Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pipe Down Ladies

After dropping off 20 juice boxes, a 10 pound pumpkin, a 5 pound bag of candy and two little boys at the preschool's fall festival day, I walked through the courtyard to load my 15 pound baby in my minivan.  As I walked into the parking lot I overheard a few ladies standing by the car next to mine complaining about how "some Moms" never sign up to volunteer at the school functions.  Their discussion went on to express great disappointment in the Moms that claim they have other things to do while their kids are in preschool so they can't stay for these events.  They wanted to know what was so important? Why couldn't people just get a sitter?  Why didn't they at least offer to bring more to the class? Why are some Moms so selfish?

Oh ladies, ladies....you make me want to scream.  What the hell are you doing? 

Here's my quick, personal response to that.  I signed up to bring several things for the parties going on today and I had no problem doing it.  I used to volunteer for every event at the boys' preschool, because I could and because I didn't mind.  Now, I have a 5 month old that needs to nap and makes any outing difficult.  I can't imagine me having to help set up or orchestrate a fun filled day for preschools with her in tow.  A babysitter?  Are you kidding me?  I am cancelling cable today, $10 an hour for a babysitter to help so that you don't think I'm lazy and selfish?  Sorry, it isn't happening and I don't feel guilty.  Not at all.

Now, here's the bigger problem.  Ladies, please get your heads out of your asses immediately before your children hear you being this horrible and you create little horrible people that will run around the earth saying horrible things in parking lots that hurt people's feelings.  (Not mine, but I'm sure some Mom out there would naively take what they said to heart instead of writing an angry rant about them like they should.) The judgement rolling off these ladies was so thick I felt like wrapping it around their necks.  It was toxic to just stand next to them...and I felt a little sorry for them. 

Who has so little perspective as to not understand what another Mom or parent has going on that they can't sit around and string candy on fake fishing poles for 2 hours?  Or not understand that hiring a babysitter doesn't work into a family's financial options right now so that they can watch their children hunt for candy around a field of grass?  Can these women be so crazy that they truly can not think of one single situation that would make volunteering a non-option for a fellow parent?  Please run to your nearest therapist immediately, or please come see me so I can sarcasm your every comment until you at least feel uncomfortable. 

If you want to volunteer, please do so with joyful or not at all.  It is fun sometimes to be the parent there to help at those things.  If you do it because you feel like you have to or because you want to say that you did it and others did not, please skip over the construction paper sign up sheet and get back in your huge SUV to go to the mall.  (Wow, I feel cranky about this.)  Give other people a break. Can't we just give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume that we are all doing the best we can?  The pumpkin, juice and candy was the best I have right now.  Maybe the Mom that didn't do anything other than drop her kid off and remind him or her to be kind today did the best she could today.  Maybe you are not doing the best you can if you think trash talking other parents in the church parking lot is the best use of your time today.  This whole parenting thing is difficult enough, let's play nice people. 

Wow, I feel better. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Patient Mom Makes Unexplained Appearance

Today was a good day. I just wish I knew why. What did I do to keep things (me) from unraveling today?

This happens periodically, but not too often. Things just work out without the seemingly constant struggle I usually encounter to do the most basic of tasks. Not too long ago I had accomplished so much during the day (including a full fancy dinner, washing and ironing my husband's dress shirts while watching a soap opera and had enjoyable coloring time with the kids,) that I actually felt insanely proud of myself as a wife and mother. Today wasn't necessarily productive though, it was just nice.

It was a pretty normal day, nothing exciting or profound occurred but as 5:00 pm rolled around I noticed that I felt....well, ok. On a normal night I usually feel anxious and completely spent after a day solo with the kids. I am exhausted from a million and one emotionally escalated encounters with Aiden and Cole over sharing, respect, and listening. I feel frustrated that I didn't cross off as many of the items on my to-do list as I wanted. I feel annoyed that my husband can't ever be home for dinner and to help put the kids to bed. I mostly just feel like I would like to escape and do something crazy like use the restroom by myself.  But tonight, no big deal.

I took all three to the grocery store today, which should have created all sorts of havoc, but I successfully shopped and even thought about what I was purchasing. I was even able to leave Cole and Aiden at the checkout line talking to the cashier about their legos so that I could run back for beer I had forgotten to pick up. (Yes Mom, I left them alone for a minute. It was a very close dash and I ran the entire way, holding Stella's neck firmly to support her. We're all fine...and most importantly, now we have beer!) Usually they would be falling apart after a trip through the store, but today they were cooperative and excited to be out of the house...I knew if I persisted they would eventually lower their expectations and find the grocery store just as fantastic as a trip to the playground.

Cole and Aiden fought just as much as usual today and I handled it all very calmly. There were fights over several lego pieces, a police outfit and an unbelievable meltdown exchange over an imaginary trophy won during an imaginary race, which Aiden insisted Cole did not fairly earn and only could have the imaginary sticker....seriously, why was this not bothering me more? I basically did what every parenting book and article I have read told me to do. I spoke in a clear and calm manner about the incident, was firm and did not engage in a conversation about the situation but rather just took control. I was awesome.  It had to happen eventually, right?

I didn't freak out when Cole threw every lego piece we own all over the playroom after I had asked him to pick up the few that were out. I simply walked in, picked up every piece I could see and walked away with them, he won't be getting those back anytime soon.  As Aiden screamed at Cole for not wearing the correct costume combination, Superman's belt with Robin's cape (a true sign of superhero disrespect apparently,) I asked him to go sit in timeout without raising my voice and when he didn't go, I simply handled it all calmly.  Seriously, what was happening?

I have poured over parenting books, discipline schools of thought, and read a million parenting magazines over the last 5 years.  I know that I should try to always be this zen, because I am the one in charge, but it just usually doesn't work out that way.  It is easy to say that I should never let the kids get a rise out of me so that they know when they misbehave they won't get to see my freak out....but usually I put on a pretty good show.  I lose it a lot and feel guilty about that, a lot.  Today it all rolled off my back and I was a better parent, a better wife and a just a better human.  Why was I like this?

I have a few theories.  First, my allergies weren't creating a massive sinus headache and I could breathe, which is always fun.  Second, I have been trying to work out a bit recently and my post baby stomach roll felt tighter than it had in months and this made me feel super.  Third, I had a little energy from a decent amount of well deserved rest...which I truly believe is life altering all by itself.  Finally, I stopped thinking about my to-do list and just sort of let it all go.

Yes, I know, I should do this every day and then life would be a big bowl of sunshine.  Well, maybe that is true, but come on....saying that is easier said than done is an understatement.  I have three kids under 5 and that's a lot going on everyday.  Some days it is just too much to have someone whining and crying because someone else took the blue cup or because their brother left the hose on too long.  It's tough to keep up a cheery attitude when your 5 year old demands his juice and breakfast and treats you like his slave, not only because this is horrible and offensive behavior, but because you also have to have the patience and responsibility to deal with that behavior.  It's not fun or easy to be consistently kind and carefree on 2 hour increments of sleep. It does get lonely dealing with the kids all day on your own from 7 am to 8 or 9 pm.  And sometimes the to-do list can't be thrown out the window, sometimes stuff has to get done and unfortunately I am the one to do it.

But, today was good.  Today was a good feeling as a Mom.  Maybe tomorrow I will be a little more cranky and a little less zen, but maybe I'll also remember how good this feels and recover as quickly as I can...maybe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Eight Blissful Years

I can't believe it has been eight years.   Alex and I got married eight years ago and it feels like a lifetime ago and like yesterday, if that is possible.  I was looking back at our wedding album with the kids, trying to explain why today is a special day, and surprisingly they really did not care and were more concerned about why we aren't having cake if an anniversary is the birthday of our marriage.  I, however, found it fascinating.

I probably haven't taken that album out in over a year, but I've looked at it a thousand times.  Each time I turn the pages I see something different.  Today was a combination of several things. 

First, I made some poor visual choices with the flowers and bridesmaid dresses. Second, cake cutting photos are pretty cheesy and ridiculous. Did I even eat any of that cake? Finally, how in the hell did we end up getting married...and making it work?  We look like we are 18 in those photos.

I feel a very strong longing for my former waistline and seemingly less spotty skin coloring, I look extremely youthful in general in those photos.  Alex looks like he could have just dropped by after his chem lab before hitting the bars. What were we doing getting married that young?  I recall asking my father if he thought I was too young to be getting married while he was walking me down the aisle, (yes this probably was a question better asked earlier than that moment, but that's when I thought of it.)  He told me no, everything was going to be fine.  Turns out, as usual, he was right. 

We were young and things haven't always been super fun, but I would like to tell my younger, smoother skin, self that things are just going to get better and better.  I am often struck by how in love I thought I was when Alex and I got married, because it feels like nothing in comparison to how I feel about him now.  After eight years, three kids and a dog, he is more amazing to me by far than he was that day.  I mean, he really is much more fantastic than I knew.

He's still very attractive, that hasn't changed at all.  Well, actually I think he looks even better than when we got married.  Why is it that guys can get better looking with age and we just get more spots and sags?  Oh well, at least he hasn't been comparing me to my former self recently...that I am aware of that is.  Even though it is annoying to be told "how lucky" I am to be married to Alex by random admiring women, he never once makes me feel like it is anything but the other way around, like he's the one that lucked out. 

He's an excellent father, which he thankfully was not when we got married.  He loves his children unconditionally.  He finds wonder and amusement in them. He is often much better than I am at accepting them as they are rather than working on changing their innate qualities.  He is equally good at being the stern Daddy and the gentle comforter.  He finds teachable moments and has patience (that I usually do not have) for explaining and explaining and explaining.  They think he's the greatest thing to have ever entered their lives...and they are probably right, except that I'm awesome too. (They'll realize it soon too, I'm sure.)

He is a ridiculously hard worker.  This quality has proven to be one of my favorite and least favorite qualities.  He works long, hard days to do a good job so he can provide for us.  I love this because I admire his determination and his commitment to do his best at a job, no matter what.  I hate this because it means he misses out on a lot of moments with me and with our kids.  It also means that I almost always do dinner and bedtime for all three kids by myself which is very, very bad.  I must say though, I much prefer hard working Alex to a slacker husband that sits on the couch, drinks beer and worries about his fantasy football team.  Oh, and there is nothing more attractive (or on my low days, annoying) than Alex in a suit...very professional, hard-worker looking and it makes me weak.

After 8 years of marriage I still get excited when I hear him come through the door.  He always kisses me before doing anything else and always makes me feel like he's been waiting all day to do that...even when I am a raging bitch after a difficult day with the children and I can't think of a single reason why anyone would want to kiss me.  I still have butterflies in my stomach when I see him looking for me in a crowd and I can see his face light up when he sees me like he's found exactly what he wanted to find...and I am so grateful that it is me.  I also still feel intimidated and a little excited when he tries to argue about the most mundane things on earth.   Seriously, his Greek arguing skills are not challenged by me at all due to my lack of confrontational skills, but I love watching him get fired up about ridiculous things like how we organize the junk drawer or the angle of our shoe mould.  It's simply crazy. He's the most honest man on Earth and I love that quality because I never have to guess about what's going on...mind-reading should always be absent from a marriage.  He is wonderful.

So,there are several things I would change about the details of my wedding.  I would change things like the flowers in my bouquet, the bridesmaid dresses, my earrings...but I am so happy I don't have to plan a wedding again.  I couldn't care less about all those details and I'm mainly just happy that I still feel nuts for the guy standing next to me in all the photos.

I am blessed.  I am in love.  I am Mrs. Dadidakis.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pee Here, Not There

Back in January, Cole followed in his big brother's footsteps and simply decided he wasn't going to wear diapers anymore.  He started telling me when he had to go potty and, well, he went.  I didn't stress over potty treats or strategize about timing of trips to the toilet, it just happened.  I shut up during all discussions about potty training with other moms because I had zero to add. I didn't have to worry about what to do because my kids were given a potty gift from God.   It was fantastic, but that's how it was done in this house...we were potty fortunate.

Well, that was January.  Now it is October and Cole has peed and pooed in his pants, twice, and it's only 2 pm. I think he started slipping back in May, shortly before Stella was born.  There were accidents, full on return to diapers, an enthusiastic return to the potty, a step back to pull-ups, a serious fear of public toilets flushing which made any trip to a public restroom a nightmare, and now underpants and frequent accidents.  Every time I think we are doing better we have another accident.   Why would God take away our Dadidakis potty gift?  It was going so well.

I tried tic-tac potty treats.  I've tried stickers and charts.  I have tried over the top praise and several irrational threats.  I've been desperate.  Almost everything has worked for a few days at least, but nothing sticks.  So, at Cole's three year well-check, I asked his doctor for suggestions and he told me to buy a potty watch.  When it arrived I put it on Cole and he was over the moon every time the watch started playing it's song and flashing its lights.  He would run to the potty, pee, and never once did he pee even the slightest bit in his underpants.  I loved that watch.  Then a few days ago Cole thought it would be fun to dunk the potty watch in water and it died.  Seriously, potty watch manufacturer?  A watch designed to help someone learn to not pee and poop in their pants should be a little more difficult to destroy, clearly they don't have the best judgement.

Every time I hear him, "sorry Mommy," I know he's gone in his pants again and I feel like I need a new approach.  Sometimes he says that while I am checking his pants. Sometimes he says it without any discovery by me that an accident has happened.  He just says it over his shoulder as he walks by me on the way to the toilet and waves. He always says it like he's just given me bad news about something that just couldn't be worked out in my favor.  It sounds adorable and maddening.

The other day I heard him in the bathroom and went back to find him sitting on the toilet, pooping.  I was elated.  I told him how proud of him I was for going to the potty all by himself.  I told him how excited Daddy would be when we told him.  He just smiled a huge grin at me and said, "Mommy.  Get ready to be angry."  He pointed to his underpants on the floor and simply said, "poop...sorry Mommy." 

So, yesterday he peed in his underpants while playing in the playroom.  In my state of exhaustion I told him I was going to have to put him back in diapers.  I was thinking this would be perceived as bad news. As I explained that he would be a big boy in diapers, not underpants, he broke into a huge smile and said, "Yeah!  I'll be the biggest baby in the whole world!  I'll be the a HUGE baby in diapers."  Ridiculous.

My latest approach....do nothing. I'm done. I know we have to figure this out, but I can only do so much. The doctor did also suggest backing off the situation so I'll go with that.  I have a child that thinks wearing diapers is awesome and is not persuaded by gifts and bribes.  Maybe God will give us our potty gift back and it will work itself out....I so want to be potty fortunate again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Tired, and Sick of Bitching About It. But...

I am exhausted.  I should have gone to sleep shortly after my kids but I can't stop thinking about how tired I am and about all the things I want to do and need to do this week.  I'm actually worried about how tired I am going to be tomorrow and have basically decided I'm not going to be able to do anything. (Yes, I realize this is irrational. Yes, I also realize the saying, "whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right," applies here. I figure I score mental health points though for realizing I am being irrational, it's one of my best qualities...I'm crazy a lot, but I always know it.) I'm so tired of being tired. It is painful.

Being a Mom almost always includes some form of exhaustion.  When my boys were babies the sleepless nights for all of us became unbearable.  I'll never know if I was so emotional and sad because of the hormones, the life changes or simply because I couldn't get any sleep.  I'm going to guess it was a combination of all of these things, but I do know that nothing changed my mood like getting a solid 6 hours straight of sleep. The few times I got 8 or 9...I seriously could have conquered the world...but let's be honest, I only accomplished routine tasks in a decent mood, but it was huge.  Stella was an amazing newborn sleeper, but now that she is 4 months the pacifier falls out about 5 or 6 times a night and she wakes me up to let me know.  Oh the pain.

The past few days have been more brutal than most, primarily because our entire family got sick.  Stella started it all at the beginning of last week by puking all over me in the pediatrician's office.  I had just finished nursing her for comfort after I had to hold her down for the nurse to stab her with four vaccines, (I can't even talk about the guilt over that right now,) when she began vomiting all over me.  Literally all over me.  I was smart enough to turn her around so the majority of the vomit landed on floor and desk of the nice woman that offered me her office for nursing privacy...thank you and sorry! She maintained a generally grumpy disposition for the rest of the week and was particularly sneaky with the irregularity of her vomiting.  She puked twice that day, none the next and then once in the middle of the night a few days later. This was a very strategic surprise ambush that caught me completely off guard, even made me question her current status as favorite child. (Yes, I said it Mom.  Stella is my favorite right now because even though she interrupts my sleep she never complains about the food I give her, what show is on TV, who's taking her toy and she has yet to show the slightest sign of a tantrum. She's fantastic.)

Cole was next with the vomiting, also all over me. Then Aiden started, gaining favorite child points by puking in the bowl I put next to him and even feeling a little upset when he got some on his bed.  Thank you for your care Aiden!  No big surprise that after 2/3 of my children threw up on me, I was also sick.  I also had fever, chills, a headache....and a lot of other people to take care of at the same time. 

When you are sick as a Mom, it really doesn't change much, you just feel extra crappy while doing all your normal stuff.  I still did the 50 loads of puke laundry.  I still got up in the middle of the night for that pacifier placement, nursing and to use the bathroom twice...seriously need to talk to someone about my bladder control.  Alex did stay home and help with all of us but it was pretty weak.  (Thank God he is so attractive.)  He doesn't know where anything is.  He might need medical intervention for this problem because he can't find things to save his life.  He isn't quite sure how the routine goes.  The kids still want to talk to me about everything they think, feel or need.  Alex has to take 20 work calls during the day to discuss "things." I couldn't have done it without him....but it really would have been nice if I could just get another me.  Is science working on that or what?

The real kicker was the next day when Alex got sick and I was feeling a little better. Notice I said a little better, not fully recovered.  I resumed full-time Mom mode and Alex took on the full-time sick person role.  He was much better at that than I was.  What is the deal men?  He laid down and rested. I brought him Tylenol and water. I tried to keep the kids away.  He shivered and moaned from his fever and aches.  It made me want to barf because I was honestly jealous of his recovery.  I could never do that.  That night I slept in Stella's room to give him some peace and the next morning at 9 am, when he was still sleeping, I wanted to go in and poke him in the leg....but I am much too mature for that so I just told the boys to go see what Daddy was doing.  Oops.  See, I am mean when I don't get enough rest.  He really was trying, I love him desperately and he really is super amazing, he's just....well, I think he's just a man.

Even the day after everyone felt better we were all still pretty wiped out.  I still feel exhausted.  I still feel jealous every time I see Alex asleep next to me in our bed while I go off to tend to the middle of the night functions of being a Mom.  I am tired of being tired.  I hate complaining about something with no attempt to resolve the problem, so I plan to work out some sort of action plan for recovery tomorrow.  For now though, I just want a little sympathy for my exhaustion and someone to get that damn pacifier to stay in Stella's mouth so that she doesn't lose her favorite child status. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fancy Minivan Moment

One week ago I received an email from Charles, Toyota salesman I love, that an old woman had passed away.  This would be really sad, except I didn't know her and she had just purchased a 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE (fancy) minivan, which her family sold  back to the dealership.  A used 2011 fancy van....my lucky day. (Sorry old lady I don't know.)  All I had to do to make it mine was go to the dealership first thing in the morning (uh-oh Cole seems a little sick and can't go to school,) negotiate to the price Alex and I had agreed was our limit (well below the value of the fancy van,)  and drive out a happy lady. No problem.

I woke up feeling confident that I could make this happen.  I'd been searching desperately for a used minivan in good condition, without a million miles on it and had found this was a big challenge. I guess most of us in the market for a minivan should realize our children will beat the crap out of it fast, a used one is surely to show signs of that.  Unfortunately a new one with the fancy amenities someone as awesome as I am requires is just too much money. (I've been cursing the poor new home market for months now, but forcing me to compromise on the luxury of my minivan is just too much...I'm already buying a minivan, isn't that punishment enough?)

So I buckled all three kids into their seats, dropped Aiden at preschool, and headed with cranky baby and snotty three year old to buy a minivan.  I spent the next 4 hours fighting with men in white polo shirts over thousands of dollars, whether or not my husband needed to be there, and whether something is a "good deal" if you can't afford it.  Oh boy, it was maddening. 

This process was very annoying by itself, but only made worse (as many adult situations are) by Cole's and Stella's presence.  Cole was snotty, which is some what of an understatement.  His nose was pouring thick mucous and I could not find enough tissues among all the pushy men to catch it.  I felt like grabbing the bottom of the clean white polo shirt the sales manager was wearing when he asked me if I thought I understood how the financial part works, and wiping Cole's snot with that.  Thanks overweight, insulting man, I've got it all figured out.   Cole was wiping his snot on me, on  the stroller, the display board of new vehicles, the chairs...everything.  Snot was not slowing down his enthusiasm for pretending to be batman and spiderman by climbing a partial wall by the customer service section of the dealership though....which clearly was not built to support 35 pounds. Just give me a deal and I'll take the kid away.

Stella retained her status as fantastic baby, however her need to eat and my lack of thinking of a bottle made for a very uncomfortable situation.  No one should have to nurse a baby in a car dealership with a three year old in tow, while negotiating the purchase of a van.  I did though because I had no choice.  I tried to find an out of the way location, even debated climbing into the back of the large pick-up truck and nursing there, but did not.  So....I ended up in the handicap stall of the women's bathroom.  This was not fun for several reasons.  First, I was sitting on a toilet.  Second, Cole would not stop opening the door and two people walked in while I was nursing and were confused and/or scared to see me sitting on the toilet with my shirt up, yelling at my son.  Finally, there was an elderly woman with a walker that genuinely needed that stall and I just felt terrible that I was occupying it, but didn't know how to move without creating a horrible situation. Oh, and Stella pooped, literally all over me, while I was feeding her.  Good times.

So this was not fun.  I left when an agreeable price could not be found, picked up Aiden, called my father, and immediately made plans to return to the dealership to get my van.  I ditched Aiden and Cole at my amazing friend Jenn's house and loaded up Stella for more fun with the men in white polos.  We arrived and we purchased.  We debated over interest rates and warranties.  I negotiated over trade in value of my current car.  I was amazing.  I felt like the most powerful woman on earth to be doing all of this without my husband and while holding a baby.  To be the one with all the decision making power, the one that can wipe snot, clean poop and talk down a slimy salesman $5k....all while nursing an infant and coordinating meals.  Clearly, I worked hard for this van and I was so excited to have it.  I mean, I earned it after 10 hours at the dealership, right?

Day one with the van was exciting for all of us. The boys could not get enough of the sliding doors, their ability to stand inside the van and the camera that displayed everything while we were backing up.  I was elated over the lack of ink pen markings on the seats, the absence of chocolate milk in the cup holders and the distance away from my boys.  It was all just so exciting.  And then, it happened.  My magnificent minivan moment came to a close and I was reminded of why I purchased a minivan, where I am in life and why I should not think about the potential for anything I currently own or have to be "nice." 

I didn't pull the van all the way in the garage after our first journey out. Aiden is compulsive about shutting doors and keeping everything in order.  He shut the garage door on the back of my van.  It scraped down the back window, attempting to force itself further down by scraping into the beautiful curve of my van and then retreated back up, leaving multiple scratches and scars that bear witness to my life.  Not even 24 hours post purchase it was aesthetically jacked up....and I am sure this is just the beginning.  I slaved for that van.  I was proud of that van.  Now, as with most things my children are involved in, it is another display of their energy level, their intrusion into every part of my life, their all consuming nature....and unfortunately their ability to teach me something worth knowing.  It's just a van.  It's just the large vehicle that we will be driving around in for the next 8 years or so.  I did cry.  I did mourn the end of the van's 18 hours of perfection.  But, every time I look at it I feel a little less annoyed by it and a little more amused.  I mean, the timing was spectacular.  My own fascination with the van was ridiculous and let's be real, it's just a van.  So, the minivan moment was over and now mine is just another to someday be on the list of used minivans where some younger mom will wonder why she can't find a used minivan that isn't all jacked up.  Maybe I should leave my number inside the glove box for a quick consultation with her about how quickly her kid will do their own damage?