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 #6

I craved the quiet surrounding me. Peacefulness is what I sought. My brain missed the memo. The silence encourages me to ponder. Life thoughts —  husband at work, kids at school, and my action item list — make me restless. The morning caffeine is working its magic.

Life Springs Forward

Spring forward. Clocks are off. Sleepy heads stay snuggled. There are schedules to keep, things to remember, errands to run and work to do.

Kids arrive at school on time. Learning takes place. Teachers say it was an excellent day. A revamped workout gives me energy. Lunch out with a friend feeds my need for adult socialization.

Errands and work are complete. Sun peeks through the gloom. Gray prevails. Rain drops sprinkle the drive. Sprinkles become a downpour. Umbrellas, boots and quick feet are a must.

Stir-fry dinner makes husband smile. He loads up for seconds. It must pass the test. Children eat healthy. After-dinner treats are sweet. Homework is next on the agenda. That’s when trouble starts.

The couch is so inviting. A pillow offers respite. Tired eyes close. Clocks are off, again.   What’s the big deal? There are more days in the week. Performance is best when body and mind have a much-needed rest. Pajamas and a cozy bed are the ticket.

Quiet, sleeping little people is bliss. Preparation for tomorrow morning is complete. Downtime with a favorite television show and my latest read is next.

 

School Days: Domestic Rituals I Despise

It took me long enough to become domesticated. For most of my 14-year marriage, washing dishes, doing laundry, and cleaning toilets were not top priorities. Not that I am a slob or completely oblivious to my family’s needs. But, let’s face it. I would rather romance my husband, play with my children, help out at school, write my blog posts, train for 5ks, socialize with my lady friends, read, and shop. In the end, these are the priorities that give me the greatest pay-off.

So, there are domestic rituals I despise; and will put off until my kids scream bloody murder and my husband booby-traps my writer’s chair. These must-dos are pure evil. No woman I call friend should ever have to endure the black magic swirling above when these duties are imminent.

1. Getting kids dressed for school. Issa is a diva who could care less. She barely looks at my suggestions the night before and moves at a turtle-pace to the task. Then, there’s Riff. He just entered kindergarten and the particular phase. He insists on wearing one of two favorite shirts and refuses to wear a jacket when it’s cold and raining outside.

2. Making lunches. I was fine with this the first week of school. The weekend prior, I  stocked the pantry and fridge with their favorites. Now, I try to stretch what I have for two weeks before the next major grocery excursion. For one thing, I hate grocery shopping. It’s boring, fellow shoppers lollygag, and I would rather spend the money on something fun like shoes. Another thing. Making lunches is the last item on my daily chore list before I am free to watch TV, read or catch up on Facebook with a glass of Garnacha. Sometimes, the lure of watching Once Upon a Time or re-reading Fifty Shades for the fortieth time is too much.

3. Bath night. I love sweet-smelling kids. But, mine fight me while my husband watches television and ignores their need for cleanliness. They don’t start moving for the bathroom until I threaten a spray-down in the backyard. Once they’re in, they don’t want out. They both claim a need to practice holding their breath under water. Go figure.

4. Cleaning out the fridge. I push my people to eat leftovers in a timely manner. The creation of unknown formations is never my intent. But, on occasion there is an ugly that appears in the rear that catches me off-guard. So, for the sake of my children, I hold my breath — until I turn purple — and purge without discrimination.

5. Weeding. My husband seems to think weed barriers will keep all ugliness out of our flower beds. I don’t know what gardening class he took. But, weeds invade and cling to whatever patch of soil they seek to claim. They don’t go unless evicted with vicious, continuous, strategic.

Nine Irish Kids and the Power Codes

My mom is one of nine Irish kids who grew up in Howell, Mich. The tight connections among her siblings — my aunts and uncles — make for mega family reunions and for volumes of stories.

One story is about family population tracking and keeping peace during family meetings. My Aunt Kate — a mentor in all things Kate and the youngest of the nine — generated and assigned — in descending numeric and alphabetic power codes — to help everyone remember their “pecking” order in the family.

Numeric codes were assigned — from eldest to youngest as follows:

  1. Diane
  2. Susan (my mom)
  3. Gerry
  4. Betty
  5. John
  6. Steve
  7. Julie
  8. Dan
  9. Kate

Single, alphabetic codes were then matched to the number of offspring or pets each of the nine introduced to the family. For example, my Aunt Diane has four children. Their codes are 1A1, 1A2, 1A3, and 1A4. My mom had just two — my sister and I. So, we are 2B1 and 2B2. My cousins and I have learned our power codes do little to help trump discussions, decisions or euchre contests.

How do in-laws and future generations fit into this power code scheme? I am sorry to admit this. But, I lost the memo at my Aunt Gerry’s in Melbourne, Florida. It’s probably matted to the bottom of that empty keg we drank on St. Patrick’s Day 10 years ago.

So, how much of this story do you think is blarney and how much do you think is fact?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!