Keeping up with the Jones’ Part 16,492

Once upon a time, I was a new and idealistic mother of a beautiful boy. His nursery was perfect. He had a little toy box with stimulating and developmental items, a shelf with nursery rhymes and Baby Einstein books and a section of Spanish books for children (I was going to teach him other languages, obviously). And playing in the background at all times was a soothing baby massage CD. I doted on him; took him to my grandparents’ retirement home twice a week so all the residents could love on him also. I practiced attachment parenting and never raised my voice.

I was the perfect mom and I was sure everyone else agreed.

That sweet boy will be 18 in a month. He is followed by 6 siblings, down to the almost 4 year old baby of the family. And unfortunately, with each baby, I became a little less perfect.

Now I do not like perfect moms at all. They make us well-meaning and imperfect mothers look terrible. And our kids notice.

My 11 year old daughter has a friend down the street. She goes to the girl’s house every day and together they ride bikes. Then they play at her house and her mom invites them on hikes and dinner picnics by the lake. The girl does not come here because, as I’ve hypothesized, there’s a lot of us; we’re loud, and we don’t have picnics. Or maybe because when she first met me, I had a margarita in hand and she was scandalized. Or maybe because after the name introduction, there was a measuring contest of “whose hubby has the more impressive business title.”

Either way, annoying.

For my daughter’s birthday party, we invited her friends to the movies. But these parents couldn’t be satisfied to drop their child in exchange for two hours of freedom. Nooo…. they brought their other daughter and then stocked up on candy and popcorn from the concession stand and passed it around.

It gave me fiendish pleasure to see that she had popcorn stuck to her butt later. I’m terrible, I know.

For Valentine’s Day, the kids had to bring cards and then something to hold their cards in from other classmates. The night before the Valentine’s party, I ran to Walgreen’s and scooped up what cards were leftover. The kids then addressed them and stuffed them into their paper bags, crudely decorated with scribbled pink and purple hearts. The perfect parents? Well, a few weeks before, I had heard that my daughter’s friend’s mother had begun helping her children make card boxes. She had found some old, wooden treasure boxes and together they sanded, painted and decorated. Their cards were not made of paper and bought at Walgreen’s, but rather, handcrafted from material that folded like a book and fastened with Velcro. Each classmate’s name was then embroidered beautifully onto the inside “page” of material.

My daughter just got back from a field trip from… wait for it… Disneyland. Three days in California and Disneyland. I don’t know about you, but we went to museums when I was in school. Last night, while reheating leftovers, I asked her about the trip. She went on and on about how much fun she had.

“Was (enter kid’s mom’s name) there?” I interrupted.

“Yes, she was a chaperone. And she bought me tacos!”

Ugh. I grumbled and put another dish in the microwave.

“Of course she did!” I said, obviously annoyed that I was bested again.

“Well…” she began boldly, “you could’ve been a chaperone, too!”

Seriously, am I the only one who finds this annoying? All these perfect Pinterest mommies making the rest of us look worse than mediocre with their tireless devotion to their children? Where’s the justice?!

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Lego the Legos

There’s no nice way to say this, so I’ll just go for it: I hate Legos.

I do not discriminate. I hate superhero collections, Lord of the Rings collections, fairies and dragons and princesses and Lego characters pretending to be um, Lego characters. Point being, if it’s a Lego, cute kitty or cutthroat pirate, I hate it.

I used to think Legos were a great alternative for our children’s couch potato generation. It gets them away from the screen and forces, at the very least, the following of directions. It doesn’t push them outside and on their bikes, but at least they’re not zombies in front of mindless YouTube videos by Jesse and Mike.

But that’s where the good things end.

One Lego set that your kid wants will run you, if you’re lucky, $49 before tax. But that’s not the cool set they want, which is actually between $75 – $150. Yes, there are little $10 and $20 “sets” available, but those are just starters for toddlers who are just beginning their Lego addiction.

When you buy Johnny his supersized Lego set he HAD to have for Christmas/Easter/Memorial Day/birthday/just because, there is about a one minute moment of bliss. They admire the box and what they will create, and you feel a sense of pride for once again getting them the best Lego set ever (since last month’s release). They get to work creating their fire-breathing dragon, castle and drawbridge, and position their damsel in distress…

That’s it.

30 minutes later and it’s done. The stocking and Easter basket lasts longer. And now guess what? You need a place to put it! But when the dresser and night stand and every other level surface in the house is covered with Lego creations, Where do you put them all? And if you think you can throw away the box after said creation is complete, guess again. You can’t. They need it. Like I need the tossed away wrapping paper with several year’s worth of scribbled names.

With all the kids I have, I figure I’ll need multiple spare bedrooms for their completed sets and accompanying boxes… if I’m to continue down this dreaded path.

And despite a kid’s attempt (read: my attempt) to keep Legos organized or intact, these tiny pieces of madness end up EVERY. WHERE. In my pillow cases, the washing machine, the dog’s mouth, under beds, and in every nook and cranny in the house and car… I must confess that I have recently quit saving the pieces “rescued” by my broom and now daydream about the day they’re all swept away…


No Filter

I think that’s a popular Instagram hashtag – #nofilter … #Iwokeuplikethis. But that’s usually in reference to an amazing picture that claims to be unedited, even when it really is.

But I’m off track and this is not about a good picture…

Last week I was due for my annual microblading touch-up because #eyebrowsarelife, y’all. That means, my drop dead gorgeous microblading friend is going to be thisclose to my face for two hours, concentrating on said brows. Then she’ll post the before and after as always and put it on her Instagram feed.

So in preparation for my appointment, I woke up with a nice, big zit right next to one of my eyebrows. I don’t think I’ve had a single breakout in over a year since a farmer’s market chocolate binge. But there it was. No reason at all except to laugh at me.

I ambulated from the bathroom into the kitchen to make breakfast, grumbling to myself about how unfair life is. After breakfast, I sat with the 7 year old on the couch waiting for his bus to come. Out from bed and down the hallway came my delightful, chatterbox 3 year old. She perched herself in front of me and rambled to her little audience for a few minutes before stopping in mid- toddler speak.

“What is THAT?!” she asked, pointing to my unfortunate and unsightly overnight growth. Thank God for 3 year olds to direct your attention to what you obviously didn’t notice!

I texted my friend/drop dead gorgeous microblading artist and told her what happened. I mean, she was going to notice anyway.

Fortunately, she does have a filter app on her phone…


Spelling

My autistic 7 year old has been surprising all of us lately with his perfect handwriting and the spelling and reading of really big words – especially for a kiddo his age who just became fully potty-trained two weeks ago.  Here’s a sample:

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Sorry about the quality, but you can see his perfect, tiny letters.  I don’t know adults who can write that well!

His favorite game is to write words on paper after paper, then ask, “What does (fill in the blank) start with?”  He already knows, but if you know about autism, you probably also know that a lot of questions are ones to which they already know the answer.  It’s a form of mimicking a behavior that is safe, if that makes sense?  Anyway, the “game” evolves into, “how do you spell (fill in the blank).”

The funny thing is, this game does not usually work in reverse.  Meaning, if I go up to him and ask him to spell a word, more often than not, he will tell me no.  Or, he won’t answer the question, but will instead throw one back of his own.

Last week during dinner, his nearly 17 year old stepsister asked, “Isaac, how do you spell Isaac?”

Isaac, “Um…. no.”

Stepsister, “Isaac, how do you spell Isaac?”

Isaac, “No.”

Stepsister, “Isaac, how do you spell Isaac?”

Isaac, “How do you spell no?”

Of course, we were roaring with laughter.  And he was not even trying to be funny, making these games of his that much more entertaining.

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Discreet and Repeat

As a mom of 7 kids, I’ve pretty much heard everything. Sweet, anger inducing, cute, witty and then the “why isn’t it acceptable to cover his/her mouth in public” comments.

Hubby took me and the littlest two to Chipotle for lunch today, which I always appreciate (desperate housewife, ya’ll). We stood in the line patiently, right behind a police officer. My 3 year old, also named “honey badger.” For the explanation on that one, please refer to this video. But I get easily off track…

So Honey Badger sees the officer standing THISCLOSE to us and says as loudly as possible and with much excitement, “A GUN!!! He has a gun! Look! A gun!!!” She was not alarmed or frightened. In fact, I was surprised she didn’t try to grab it and stuff it in her tiny purse. I just smiled and apologized.

Hubby chimed in, “She’s not very discreet!” The cop just nodded and chocked it up to her age. Hubby then turned to me and asked if I was getting the tofu. I told him I wasn’t and asked if he was. “No, man! I have to go back to work and no one wants to smell that!” Yes, loud enough for everyone to hear.

Add that to whatever number in the thousands of reasons Mommy needs her wine.


The Mom Playlist

Don’t get scared off just yet – I’m not going to link you to the Wee Sing tracks or 99 songs for your kids on a roadtrip. Been there, and it was torture (no offense mom, you were cute singing along with us).

But who am I really kidding? I traded in my cool card when I got a minivan.

Anyway, I still pretend. I love listening to rock, pop music and really anything with a beat, unless it’s country. My 14 year old is an old soul, and regularly requests Alice in Chains, 80’s music and wait, what?

The original Total Recall theme song? That’s not what I had in mind to jam to (is that still what the kids call it these days – jamming?) on the way to Sephora to pick out my birthday gift…

Okay. It’s only 3 minutes and 38 seconds and it’s not totally bad (a pun!). But then there’s a request for the Blade Runner theme song. Again, the original with Harrison Ford. The kid is old school.

And while I suffered through the music, I suddenly felt nostalgic, even though I never watched those movies until I was an adult (my parents cared about ratings). So guess what’s on right now?


Teaching Gratitude to Children – a Crash Course

Babies are born 100% selfish. This is not mean, or the ravings of a disgruntled parent, but simply a fact. They come into this world with traits and genetic predispositions, but otherwise, as other psychologists have said, babies are a “blank book.” It is our job to raise them and teach them.

And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but selflessness and gratitude are NOT one of the traits with which kiddos are born.

Having said that, how do we teach our beloved ingrates to be grateful? First, by example. Always thank your children and teach them to be thankful regardless of how they feel.

For example: I hate a meal a host fed me after inviting me for dinner. If I were a “typical” 2 or 3 year old, I might shuffle things around on my plate, my face contorted so as to properly show my disgust. I might even groan, or shove my plate or say how much I hate broccoli. But I’m an adult and I’ve learned manners. I’ll stomach the dinner and smile and thank my host graciously.

Are opinions bad? No. They’re normal. We’re not robots. We have feelings and tastes that aren’t the same as everyone else’s. As a parent, that’s annoying. As an adult, get used to it.

So, here I am: a mother of seven, beautiful, wonderful blessings. Seven children who also happen to be suffering from a serious case of complaining and ingratitude. And I, as their insufferable mother, am now suffering from a serious case of FED UP.

I wake up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday to shower and make my sweethearts breakfast. I then get them up, pack 5 lunches, and send them off to school (OMG I miss homeschooling). Then, in the evenings, I make a healthy dinner. At this point, “thank yous” are whatever. But not complaining?! I would pay any amount for that! But ain’t no one paying me. Let alone, thanking me.

Enter my crash course (with a follow- up to be included in seven days’ time):

The rules are really simple: I’m not making s**** for a week. I bought all the ingredients for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Do the rest yourself. I even bought cereal (as a rule, I think cereal is garbage, with no nutritional value whatsoever)! If you make dinner, make it for your younger siblings also. If one of the older 4 doesn’t like it, make your own. I will make breakfast and lunch for my youngest 3 (6 year old, autistic, 4 and 3).

Here’s the catchy part: I didn’t tell them this is punishment, or that I’m sick of their complaining, wastefulness, ingratitude, etc. I announced it Sunday evening with excitement and anticipation. “It’s a learning and personal growth week!” I said. It is, actually. But it is also very much a fed up mommy wanting her kiddos to appreciate what they have.

As I write this, I close in on Day 1. Not huge, I know. But for this mommy, it’s everything:

They chose cereal in the morning because waking up and cooking? Who does that?! *Hand slapping face*

After eating and dressing, they packed their own lunches. One kid microwaved bacon, packed cheerios, applesauce, made a sandwich, and a drink!

When they came home, they relaxed a bit. Then the 14 year old browned some ground beef and made nachos for all his siblings.

Normal dish duty ensued.

Day One? SUCCESS!

I’ll update soon 😁