Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Letting It All Hang Out; Toddler Rules or Toddlers Rule?!

I had one of those crazy, full moon, beyond my control weeks last week. It started out normally enough on Monday, me in a bad mood after having an unrestful, peri-menopausal night's sleep waking up to face and/or survive yet another day off from school with my three kids in cold, rainy weather. (Does it seem like they only go to school 4 days a week or is it just me?!) How are you going to entertain us today, mom? was always the question lurking behind every weekend, school holiday and break around my house with my highly energetic kids.

So after three cups of coffee and some steely resolve, I was determined to take them to the zoo and have a good time, easier said then done when you're feeling not only exhausted but hormonally challenged, as well. It always amazes me that my most emotionally fragile days happen to also be the same days that at least two out of three of my children are intent on finding the correct button to push that will make mommy's head pop off; uncanny isn't it?! 

But somehow I survived not only the dead fish smell of the new penguin exhibit ($5 to feed them two fish? Why not caviar?) but the emotionally-charged realization that somewhere during my "10-year nap" my kids were no longer toddlers and had actually outgrown Zoomazium. This became clear to me as I watched my 11-year-old, now as big as me, slide down a hollow tree trunk and almost take out the little boy at the bottom. A horrifying, yet oddly comical sight, I have to say!

So when we got home, after a full day of walking, reprimanding and answering countless animal questions, I was ready for some good, old-fashioned screen time for all of us. But as I settled in with my fourth cup of coffee and turned my computer on, I was met with a very sluggish un-caffeinated start-up which progressed into some weird chirping sounds and a blue screen, what looked like an aurora borealis and then, the dreaded nothing...

Well, this did not bode well for what I thought would be a productive afternoon of "me time". And by 5pm that evening, I was sitting in front of a very smug, twenty-something year-old "genius" at the store that shall not be named after a fruit now telling this frazzled, forty-something year-old, hormonally challenged, non-genius mom that her hard drive was shot so sorry if you haven't backed it up lately! 

Now being a civilized adult, I forced my body to remain calm and as the tears began to well up inside of me, I gazed thoughtfully at said young genius who gave me no quarter and all of a sudden heard a toddler in the background throwing an obvious tantrum, probably because his parents wouldn't buy him an IPad, his outward shrieks in direct proportion to my inward ones.

Automatically, I thought again of my own children as toddlers. Now what would they do if they didn't like what they just heard from an obviously unsympathetic adult who was so blatantly ignoring my pleading looks and weak attempts at humor, genius fingers flying on his keyboard as he tried to resurrect my hard drive from the dead.

Well, if I followed toddler rules as I know them, I thought, I'd simply let it all hang out and throw myself on the floor with arms and legs flailing, sobbing and loudly screaming "It's not fair!" at the top of my lungs. Now that, I thought, would feel really good right now! 

But since I’m a big girl, I simply stared right back at him, now barely coherent or able to remember a single password he was requesting for access to my account. And as he continued his efforts, I continued to think about the children we all once were. And wouldn’t it be refreshing if once in awhile, we could really just let it all hang out in public, following those toddler rules and acting out how we really feel inside without the threat of being fired, jail time or a straight jacket?! 

Boss gives you yet another unrealistic deadline or sales goal to meet? Just yell "NO!" in his face and run away, slamming the door to your office behind you! Bad attitude from a clerk, cashier, or technical "genius"? Just throw your water bottle at their head and yell, “You’re so mean!” and run out the door! Difficult co-worker or relative being nasty? Just give them a punch in the arm or kick in the shins and yell “I don’t like you anymore, you’re not my friend!“ What a sense of freedom and control that would be for our pent-up feelings!

But alas, certainly society as we know it here wouldn’t exist if we were all able to run amok letting everyone know what we truly felt when something happens that is either beyond our control or that we don't like. And if you think about it, I guess, like you, I know some people that take that privilege anyway, and I generally don‘t like being around them! 

So being polite and nice, even when things don’t go our way, does serve a greater good. So instead of giving my genius a good kick in the shins, I thanked him profusely when I realized during my childish reverie he had somehow been magically able to produce that whirring sound he needed to restore the beloved hard drive where my life was stored.

"How did you do it?", I asked, now truly in awe of this genius who was young enough to be my son. "Patience" he calmly stated, disinterestedly looking at the woman who was now old enough to be his mom like he was the Zen Buddha of geniuses and I was, indeed, that annoying little girl who still so badly wanted to kick him in the shins! Maybe toddlers do rule...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Resolve To Enjoy My Crazy LIfe!

Happy New Year! I hope your holiday celebrations all went well and you are now off to a successful start to 2011! And how have you been enjoying our  recent colder weather? I have to admit that while I have survived many snowy Pittsburgh winters in my younger life, my body’s “heartiness” has diminished along with all that extra collagen in my skin and even with my heavy coat, scarf and gloves, I can’t wait to get back indoors as I watch Evan and Luke run around the school playground each morning in their T-shirt and thin sweatshirts to join the other boys in their nylon gym shorts! What is that about kids at a certain age not wanting to feel bound up? Must be that growing independence!

Luckily, Nikki still lets me put any and all knitted items on her head, neck and hands and therefore often walks to school looking like Ralphie’s little overly-bundled brother from “A Christmas Story”! I wish that innocence would stay around forever! 

And speaking of innocence, at the birth of each year, I join the millions of others who make those hope-filled New Year’s Resolutions. And this year, for extra motivational support, I thought I’d share some with you, so here goes: 

1. I resolve to stop finding “surprises” that have come from the inside of my children’s noses on any and all surfaces in my house. This includes our freshly painted walls, the side of the bathtub, the roll of toilet paper I was about to use and basically anywhere else that I can find it before I’ve even had my morning coffee!

2. I resolve to stop expecting my husband and my sons to tune into what I am saying beyond the first sentence, knowing that all the details, plans and/or instructions that I am making an effort to give to them in advance are being roughly translated into the “wah, wah, wah” of the adult world in Charlie Brown. Instead, I will tell them what they are going to do exactly 5 minutes before the event!

3. I resolve to not cry anymore over the organic milk that gets spilled daily in our house as my children all exercise their independence, even though it costs almost $6.00 a gallon!

4. I resolve to not feel guilty when I see an extremely patient mom enjoying her child and reprimanding him gently and constructively when he does something wrong, knowing that I just experienced a bad case of “mommy rage” because the gloves, socks and boots I just spent a sweaty 15 minutes wrestling on Nikki have all come off within 10 seconds because “they just don’t feel good, mom” as we run late for our appointment! (Hey, I said she let me put them on, I didn't say she kept them on!)

5. I resolve to not get overwhelmed anymore when every surface I see in my house has on it something that needs to be organized, sanitized, rebuilt, repacked, re-batteried, repaired, returned to the store or taken to the dump!

6. I resolve to remember to check all the pockets of my sons’ pants before I wash them, so I don’t have to open the dryer in horror when I see the balled up remnants of Luke’s prized Pokemon cards staring at me accusingly with their huge, comical eyes, knowing that they are quickly headed for their next evolution in the afterlife between the cereal boxes of our recycle bin.

7. And finally, I resolve to just enjoy my life in all its wonderful craziness, knowing I may never get that tummy tuck or condo in Hawaii, but instead, I’ll try to work out more and simply bask in the warmth of my growing children crawling or jumping all over me when I finally sit down, innocently oblivious to the elbow or knee they just jammed into my rib! Now what number was “mommy rage” again?!

Have a great month and good luck in beginning and achieving all your resolutions! I’m rooting for you!