Angry Mom Rant

The title is a warning.

If you’re a teacher, on the PTA, or someone who doesn’t mind going broke buying school supplies, this blog is probably not for you.

I’m none of the above, except I used to homeschool, so I was an underpaid teacher.

We went school supply shopping for only 4 of the 5 kids attending school this year. The list for one of those kids was just the “basics,” meaning next week he’ll come home with more lists from all his individual teachers (the 5th, the high schooler, will do the same). So really, I bought for 3 1/2 kids. I’ll cut to the chase: $600. SIX HUNDRED F****** DOLLARS.

I sat in my closet, drowning in bags upon bags of school supplies, sorting them by child. Never mind that as I did, I realized I missed a few things. So let’s add about $50 to that 600 (enter every four letter expletive here). What I also realized is: This is the most disgusting, excessive experience I’ve had in FOREVER.

You know what’s even more maddening? 3/4 of everything I bought goes into community bins. No names, no nothing. Just bins that the teacher will store away without knowing who bought what. I’m not sure they care. Just as long as they have their Expo markers!

Before you even suggest that I’m against helping out the less fortunate and that’s what the bins are for, stop right there. Ask me for help and I’ll gladly give it! But do not make these ridiculous lists that send parents (or at least me) into a tear-inducing shopping frenzy that spans several stores, across several days, with all 7 children in tow. And before you begin to suggest I should have stopped reproducing at 1.5 kids, you don’t want to go there either.

Here’s how I know it’s excessive bullshit: I homeschooled for 9 years. We did science projects and art classes and everything else you can think of. And it was not “free education,” so every expense was out of pocket AND I was still paying taxes for Bobby down the street to go to public school. Sure, we went through pencils and erasers like crazy, but I can guarantee I never had to get so much crap like I just purchased over the past weeks. NEVER. And we got along just fine. I had a little stash of supplies that I pulled from now and then. But in 9 years, I never went through as many school supplies as I just sent with my children for their free, public education.

It actually made me sick. I felt wasteful. And I’m enraged that I had to spend so much to feel wasteful!


Understanding Death

A few weeks ago, our precious dog passed away. What makes her passing even harder for us all was the fact that we were away and so was she when it happened. The kids were visiting relatives, and I was out of town. Our dog traveled with us often, but considering the amount of travel we had been doing, we decided to leave her with a friend for the last few weeks.

She was an old dog, adopted about 8 years ago when she was already a little over a year old. My best friend agreed to keep her, and updated us regularly on how sweet and easy going she was. And oh was she sweet. In fact, I blogged many times with pictures of my children loving on her. However, after the second week, her health took a sudden turn. Within a few days, our dog was gone.

I wasn’t with her for her last days. My children weren’t with her. The heartache of suffering with her and preparing for her after life care was put on the shoulders of my friend. I grieved from another state, choosing to delay telling the kids until after my son’s 14th birthday.

The older 4 (out of 7) understood what the death of their dog meant: they would not be returning to her in a week and she would not be returning to them. As for the younger 3, the understanding of death is not something they can truly grasp, especially without seeing her sick. The last they knew of their dog was walks through Mount Lemmon.

My very busy, smart and chatty 3 year old has come up to me nonchalantly a few times and said, “Nala is dead.” My 6 year old, who is verbal but autistic, asked where Nala was yesterday. I told him, but he had left the conversation before hearing my reply.

My 4 year old loves dogs. He hugs every dog he sees. It’s been so hard losing our precious family member and she will be missed forever.

But I am going to wrap up children’s understanding of death with something sweet, funny and curious:

Yesterday, the friend who was watching Nala when she passed, stopped by the house. The 4 year old said,

“I want my dog back!”

She crouched down and said very sweetly, but with much sadness, “oh baby, your dog went to be with Jesus.”

The four year old demanded, “why did Jesus take my dog?!”

Feel the Heat

Because the temperatures in Dallas aren’t quite hot enough, we decided to escape to Tucson, Arizona for the summer.

The first leg of the trip was a 16 hour trip in two cars with 9 children, 2 adults and 1 dog. As we approached the border of Texas and New Mexico, the 9 year old boy yelled out with much concern, “We’re not going to be in a free country any more!” Yes, he was serious. That Texas pride runs deep, ya’ll.

When we finally arrived to the desert, we were soon faced with WHAT NOW? I mean really! What do people do when it’s 115 outside? There is swimming, as long as you own stock in a really good sunscreen company. There is Netflix. Thank God for Netflix.

I soon found out people are crazy in this place.

Day 2… or 202. What does it matter. I’m not going to survive anyway. Hubby decides to look online for things to do in a dismal, roasting dust bowl. Oh! There is a website! Oh my gosh. Let’s see… wake up early and take a walk. By the way, I did that. By early they mean 5am because it’s already bright outside. Then there’s hang out in Barnes and Noble. Are these people for real? Finally there was something about a planetarium in the university. That sounded interesting, and more importantly, out of the heat.

We had to park about a block from the entrance. Walking is not a problem usually, but then again, it’s not usually 156 degrees with negative humidity. My jeans stuck to my legs. My feet slipped out of my wedges. We were halfway there. Inside the building, approximately 4 minutes after exiting the parked cars, I lost interest in whatever the hell we were there to see, was blind in one eye from the sun, and was dripping wet and panting like a dog. I’m glad the ladies at the front desk didn’t bother to ask me questions and instead interacted with my husband. Don’t mess with a dying animal.

What? They close in 5 minutes?! You. Must. Be. Kidding. I nearly died walking in the building and now we have to walk back out?! Oh but they gave us passes to the show a few days later so we could do this again! Shoot me now.

So what’s next? Dinner? Sure. But what I really want is to drown in a swimming pool. But I try to be nice and help find a restaurant that will accommodate 7 children. We settle on an authentic Mexican restaurant and are seated.

The waiter is a good looking, friendly guy who we’ll assume is younger than me. We get to chatting about our vegan keto diet we’ve just embarked on, and then I bring up the heat and lack of humidity. Being from the area, he hates humidity and prefers that “just stuck my head into a 500 degree oven” feel. In fact, he likes to jog in it IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. I’ve now concluded everyone in this town is crazy. Or braindead from the heat. I keep hearing promises of rain and “monsoons,” but I think this is what they tell themselves to keep up strength, and what they tell outsiders to keep them there. Lies. This place hasn’t seen rain in, well, never.

Mom Talk

This school year I will put my oldest five into public school after 8 years of homeschooling. It’s sad and not really a choice I wanted, but it is what it is and I’ll make the best of it (catch me at the gym with my little two working out, or wasting money at Target ✌). 

I realized first and foremost that I must learn to start speaking again in intelligible sentences and not Spongebob Squarepants quotes. Otherwise, attempts at making mommy friends and attending parent – teacher conferences, ARD meetings, etc, could be very awkward:

“Hi, are you Jacob’s mom? I’m Mrs….”

“I know you are but what am I?” 

I’m sure it won’t be all that bad. Like riding a bike again… After all, I believe I spoke in complete sentences and not one word commands before I had 7 children back to back. 

But I have noticed myself rambling on and on like a child monologuing about the 20th Transformers movie (or whatever number they’re on now) in repetitive, cringing detail. So far, while trying to get the kids successfully enrolled and placed, the counselors have been polite and simply smile while I drone on in a series of loosely threaded answers (complete with irrelevant and long – winded back stories)… But I guess they are counselors and are used to doing that…
SEE! There I go again! And I’m just blogging and not actually talking to anyone! 

I’m screwed. 

Maybe they have one of those books for dummies like “How to Start Talking Like an Adult after Years of Shut-In Mommy Speak.”

I’ll keep you posted on any progress…

Entitlement: It’s in the Cereal

Earlier today I was text messaging a friend of mine. We were having a very important discussion on lipstick shades and those with maximum stay-ability. I had been browsing through the MAC cosmetics store and found a perfect color… and so did my 9 year old daughter. It was a metallic purple and she just  had to have it. It was $18. No freaking way. 

First, I’m not uptight about makeup and dress-ups. It’s fun and little girls like to dress up now and then, and I’m perfectly okay with that. She has a few lip glosses and she and I make beaded bracelets together. But on the whole, she’s actually quite a tomboy (5 brothers). She has a baseball cap that she never removes except for family portraits, and only then at the threat of death. She loves tarantulas and snakes and hanging out with the boys… and lipstick. 
So when I told her no way would I even entertain such an expenditure, she got pissy and pouty fast. I was so unfair. 

I also relayed this portion of the shopping trip to my friend and she said, “They must be putting entitlement in the cereal.” Oh my gosh, YES. 

I’m not the first or even 10,000th person to write about this “phenomenon,” so I won’t provide links to studies or online help programs for managing entitled children. Instead, I’ll just rant about my own 😉.

When I was growing up, Al Gore had not yet invented the internet the way we know it today.  Very few people had pagers, and if you did, you obviously were dealing drugs in high school. My mom had a cell phone the size of a Smart Car and it cost a small fortune to make a one minute emergency call. I drove the ugliest car a teen could be doomed to drive, and only because the school was too far for my dad to conveniently take me and my mom to fetch me. But they were strict. I always thought they were way too strict. I was grounded all the time. And I don’t mean “go to your room filled with a stereo, TV, game systems, personal phone line and think about what you did”… I’m talking exile from the universe. For weeks. And after enough screwing up, I lost the privilege of driving the ugly car and walked to and from school.  And then, they hand delivered me to a “get your act together program” a thousand miles away.  And yes, it all seemed awful. But I certainly didn’t mouth off to my dad about how unfair he was. All hell would have been unleashed!!

I have a friend in the city I’m currently visiting. He worked his butt off and owns a very well known hair studio in the area. I get my hair cut at the cheapest places possible every two years, but ironically just had it cut last month. I wasn’t due, but my 9 year old certainly was. So we went in, she asked about purple highlights, and I agreed.  She was SO excited. The man worked for hours on her hair… coloring, washing, cutting and drying. Then he took pictures for his social media page. It really looked amazing. The price tag nearly killed me but it was already purple, so…

Immediately she wanted to throw it all up in that God awful baseball cap. I said no!! Leave it down for at least the day! Oh the go to hell looks I got… The stomping, the tears, the pathetic attempts at negotiating. It was enough to make me march her back to the salon and strip every spot of purple from her hair AND toss that cap in the trash. But no… we took her and her cousin to an indoor jump place instead (It is the cousin’s 10th birthday….). Did this improve moods? Nope. Just sulking, fiery eyes and demands for the cap. 

My 13 year old has major entitlement issues. He actually told me it is unfair that he shares a bathroom when I don’t. My head spun on that one. 

Truly, I could go on and on and on… But it’s not just the idea that kids feel they are owed everything, it’s a lack of gratitude. And some very serious flaws in my parenting that I need to quickly find and remedy before I contribute 7 more entitled young adults to an already me – driven world. A frightening world in which everyone is special and unique for no obvious reason other than they exist. Everyone is a unicorn. Or those who truly are underprivileged, should be given everything because they have nothing. And those who don’t want to work? Well, they should get something too… or hop from job to job until one “feels right” and they are appreciated for their awesomeness. 

I don’t have a solution, except the aforementioned one. But I am growing increasingly resentful of this behavior and am close to stripping my kids’ worlds bare: bed, clothes, food. Oh, and MAYBE I’ll give them a ride to school. 

Sigh… And Cry…

As I begin to write this, I am sitting in the car with my 5 year old autistic son. It’s the 4th of July, which means fireworks and panic for this sweet boy. Three of my boys are with their dad, or who knows… the heartache of divorce… 

I’m okay sitting in the car with my little boy.

I’m coming to terms with a failed marriage (twice attempted, twice failed, with the same person).

What should matter is my children, my relationship with them and moving forward. And what should not matter is the negative flurry of slander, hate and anger behind me. 

But it does. 

It hurts. It hurts real bad. And I hate giving power to that pain by acknowledging it… But I guess healing comes with acceptance of pain and failure. 

I have seven children. Two of my boys are autistic, my 16 and 5 year old. The oldest has grown to be such a delightful young man. He is smart, humble, quiet, gentle and kind. My 5 year old is still struggling through his emotions and anxieties, and this is also a great struggle for me. It’s hard to reach him at times and even harder to calm him in the midst of his “moments.”

What’s also hard is the backlash I have received from those closest to me.  My family seems to only be able to tolerate the older children in doses, and the youngest three scarcely at all. They are quick to point out my short comings as a parent… even quicker to jump on the backs of these three for simply being children. 

And then there is my ex husband’s side of the family… although only his parents have ever come to visit – and no more than a week a year, at most – there certainly wasn’t a shortage of pure evil, hateful messages from the siblings (who have NEVER visited in 16 years and never met the younger FIVE children). Thankfully, I’ve been able to keep a mostly loving and positive communication with his parents. As for the others, I should be strong enough to dismiss their unfounded judgment and just focus on the beautiful, innocent faces in front of me. 

But it’s hard. Real hard. 

I wonder… do my parents, his parents, [some of] my siblings and his siblings, random acquaintances, etc, ever stop to remove the log from their own eyes? Do they really think that through their actions they are lifting up a woman and her children? Or worse, are they trying to bring her to her breaking point?

I may be weak. They may hurt me a lot. But they will not break me. Let me be clear on that. They can block my messages and not make eye contact in church. They may say all manner of things behind my back – deserved or undeserved. They may try to turn my own children against me with their poison. Yes, they can do all this and more, while pretending to be righteous, saying their morning and evening prayers daily…

Meanwhile, I struggle to pray, struggle to bring my children to church. I wake up daily and make my kids food adherent to a diet for those on the spectrum. I cry and work through the tantrums of the little ones. I struggled for 8 years to home educate because I felt it was best for my kids. I try to help a very moody and emotional, freshly-minted teenager navigate through his complex emotions and new life changes. All the while, trying very hard not to let myself succumb to the negativity and hatred from those I love the most, outside my children.

Sigh… And cry…

Life is always a struggle. One beautiful struggle after another. And if I can come out of one, I trust that God will carry me and mine through the next battle. 

And when I cannot pray because in that moment my faith is lost, I hope that God sees me through those moments as well. 

And when I want to hate in return those who have hurt me over and over again, I beg that God give me the patience and love not to do so. 

After all, none of us are in any place to judge another. My struggles may be unbearable for many, but for sure, there are so many families in the world who face much worse. 

We are all broken. And those of us brave enough to admit that are just trying to find our footing each day. 

At the moment, it’s sitting in the car with my sweet boy so he feels safe with me from the noise of the fireworks… tomorrow I don’t know. 

Family Pics!

I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long! I plan to start easing back into writing, as time permits. Until then, here are some proud mama pictures, taken by my good friend, Desiree. Enjoy!