Scenes from Life: Being a Mom (Parent)

Go with the flow. Be flexible, agile, patient and open to experience the unexpected. Live on minimal sleep. Drink plenty of caffeine. And, some wine after the kiddos go to bed. Eat standing up while making breakfasts, packing lunches and taking inventory of backpacks. Exercise to keep stress away.  Stay organized. Two planners — traditional and smart — are what it takes; for me. Support systems of family, friends, teachers, neighbors and virtual connections for stability; and comic relief. Listening to music does wonders, too. The Killers, When You Were Young, is pumping me up.

It takes a human with a balance of love, stamina, strength, intelligence, fortitude, compassion, calm, resolve, persistence, resourcefulness, creativity and many other attributes to be a mom (parent). Prior to being a mom (parent), I spent most of my time helping Syntel, a global information technology solution provider, generate new business leads and land multi-million-dollar contracts. It was a pretty intense, fast-paced, always-changing, not-for-sissies life.

So, 12 years ago, I sat at my desk in a cubicle at the 525 office building on 16 Mile in Troy, Mich. I was prepping for the next leg in life. 22 more days. The calendar did not lie. My temporary replacement baulked at the project list he would inherit and support. Could he keep up in this needed-it-yesterday environment? That was the least of my worries.

My plan was to work from home until Issa — my eldest child — made her début. Then, maternity leave. But, my first lesson in being a mom (parent) was about being ready for and managing the unexpected. Issa arrived early. Work-from-home projects had to be delegated. Maternity leave began earlier.

What to do? Give Issa all the love and attention she needed to thrive.

The second lesson was about adaptions; survival of the fittest. Before Issa, I easily slept until 9 am. Unfortunately, Issa gravitated toward her dad’s wake-time of 6:30 am; even on weekends. In the beginning, I unleashed a few snarls of discontent at my husband; especially when he claimed not to hear her crying for some attention.

What to do? Wake up! Drink coffee. Play.

Now, early wake-times no longer phase me. In fact, I accomplish more. I stay on track with work, school schedules, volunteerism, socializing, and wine time.

A third lesson, which I am still in the midst of learning, is about resilience and resourcefulness. As Issa entered preschool, we (my husband and I) discovered she had ADD (attention deficit disorder) as well as global development delays. Riff (my youngest) also has learning challenges and development delays.

What to do? Learn. Make friends with school district decision-makers, teachers, therapists, education consultants, pediatric non-profits, and peer parents. Advocate for whatever Issa and Riff need to be on a path for current and future success. Actively support them through participation in their activities, tough love and understanding.

Finally, the most important lesson is the one of patience. Before Issa, patience was not a natural virtue. It still isn’t. It’s just not in my DNA.

What to do? Self-imposed time-outs, calming strategies, and positive self-talk.

Home life is peaceful. Well, maybe I went a little too far there. My home is not synonymous with church. There are daily moments when I snap into a being I do not recognize. I swear, yell and use not-so-nice sign language. Imperfection at its finest; beautiful chaos.

So, now what?

Go with the flow. Be patient. Experiencing the unexpected is one of the greatest gifts of being a mom (parent); and it is not for sissies.

 

Six Sentence Monday: Entry 4

See what happens? The first Monday of the 2013-2014 school year is history; just like the weekend. It’s a blur in my memory. As my children and I age, time ticks off the clock faster and faster. I’d like to keep the weekend fun — and weekday insanity — for a bit longer, please. But, that’s not how it works.

Six Sentence Monday: Entry 3

Preparedness is important. While others stockpile school supplies and snacks, Riff  focuses on being ready for the “what if” in life. For the previous week, he has practiced fire and lockdown drills. School staff can be assured. My family and I reviewed drill expectations as well as our own emergency plans. Riff knows what to do.

School Days: Eight Days

last-days-of-summer-801.jpgEight days until summer living fades to buzzing alarms, races to the bus stop, homework and stricter bedtime laws. Issa, Riff and I are nearly ready for September 3; the school start-date in Michigan. Riff shopped for his school supplies with me at Target last week. At the start of this errand, Riff wasn’t all that excited. But, at the checkout he animatedly announced, “I am all ready for school!”

School Days: Two More Mondays of Peace

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? Mine involved finishing school projects with Issa — my thirdgrader — a pool party and a girls’ night out. Summer break for my students begins Friday, June 14. So, I am counting my Mondays; and the number of days I have to enjoy peaceful moments on my patio drinking hot coffee while writing a post or two.

Remember how I said changes were coming in my post last week? Well, the end of the 2012-2013 school year is one of them. I look forward to the break from planning outfits on weekday evenings, packing lunches, homework, and strict schedules. But, I also dread losing weekday hours I have to exercise, write blog posts, run errands, and accomplish household tasks without interruption.

Parenting is a non-stop adventure that continues to give me a never-ending supply of blog post ideas. It doesn’t matter whether school is in or out.

Have a great week!

Kate

Celebrating Birthdays: A Mother’s Memories

Memories from those first 24 hours of parenthood will never leave me. A little baby and miracle named Issa made her début 10 years ago. All those weeks during my pregnancy with her had been preparation. I made time for breakfast, remembered to take my vitamins and did my homework. Indulgences such as caffeine, alcohol, sushi and stylish shoes had to go. Frequent bathroom trips during the night trained me for late-night feedings and diaper changes. Shopping sprees were to buy splurges and necessities for Issa; not me.

Upon gazing into that little newborn face I knew becoming a mom was a blessing as well as challenge; a life-long challenge. But, still, I wondered. What she be at 5; 7; and 10? Would she like going to school? What would her likes and dislikes? Could I camouflage my Type A personality with the patience of a saint? Would I handle illnesses, injuries, upsets and academic hurdles like a warrior; or a wuss? Finally, would I be a worthy advocate, protector and friend?

At 5, I knew Issa was a miracle child with some challenges that would make some physical, academic and social activities difficult. But, I also knew her love for learning; and her determination to succeed would carry her. Issa loves going to school. She hates to miss a day. Her desire to learn was the key at 7 and still enables her success. She strives to do her best every day.

I still do not have answers to many of my parenting questions. There are days when I start feeling like the supermom, but then end up in the dunce corner. Parenthood is unpredictable. Likes and dislikes change. When Issa was five she loved elephants and sought all information she could obtain to learn more about these large, magnificent animals. But, then, her fascination with elephants morphed into affection for mice, then dinosaurs, then outer space and now snakes.

Each birthday I celebrate with Issa, I feel intense joy and love. I recall those first 24 hours of her life in vivid detail. God blessed me 10 years ago when Issa was born.

Thinking About …

While waiting for my morning caffeine kick to nudge me toward my elliptical machine, I read Facebook status updates.  Two posts moved me so much I had to share.

First, a high school friend encouraged her network to rally for the United States …

Prayer Request—I have a prayer request. There’s a lady I’ve known forever. She’s very sick. On top of that, she’s being abused by those to whom she has given everything….. Lies about her abound, and seem to come from all sides. Just breaks my heart. Seems there’s nothing I can do alone but maybe, if we all join in and lift her up together, He can heal her. She’s well over 230 years old, but way too young to die. Her name is ‘America’… And I love her and have always been proud of her. Please take time to say a prayer for her – even if it is a short, simple prayer like, “Lord, please heal our land. Amen.” Thanks!

Next, a business owner and healthy eating advocate I had the pleasure of meeting two years ago, shared the following to help those healing from loss.

Also, I had this to say to my people …

You know who you are. I call you family, friend, neighbor, mentor, teacher, helper, advocate or inspiration. Some of you may not live nearby or know me personally. We may not visit, call, write or text often. Time together is often scarce. We’re all so busy. I understand that; and I’m sure you do, too. But, just in case. You should know. I think about you often and I love you. The part you play in my life means so much.

Finally, a childhood friend of mine who has been healing from some recent losses and who authors a blog called Tickling My Fancy recently wrote a phrase, which I have plagiarized without shame when I write e-mails to friends or family.

She says, “Hug your people!”

So, that’s my call to action for today and everyday. Don’t forget … Hug Your People!

School Days: Mr. and Mrs. Movie Star

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Movie Star. Photo Credit: kateschannel

It is Week 3 of the 2012-2013 school year in Michigan. We — including myself — are in adjustment mode. Alarm clocks, school lunches, bus stop rituals, homework, and early bed times are all becoming the norm once again. All of this makes for splendid blog material. So, I introduce School Days, a new Tuesday morning thing. I am hopeful that it becomes habit-forming like my addiction to coffee and other caffeinated beverages.

It was lunch time on a lazy Saturday. All of a sudden Issa and Riff donned sunglasses. They dismissed their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Strutting around the house, each proclaimed instant celebrity.

Mrs. Movie Star scowls as mommarazzi interrupts lunch. Photo Credit: kateschannel

“I am Mrs. Movie Star,” announces Issa. “Riff is Mr. Movie Star.”

How is it that two children who have never seen a red-carpet affair, watched TMZ or glanced at People magazine know the looks, personality and style synonymous with film stars?

Mr. Movie Star, a natural-born charmer. Just ask our babysitters. Photo credit: kateschannel

Moms’ Escape Night to Partridge Creek: PF Changs and Charming Charlies

I’ll tell you. I love my fellow moms. Kelly, one of my girlfriends, sent out the e-mail inviting a dozen or more moms to join her for an evening away from the rigors of parenting. Last night, she and I were the two who managed a successful escape. PF Chang’s and Charming Charlie at Partridge Creek — an upscale, outdoor, pedestrian mall — in Clinton Township were our destinations for the evening.

I truly enjoyed the respite from being chef, waitress, and table referee; and conversing with Kelly about grown-up books, summer plans and our children. Also, I was nicely surprised to see my favorite dish — caramel mango chicken — back on PF Chang’s menu after a multi-year hiatus.

After an amazing dinner, Kelly took me on my first tour of Charming Charlie, which offers just about every kind of styling accessory — handbags, clutches, bling, belts, hair accessories, shoes, etc. — a women — at any age — could possibly want; at a reasonable price. Thank goodness the store was almost about to close when we entered. This place could entice one to do some serious damage due to the selection in just about every color imaginable.

In conclusion, a big thank-you to Kelly who put the idea for this evening out there; and for making it happen. She and I met through a local moms’ club, which offered support to us and other women during the early years of motherhood. While neither one of us are current members of this organization, we — and several former members — still make a point of planning moms’ escape nights and occasional play dates for our children.

Feeling the End-of-School Vibe

Despite my rantings on here, I am a bit stoked to admit there are only four point five days until my children break loose from school for summer vacation. I am not immune to feeling the end-of-school vibe, which started beating through the entire neighborhood at the beginning of May.

What about you? I can’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia. First, I watched a live production of Xanadu last Saturday, which took me back to the early years of the K-12 education. Then, Rock of Ages trailers have been playing on television all week. The soundtrack to this film contains many fave hits from my junior high and high school days. Finally, our neighbors — who live two houses down — have a son graduating from high school this week. There are quite a few of his friends celebrating their accomplishment with him this evening. Hearing all the shouts, laughter, and cars zooming around brings back a gazillion memories of the same from 23 years ago.