Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘mothering’

I am starting to remember why I quit working (outside the house) last time.

As I mentioned before, snot is flying. I have been trapped in the house with whiny sick children since last Friday. That I could handle (sort of), but I still have work to do. No problem – I work from home part of the time so this should be easy, right? I’m all set up for it.

What I’m not set up for is trying to concentrate on work while also dealing with the whining of bored children. Today is the worst, because I have Asher and Boo and they are almost better, which mean they are more – how shall I put this? High needs. They keep taking to me and asking me for things and Boo, my beloved Boo, won’t actually shut up at all.

I’ve got two huge deadlines looming and I just need them to go away. I think¬† thoughts like that and then feel guilty about shuffling my kids off to the side to get work done and then – whamo! – I remember why I quit last time. I never felt like I was giving my kids proper attention and never thought I was giving work proper attention, trying to attend to both at the same time. This time, I won’t quit, because I really like the job and because by tomorrow, this dilemma will be resolved because I’m sending the rugrats back to school. When I quit last time, I had a 3-year-old and an infant, so there really wasn’t any time.

But when the kids are sick and the work still needs to get done, all those feeling come back.

Alright, Boo has stopped talking and is now gluing something to something else, and Asher is actually doing the work his teachers sent for him, so it is back to work for me!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Mary G, over at Them’s My Sentiments, asked in her latest post:

If you were asked why you had children, if you wanted them, what would you answer? Would it be an easy answer, or a struggle like this one?

You should go over and read it yourself, if only for the adorable picture of her girls when they were wee. But for those of you who don’t, her basic point is that she just kind of fell into it, because that is just what you did back then – get married, have kids, get a house, etc. She was never into babies, but is delighted to have survived that stage, because she quite liked the children they grew into.

I have met a lot of women who admit that they never much liked the baby stage and much preferred their children once they started to become their own little people. I’ve met enough of them to no longer be surprised, but I used to be surprised because I am the complete opposite. I loved babies from when I was a kid myself. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to babysit so I could get my hands on squishy, delicious babies.

Loved the babies. Didn’t so much like their older siblings. I found little kids to be mostly boring. Bigger ones were annoying. Babies never ever intentionally annoyed you. Of course they did lots of annoying things unintentionally, but it was the intention that really made me crazy, so I never got irritated with a baby, even though ones who cried for hours.

When I was only just 15 years old, I babysat a little guy who was about 8 months old for a weekend. They were right across from our house and my brother, a year younger, co-babysat. He played with the 4-year-old. The baby cried for about the first 4 hours, then clearly made up his mind that his parents had abandonded him forever and I was his new mommy, and this one wasn’t getting away so easily. I wasn’t allowed to put him down to pee with protesting wails (good practice for having Asher, turns out). He wouldn’t go to sleep for hours past his ‘bedtime’ and woke me up at about 5:30 am. He tossed me into the deep end of the baby pool and I adored him. He was delicous. (And I still remember the look of utter shock on his face when his parents walked in the door.)

So it is safe to say that I wanted a baby. I really, really wanted a baby, although I was a responsible human being and waited until the time was right. I did assume – hoped, really – that I wouldn’t find my own child quite so boring once s/he got past infancy as I’d found the kids I babysat. I didn’t find Maya boring (although endless Franklin books and pretending to lose at the game of Sorry has frequently worn on my nerves), but I did find her more of a challenge to parent as she grew. Infancy I knew how to handle, even when the infant was colicky. Past that point, I have wished quite frequently that I hadn’t lost the manuals they must have come with.

Now I have no more babies. I adored my babies and, while I do not want any more, I do admit to missing my kids’ babyhoods, when parenting was easy and they loved me more than anything and they mostly smelled really, really good and were squishy and huggable rather than all elbows and knees, and they were so much more easy to understand.

But, thankfully, it turns out that I really like these kids I ended up with in my quest for babies. They are very funny and remarkably smart and always surprising. Turns out I’m pretty glad I had children, not just the babies I wanted.

Read Full Post »

I went to physiotherapy today for my hip. I don’t know if I have complained about my hip here yet. It’s just one damn thing after another, anyway. The hip hurts. The doctor thinks it is tendonitis so off I went to physio. It was a bit depressing giving the nice, perky young physiotherapist my history. It got more depressing when she stuck me on the exercise bike. I liked the bike. It was one of those spinny ones, so it kicked up a nice breeze as I pedalled. But the bike is placed in front of a large mirror, in which I saw a fat middle-aged woman. A fat, middle-aged woman with lots of health problems. I do not know where that woman came from. Blech.

I do know she’s a bad mother, because she’s introduced her boy to the Terminator movies. And series, for that matter. What kind of mother does that when they say right on them as you load them up PG14 or some such thing?

I didn’t mean to get him hooked. I was just watching one evening and he snuck down and watching with me, suddenly popping up at a particularly violent moment, “This is cool!” I thought to myself, if he likes this, he’ll love Arnie*.

I did show a shred of parental responsibility and didn’t show him Terminator I. I have a remarkable ability to forget the details of movies, but I did manage to remember the naked sex scene in that movie. The second one, I remembered, was aimed at a younger audience. More cartoony violence and no sex. Once we were watching it, I realized that I’d forgotten all the swearing, but sadly, they didn’t say anything Asher hasn’t already heard out of my own mouth. Bad mom, remember?

We watched it on one of those web site where you can (illegally, I think) download and watch movies. Kinda fuzzy, but the basic point is made. We then moved on to Terminator III, which we’ve been having more trouble downloading, so we’ve been watching bits of it for days. In between, we watched more of the series, ensuring that Asher is thoroughly confused. I had to draw pictures to explain the baffling timeline.

It is 6:43 pm and time to go feed the kids. (Bad mom, remember?) Actually, there is some method to this madness, which is that Boo, in particular, is so busy playing outside that she will very reluctantly come in, eat about three bites, declare herself stuffed and run off again. Then, when I bring her in to get ready for bed, she’ll be starving and demand all kinds of food. Of course, I could go all strict-mom on her and tell her that she eat now or never, but then I have to face the huge tantrums and the complication that my kids all eat bedtime snacks and, what, am I now going to just ban her because I’d said two hours earlier eat now or never but the others get to eat then and now? So instead, I’m just feeding them all right before the grand bedtime ritual begins. There is method to my madness, I swear. Really.

 

*Schwarzenegger, for those not in the know. And yes, I googled how to spell his last name.

Read Full Post »

J is off gallivanting around the world again for the next week. This morning, I got the kids to swimming lessons and snuck off to have a shower myself while they were supposedly being watched by their instructors. I say ‘supposedly’ because when I arrived at the end of Boo’s lesson to get her, she told me she didn’t learn much this time because she lost her instructor for a while, but eventually he found her. In the pool. I told the guy at the first lesson that without glasses my kid is blind, but it doesn’t seem to have sunk in. Either that, or he has the same problem. We’ll be chatting about it tomorrow.

Then we popped off to friends for brunch, where my kids were pretty well-behaved, I think. These friends only have one kid and she’s still wee, so the amount of noise and destruction she can cause compared to my kids is light years apart. I remember having people over with more than one kid when I just had sweet little Maya and watching in horror at the chaos. I hope we didn’t do that to them. Fortunately, my kids like to eat. After announcing he wasn’t hungry. Asher ate a pancake and four helpings of lasagna.

Then, it was off home to make Hanukkah cookies. I’d promised the day before. I was so bloody tired, but couldn’t see when else to do it, so soldiered on. The house is already a mess, of course. But we shoved aside crap in the kitchen and made the cookies. Dinner was order-in pizza, now that the non-gluten guy is out of the country. Afterwards, we decorated, adding icing sugar and many types of sprinkles to the chaos. These are some of the finished product:

cookies08.jpg

Here is poor Jasper watching us play and play with food and give him none, poor boy. He’s using a teddy for a pillow, so I had to take a picture.

jteddy.jpg

Asher knocked an entire container of thawed strawberries on the floor. Someone else knocked over thawing beef in the fridge, so now the fridge has been bled on. Maya dropped Jasper’s full bowl of food on the floor, and for one the damn dog decided that floor food did not interest him.

We realized after dinner but before decorating that Asher had not finished his Hebrew project for Tuesday. That wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the English project he hasn’t even considered beginning that is due Wednesday. There was no point in even trying to get any work on that. He can’t handle academic stuff at the very best of times in the evening, and having been promised cookie decorating is not the very best of times to suggest homework.

I have a point to all this. As I was singing Boo to sleep, I was reading yesterday’s Globe and Mail. I read Karen von Hahn’s column, in which she postulated that people who have children young are perceived as older, over-the-hill, compared to their peers who have small children. Her last line is this: “Who needs plastic surgery when you can be as young as you feel, thanks to artificial insemination.”

Is it just me, or is this woman completely insane? She has this idea that having kids when you are older makes you feel younger. Obviously, she is one of those women who had her kids when she was younger and, at 40-ish, is happily waving them off to university.

Gee, I wonder who feels younger – von Hahn, who is looking into the rest of her 40s having done the difficult work of childrearing and wondering what to do with her time – take a cruise with her husband? Throw herself further into her career? Train to run a marathon? After all, she clearly still fit and young enough to do whatever she wants. Or me, who is looking into the rest of my 40s filled with parent-teacher interviews and forgotten projects, kitchens with florescent yellow icing sugar dripping off the walls and the first child careening into adolescence like a runaway locomotive?

I wonder who looks younger – does the flour from the cookies dusting my shirt and the sprinkles in my hair age me? Or is it just the frazzled expression, the 40-year-old skin having gone unmoisturized and 40-year-old hair uncut for months because I’m too tired and don’t have the time.

I’m not really complaining, not really. I knew what I was getting into, although I never actually planned to have a kid at 36 years old. I am truly happy I had my children in my 30s rather than my 20s. But how can any woman who has actually raised children, as von Hahn has, be so utterly deluded as to think that raising small children in one’s 40s makes a person appear or feel younger? Those little shits age you, and they age you twice as fast when you are already older.

Anyway, I can see the dishes piled up in the kitchen from here, so I think I’ll just go downstairs, put on Family Guy and do some knitting. Maybe the dish fairies will come clean everything.

Jasper just discovered a kleenex box was in reach, and neatly hopped up to take one for himself. (He likes to snack on them.) Here is a picture, because he is the cutest dog ever, and don’t you forget it.

jkleenex.jpg

Read Full Post »

When Maya was born, J’s entire extended family showered us with gifts, which was very nice of them. Several people gave us ruffly pink dresses and those pink headbands you put on naked baby heads so everyone knows you have a girl. We got pink sleepers, t-shirts, jumpers saying, “Little princess.”

I wrote out thank you notes and then took everything but the sleepers to a consignment store. I could not bear to put them on my baby, especially the dresses, which J and I called baby armpit warmers.

As she aged, I put her in dresses and girly things – black dresses, blue dresses, green dresses. No pink. Most of the non-dress stuff I got was gender neutral in case I had a boy next time. That was my excuse, anyway.

We have no Disney movies, so Maya had limited ‘princess’ exposure and it never caught on with her, to my great relief. When someone gave her a viciously pink book of Disney princess stories for her birthday, I nudged it under the couch the moment she was distracted by the next toy and she never saw it again.

She soon asserted her independence, of course, demanding only shirts that demonstrated some sign of femininity, like flowers or hearts. She feel madly in love with Barbie and much as I hated them, I figured making them forbidden fruit was worse.

So she got girly. But at least she wasn’t princessy. For her 3rd Halloween, she went as a biker chick, with a faux leather jacket from her aunt and wee cowboy boots from a friend.

Asher came along and loved pink more than Maya. Perversely, I was happy to dress him in the pink sleeper. Then I steered him towards gender neutral stuff too, not wanted him to be abused by his peers. He had his own dolls (named Sam and Sleeping Baby) and wore nail polish, but I managed to distract him from the bright pink raincoat he was set on with a colourful but less pink umbrella.

I don’t just hate pink because people have irrationally assigned it to only one gender (oddly, in the 1800s, the colour was considered to be too strong for girls and was almost exclusively for boys). I just don’t like it.

I weakened a bit when Boo was born, because she had dark hair and looked pretty nice in pink. Limited, non-ruffly pink.

Despite the fact that we still don’t have any Disney movies, she found out about the princesses. I have no idea how. That’s the problem with the third kid – you have no idea what’s going on with them, even when they are little.

Last year, she wanted to be a princess for Halloween. Maya has been a witch, a ghost, a unicorn, a cat and a biker chick. Asher has been a wizard, a witch, a magician and a vampire. I sighed and told myself that at least she didn’t want to be a specific princess, like Cinderella, and bought her a cheap blue costume dress.

This year, she has decided on being a fairy princess. She already has the pink wings, but the blue dress is too small.

The other day, I was in the Children’s Place and saw this:

dress.jpg

It has that gauzy stuff underneath to make the skirt stick out all the time, like they do with wedding dressed (and which I took off mine), and you can’t see it well enough, but the front is all this brocade-type patterning. It’s really quite well put together, and it was on sale for $15.

I ignored it and went around the store collecting $3 skirts and $7 pants, and brought the entire pile up to the cash, where I spotted a knight’s costume for the same price and decided to get it for Asher, who is sick of being a wizard.

Then I stood in line and stared at the princess dress. I hate pink and I hate princesses, but Boo loves pink and princesses and as far as pink princess dresses go, I recognized that this was a good one, and for a good price too. I knew I could find her something I hated less and that she would like, but I also knew that she would love this dress.

I sucked it up and bought the dress. It isn’t me dressing up for Halloween, it’s her. And she was just as happy as I imagined she’d be when I showed it to her. She put in on immediately and wanted to wear it everywhere.

So there you go. It took me 11 years to slide all the way down that slope from giving away all the pink gifts and forbidding my mother-in-law to buy anything that colour to voluntarily buying my kid a pink princess dress. Now she’ll never be Prime Minister.

Read Full Post »

I was listening to Sounds Like Canada on the CBC this morning as I puttered around (for the Americans, CBC is our version of NPR). The host, Shelagh Rogers, was interviewing several women about a book they contributed, called Nobody’s Mother. It is about women who have chosen not to be mothers. It sounds like a fascinating book. The conversation certainly was.

I found the topic so compelling I wrote a letter. (It isn’t the first time, but I don’t do that often, either.) The gist of it was that I wish more women would make the same choice.

I really wanted kids. I always wanted kids. I wanted them so much that I was convinced something would go wrong when we started trying to have kids because somehow the fates would punish me for wanting it that much. I was very lucky. And yet, I find this job exhausting. Having kids is tough work, mentally and physically. Little kids are boring much of the time. Big kids can be remarkably cruel. None of them come with a manual and most parents I know live in fear of messing up, because messing up means ruining a life. Erk! The pressure.

One of my brothers, A and his wife K decided against kids long before they got married. Many people (but not those of us in his direct family who knew him well enough not to be remotely surprised) thought he’d outgrow it. Their decision was dismissed by most people as immaturity for as long as they could get away with that, but now that A and K are heading solidly into their 30s with no sign of wavering, the ‘immaturity’ label is getting old. The ‘selfish’ label just keeps on working, though.

These are two very productive members of society. They have good jobs, they volunteer. As vegans, wearers of organic clothing and careful recyclers, they step more lightly on the earth than most Canadians (because really, once you have kids, who has the time?) They are great with kids and their nieces and nephews, who despite not getting to see them for months at a time because they live across the country, adore them.

I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the people who attack my brother and sister-in-law for their choice and try so hard to drag them into the fold are just jealous that A and K figured out not to have kids before it was too late. Their attackers just wish they’d had enough brains to come to the same conclusion before they threw their lives away and got trapped in parenting hell.

I’m not saying all parenting is hell. (Although all parenting is hell some of the time.) It is utter heaven at others time, as long as you are happy being a parent. But for those who just bumbled along, conforming to society’s expectation, and had a child they didn’t really, really want because they didn’t think about they really really wanted beforehand, parenting is hell. And I bet they wished they had the wisdom and self-awareness to realize that this is not the life for them, before they actually had a kid and found out the hard way.

Read Full Post »