Tag Archives: parenting

Will my kids need therapy?

People often comment on how well-functioning we seem as a multigenerational family and how sweet and well behaved my kids are.

My response… Thank you! I’m a perfect mother.

Ha! Just joking.

If nothing else, being a practical minded person is what I have on my side. I mean, really, it’s all I’ve got.

Example:

My 4-year-old (who will be five shortly) did not want to go to the grocery store with my mother-in-law. He just wasn’t interested. Since I was working at home, he thought he could stay and hang out with me.

Nope!

I was working and my mother-in-law was in granny nanny let’s get something for dinner mode.

My son was immediately upset and I could see he was going to throw a tantrum. I looked directly at him and said, “Grandma is on a schedule and so am I. How about I set the timer on my phone for two minutes – you fall apart – and then you go to the grocery store with grandma? And, if you keep the tantrum down to two minutes, I’m sure grandma will buy a donut for you.

He agreed.

Tantrum transpired – 1 minute and 46 seconds.

Grocery shopping was completed.

Donut was consumed.

I’m not sure if this technique would make it into any perfecting parenting handbook, but that’s just how I roll.

And…later that same day, I ran into some website glitches and immediately became frustrated and upset. I was going to push through it and be grumpy – but I allowed myself a 2 minute tantrum (lying on the bed and kicking my feet), and damn, it felt GREAT!

Will my kids need therapy later on in life? Probably so.

Here are the top issues and things I think my kids’ therapists will hear:

My friends and I got together and they were talking about their baby books. I didn’t know anything about that. I thought it was customary to have your formative years documented on a blog. No?

People tell me I’m confused when I tell them senior citizen is a bad word. When I was growing up, saying senior citizen was equivalent to dropping the F bomb!

My parents were really strict about our bedtime – and I thought this was for my growth and development. Now I’m realizing 8:00/8:30pm was the time my grandmother went to bed, too.

I thought my after-school activities were about exposing me to broader things.  I now think my mom signed us up for after-school activities so my grandmother and I could be out of the house.

I loved taking summer trips to Minnesota with my grandmother – but now I understand this annual trip was really about my parents having “kid free” summer camp!

I know the big calendar in our kitchen kept our multigenerational family on track – but as an adult, I break out into hives when anyone says, “Is it on the calendar?!”

My grandmother always asked, “Who put a nickel in you?, when we were full of energy. When I say that now, people ask, “What’s a nickel?”

My partner/spouse thinks I’m silly for ringing the triangle when it’s time to eat. Isn’t this a universal practice?

I still don’t know the different between supper and dinner. Help!

Is it odd I consider myself a grandmother whisperer?

 As a parent or grandparent – on what topics do you think your kids/grandkids will need therapy, and why?

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Mommy Wars

Motherhood is tricky, especially when mommy warfare is going on all around us.

When my oldest was about four-years-old (in 2003), I was at one of hubby’s work functions. I was talking with a group of women that I had met at the party and I did not know any of them. You know how it goes when people run out of things to say during an initial discussion, the conversation often goes to the most universal and kinda tricky question, “So what do you do?

One of the women asked me this loaded questions. I say loaded because the mommy wars commenced in a split second.

Me: “I’m an educator. I teach English to Spanish speaking adults.”

Other woman: “I was fortunate to be a full-time mother, so I didn’t have to leave my kids to work.”

Me: “What does full-time mother mean? I wasn’t aware we could apply for part-time mothering status.” (said with a lot of attitude)

Question asking woman: “Oh, I just think she means as a full-time mother, she can take care of her kids more.”

Me: “This has been fun. Excuse me as I go and find my neglected child.”

Yes, during that long ago exchange I was mad and yes, I felt judged. Why?

Because I was hearing both women say I wasn’t doing enough as a mother. I wasn’t as dedicated because I had a job outside of the home, a job that meant my young daughter would have to be in childcare. I was also hearing that I was not as committed because I wasn’t with my daughter all the time. How dare I?

The thing is, as I reflected then and think about it right now, that judging and judgment was all on me. Who cares what that woman was saying about being a full-time mother or otherwise? She could define motherhood as she wanted and I could do the same.

After that day in 2003, I decided I was no longer engaging in mommy wars. It was not productive and it was unnecessary. I was waving my white flag and looking at motherhood, happily and confidently, from my own lens.

***

Fast forward to 2011

I was at a birthday party for a four-year-old and I was talking with two other moms.

Mom 1: “Do you both work outside the home?

Me: “Yes, I’m at the university.”

Mom 2: “Yes, I work for the local school district.”

Me: “Why do you ask?”

Mom 1: “Neither of you are wearing stretchy clothes. Wow, I’m a full-time mom and that’s about all I can manage. I’m a loser.”

Me: “I don’t see how that’s true if you are being the mom you want to be.”

Mom 1: “Really? That’s the most supportive thing I’ve heard from a put-together-mom.”

I spent a bit of time thinking about that exchange and wondered why mothers are so hard on themselves and others about the look and feel of motherhood. All children are different, so why wouldn’t mothering be different?

I asked hubby once if he felt badly about working and having our children in childcare and he looked at me like I had two heads. His response, “Why would I feel badly about working? That’s what grown-ups do.”

That man is a genius. Joyce Brewer is also a genius. During her webisode on mommy guilt, Joyce and the other moms get real and honest about fulltime motherhood – or whatever label moms choose to use. All moms struggle with finding the right motherhood fit, and I think that’s the conversation more of us need to be having with each other.

With my mother-in-law living with us, helping with childcare, and supporting hubby and me in having more work/life balance,  I’ve gotten a variety of responses. Here are five of the most interesting ones:

  • How indulgent to have all that help.
  • Wow, I could use the extra help, but what would people say?
  • If your mother-in-law is there, then what do you do?
  • I couldn’t let my mother-in-law run my family like that.
  • It must be nice to get all that time off from parenting.

My only response to all of that is – it’s my life and I make my own rules.

I love hearing how other families make it all work and I think it’s a gift to find out something that can translate to my multigenerational family’s needs – without judging.

I’m not interested in who is mothering the best because we all have moments of brilliance and nightmarish episodes of complete lunacy. This is real parenting and motherhood without GPS, roadmaps, or a manual. I rely on other mothers (full-time, part-time, crazy-time, happy-time, etc.) for support, a friendly ear, a shoulder to cry on, “I’ve been there” nods, and moms-night-out.

As far as my mother-in-law being a full-time or part-time grandmother…I’ll let her speak her own truth.

I see my mothering partnership with my mother-in-law as the Wonder Twins of multigenerational living and parenting. We are full-time magic makers.

Do you engage in mommy wars? Why or why not?

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Play date freak out

The last two weeks of February have sped by at warped speed for our multigenerational family. Hubby had a bunch of travel. I had two major conferences, my coursework, a bit of travel, and no pedicure.

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We also had all of our daily business with the kids and my mother-in-law’s “time to herself” schedule. Honesty, we had too much going on – all at once…which brings me to my February meltdown.

Last Tuesday night, the four of us were sitting at the dinner table (sans hubby) listening to the adventures of my kids. The 11-year-old was talking about 7th grade course selection and winning second place in the Valentine’s Day door decorating contest.

My three-year-old was ecstatic that he and grandma had run into his friend, Jack, at the grocery store (or were they at the library, park, or museum…I forget…). This chance meeting led to my mother-in-law scheduling a play date with Jack and his mom. Great!

When my three-year-old took a moment to breathe in between all his excitement about the play date, my mother-in-law filled me in on the details.

Kanesha:             When is the play date?

MIL:                      On Friday, since there is no school.

Kanesha:             Where is it?

MIL:                      Here, at the house.

Kanesha:             [Silence.]

This was not great!

I’m not opposed to play dates, I actually enjoy them. For me, and because I work full-time outside the home, I like play dates to take place on weekends and sometimes at a neutral locations (e.g. park, rec center, zoo, etc.).

I sat at the dinner table thinking to myself… “Wait one second. My mother-in-law has scheduled a play date, on a weekday, during the work day, at the house. Is she insane?”

I didn’t say much else during the rest of dinner. Why? Because I was pissed!

My mother-in-law knew I was having one of my moments because she came back into the kitchen while I was cleaning up after dinner.

MIL:                      Is everything OK?

Kanesha:             Yes. Well, no. I’m just thinking about all the stuff I have going on this week, hubby is on travel, and nowhere on my list is cleaning up the house for a Friday, during the day, play date.

There it was. I said it. I was freaking out about this play date; a play date that had lit a spark in my son’s eyes. Ugh! Not my finest moment.

MIL:                       It’ll be two little kids, me and the mom. What’s to clean up? They are going to make a mess anyway.

Kanesha:             True, but this mom is a stay at home mom, I’m not, and I don’t want her judging me about the chaos of our house, especially based on how busy we’ve been these past two weeks.

MIL:                       Oh please. I wouldn’t think twice about it. Their family is in the process of moving and we are doing her a favor. Worse case is if she thinks the house is too messy, she won’t come back again.

At this point, I busted out laughing – laughing at our conversation and pretty much at myself. I was being silly and causing myself unnecessary stress. I was making up stuff and worrying about being judged. I had to get over myself, and I did – quickly.

I’ll be honest and admit this, I have had women and moms ask me why I work (if I don’t “need” to) and why would I have kids just to have my mother-in-law come in and raise them. Wow! Is that what others think is going on in my multigenerational home?

I’m not one to dwell on what others say about me or what others think I should be doing. But sometimes, just sometimes, I do have my moments of questioning my decision to work outside the home and to living in a multigenerational household.

When we lived in Chicago, my work decision was not a topic I thought much about.  We were surrounded by dual-career parents. It was great and there was tons of support around this. Moving to Colorado was such a culture shock – on so many levels. Instantly I was living a community where being a stay at home mom was the norm and not the exception.

Back to the play date…

When Thursday morning rolled around, I was on my way out the door to my overnight conference. My mother-in-law made coffee for me and as I was heading out the door, she yelled after me, “Don’t worry! The house will look great for the play date.” I turned around,  looked at her, and gave her a thumbs up.

My mind was nowhere near thinking about the state of my house, nor was I remembering my 11-year- old’s parent/teacher conferences were the next day. Whoops!

I knew my mother-in-law had things under control and that hubby would be home soon to help out – if my mother-in-law needed him.

My takeaway…

  1. Parenting is great and exhaustive.
  2. There is a lot to do and many things to know.
  3. Whether you are working outside the home or not, do what works best for your family and you.
  4. Make up your own rules and follow them.
  5. Do not worry about what others think.
  6. Most times it’s just you  unnecessarily judging yourself,  and there is no reason to go down that road.
  7. Be supportive of other families because we can all learn from each other or have cocktails and commiserate.

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