Total failure

I should have known the minute that I stepped out of bed, that is was going to be one of those days.

The first thought in my head when my alarm went off was, “When can I go back to sleep?”  Waking up exhausted is never a way to start a day.

I got out the door to work without any trouble.

Now I know most people LOVE a vacation day, a holiday, a shorter work week.  But when you work with behaviorally disordered kids, changes in routine become something to dread.  It was like they all called each other on that extra day off and planned special ways to try to drive us bat-shit crazy today.  I found this online today.  It about sums it up.

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After breaking free of work, I got home for the second half of my shift as mommy/household manager/taxi service.  Just looking at the evening’s schedule was enough to make me break out in hives.  Not only did I have to get the kids through their homework, but I had fire up the Soby-Mobile for trips to Voice at 5:30, Baseball at 7, and Swimming at 7:20.  Oh, and I had to get myself to a school board meeting at 7pm and at some point feed everyone a healthy, nutritious dinner.  Sure, right.  Just let me break out my flying Jetson Spacecraft and Star Trek teleporter.

The evening’s homework load came with a decent amount of complaining and whining, from me, not the children.  I think the kids noticed the ‘mom is losing it’ look in my eyes and put those pencils in overdrive.  Lil IP finished her work and we ran out of the door – late – racing to Voice lessons.

Getting out of work at 3:30 has spoiled me.  Did you know that attempting to get across town at 5:15 is a pain in the ass!?!?!  It’s like every last person on earth with a driver’s license and a vehicle got out of work at the same time.

Multiple weaves in and out of traffic, one kind-of yellow light run, and one near miss of being T-boned and the girl was dropped safely at her lesson only 3 minutes late.

Just because one is not physically present with the text books, does not mean that one gets out of the rest of homework duty.  Oh no, I spent the duration of the lesson on a conference call with T-Dog attempting to get the rest of his work completed via Verizon.

Activity one ends and we rush back across town to attempt to eat dinner.  And by attempt to eat dinner I mean.  “Quick.  Open the fridge and nuke something.  No, we don’t have time for plates.  Put it in your mouth and chew.  Swallow already.  We’ve got to get out the door.”  From 0 to Dinner in 12 minutes flat.  It’s a new record.

Grab the water bottles.  Get the swim bag.  Roll out the baseball gear.  All aboard for Round 2.

As I tore down back roads to the second set of drop offs, I kept a close eye on the clock.  I had 20 minutes to get two offspring delivered and be at my location.  Possible – maybe.  Likely – no way.

I knew I was in trouble the first few minutes into the trip.  Why is it that when you are in a hurry, you find yourself stuck at every light and behind every slow, unstressed, calendar free driver who does not understand why you need to be somewhere in such a hurry?  No seriously…  EVERY LIGHT AND EVERY SLOW DRIVER.  Eleven minutes of the twenty were used getting the boy dropped off.  Crap.  By the time I got the girl to her location, I was already supposed to be seated in my meeting.  Guess who was walking in ten minutes late…..

I get to my meeting, sit down, exhale, and try to focus on the discussion at hand.  Twenty minutes later, my phone starts going off.  Two calls from IP and a voicemail from an unknown number.  I hit decline and send IP a text to pick up T-Dog and Lil’ IP from their activities.

I’m just about to declare tonight a success…I got everyone through their homework, fed, and to their activities, when I got this text.

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What?!?!?

Shit.

Apparently I dropped my son off at practice that didn’t exist.

I have totally failed as a parent.  I guess this is another year I won’t win mother-of-the-year.

My son sat outside of a building for an hour because his crazy-ass, over-stressed mom read the calendar wrong and took him to a practice that is scheduled for tomorrow.

On the upside, he was 24 hours early for tomorrow’s practice……

 

 

 

Coming in for a landing

Hello, my name is Kerry and I have broken one of my own golden rules of parenting.  I have been secretly boarding my helicopter and flying circles around by kiddos homework.

I have always prided myself on not being a helicopter parent.  I don’t hover over them when play outside or chase them around a playground.  I let them solve their own friendship quarrels and ignore their tattle tales.  I’m always here for them for advice and support, but I’d rather let them trip up and teach them how to fix their mistakes than solve all their problems for them and give them the wrong sense of how the world works.

And then came homework.

How did school go from this place kids go to learn to this ultra-competative, stress-factory where every grade determines your child’s future success in life, and is therefore a reflection of good of a parent you are.  I blame those damn bumper stickers.  “My kid’s on honor roll” is somehow a guarantee you won’t have a 28-year-old living in your basement playing an online shooter games, screaming up at you to refill his chips.

I so wanted to be that parent who just let the kids do their homework, turn it in and let the grades fall where they may.  I know, in my heart, that the only way for them to truly have ownership over their grades is for them to receive what they earned through their own accomplishments.  But somehow, letting them take a hit academically was so much harder for me to let happen.  In my own defense, I am one of those people who always obsessed about getting a good grade, actually beating myself up if I missed one problem on a test.

It started innocently enough.  They would do their work, and I would look it over.  “Hey, number 2 and 4 are wrong.”  “You’re missing part of the information on number 7.”  My kids work was usually ok, but there were things here and there that could be tweaked to make the assignments better, the answers a little more in-depth.  My good ol’ perfectionist tendencies kicked in, and I went a little crazy.  I found myself saying things like, “What do we have for homework tonight,” and nagging about effort and grades.  On top of that, I began dreading coming home to the homework, the battles, and the ensuing lectures.

That’s when the epiphany happened.  I realized that the more time and energy I spent ‘helping’ my kids with their homework, the worse their attempts at the homework got.  It’s like they knew that mom was going to strap on her cape after school and fix everything for them, so they stopped making a good first effort.

My attempt to ‘rescue’ them from failing, taught them stop giving it their all.

Message received loud and clear.  Today I turned in my helicopter keys and exited aircraft.  I love my children and I know that they are capable of doing their own work.  I know that my value and ability as a parent is not tied to a math assignment and the best thing I can do for them is to let them succeed or fail on their own merit, standing beside them to support them along the way.

 

Don’t make me laugh

So we all went over to Mom and Dad‘s this weekend to help out and see how they were getting by.  Mom went home on Friday afternoon and, although Dad can design you one heck of a building, but he’s new to being a nurse maid, chef, and housekeeper.

When I arrived, my dad and brother had pulled out the old dishwasher to install a new dishwasher, making an in prompt to water fountain under the kitchen sink in the process.  While they were knee-deep in their water works, I set about cleaning my parents bathroom and getting some laundry started.

I was talking to my mom while I cleaned her bathroom when I came upon this.

No big deal.  I’ll just take it downstair and put in the dishwasher……if there is a dishwasher to put it in yet.

I walked out of the bathroom holding up the cup.

Me – “Um, mom…What’s up with this?”

Mom – “Oh, that just needs a little vinegar in it, but it’s ok.”

Me – “What?!?!”

Mom – “We have hard water.  That’s my cup.”

Me – “You DRINK out of this?!?!”

Mom – “Yes.”

She barely gets the reply out before I burst out laughing, which makes Mom start laughing and clutching her stomach.

Me – “I thought this was like a toothbrush holder!”

Mom – “No.  I use that to have a drink of water in the morning.  Don’t make me laugh!  It hurts too much!”

Ok Mom, I won’t make you laugh, if you stop trying to give yourself botulism by drinking out of this nasty cup!

And your whole world changes…

 

You know those times in your life when you get a call and you know the information you are about to hear is going to change your life.  You know you need to get to your destination to hear the news, but you want to find something, anything to delay hearing what you have to hear, because you know once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.  Your whole life, your whole world view will forever be changed.  Your destiny, your plans will be altered.  Your foundation will be shaken.  You know you won’t shatter, but you’ll wound and need to heal and forever you’ll be a different person.

I got that call 16 days ago.  It was from my dad.  I needed to get to my parent’s house now.  I knew instantly that what I was about to hear wasn’t going to be good.  I could feel it in my heart.  It wanted to jump in the car right away and I equally wanted to shampoo all my rugs and then clean out the closets, anything to delay the inevitable.  I looked at my husband.  He told me to get in the car and go.  I told him I would.  Then I stood there, trying to come up with a good excuse to waste time.  I has none, so I got in my car and started to drive, ticking off the miles and landmarks.  That’s the last time I’ll leave my house in this reality.  Another street light, another crossroads.  I’m getting closer.  Wanting to turn back, to stop myself from having to hear it, knowing I couldn’t and that I had to keep moving forward.  I parked outside my parent’s house and turned off my truck.  I’m here.  This is it.  Once I walk in that door, my life changes….

~

My mom is and always has been my best friend.  Not in the “let you do what you want, I’ll even sacrifice teaching you responsibility and how to be an adult,” type of way.  No, quite the opposite.  She was the right type of best friend.  She was always a mother, always a parent.  I had rules, boundaries, and limits balanced equally with listening, patience, and love.  I could go to her with any concern, any question.  She was there for me at anytime, for anything.  If she was ever disappointed in me, I never knew, and I felt the appropriate amount of guilt to get me back on track.  She only showed love and support, care and encouragement.  My childhood is full of happy memories wrapped around my mother.

Every Sunday my mom and I would scan the ads and go shopping.  We would tell my dad that we were just going window shopping, but that never happened.  We would always end up finding something we couldn’t live without and have to sneak it in the house, convincing my dad that “this old thing” had been around forever.

To remain “hip” or “rad” to her children, she would make up her own slang.  I secretly think she just messed up the real latest slang, but she always played if off as the latest phrase.  Did you know that things could be “Hot Dog Good!”?  Or that sometimes people should just “cool out!”?

I bought my first cell phone in college, back when they still sold 200 minute plans and you paid by the minute through the nose if you went over.  For my 200 minutes, I paid something ridiculous like $30 a month.  (I know…$30 a month!)  I thought that there would be no way that I would go over my minutes, I mean, seriously, I was only going to use this phone for emergencies, like car trouble or being chased by a serial killer.  Then I got my first bill.  I nearly died.  I had gone over my time and owed extra per minute.  As I scanned the bill, I noticed all of my calls were to my mother…who I still lived with and saw every morning and night.

About 14 years ago, by husband took a job out-of-state and we attempted to move away.  We backed up our belongings and moved across the country.  Mom went with to help us move, planning to stay a week and take the train back.  She helped us pack, drive, move in, and unpack.  Long story short, we didn’t stay and moved back within a week.  Mom canceled the train ticket and helped us re-pack, drive back and re-move into the place with left a week prior.  She said that was the last time she went on vacation with us, our cats, and our furniture.

~

I walked into my parents house and was told the following words…. Your mom has cancer.  I can’t have heard that right.  My mom just turned 60, she can’t have cancer.  She just can’t.  This isn’t happening.  Life changed.  World forever altered.

The following two weeks were a whirlwind of worry, questions, waiting, hoping and praying.  Waiting for the oncology appointment.  Waiting for the surgery date.  Worrying about what the surgery outcome would be.  Worrying about what the future would hold.  Being afraid…so afraid of all the questions, that unknown.  There were just too many possibilities.  Wanting to hope for the best.  Praying for the best.  Praying that you’d done enough right in your life that you could trade those good deeds in for a big ol’ miracle.

Yesterday was the day.  Surgery day.  The day when we’d start to get answers and begin the road down one path or the other.  Best case scenario, the surgery gets all the cancer and mom just has to be monitored for make sure it stays gone.  Worst case scenario, it’s spread already and then the future continues to change.  I wanted so bad to say that we were going to hear good news, but didn’t want to tempt fate by verbalizing it.   We smiled, we hugged, we tried to ease each other’s fears.  The prayers had been put out into the universe and the rest was out of our hands.  They wheeled her down the hall to her future.

After what seemed like both and eternity and the snap of a finger, the nurse moved us to a private room to meet with the doctor.  The cancer was contained to the organ.  The cancer had not evaded the organ wall.  He was confident he got it all.  He has no reason to believe there will be the need for additional treatment.  He believes that got it all.

And then we all let out the breath we didn’t know we were holding in.

Our prayers were answered.

My mom has had cancer.

I know that she deserved every answered prayer and miracle she was given.

I’m not so sure that I did, but I’ll live the rest of my life trying to prove myself worthy.

 

Goldmine

 

“Paige, I need to you vacuum the living room.”

Stomp, stomp, stomp, “YOU ONLY HAD ME SO YOU COULD MAKE ME VACUUM!!!!!”

“Yes, that was my whole evil plan.  Nine months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, the whole infant phase, ten years of raising you and paying for you, all so I could get a few years of free vacuuming out of you.  I’m evil like that.”

This was an actual conversation that happened in my house a couple of years ago.

We make our kids do weekly chores and pick up after themselves daily.  It was at battle sometimes at first (see above), but, for the most part, the complaints have disappeared.   They’ve just switched to eye rolling and mumbling behind my back.

When we first started having our kids do chores, we had the ‘allowance/no allowance’ debate.  We settled on no allowance.  I’m a firm believer in chores are part of your responsibility as a family member.  No one hands me a $20 for doing the laundry, so I’m not paying my kiddos for cleaning their rooms.

As my kids get older, they are wanting me to buy them things.  Things that I don’t believe are necessary.  Things they think they can’t live without.  Things I tell them they can spend their own money on.  Enter a new problem.  Getting money.  Since birthday and Christmas only come once a year, and no one seems to be dying to hire a talkative 10-year-old and a moody 12-year-old, I started my brain a-turning.  I had a dog in this fight as well.  They may want money, but I want a more peaceful house.  I was getting really tired of their constant bickering, snotty attitudes, and back talking.

Enter my genius invention….the quarter jars.

A few weeks ago, I put $10 worth of quarters each in two jars, one for each kid.  I told them at the end of the month, whatever was left in the jar was theirs to keep.  This got their attention.  But there was a catch.  Every time they decided to be rude, snotty, mean, back talk, not do what was asked, I would  take a quarter.  They didn’t like that very much.  I then told them that every time I saw them doing something extra, cleaning something without being asked, picking up something that wasn’t theirs to do, being helpful and generous, completing a task that is not normally theirs to do, etc, they could earn quarters.  I could see the dollar signs starting to glow in their eyes.

Immediately, they had to test mom and get in an argument.  Yeah, quarters for me!  They did not like having to get quarters out and hand them over.

A few days later, I walked in the kitchen after lunch and the sink was empty.  I looked around in disbelief.  Did they just throw away the dishes?  My daughter says to me, “I washed and dried the dishes and put them away.”  I nearly fell over.  This girl leaves a trails of mess wherever she goes.  Dishes sit in her room for weeks.  Maybe its a fluke.  A few days after that, my sons stands up and announces, “I’m going to pick up the dog poop.”

Holy crap…It’s working!

I’m sure the kids think they have found their goldmine, their ticket to those new iPods they want.  I know the real goldmine is mine!