Sunday, October 19, 2014

You're A Good Enough Mom. So There.

This is my third attempt at a blog post for the night.

My third.

I thought about blogging about how nice it was just to watch my kids for a few days without worrying about getting a bunch of things done.

But the truth is, while it was nice, it's not like I had some earth-shattering revelation that gave me some grand insight on motherhood.

We all just had a break from real life for a few days.

Then I thought about how I feel like an underachiever because most all of the moms I know are doing so much more in the community than I am, with sports teams and committees, and such.

But then I thought, screw that. Most of them also have 2 or 3 kids, and I have more than double their number, so as long as I can get them to bedtime with no trips to the ER and we all still love each other, I'm going to call it a win. Especially since I am an involved parent, and I'm doing as much as I can.

Seriously, sometimes parenthood is sort of my zen. I hit my stride and just keep moving, and everything flows just like it should.

Other times, I'm left at the end of the day feeling like our lives are a freight train, and I'm holding on my my fingertips.

I do sometimes wonder if there wasn't some master maternal organizational class, and I missed it. If that's the case, I'd love to borrow someone's notes.

Lately, I've had more freight train days than zen ones.

Don't get me wrong. I adore the everloving crap out of my kids. Their surprise sneak hug attacks alone are sometimes the very best part of my day. And the bonus of having seven kids, is that I get a lot of those.

I just haven't felt like I've been doing a very good job. And it's one of those things where it seems like the harder I try to do everything right, the more I feel like I'm just not doing a good enough job.

But you know who doesn't seem to notice the abject failure I'm so sure I have been?

My kids.

They tell me how much they love me. That they still think I'm in the running for that never-gonna-happen Mother of the Year award. And that they want to spend time with me.

You know, maybe that's really where we should look to decide how well we're doing.

Are our kids happy? Are they safe? Do they know that they can talk to you about anything? Do they know that their feelings will be respected? Are they turning into good people who respect others?

Screw the rest of it. I have my own set of skills and abilities, and I'm doing the best I can, which is all any of us can do. And we can measure our success in the faces of the kids who love and trust us.

Guess I ended up getting some insight after all. Maybe it wasn't grand, but it's important. Because being good enough is a theme that repeats itself often in my life, and I'm guessing other mom's lives as well.

And damn it, I'm good enough. Not perfect, but good enough.

*****
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Mom, You Have Too Many Babies"

Tonight I pointed out that the living room could not be left as it was, pillows and snack trash on the floor, video games out, and other such things. Nope, the kids were required to clean up after themselves.

I've decided I'm not paid enough to be a maid.

And tomorrow, I said, we would be doing a general clean up for the weekend, that we could get done quickly and easily if everyone would help.

Quinn (6) looked at me and said, "Mom, you have too many babies."

"Um, yeah, I don't really have any babies anymore kiddo. You guys keep growing up, even though I keep telling you to stop it."

"But mom, there are a lot of people in this house!"

"Well, I can't argue that logic. But, how many is the right amount? How many babies should I have had? Which ones should I give back?"

"I don't know," he said. "Who would you give them back to?"

I thought about it for a minute. "The baby-giver."

"But mom, I thought we lived in you! We can't have lived in you and come from a baby-giver too."

And here I thought they didn't really listen to me.

He wasn't really judging our family size, it turns out. He just wanted it noted that he finds our family a touch on the large side.

And he's right, of course. But it was a bit of a relief when I realized it. I can handle being judged by strangers who balk at big family. But one of the kids? That would be a bit much. I mean, if we didn't have a big family, he wouldn't be here. After all, he was number 5 from me, and number 6 shared. So, in the grand scheme of things, he should probably be grateful.

Quinn really says most of the best things around here. If we were a sitcom, he'd be the quick-witted middle child. And I'm so glad he doesn't want to give any of the kids back. Not only because we can't, but because there's not a damn one of them I could imagine my life without.

*****
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Small Victories

We had parent-teacher conferences this week.

(And I'm going to avoid ranting about coordinating six conferences over 4 schools, and my issues with two of them which meant I just didn't get the conferences I should have had for Liam and Ciaran. Oops. Guess that was kind of a rant, wasn't it?)

Anyway, conferences mean my kids get a five day weekend. It's just how they do things in our district.

But this meant I had to figure out what to do with my kids for three whole days. And I feel like I've been running around like a crazy person for weeks, so, I decided that what we would do, would be nothing.

Here's a list of things we must accomplish:

  • We must all eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • We must change Liam, and take him to practice on the potty.
  • We must not let the house go completely to hell.
  • We must keep the pets fed and watered.
Here's a list of things it would be great if we could accomplish:
  • Keeping the house clean
  • Getting dressed every day
  • Not driving each other batshit crazy
Here's a list of things I'm choosing not to care about:
  • If people's clothes match, or are appropriate for the weather. Wanna wear shorts? That's okay, but you won't be playing outside.
  • If people comb their hair
  • If beds are made
  • What they're playing (so long as it's not wildly inappropriate)
Some moms plan things, and they're amazing. When I grow up, I want to do that. But that's not happening this week. And, I have to admit, I'm having an amazing time seeing what my kids' imaginations come up with. 

For example, Ciaran makes an amazing Captain Underpants. He puts on a cape, and strips down to his skivvies, and has such a good time saving the world from...whatever Captain Underpants saves the world from. And, I would like to point out that I have resisted the urge to take his picture, because I'm trying to be good over here. But man, would that be amazing blackmail material one day.

And Ciaran, Quinn, and Brennan apparently have come up with some games where they hit each other in the face. What could possibly go wrong with that? 

(I will say that we have a rule in our house, if it's not fun for everyone IT'S NOT FUN. So, anyone doesn't like something, and it stops. Period.)

I guess I've just decided that this mini-vacation can be just that. I can kick back a little, just making sure the basics get done, and so can my kids. Then maybe we'll be all refreshed for next week. 

I can hope.


And now I have more time to surf Pinterest and look at all the cool crafts and activities we could do....someday.

*****
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is It Because I'm Not A Christian?

I met a woman a while back. And, not that she's ever been anything but polite to me, but I've noticed that she's not particularly warm.

There could be so very many reasons for this. Maybe she thinks I'm loud. Maybe she thinks I'm obnoxious.

Maybe she's wildly threatened by my stunning good looks and witty banter.

Okay, so it's definitely not that last one.

But she doesn't talk to me. Not like she does other people in our shared circle.

I could ask her about it, and I've been tempted to.

While I'm not confrontational by nature, I tend to be someone who would much rather know what's on the table, than not.

But I'm probably not going to. Mostly because I doubt she'd be honest about it. This is Minnesota, where polite will win out over almost anything else. Sometimes really polite people have no idea how to say, "No, it's true, I just don't like you. And it's because..."

Just to be clear, it's not that I've spent an inordinate amount of time wondering about what this woman is thinking of me, but it comes up every now and then, and today I realized something.

I saw on social media that she was listening to Needtobreathe, a Christian band. They actually sing a song I really like called "Washed by the Water". Yes, I still like my old Christian Rock and listen to it from time to time.

Anywho, I realized that she goes to a pretty conservative, fundamentalist church, and it occurred to me that while I don't walk around in a tall pointy hat carrying a wand, I don't exactly hide being Pagan under a bushel, either. I might have a Pagan Pride sticker on the back of my van, for example. And maybe one with a few pentacles.

It's totally subtle...sort of.

And I am proud.

I'm proud of my peaceful earth religion that recognizes the divine in everyone, and seeks to respect the earth and the creatures that live together on it.

But maybe she has no idea what I believe in. Maybe she thinks I'm a devil worshiper. Maybe, even if she doesn't think that, she thinks that whatever it is that I believe, is a kind of spiritual warfare for her, and that she'd best keep her distance.

Maybe she thinks I'm dealing with dark forces. And, you know, I was going to, but then I had to run to a parent-teacher conference, and send out some e-mails, and walk the dog. So, you know. Maybe tomorrow.

In other words, maybe she doesn't like me, because I'm a Pagan.

I could be 100%, totally wrong. But it feels right. I feel like I finally stumbled on to something. And I get that, for some people, if you're not for Jesus, you're against him. And the thing is, I'm a big fan of Jesus. Sadly, that's just not good enough for some.

But what are you gonna do, you know? I've always hoped that I could sort of be an ambassador for my faith in my community. I'm just a mom, like any other mom, trying to raise her kids as best she can, and be true to herself.

I'm on the PTO, and getting involved in local politics.

I care about our community.

On my holidays, I don't go to a big building with loads of other people. It's often just our family, in a circle, with simple music, simple food, and simple ritual.

Honestly, if the real issue with me is my faith, all I can do is what I've been doing. So, I will keep treating her the way I would want to be treated, with warmth and kindness. And maybe someday she'll ask me about it. And maybe I'll have the chance to explain. Not to change her mind, but just to foster some mutual respect.

I'm a big believer in that too.

*****
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