Month: August 2015

Sisterhood of the Second Rate Moms

Since joining the ranks of motherhood nearly 5 years ago I’ve been reminded time and time again about the importance of encouragement and kindness.

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We live in an often cynical world. A world where people frequently allow their own insecurities to rule them and justify their judgmental and unkind behavior. Sadly, this is all too evident among moms. Especially in cyber-world. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, formula feeding moms, breast-feeding moms, helicopter moms, free-range moms, if you potty train too late, if you potty train too soon, if you let your kid eat sugary food, if you only let your kid eat organic locally sourced food, if you spend too much time on yourself, if you let yourself go, if you’re too skinny, if you’re too fat, if you co-sleep, if you use cry-it-out, if you spank, if you don’t spank. DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T!

It’s easy to find someone ready to hurl criticism. Why not be the person ready with a kind word of encouragement and support?

I’m not perfect. Not even close. I’ve judged others and perhaps offered criticism when I should have just offered support. But in the end, that isn’t positive or constructive for anyone. Why is it so difficult for us to just smile and be kind to others? Are we afraid that if we acknowledge that they’re doing something right, than maybe that means we are doing it all wrong? And why do we always believe there is only one correct way of doing things?! We are all different. There are an infinite number of ways to do things. Just because what works for me is different, doesn’t make it any better or worse. Just different.

Motherhood is hard. Like, super hard. The last thing most of us need is someone else feeding our own doubts and insecurities. You don’t have to agree with someone’s particular methods to support their efforts. Sometimes a few kind words can go a long way.

I remember one time when I was struggling with a newborn and a toddler in the grocery store parking lot. I was trying to calm a fussy baby, wrangle a fidgety toddler, and unload groceries. I must have looked particularly defeated that day because a kind lady approached me and said, “You’re doing a really good job. It’s so difficult when they are this young, but it will get easier.” Then she gave me a wink and was on her way. I almost cried. It was exactly what I needed to hear that day.

Conversely, I can remember a time I had taken my flight-risk toddler to the mall play area. I was very pregnant with my youngest at the time and of course feeling hormonal and lousy. In the bustling chaos of a play area covered in tots I lost sight of my own little one. Panic set it. I began dashing around the play area looking for my daughter only to hear someone say “Is that your daughter running through the mall?”. There she was. Halfway down the corridor, tiny blonde hair flowing behind her as she ran barefoot through the mall. In my rush to get my pregnant body to catch up with her, I passed a group of moms standing by the entrance. One of them said (in a tone that was obviously directed at me and intended for me to hear), “Somebody needs to keep a better eye on their kid.” Not what I needed to hear that particular day.

And try to be mindful of the fact that we all have bad days. I would hate for someone to base my entire ability to parent off of a single snapshot of a really bad day I was experiencing. I’ve had moments I was less than proud of when I’ve handled parenting situations like crap. That doesn’t mean I’m a crappy mom, it just means I’m having a crappy moment. It means I’m human. Extend people the same courtesy you would hope they would also bestow upon you.

So this week I have decided to extend a challenge to you.

At some point during the next week, I challenge you to lift up a mom with kind words or a helpful act.

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It can be a stranger or a friend. It can be a small gesture or a grand one. If you feel it is something you can share, please tell us about it in the comments. Also, please feel free to share about a time when someone lifted you up in kindness.

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Back-to-Preschool Blessing

For many of us the upcoming weeks will bring with them the return of preschool/mother’s day out programs. Whichever side of the fence you fall on (the happily doing cartwheels all the way home from drop-off mom, or the sobbing uncontrollably mom) we could all use a little blessing for back-to-preschool. So I’ve come up with one! Hope you enjoy!

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Back-to-Preschool Blessing

May your tuition be low; May the germs be few. Nobody around has time for the flu!

May there be no tears, and few projects with glitter. May your kid always make it on time to the shitter.

May the parent sign-up sheet always let you bring forks. Who has time to bake?! Must be the dorks.

May the lessons always be understood fully; May your “precious angel” not be the class bully.

May your kids always eat the lunches you pack; May they keep their pants up and cover their crack.

May your kid not be the one full of sass, May they not be “that kid” with uncontrollable gas.

May they learn the proper writing grips, and speak not the bad words they’ve heard from your lips.

May you meet with some friends for child-free lunches, or find time to go to the gym and do crunches.

May your kids happily wear the school clothes you bought; May you love all the teachers that they got.

May they learn; May they grow; May this time be pleasant. There is only a small window we have in the present.

Enjoy it, hug them, laugh and be silly. It’s only a matter of time before Kindergarten, really.

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Boobs & Boogers

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This week I decided to keep track of all the incredibly bizarre things that come out of my mouth when dealing with my children. You know, in the name of science and stuff. If you are a parent then you are probably keenly aware of the stupid and/or weird crap that comes out of your mouth that you simply never imagined you would be saying to another human being. As I was keeping track, I noticed a theme started to emerge. Boobs, boogers, and all things bodily functions. That’s, apparently, what my parenting nuggets of wisdom have been reduced to.

With both a 2 and a 4-year-old suffering seasonal allergies who are not expert nose-blowers, I am frequently catching them knuckle deep in a nostril. So gross. As for the boobs, well, I swear you would think they were a couple of frat boys. I’m hoping mine are not the only girls slightly obsessed with boobs. It’s a tad unsettling. And thanks to a potty training tot we are constantly finding ourselves in bathroom related conversation.

So, for your reading enjoyment, I have compiled a list of the Top 10 bizarre things I have had to say to my kids this week. Sadly, many of these were repeated several times over the course of a week…

  1. “Please stop punching Mommy’s boobs. They’re not toys.”
  2. “I’m sorry I had to throw away your picture sweetie, but you smeared boogers all over it.”
  3. “No, you may not squeeze my boobs, but thanks for asking first.”
  4. “Whose booger is this on the wall?!”
  5.  “Please get your hand out of your butt. It’s not a pocket.”
  6. “Don’t you dare put that booger in your mouth!”
  7. “Do not toot on your sister’s head again.”
  8. “Please don’t go poop on the floor.”
  9. “What’s this puddle on the floor? Is this pee?”
  10. “Get your face out of my butt!”

So if you run into me and discover that I’m having considerable difficulty carrying on an intelligent conversation, just know that I’ve probably lost some valuable brain cells while spewing out ridiculous crap at my children. Because, motherhood ya’ll.

What are some ridiculous things you’ve caught yourself saying to your kids lately?

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Battle of the Potty: An Update

Potty training round 2 began yesterday and I’m proud to report that it has gone infinitely better than our first go-round in April. The added maturity that 4 months offers is amazing. It’s incredible how much mere months seem to matter when they are this age.

We began on a Sunday so that Second Rate Dad could be around to help for Day 1 of battle. Having him around as a soldier in this war was soooo helpful. All other times I have potty trained I’ve done so while he was at work. Having him there worked so well that I would even amend my Tools for Potty Training list to include the enlistment of a trained militia. Invaluable.

We started by getting our favorite dolls to use the potty.

Our fake American Girl dolls have this potty thing mastered. Boom!
Our fake American Girl dolls have this potty thing mastered. Boom!

Then I pumped her full of fluids and waited for the showdown. The first couple attempts ended in puddles on the floor, and we did have one “Code Brown” alert. Shit happens.

Also, big sister kept good on her promise to encourage little sister to use the potty. She really can be sweet when she wants to be.

Big sister helping entertain little sister on the potty. This help is costing me a bribery toy from Toys R Us. So worth it though.
Big sister helping entertain little sister on the potty. This help is costing me a bribery toy from Toys R Us. So worth it.

By the end of Day 1 she seemed to be catching on.  Any potty training attempt that leaves me having a celebratory glass of wine instead of a sorrow-drowning glass at the end of the day is one for the win column, friends! The success appears to be continuing into Day 2 (so far). This morning she went downstairs all by herself and used the potty without any help. Accident-free so far at 11:30 a.m. (I’m really hoping that all this bragging on my girl doesn’t come back to bite me in the butt! Fingers crossed.)

The next battle in this potty training war is to get her to apply these new-found skills in public places, because I would like to eventually be able to leave the confines of my home… One battle at a time.

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Potty Training: Tales From the Trenches

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Potty training. Never have two words struck more fear and anxiety in the hearts of mothers everywhere. It’s so much more than just teaching a small person how to use the toilet. It’s bribery, crying, cleaning up messes, pleading, more messes, banging your head against the wall, wine drinking frustration. (Just to be clear, the wine is for you; not the little person.)

In short, potty training is war.

If you’re anything like me, you feverishly read every article and Pinterest tip you can find leading up to the big event. You consult friends that have successfully battled before you. You look for signs and cues that your little one is ready. And then, when you have conjured enough bravery, you gather all the necessary tools and pray for sweet mercy from the potty training gods. My tools of choice are:

  1. Plenty of liquids for your little to help move the show along.
  2. Wine (or adult beverage of your choosing) to help take some of the edge off. No judgement here if you can’t keep it corked until 5 o’clock. Gotta do what you gotta do. This is war, people. Showing up to potty train without alcohol is like showing up to a gun fight empty handed.
  3.  Plenty of cleaning supplies and paper towels for messes. War is messy.
  4. Bribery implements. This can be candy, small toys, whatever motivates your child. This is one time when you must engage in negotiations with the terrorist, err, kid.
  5. A lot of new “big kid” undies/panties that your little will like. A lot. Like I said, war is messy.
  6. A cleared schedule. Plan on being home for at least 2-3 days. You didn’t have anything to do anyway, right?
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have your battle gear ready.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Have your battle gear ready.

I nervously entered into potty training battle with my oldest when she was 2 years 10 months old. She was probably ready before that, but I wasn’t. With my second being an infant at the time, I felt I had too much on my plate to jump in sooner. Also, the very thought of potty training made me so anxious that I put it off.

We jumped into battle and got both feet wet. Both metaphorically and literally. That first day was TERRIBLE. She didn’t make it to the potty on time once. Plus, every time she peed on the floor little sister came crawling over like the bat signal had just flashed into the sky. It was as if a puddle of her sister’s piss on the floor was the best sensory play ever. It was not a good day. Wine was uncorked, words were muttered between gritted teeth as I tried to feign a smile and pretend I wasn’t about to lose my ever-loving shit. I almost surrendered, but decided to show up for round two. She had won the battle, but she wasn’t going to win the war. Then, something happened that second day. At some point it just clicked for her. She got it. She started using the potty and we never looked back.

Doesn't everyone keep a little potty by their front door?
Doesn’t everyone keep a little potty by their front door?

I felt like a potty training genius. I figured it would be just as swift a victory when it came time to potty train my second. I was wrong. The battle instincts are strong with that one. It started off well enough, but as you can see in the progression of photos morale started to waver as the day went on.

All smiles on the beginning of day 1.
All smiles on the beginning of day 1.
Starting to have second thoughts about this thing.
Starting to have second thoughts about this thing.
“Is this how you use the potty, mom?”
Just not having it anymore.

You see, my second child is un-bribable. No amount of promises for candy or toys was going to convince her to use a potty. How am I supposed to parent under these conditions?! On top of that, she could give a rip about pissing on the floor. My oldest was very upset when she had an accident. Not little miss stubborn. She would no sooner take a wiz on the floor and look at me all matter-of-factly and say, “Mama, I go pee-pee on the floor. Clean it up”.

This continued for three days. She didn’t go in the potty once. Not ONCE. On the third day she began telling me, “Mama, I not a big girl. I a baby. I want my diaper”. How can you argue with that? She had won this war. I packed up my battle gear and retreated to safety.

So here we are, four and a half months later. It’s time to declare war once again. She has proven she’s a worthy adversary. I have enlisted a secret weapon this time. Big sister. I have bribed her with a trip to Toys R Us if she helps me encourage her sister to use the potty. Pathetic, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Wish us luck.

How was your potty training experience? What worked for your little one? Feel free to share your funny/scary/encouraging stories in the comments.

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