Thursday, March 26, 2009

Best Mom Tip #57: Pull that car over RiGHT NOW!

I actually did it. I followed through with the age-old threat and pulled the car over in the middle of a drive. I got laughed at by a pedestrian and studiously ignored by the business-at-lunch set. But I did it.

We were on our way home from the gym a little later than usual and it was time for lunch. My son has been battling a nasty cough, so when he fell asleep in the car I didn't want to wake him up. He hadn't slept well the night before and sitting up allowed him to breathe a bit easier.

So I went throught the drive-though at the Chick-fil-A and my daughter and I had a "car picnic" at the park while my little baby slept. Then we decided to go for a ride to let Baby Boy sleep a little longer. This is where the trouble started.

We had a pretty good ride, but I noticed that it was about "nap" time (really just quiet play time in her room) and, more importantly, the bathroom break that accompanies nap time. I turned for home and my angelic daughter went nuts.

She started kicking the seat in front of her, flailing her arms, and screeching like a banshee. She, of course, woke up the baby. I took it for a couple of minutes and then I had this thought--"I want to spank her until she stops crying." Since this is an irrational thought, I realized that I might not be handling the screaming as well as I imagined.

I pulled into a parking lot, yanked her out of the car, and plunked her down on the curb. I told her that people couldn't act like that in my car and she could get back in when she could behave normally. It took about 5 minutes for the blubbering to stop, by which point she was covered in snot and beet red. It was not attractive.

I did feel a little guilty when it started to rain and the temperature dropped pretty rapidly. I stayed outside the car with her (no calls to DFACS, please) and eventually she started laughing. I don't know why. But at least she stopped crying and I didn't beat her or sell her to gypsies. Score one for Mom.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Best Mom Tip #56: Play dress-up in the mall

I went shopping with my mom, my sister-in-law, and my kids last week. We had a great time and there was someone to hold the baby while I tried on dresses. The best part was when my Little Princess came into the dressing room with me to try things on.

It's Prom season so there were LOTS of ridiculously sparkly gowns that my daughter thought were amazingly beautiful. So I let her try them on. She was particularly enamored of a blue, green, and teal dress with a sparkly fabric and rhinestones on the bodice. It was quite mermaid-like.

We both tried it on and then I started on the more appropriate sun dresses for my Easter attire. Little Princess put on every dress I tried on. She went out of the dressing room for the opinions of our other shoppers each time I did. She twirled even though the knee-length dresses were dragging the floor and they really wouldn't stay up.

And she felt beautiful. And fancy. And very grown-up. We had milkshakes to celebrate our shopping success.

On the way home she said, "Mommy, I didn't want to behave well the whole time, but I did anyway." It turns out that after choosing her own dress she was done with shopping and was not interested in what anyone else was going to wear. It apparently took all of her 4-year-old strength to keep from pitching a fit in the Macy's. That and a milkshake. How did she get so grown up?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Best Mom Tip #55: Watch them sleep

You probably don't need to be told this one. I bet you go into your kids' rooms at the end of the day and make sure that they are still breathing. You cover them up if they've kicked off the covers. You check to make sure the room isn't too hot or too cold. Maybe you refresh the water on the nightstand.

You should also just stand there for a minute and look at that little face in repose. See how sweet those little eyelashes are against her cheek? Look at that little bow of a mouth as he breathes in and out. Isn't it funny how they sleep with their behinds in the air or their arms flung out to the sides?

Now try to remember this moment tomorrow. When she decides that the bananas are too brown and throws them in the trash where you just put the raw eggs. Remember this when he colors on the carpet with the special permanent markers he found on Daddy's desk. Picture that sweet little body tangled in the covers when she has dressed herself in your silk blouse and then washed her baby doll in the sink.

Take a moment to drink in the beauty of a sleeping child. It might help your child make it alive and kicking to the next night.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Best Mom Tip #54: Thank a soldier

My 7-month-old son met his Uncle Christian for the first time today because my brother-in-law is newly returned from Iraq. We are very grateful that he made it home safely after a 15-month-long deployment in a war America is talking about less and less often.

Last night, while at my parent's house, a childhood friend of my brother's dropped in to see us all. He was with his wife and new baby and it was fun to see people we've known since we were kids showing off our beautiful children to each other. He will be shipping out to Afghanistan, coincidentally with my brother's brother-in-law (his wife's brother), in a few short months.

These men and their families serve our country in a very tangible way both while deployed and while at home. When our friend returns from Afghanistan, his baby will be walking, talking, and playing--but probably won't be comfortable around his Daddy. While he's gone, his wife will be doing it all single-handedly and worried about his safety.

When I am tired and disappointed about something in my everyday life, I remind myself that our military families are out there doing it with a war in the middle of their lives. Thank a soldier. It puts things in perspective.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Best Mom Tip #53: Read the internet news

This isn't rocket science, but it saves my sanity often. I can't really watch the news on TV because Little Princess asks things like, "What happened to that little girl?" Ummmm...she was killed by her heartless mother? Or "Do people get hurt in wars?" Yes, but I'm sure your uncle is fine today.

And I have to turn the channel quickly before I get asked what child molestation or rape mean. I just want to know if there were any major world events I should know about--I'm not quite ready to explain sex and the ways in which it is perverted in our world to my four year old.

So, I check CNN, MSN, and wsbtv (our local news station) every day. That way I know what's going on and I don't have to try to explain how that woman had 8 babies in her tummy and why people are mad at her. Or what a Ponzi scheme is--which is good because I'm tired of hearing about that one. Why is it a bigger deal when rich people lose their money to a scam artist?

And in these days when I don't work outside our home, it gives me something to talk about with my husband other than our children's bodily functions, when the bug guy is coming, and whether or not we have any clean underwear. That alone is worth the price of our internet access.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Best Mom Tip #52: Say goodnight to sleep

I don't think I've slept through the night for an entire week straight in four years. I have definitely not had a good night's sleep every night for two weeks in a row in over 4 years.

It started while I was pregnant with my daughter and I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Then there were the contractions that woke me up every night, but never progressed to labor. Then, of course, there was the screamy newborn who, it turns out, DID actually cry more than most babies.

Last week my baby son got an ear infection (actually two, one in each ear) and my biggest tip-off was the fact that he didn't sleep as well as he usually does. Then the antibiotic upset his tummy and he wiggled and cried about his ears AND his belly. The Little Guy is feeling much better and has been back to his usual sleep patterns since Monday, so last night it was his sister's turn to keep me exhausted.

Little Princess has a stuffy nose so I left her a box of tissues and a glass of water by her bed if she woke up and needed them. She did wake up and reach for her tissues, but she chose to carefully pick them up bring them (and her water glass) into my room to set them on MY nightstand. Then she crawled into bed and wiggled in between my husband and me.

All night long she kept waking up and climbing over me to get a tissue and a swig of water. After she was done blowing her nose loudly in my face she would hand me a snotty tissue to place over near my glasses on the bedside table. She breathed heavily through her mouth directly into my nose and stole my pillow.

By the light of day I am very annoyed with her and myself for letting this happen. In the middle of the night, I couldn't figure out what was happening and I was too tired to fight.

I may be the only person on earth who starts drinking Red Bull just so I can defend my place in my bed at night. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Best Mom Tip #51: Clean the smelly things

One of my biggest frustrations about motherhood is that I am never finished with all of the mom chores. Whether or not I work outside the home, this is always the case. When I work, I don't have enough time to get everything done. When I stay home, we're always messing up what I just cleaned.

So I'm focusing on the things that smell funny. That pretty much covers kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and the kids themselves. I do the dishes, take the kids to the doctor, get everyone bathed every day, wash the clothes, and clean necessary parts of the bathroom. The sweeping, picking up toys, and making the beds only last about 15 minutes anyway so I'll get to them when I can.

I'm curious to see if this idea could work in other areas of my life. What if I only pay attention to the coworkers or students who smell funny? What if I only pay attention to the car when I notice a new odor? It might not work forever (eventually, the car will break if I only fix the brakes when they smell hot), but I think I can get away with it for quite a while.

Honestly, this plan has me focusing the most on my children, which is where my priorities lie anyway. Off to change another diaper.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Best Mom Tip #50: Ask your kids questions

I asked my daughter what Bible verse she learned at church on Sunday--after a few minutes of concentration she said, "God takes care of me. 3 Peter Pan." I think it was actually from the book 1Peter, but I'm pretty excited about reading that new Peter Pan book. Seems intriguing.

I asked if she had brushed her hair and I got a 5 minute monologue on the positives of wearing a headband--you don't have to clip anything, which is sometimes hard, and your hair looks very pretty.

I asked my baby boy if he was hungry and he said, "uuuuuhhhhhhhhh." I'm very confident that was his version of "YES! YES! YES!"

Best of all, I play a game with them both called "who's the best." I say, "who's the best baby in the world" and my boy grins. I say, "who's the best big girl in the world" and my daughter raises her hand.

And daughter says, "who's the best Mommy in the world" and yells her answer--"Mama's the best Mommy in the world!" When I don't feel like I'm doing a good job, I just ask my kids questions. It's great for the soul.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Best Mom Tip #49: Act like you don't smell anything

My almost-seven-month-old son has developed a routine for any car ride lasting longer than 15 minutes. First, he spits up on himself no matter how long it's been since he last ate. He manages to coat the car seat straps and himself every time. Next, he talks for several minutes about life and, by the inflection in his voice, the things that annoy him--having a wet neck is probably one of those things. He then removes at least one of his socks to chew on, which leaves it so soggy it cannot be put back on until it dries. He follows "sock time" up with a bowel movement. Finally, he falls asleep.

The result is that when I get anywhere that requires more than 15 minutes in the car, I arrive with a grumpy/sleepy baby with bare feet, a front that smells like barf, and a behind that smells far worse. My dreams of graceful entrances to hip parties didn't come true before I had kids, but I'm facing the fact that they are really never going to happen at this point.

My daughter helps out the process by giving me a running commentary of what he is doing in the car. "Mommy, he sneezed, but there was no snot. Well, there's snot on the car seat, but not on him!" Or "Mommy, he smells like poop. Poopy, poopy, poopy (in a sing-song voice)."

This adds to my general state of frazzled-looking Mom when I arrive at my destination. So I'm pretending like I don't smell anything and that my children and I all look just as fresh as when we first got dressed--20 minutes ago.

Update: After I finished this post, I took my son to the doctor. He filled his diaper on his way there so that we arrived incredibly fragrant. Then we were given a prescription for Augmentin that required another visit to the pharmacist. Motherhood is great, isn't it?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Best Mom Tip #48: Count your blessings

If you read this on a regular basis, you will have noticed that I haven't written yet this week. I'd like to apologize and offer a reason for my absence. Basically, I haven't felt like writing about silly things. Right now three families I know are dealing with medical problems that are shaping their everyday lives--it just didn't feel right talking about my at-home pedicure (which is not NEARLY as long lasting as when I pay for them).

One of the families just found out that the wife's long battle with cancer is almost over--she's been given less than 6 months to live. They have two children under the age of 10. A woman I know from college took her son to the doctor last week because he had a headache. This week he is a cancer patient who has undergone brain surgery and is looking at 8 months of chemo and radiation. He is in the 1st grade.

The third family is actually expecting twins, which is wonderful. But the mom has been ordered on bed rest and they have a not-quite-two-year-old to take care of. This woman works full time and quitting her job 3 months early was not part of the plan. I don't know what that will mean for their finances and, of course, we're concerned first for the babies. But again, my annoyance at the rate at which my son outgrows his clothes seems irrelevant.

My family is healthy and in this economy we are grateful to have more than we need to live on. It's enough to make supremely grateful--even if my son's new favorite sound is "high-pitched screech of a hawk dying."