE* SNACKS

Mommy I Try To Be:  See, this is exactly why he never eats dinner. I can’t just let him snack all afternoon.

Not-So-Little Voice:  Excuse me over achiever mama, Ellen is on and it’s the first time we’ve sat down all day. Tell Snacky McGee to grab a chocolate pudding cup and play on the Ipad.

 

KID CAN’T FIND SHOES AND WE’RE RUNNING LATE

Mommy I Try To Be : I have to start preparing the night before! I should just line up some quick, slide-on shoes up by the door so this shit doesn’t keep happening.

Not-So-Little-Voice: Just go barefoot! Maybe we’ll get lucky and you’ll step on glass, scream your head off and be traumatized enough that you’ll never give me shit about putting your damn shoes on again!

 

KID SNEEZES

Mommy I Try To Be: I really hope you’re not getting sick.

Not-So-Little-Voice: I really hope you’re getting just sick enough to justify Benadryl. Night-night!

https://i0.wp.com/thehappinesscoach.biz/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/The-Simpsons-Voices.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out Loud Mommy Voice:

Why I Don’t Totally Suck

THINGS I DID WRONG THIS WEEK: 

1. I said “ass” in front of my kids … ok, fine…. maybe I said more than just  “ass” … then told them they can’t say bad words.

2. After sternly telling my 4-year-old he couldn’t have mini donuts at bedtime, I quickly shoved 3 in my mouth and closed up the bag all stealthy and ninja like.

3. I counted my kid to a 3 (3 strikes you’re out kind of thing) and then did absolutely nothing.

4. I yelled at my kids to stop all their yelling.

5. I lectured my 9-year-old about sounding bossy or condescending when talking to her brother, then turned around and did the same thing to hubby … oops.

 

THINGS I DID RIGHT THIS WEEK:

1. Didn’t strangle any kids.

2. Didn’t let anyone starve to death – not even the dog.

3. Didn’t drink an entire bottle of wine in a single sitting.

4. Kept kids relatively clean.

5. Didn’t drink before noon …….. many days.

6. Didn’t sneak out in the middle of the night, change my identity and start a new life in Mexico.

There ya have it … the ‘right’ things list is longer than the ‘wrong’ things list, obviously I rock.

maria messyI said ‘relatively’ clean

 

What Being ‘The Baby’ Really Means

Every damn thing you do is perfect and adorable!

Throw all the DVDs on the floor and roll around in them like Scrooge McDuck,

Feed the dog chocolate,

Smack Daddy in the face with a remote,

Awwwwww … you’re such a cute freakin baby!

While all the first-time moms jingle car keys in front of their baby saying, “come on… walk to Mommy,” I’m pushing you down on your bottom. Don’t walk. Babies don’t walk!

And while I bitch and moan about being so tired, I have to admit something. When you cry at 11:15pm, 2:10am, 4:48am I get out of bed kinda excited to snuggle you for a minute and then stare at your fat baby cheeks after I lay you back down, sound asleep.

I’ll squeeze you into your 9 months clothes and carry you around in my ‘baby kangaroo’ pouch. Shit, I would still swaddle you if it were physically possible.

Until now, I rolled my eyes at my mom for always having this soft spot for my little brother.  There’s a light in her eyes when she talks about him and a nostalgic smile when she says, “but he’s The Baby“.  I would shake my head and think, “He’s almost 30 damn years old, he’s not a baby!” Oh but how wrong I have been. He IS the baby.  He is her baby.  The last one is always The Baby.

The older kids leave an image in your mind as their ‘kid self’. You actually have trouble when you close your eyes and try to visualize their baby days. The baby though? I imagine as years pass I will have trouble seeing her as anything but a chubby cheek, babbling, sticky hands, piece of perfection.

In 4 years when I have to walk away and let her go into her kindergarten class, I’m pretty sure I will be like the dad in Finding Nemo.  “Are you sure you wanna do this? Because there’s no problem if you don’t. We can wait …. 5 or 6 years.”

Baby Maria 2

 

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When Did This Become Acceptable?

The housekeeping standards that have become acceptable after baby #3 make my head spin.

When there were just 2 kids, I was able to maintain our home pretty well.  I mean, it wasn’t in model showcase condition like it was pre-kids, but we could walk without tripping over shit and if an unexpected guest stopped by, I could throw crap in a closet or under a bed pretty damn fast.   Now? Well now we look like we live in the damn Malcom in the Middle house. Minus the bitchy-ass wife, oh wait.

Vacuum cleaners are supposed to have a permanent spot in the living room right? If not, then the Goldfish, Cheerios and dog hair would.

Laundry being done, used to mean it was clean, dry, folded and put away – in the right drawers. Now if the clothes didn’t turn mildewy and is folded on the back of the couch, voila!  Laundry done.  If  I’m extra ambitious, everyone’s piles are separated.  Don’t hold your breath for mated socks.

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Beds being made used to be the first goal of the day.  It’s a little easier to accept notebooks, barbies, jewelery kits all being strewn about if the  sheets are pulled into hospital corners and the shams have perfectly pointy, crisp corners.  We are now on day 3 of messy bed.  We are lucky if the bedspread is even balled up on the bed instead of thrown on the floor … with the dog laying on it …  licking his junk.

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So I try to hit the main areas right before bed and make sure they are tidy enough to be functional in the morning.  Functional!  When the hell did that become the goal?  Kitchen – no food left out, no disgusting dishes in the sink.   Yep, that’s the whole checklist.  Most nights we settle for 1 out of 2. Clean floors, disinfect counters, empty trash can, put away dishes from drying rack – alllllllll of that, nope.  Not anymore.

Dining room table …  no sticky shit on it? Good to go. Captain America shield, Lego Batman, coloring book, tiny Spiderman – you’re all welcome to sleep there tonight.

Playroom – is there a clear path to walk? Awesome.  Finally I can go brush my teeth and get in bed. Oh, a Batman mask in my bathroom? Puh-lease, that’s totally acceptable.

 

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