Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mamia Wars

It has been a long enduring pastime of mine to pick apart my discourse with seemingly well-meaning friends, comrades and fellow parents. We all know of the battle between the Alphas and the Betas of this world and of course my beef with the evil Momtourage. In my 4-1/2 years working this Mommy gig, I never truly developed my own Momtourage, for which my own disdain for hypocrisy is ever thankful. I have a group of friends that are Mom's and yes, we ditch our broods semi-quarterly for a bit of a piss up or piss on our husbands, childcare providers, and kids, should it strike our fancy. Would I classify them as a Momtourage? For sure not, since I recall having similar nights out with the same pack BC (Before Children). No, to be a true Momtourage, I feel that the common thread must be the kids and the kids alone. In my case, naval architecture seems to have brought me to these women. Hardly qualifies as a Momtourage.

I am turning 35 in just two weeks and, call it age or indifference, I have both softened my Momtourage stance a bit and found that I am friends with many many women who play Alpha to my Beta. Maybe it's just that, as previously indicated, I've run out of time to worry about such bullshit. Instead, I have waived the white flag on this issue. I know that there are women out there who aren't struggling with after school activities and who have plenty of time for playdates and other fulfilling pre-k hjinks. I confess, in my world weekend fun and activities seem to mostly involve dragging a 4 year old around for household errands. And I do look with envy at friends and loved ones who can squeeze it all in, in the most effortless fashion, and still enjoy a nice cocktail or glass of vino tinto with their lovable friend and Mediocre Mama, yours truly. These folks I both endure and cherish, without judgment or conflict

It makes it all the more challenging, that it's not seemingly the Momtourage or Alpha Moms that irk me the most. Rather, it is the most apparently innocent friends and FB bud's who fill me with ire. Sometimes, it's those I've known the longest. But it comes down to this...It always shocks me when, no matter how dreary or self-deprecating my average FB status can be, some Mom or Dad-Peer insists on coming by to gawk and kick dirt in my eyes. These are the "with friends like mine" of my circle of friends. These are the worst offenders of all, the One Uppers. And no matter how challenging my scenario, or however best my efforts, I assure you that they both have it harder or do it better. And they always seem to have more than one kid, which apparently gives you card-carrying license to boast and brag or grimace and complain louder.

Before anyone starts in with me, yes, I recognize the difference between a helpful, "Have you tried X? It always worked with our little Darling," and a less than helpful, "Well this is why we ALWAYS do X." I furthermore know that this is not a problem specific to FB. Shit, I remember my Mom's yente friends bitching that their kids were only breaking A-minuses at Cornell while my sister and I were busting our asses to make B's at decidedly more mediocre institutions. But it seems like there's more of these individuals out there than I recall and with just a click of a button, they can remind me how much better they are or how much worse off they have it.

Did I miss something or did social networking turn an assortment of Mom's and Dad's into virtual Svengali's? Or were they always so and they just seem louder and bitchier? Maybe turning 35 is making me wiser and more tolerant of others, just less tolerant of shitheads?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mothers and other strangers...

I realize that I have not maintained the best track record of blogging. Hell, I'm utterly convinced that any attempts to reach out to my adoring public might be met with nothingness. I might as well jot this all down in a diary instead of divulging to the silence of the internet. I predict an audience of crickets may be responding.

I haven't had the time, constitution, head, heart or soul to emote on my failures or shortcomings in parenting. I lack pathos, ethos and whatever other kind of "os" it takes to make a good go of blogging. Forgive me blogger, for I have sinned.

I can attest that I haven't been sitting on my hands since last July. As a rundown of extreme events, I survived one and a half soccer seasons, a somewhat failed attempt at T-Ball, an adenoidectomy, an episode of head staples, a trip to Disney World, a busted well, approximately 60-someodd inches of snowfall, and my job, oh did I mention my job, which seems to have dominated all things and has made me feel like both a success and a failure at times. For all the extra time I had in 2007 that led me to start blogging, I've gone far to the other side. And not to take any air out of blogging, but facebook is easier, faster, and requires a hell of a lot less soul bearing. I appreciate it for giving me the ability to zing with a one liner and then run like a bat out of hell with little explanation or follow through. It's my cyber hit-and-run.

I am the mother of a 4 year old now and Captain Kid has grown to a larger than life version of the baby he once was. I look at some of my earlier posts and realize that I probably could have written what was to come. In so many ways it's easier. Yet if I were to write what a 12 year old Captain would look like I'm sure I'd come back to read it with little to no surprise.

There's a full realization that being a mother is like an exercise in bipolar disorder. You realize just how low the lows can be, but the highs are euphoric. And if I had one wish, it would be to feel less rushed. It would be to take more time and give more time. More time for mothering. More time for Dog. More time for the Dad. More time for me. I look at others with envy of their time and organization and wish I could make my home and garden as beautiful and as finished looking. I see well behaved children who aren't throwing their baseball gloves in the air while dancing around the outfield. I see close friends and couples taking the time and money to get babysitters and commit to date nights. How on earth did I get so tied up?

Time. I just can't hack it, can't find it, can't make it. Even as I sit here typing I'm engaged in an extremely deep conversation about which water system to put on my house to remove all the damn iron from the water, while the Captain hands me cups of imaginary hot chocolate to drink, all the while the dog starring woefully and the clock ticking away for a child's birthday party followed by a soccer match and a spreadsheet to update for my boss for a big Monday meeting. Unique problem? No. My problem? Always.

I somehow took a left turn while blogging because I had a whole pet peeve to get off my ample chest about Mommy Wars, but I guess it will have to keep for another day. I'd finish it now, but I just have no time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sucker Mom, Redux.

Minor update to dilemmas of yesterday. There is in fact a Saturday soccer program for the Captain's age group. It is also, in fact, a good 25 minutes from my house. All of which leads to the next big question...

Do I want to enroll him in soccer so badly that I'm willing to forego my sleep-in morning for a solid 2 months?

I'm a really shitty soccer mom.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sucker Mom

We all know that as moms go, I have never per se fit the mold of what a good mother should be. As past posts and ramblings have proven, stepping out in a world of playdates and over-scheduled parenting have not been my strong suit. I frankly have to work pretty damn hard to keep up.

Every once in a while, even this Mediocre Mama can't push back on what is so painfully in my face. It occurs to me that the Captain can only successfully maintain friendships with people over the age of 16. And that when I watch his only interaction with other 4 year olds amounting to him stealing a ball from another child on the playground, just to run away with it and play by himself, that it might be a cry for help. The desire to fit in, or more importantly have him fit in, somehow overcomes me. I succumb to the pressures; I decide it's time to transform into what would otherwise be the Bizarro Mama - I become Soccer Mom.

Yep, that's me. Able to drive a small sized SUV and juggle my job, over-scheduled kids, and still have dinner on the table by 7. What's more, I can singlehandedly shuttle the Captain between gymnastics, tennis and swim practice, all within the course of an afternoon. You'll never see me sweat. And I've got a bladder the size of a canyon, so I never need to take care of myself. Ha cha cha.

Frankly, save for the small sized SUV, I do absolutely none of the items in the aforementioned paragraph. So when inspiration hit me yesterday I felt desperately on a mission to enroll the Captain in soccer for the fall. Truth be told, I am not a sporty girl. And unless it involves a large vessel floating on the water the Dad isn't much better. So unless one of us steps up to the plate, this kid is doomed to be as spastic as we are, and worse yet no more social than he already is.

So after 2 days of searching, I finally found a local area soccer club for 3-4 year olds. Delighted, I began to log in and fill out the registration. This thing is 25 minutes from my house, but I didn't give a shit. I'm a soccer mom so get out of my way, bitch. I'll drive anywhere I need to go. And as I pulled out my credit card, I thought to read the fine print:

September 8 - October 13, Tuesdays 11-12, 1-2 or 2-3.

TUESDAY!!! Who the fuck can take their 3 year old on a Tuesday? Does no one work in this town? Or are they all such awesome parents that they say, screw it, I'll just put in for PTO on Tuesdays from 11-12.

And so dear friends and faithful readers (all 5 of you), this Soccer Mom is going back to her Mediocre Mama post. No soccer for you, Captain Kid. Methinks I'll go back to doing what I do best...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Star charting.

It took a bit of creativity and energy, but it seems that when things are at their worst, sometimes you just need to look at the problem from a different angle. That or you just need one of these:

The day after our dreaded Father's Day, things went from bad to worse. An out of control Captain head butted me in the pelvis and this Mediocre Mama was ready to throw in the towel.

And so I spent much of the next day contemplating a new system, perhaps a different approach to our behavior woes; thus was born the star chart. The star chart utilizes the simplest of joys, namely stickers and ice cream. Five stars in a row means a trip to 31 flavors, lose even one star in between and he has to start all over again.

Sounds simple, but naturally since the Captain's Mediocre Mama is a lawyer and the Deviant Dad is an engineer, it couldn't be as basic as good day/bad day. There is a complex system of laws in place so that we, the wayward parents, don't lose our way on the road to discipline. Here's the 411:

  1. A timeout for hitting, failing to listen, 2nd degree toddler malfeasance - he loses a star
  • Subsection A - if said timeout is given early in the day, said Captain can earn his star back for a stellar performance throughout the rest of the day;
  • Subsection B - if said timeout is given late in the day after an otherwise stellar day, he loses his star;
  • Subsection C - if the Captain is otherwise excellent around the house but gets a bad report from daycare, he loses a star; and finally
  • Subsection D - if the Captain is horrible throughout the day, from start to finish, but ends his day by doing something remarkable, such as rescuing a dog from a burning building, being a whistle blower at a major corporation for false reporting of profits, successfully landing an airplane on water, finding the cure to cancer, or similar, he earns his star back.
I hit the local Michael's and loaded up on every manner of sticker, created a chart using Word and came home with an agenda. And then, on the most basic of levels, I explained the concept to a 3 year old. With every step of the process, his eyes widened and I was met with a gasp and a "Wow" from the young Captain. Because in truth, it was a win all around. As he excitedly explained to me afterward, "I like star stickers. And I like ice cream." I knew I had this kid right where I wanted him.

On day one of our star charting, he did great. He was in the thumbs up column from daycare and was all around well behaved. Day 2, not so much. And so it went for a week, every other day he got one, he lost one. It seemed like it was going nowhere. Until one day when I picked him up from daycare and instead of being in the "bad" column his name was under the "so so" column. His daycare teacher explained that his name started out under the bad column and he quickly snapped to exclaiming, "I don't want to lose my star." She had no idea what he was talking about, but all of a sudden he started helping her. And he was polite. And he started napping and not complaining. And so it has gone now, for 5 days in a row. And my Captain is finally getting his trip to the ice cream shop.

Have I won the war? Not really. Maybe just this battle. But if for the price of a scoop of ice cream I can help this child, it seems a small price to pay. Because the Save the Children foundation is really all about saving the child from the wrath of mom, isn't it? And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fodder's Day

From Webster:

1: something fed to domestic animals ; especially : coarse food for cattle, horses, or sheep2: inferior or readily available material used to supply a heavy demand <fodder for tabloids>
fodder transitive verb

Perhaps the second entry is less applicable (outside of being "fodder" for my blogging), but that pretty much sums up our Father's Day. What started out as a well intentioned family fun ended up as cattle feed, and we all know where cattle feed ends up coming guessed it, Father's Day 2009.

I am at a bit of a loss to describe the behavioral phase we've entered. Call it forceful determination, early on-set defiance, surges of testosterone, a precursor to what our teenage years will look like, you name it. Whatever it is, there isn't a moment of a second of a day that starts with the sentence or thought, "Okay, Mommy." Mostly it goes something like, "I want to do it," "I don't want to," "Screeeeech," "Shriek," "NOOOOOO!" And I find it ever more painful, if not impossible, to use a system of positive rewards when the rewards never get associated with the positive behavior. We're in the land of time outs and privileges being curtailed, which makes everyone around here decidedly grumpy and eager for our favorite time of day, sleep time.

And so with our first break in weeks from this monsoon we've been having, the Dad thought it would be a nice change of pace to check out the local Irish Festival downtown (editors note, this would be the same Irish festival we were forced to bail out of last summer because he was having a meltdown - hypothesis - could it be that Captain Kid hates the Irish???). I had some bad feelings going into the whole experience but we decided to lunch at the local pub, which seemed to be at the center of the whole hubbub. And let's just say that after an hour long (excruciating) sit-down lunch where both the Captain and the Dad barely sat down, the whole debacle ended with someone being forcibly removed from the premises, sobbing like a baby; and no, I'm not talking about some drunk Irishman. Much grumbling ensued and the Kid was brought home and unceremoniously tossed into his room for a 2 hour long "nap," which consisted of shoutouts every 3 minutes or so of, "Did I rest, Daddy?

We have always had behavior problems where the Captain's been concerned, as I am sure you will find documented under tags of "oh behave" and "tantrums." But we seem to have hit a funk and are increasingly unable to break the cycle. I've tried it the Montessori way and I've tried it my way and guess what, neither one works. And with the first report card documenting "Needs Improvement" on every aspect of his social skills, I'm somehow thinking that no one is nominating us for parent of the year. And things aren't getting much better at his new summer daycare (I've already been called out for his behavior), as evidenced by my conversations with the Captain about his daily activities:

MM - Did you make any friends today?

CK - Ummm, yes.

MM - That's great! What are their names?

CK - Umm, I don't know. I'll tell you tomorrow.

Gumph. It's tomorrow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An open letter to the Captain's adenoids.

Dear Captain's Adenoids:

Good evening. I hope this letter finds you well. Oh, wait, you must not be well given that you just willfully and deliberately gave the Captain another ear infection. So that makes 5 ear infections, 5 sinus infections, and a case of the croup, all since November. If this is how you treat your friends, I hate to see how you treat your enemies.

I realize that we haven't always gotten along, but your constant defiance and contempt for the rules I set down is more than appalling. Never forget, I created you, gave you a nice warm home to live in, and plenty of good food and singalongs to entertain you. While I feel that you should be ashamed of your behavior, much to my dismay you persevere.

So let's get down to it. I realize there is not much I can do right now to fight you, but I am working on evicting you. I don't care what it costs or how difficult you intend to be, I will have you forcibly removed from the premises. Start packing your bags; your days are numbered.


Mediocre Mama
President & CEO