the challenge of sleeping

I was having that moment where I hated life. I hated not being a better mother, I hated being in the circumstance I was in and I hated not being in my own home (currently visiting a family member). It was not that anything spectacular happened, but my patience was thin. Why? Why in the world would my patience be thin? Hmmm, well maybe it was because it was 1:00 am and my son was not asleep yet.

Years ago I stopped allowing my son to have naps. As much as I loved the quiet time I realized that any nap he took prevented him from sleeping that night. Unfortunately he fell asleep yesterday during the other children’s napping. I didn’t wake him up because o enjoyed the moment of quiet.  I will not do that again.

At 11:30 pm I left our room because I was frustrated by the lack of sleeping children. I sat outside the door and read a magazine my mother gave me. I joked with her that I thought it would take them an hour to get to sleep. They were quiet sooner than that. I figured they were all asleep and then heard my son I waited until 1:00 to go in. My so. Was awake and looked a little sad so I put him on the bed and covered him up. It did not take long before I was leaving the room again in frustration.  When I finally went back in twenty to thirty minutes later he had the light on and was surrounded by the contents of an entire tissue box.  I tried again.

By 2:15 I was exhausted and my son was no closer to sleep. When my little monkey woke up I decided that it was way too dangerous to be a parent. A few minutes later, with two kids and two blankets we were in the car with children safely buckled in their seats. By 3:30 I finally had the baby to sleep, again, and my son was sleeping. I had even managed a few minutes of shut eye. By 3:45 we were all back inside, in bed, and going to sleep.

It was a rough night for sure, mainly on my parenting. I felt bad for being frustrated. I felt bad for even being a mom. I felt like a failure, but why? I was not doing anything wrong or beating my children. It was just one of those nights. One of those times that happen every so often. It happens. It happens to every parent. It was not a reflection on my parenting at all. So, I let it go. Today has been better.  Blowing bubbles, relaxing, working, laughing, tickling and whatever else we can think of doing to pass the time. Maybe I need to give myself more credit for the good times instead of beating myself up for the few bad times.

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what every parent is missing

As with many people I am a part of social media. Yes, I use  it. I use it to communicate more than I do email. I use it to connect with people in groups to support and learn from each other.

After my last marriage I pretty much stopped using it for my own “sharing” of anything personal. It was too dangerous and I needed to keep my life private. That is when I turned to groups. Of course, that is not why I am here writing.

Social media is where I see the most shaming of parents. The pressure to be a perfect parent is great. People posts pictures of every achievement their children have. They post about every vacation, lost tooth, happy moment, and even the bad ones. Then they share. They share, and the advertisers pay for some of it to be seen, the many articles about all the different things that parents are doing wrong.

The articles to shame parents are many. Articles about what things every parent is doing wrong to their child, how every parent is missing something, how not to spank, how to discipline, how to and to not do absolutely everything as a parent. There is just no winning, none.

I suggest: do your best. You cannot do it all perfectly all the time. It is okay to not do everything or not have perfection in your home. It is okay to let your children have a treat and to discipline in an appropriate way (I do not condone violence). It is absolutely okay to not follow every article out there telling you how to and not to parent.

My biggest advice again: just do your best. This does not mean to stop at your best today. Parenting is an every day thing that will require constant change and growth on your part so that you can become better. Your best today may be far better than your best yesterday. If you feel you want to try the parenting advice out there then go for it, it is worth a try, but do not feel guilty just because the article implies that you must be a bad parent if you are doing something that “all parents” are doing.

I often tell people to do their best. Love their children and teach them forgiveness. Then hope that when they are old enough to blame you for everything wrong in their life they will realize you did your best and they will forgive you for not being perfect.

 

the mom vacation

I have joked for years about how a vacation with kids is no vacation for the mom. I am not sure about most families, but every time I have gone on vacation I always have to do at least twice as much work. This was the same no matter my marital status.  I have seen it with many other mothers. When I haven’t seen it I have heard their stories. Vacationing with children is no vacation.

There are a few different vacation scenarios. One is that you stay with family or friends. What a great way to spend time with family, save money on lodging, and children can often play with relatives.  Sounds great, right? Hold on to that nice idea right there because that is as far as it gets.

Your children will still have all the same needs they had before the vacation, but this time they know you are trying to have fun yourself and so when you sit down to visit they are right there in your face. What happened to playing with cousins or other relatives? Oh, some fight broke out or they just got bored.

Simce  you are in someone else’s house you spend more time worrying about any possible mess your children may make. If you are not careful you may end up becoming really stressed out following your child so they don’t ruin anything. This leads to the over compensation parenting.

You overcompensate by becoming too strict or too lenient. Why? Because watchful eyes are upon you followed by a barrage of parenting advice. There just is no winning.

You still have to do laundry too, and vacation means no extra sleep because nobody has their own beds and what kid sleeps better that way? Lastly, don’t forget the worry that comes from using somebody else’s bathroom.

Not all vacations end up at a relative’s house. Often times you actually go somewhere that tourists might end up. This may take you to a hotel where all your kids fight over the remote and even though you got a room with two big beds they still refuse to sleep without you. Getting in the hotel room takes forever  you have to strategize where to park, what to take in and how many trips to take while not losing any kids or having them escape the room while you are in between trips.

Oftentimes a hotel room gets you to  think you will get to enjoy watching a cable program (if you could afford a hotel that offers cable) that you normally do not get to watch because you don’t have cable, and besides, you can because you are on vacation. That rarely happens because your kids still won’t sleep in a hotel bed and are still fighting over the remote.

Ah, and just when you think you can sit down to relax they beg for you to take them swimming. Where you will oblige them because you think it will be relaxing. Not so. It takes forever to get everyone ready after searching through all the bags for swimsuits. When you finally get to the pool you are even more exhausted but you need to be the lifeguard.

A hotel room means you don’t have to worry about keeping it spotless, but you do because you have to prevent toothbrushes, socks and shoes from being left behind. Don’t worry, you will do good at that but will likely forget something else.

It does not matter how short or long the hotel stay is as you will still have a disaster of clothes spilling out of suitcases and drawers, tossed all over the room, and bathroom towels everywhere.

Don’t forget to feed your kids–yeah, there’s that mess too that you do your best to keep on top of so the maids will not think of you as slobs.  If you happen to go out to eat you have to work extra hard to keep everyone behaved and as quiet as possible while you all wait impatiently for the food. This is when you throw your hands up in the air and wonder why you did not just order pizza to the hotel room.

I suppose vacationing is not all about where you keep your bags at night. There are the daytime activities, if you dare to try. Not too bad, but you still have to meet the needs of everybody. Diaper changes, bathroom breaks, keeping track of kids, tired kids, whining, lost kids, lost bags, the staring strangers, and everything else imaginable. By the end of your vacation you will really want to go back home because home seems like a vacation from your vacation.

This is my vacation. I cannot afford vacations that are not at a family member’s house. When we visit family I stay at their house during the day because I cannot afford to go do the seemingly fun things. I end up with all my kids in bed with me where I get little sleep because they refuse to sleep well. I spend most of my time preventing tragedy while trying to maintain sanity and not take parenting advice too personally.

I do appreciate the time with my family though, and even if I am on vacation and am doing more work it is still worth the making of memories. It is the memories made working together in the yard, laughing while telling stories, and playing games together. More work on vacation is definitely worth the priceless memories.

cleaning

From the moment I wake up I have children attached to me. Scratch that, they stay attached to me at night too. I get some kids to sleep and another will wake up demanding my undivided attention. Sometimes I may get few hours alone at night. I am then faced with the decision of going to bed and getting needed rest or staying up and getting needed alone time. Neither does me good.

Today was one of those days. A day where my toddler learned to climb the gate and head out on her own. She came back and wanted to go on a walk so while she put on her leash and I got two of the other children ready she headed out on her own again. Our walk was stressful. She tried my patience to its thinnest and even told me I should not get angry. After her little escape trick I did some thinking. How often do we automatically think that parents are being neglectful when we hear of a child found on the side of the street? Sure there are the ones where the parents were passed out because of drugs or some other substance, but I would wager to guess that more often than not many children escape the watchful eye of their very caring and careful parents. Parents who just happened to need to go to the bathroom for just a few minutes. Parents who were up all night taking care of a child who wouldn’t sleep and so they fell asleep while folding laundry. Parents who do everything for their kids and as soon as their back is turned the little munchkin decided to attempt the world on their own. How often do we throw these parents under the bus?

My frustration and bad afternoon did not end there. It seemed every moment after that was destined to push my limits. I finally just sat down on the couch and put on a music for the kids to dance to. Forget cleaning, forget engaging with the kids, forget everything else as I was done and anymore thinking would just create more frustration. Bedtime turned out better, sort of. Instead of waiting for them to go to sleep I read them books and laid down next to them until they fell asleep. Of course the moment I left the bedroom another child woke up. I am waiting for him to go to sleep. Why is it that my children just will not sleep on their own?

All of these things today got me thinking about the pressure to be a perfect parent. I have to read to my kids everyday or they will not grow up to be good readers or whatever the claim might be. Thanks. I have now screwed up my kids because I have not read to them every single day.  I cannot yell at my kids. If I yell at my kids then I will give them some sort of a complex and they will not be happy.  I have to provide them toys and if I do not than I am a neglectful parent (thanks parenting college class). I need to feed them healthy food every day and if I do not then I am a bad parent who will not have healthy kids. I must keep a clean home at all times and teach my kids to clean….There are a bunch of do nots, nevers and always. Quite frankly it sets a precedent that no parent can succeed at. No parent, at leat not me. Oh yeah, and then the pressure to get to my pre-pregnancy wait….that is what started it…no, it was the drive I took today through a neighborhood that reminded me that I seem to only be moving backward in life and not forward. I began to feel sorry for myself. As a result it spiraled into a messy emotional afternoon. I became impatient with the life I have because I wanted something better. Don’t we all? I guess not. Some people are very content never progressing.

Do I have to be perfect? No. Either do you. All we have to do is our best. So we messed up, didn’t do what we wanted to do, yelled at our kids, lost our patience, or whatever we had planned for the day. You know what, there is always tomorrow. So try again. Why not?

just another Sunday

 

I am a very religious person, or believe I am, and so on Sundays I go to church. I rather enjoy it even if there are days I wonder why I bother since I tend to my children the whole time.  Today was nice though. I still tended to my children but I still heard the speakers.  What was really nice though was what happened while I tended to my children. One person took the youngest for me. She was glad to go. Others made sure to acknowledge my son. Several different people came up to him and took his hand to say hello.

Some people may think those things are all too simple to care for, but for a single mom with a young son who is quite disabled it is a big deal.  It is simple gestures from others that make this mom feel good about what she does–like taking her children to church.

There is always the before and after church too.  The before church is usually trying to get everybody out the door on time. It would not be a normal day without something getting in the way. Today was no different. I walked out of the room where I was getting ready and right away noticed the white powder all over the floor and room. Yeah, corn starch.

Corn starch! All over the floor with children walking through it.  The problem is that I needed to go, right then. You know what? I left. Yup, you got that right. I left.  The corn starch wasn’t going to go anywhere while we were gone, it would just have to practice its own patience and wait to get cleaned up.

By the time church was done I was in a good mood. I went to lunch afterward with my father and stepmother, followed by a drive. I would have gone home to take care of the corn starch at that point but one thing I have learned is that when a child falls asleep do not wake them up unless absolutely necessary.  So, drive time for car naps.  Yay! Everybody wins.  I have no kids climbing on me, someone gets a nap and everybody usually enjoys the drive.

Today the drive took us to an old cemetery. Old and unkept. Sad and lonely. Many graves had no markers while others had markers with no identifiers. These markers were not old and had been placed to at least mark where the final resting place was for many individuals.   I saw a few gravestones with markings on them. A few hit me particularly hard. Two grave stones for three children. All children were from the same family and died within a week of each other in November 1908. It was a stark reminder of how fragile life was.  Even though the parents have been gone for years I still felt sorrow for their loss. I could only wonder at the great pain they must have felt at that time. It reminded me that life is still just as fragile as years ago. So, I appreciate all the time I have with my children even when they may get me frustrated or dump corn starch all over the floor.

no shame

I have seen it many times. I have heard it. I have witnessed it. The story going around of success. Of not giving up on a marriage where one spouse has had multiple affairs and is addicted to pornography. Do not get me wrong, there is no shame in staying in a marriage and making it work. What I do not like is the message that accompanies it, usually from people who comment and praise the person who is sharing their story that is full of hope.

The problem is with statements such as: such a strong woman, so faithful, so forgiving, how wonderful she didn’t give up, and so forth. What this does is send a subtle message that the person who walks out on a marriage like that is weak and that they gave up. It puts all of the pressure on the spouse who did nothing wrong. If they walk away from the damaging relationship they are thought of as weak and unforgiving. I cannot tell you how often I was blamed for not making it work, as if I was the one who had control over my husband’s actions. I cannot tell you how much I heard about how I needed to be more forgiving, kind and understanding. I felt shame. I felt guilt. I felt bad for  being fooled by my spouse. I felt like I was a failure for not being able to make it work….I left.

I left a bad marriage and I do not feel guilty anymore. I allowed chances for change, I “forgave” all the many times I caught him cheating. I put up with lies and so much more. I got out before I was destroyed. I make sure to let people know that there is no shame in leaving a marriage where you are not respected, loved, or treated properly. Just as it takes strength to make it work it also takes strength to walk away. I am an advocate of marriage, but I am also an advocate of freedom.

There needs to be a release of responsibility from the spouse who was trying to make things work, the spouse who didn’t cheat, lie, or break the marriage promise. Why do people put such pressure on them to make things right? Why is there no pressure on the cheating spouse to make things right? From most of what I hear or see in others’ comments is that the only thing the offending spouse needs to do is say sorry and then it is up to the innocent spouse (I am not claiming they are perfect) to be forgiving and make sure that the marriage works. There are a number of people who have that pressure put on themselves or by others.  If the marriage does not work they are still blamed: “well, if she would have just been more forgiving,” or “if he would have tried harder.” Bull. Just Bull.

You want a successful marriage it takes both people to make it successful. Staying married does not make a marriage successful. “Oh look, they stayed married for fifty years, through thick and thin.” However, nobody realized that one of those spouses was abusive while the other was trapped. But hey, they made it fifty years. They must’ve been happy. I have met people who have tried hard to  make it work past infidelity and porn, even other abuse, and they feel a huge sense of responsibility to make it work. They are told by their spouse and society that it is their fault if they do not make it work. So, they try and they grow tired wondering why it is not working.

Some marriages become successful past these problems because the offending party has changed and they are doing what they need to do. The offending spouse is the one that needs to change, and even then it does not guarantee the marriage will last because the other spouse will still need to do some things that are difficult–but they shouldn’t be faulted if they cannot.

This brings me to forgiveness. Whether someone is religious or not, forgiving someone of their offense to us is helpful for us and them to move forward. News flash! It does not mean you dismiss their actions and the consequences associated with those actions. My ex-husband accused me heavily of not being forgiving. It had nothing to do with forgiving. To him, and many, forgiveness is when someone says, “sorry,” and you say, “ok. I forgive you and I will pretend that it never happened.” No, that is not how it works. I call that dismissive forgiveness. Forgiveness, for the most part, is more like, “I forgive you, you hurt me very much. I will not allow you to hurt me anymore. I cannot let myself be hurt this way again. I hope you find happiness in your life without me.” See the difference?

It is great when people are able to make their marriage work, but it does not make them failures or weak when one decides that they are tired of being hurt. The success of a marriage is not to be only in the hands of one person. The success of a marriage requires both parties. Sadly, it only takes one of those parties to destroy a marriage.

one race

In my effort to find sanity today–I was really frustrated at my parenting–I decided to take the children out. I figured we would stay in the car for most of the outing. A planned stopped to fill up a prescription and pick up a few special foods for my guy. An easy trip.

I learned long ago that I needed to dress nicely if I was feeling down. I was going out, this was a perfect time to feel nice so I put on some new high heels that I received as a gift. I immediately felt the effects of the higher altitude. How in the world people ever wear anything that I high I will not understand. So off we went.

On the way to fill up prescriptions I ssaw an event going on at the park. “Great,” I thought, “this is the perfect thing for today.” By the time I parked and we got to the park my feet were killing me. I was not going to give up right then though, so we stayed and walked a bit more than my feet could handle. By the end I wanted my shoes off but they were buckled on. Who puts buckles on shoes?  They worked, the shoes stayed on. It did not matter that my feet hurt though because it was worth the stop.

While there part of the entertainment was performed by a Native American group.  It was beautiful to hear the drums, singing, and watch the dancers all at once. Tears were even welling up inside because it was that touching, and that good. A few things stand out to me from the whole performance though.

Before any dancing or singing one of them introduced who they were. He then mentioned the recent horrible shooting in Orlando, Florida. He requested everyone stand for a moment of silence–to which everyone did. Then he continued and talked about how we need to quit the violence and that we need to be “one race.” One race, one nation, one large group of people who may be different but have the power to stand united.

After such a touching opening statement the performance continued. Prior to the end the same person spoke again on culture and the attempt to keep the Native American culture alive in a world where it is easy to get distracted. Then he offered a prayer in English followed by his native language.

Near the end an audience member requested that they end with the circle dance. The circle dance was explained and commenced. This was a dance for everyone. Everyone. A perfect act for the perfect statement that began the performance. “One race.” I then watched as almost all the audience members joined in. It was quite wonderful to watch all the different  types of people running up to take part, even after it began. This was definitely a show of true unity and spirit.

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