‘Cuz Law School…and Minions!

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Not sure if I’m failing at mommy-dom and law school and my life is completely falling apart…or I’m just really really tired.

not-sure-if-my-brain-broke-or-if-im-just-tiredLaw school in general is rough. You take a couple hundred overachievers used to being at the top and they’re all pretty instantly given a healthy dose of humble pie.

My 1L year was more than a shock to my system. I received my first C in a class, I cried more than once in the library and nearly had a panic attack when I handed in my final writing assignment…and might have actually had one before oral arguments.

I still twitch a little when I see the letters A, L, W and D together.

But we’re past that now…this is 2L. A whole new kind of torture…I mean a whole new adventure…yeah, that’s what I meant.

This week, has been complete crap. I have three major assignments to complete this week on top of all of the regular required reading and research. And for some added fun, I have pneumonia and bronchitis (I had no idea those could happen together). I’m now a super cool law school nerd with an inhaler.

Super nerd powers activate!

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When I went to the doctor he said I needed to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and get as much rest during the day as I could. I laughed at him. I seriously tried not to, but I couldn’t help it. I think I can squeeze in 8 hours total this week if I skip part of my reading for Thursday…or I pretend I don’t have kids to keep alive.

Anyway…the reason for this post…

In the last year or so I’ve had quite a few non-law school friends and family ask why I don’t seem to come to events or outings as much, or why I don’t call as often, or why I don’t seem to have seen any of the recent awesome movies, festivals or things on television. So I decided to write down how my average day goes…this should help clear things up.

Or at least make more than a few of you truly start to question my sanity.
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6:30 a.m. – Alarm goes off.
6:31 a.m. – Threaten alarm, curse at its incessant whooping, punch alarm in throat (use your imagination)…alarm ignores my strength and continues singing the song of its people.
6:32 a.m. – Contemplate filing a lawsuit against the estate of whoever invented the alarm clock for infliction of emotional distress.
6:40 a.m. – After spending the only free time I will get checking Facebook on my phone while I pee…begin attempts at waking the minions.
6:41 a.m. – Realize shorter minion has been up for at least an hour and has spread Cheerios throughout most of apartment. Make mental note to clean up the mess “when I get time” (aka…never…let’s home one of the kids gets hungry enough to do it for me)
7:15 a.m. – Finally succeed in getting larger minion showered, dressed and off to the school bus. First win of the day!!
7:20 a.m – Take fastest shower in history while mentally going over what reading you need to go over again before class today…suddenly realize I forgot to read that one case for that one class that has that one professor that is sure to cold call me today.
7:22 a.m. – Have mini panic attack about forgotten reading.
7:24 a.m. – Realize it’s actually Monday and I don’t have that one class with that one professor until tomorrow.
7:40 a.m. – Complete Miracle Number One!! Shorter minion and myself are both dressed and ready for the day. Take minion to wait for school bus.
8:05 a.m. – Wake Husband so he can drive me to court/class/volunteering (depending on day). Ignore Husband’s repeated requests for ‘five more minutes’. I think it might have been his day to sleep in…it is after 8 though…I should at least get points for waiting this long…I think…
8:30 a.m. – Since it’s Monday…arrive at court house and spend next ten minutes fighting with the stupid freaking hand scanner that never remembers what my hand looks like and refuses to let me through the side door. Briefly consider waiting in mile long security line to get in…spend slightly longer time considering how much force it would take to break through door.
8:45 a.m. – Evil hand scanner finally lets me in!! Do a small dance of victory. A weekly dance that the armed Sheriff’s deputies at security get a good giggle out of…you’re welcome guys.
9:00 a.m. – Begin observing court…realize again that there are horrid people in this world and they just keep coming…consider leaving law school to pursue art….somewhere in middle of third case remember I can’t draw, consider being a stripper…middle of fourth case realize I am fat and cannot dance, consider career as circus performer….five minutes before end of docket it dawns on me that both my house and the legal field are actual circuses…I am already a circus performer….sweet. No…crap.
Noon – High tail it back to campus to go over reading before class begins in a little over an hour. Get to library and realize I have grabbed container of minion’s Count Chocula instead of adult food snacks. Eat them anyway. Make mental note to make this mistake again tomorrow. Yum.
1:30 p.m. – Arrive at class… at least I think this is the class I have today…yeah…pretty sure this is right.
1:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Somehow make it through two classes without falling asleep. Win!! I think I earned a nap on the bus ride home!!
4:16-4:28 p.m. – Return calls from shorter minion’s school telling me that he tried to flee the classroom again. Try very, very hard to not snap at school official for not following Autistic child’s education plan…again. Snap at school official anyway. Not nearly as sorry as I maybe should be.
4:29 p.m. – Climb onto bus home…debate whether I should sit next to very smell hippy or in back with the dozen or so high school kids. Sit next to hippy. I value my sanity more than my sense of smell, and honestly, this is Eugene.
4:40 p.m. – Bid goodbye to new hippy friend and make my way to our apartment.
4:42 – 5:30 p.m. – Step on pile of Cheerios when I walk in the door.  Cuss at the empty room for not cleaning while I was gone.  Read. Read some more.
5:35 p.m. – Alarm goes off reminding me to retrieve minions from daycare. For real though, if it weren’t for the alarm, I would forget to pick them up four days a week.
5:45 p.m. – Minions are home. (awesome accident when we moved here…daycare is literally right outside our door…thank you baby Jesus) Realize again that our apartment is WAY too small for two minions and my sanity to survive in. Way, way too small.
6:00 p.m. – Realize that minions haven’t eaten a dinner that wasn’t packaged or frozen in the last ten days and I should really make dinner.
6:05 p.m. – Yeah…I also need to go shopping fridge is pretty devoid of life…Frozen pizza it is.
6:45 p.m. – When wrestling smaller minion into the bath notice that he went to school in my socks this morning…pink ones…with little penguins. Awesome.
7:30 p.m. – Elder minion begins his nightly ‘increase in allowance’ negotiations. Goes something like this…

        A wild Nicholas appears
        Wild Nicholas uses “My chores are super hard!”
        It has no effect.
        Wild Nicholas uses “You owe me!!”
        But it failed!
        Mom is now angry.
        Mom uses “Would you like to be grounded?”
        It is super effective!

8:00 p.m. – Ultimate bedtime resistance kicks in with younger minion. Bedtime success after 40-minute refusal to lie down. Notice new chip in wall from child banging toy against wall during ultimate bedtime resistance.
8:45 p.m – 11:30 p.m. – Read for next day’s classes. Most of my reading has already been done during breaks, over the weekend or on one of the two mornings I don’t have class, but I try to go over my readings again the night before. Remind self that I need to start that paper. Read some more. Consider taking a ‘break’ to wash dishes. Read more…

(somewhere around 9:30 Husband returned home from work…I assume…at least I hope that’s who I heard walk in the door…I couldn’t risk looking up from my case book, too risky to chance my brain resetting in the middle of a Scalia dissent)

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11:32 p.m. – Move to couch to finish reading…promise self I won’t fall asleep on couch this time.
11:35 p.m. – Fall asleep on couch.
12:03 p.m. – Wake up on couch. Wipe drool off of face and promise myself it won’t happen again.
12:17 p.m. – Fall asleep on couch. Again.
Mystery nighttime hour – Wake up on couch. Wipe drool off of face and promise myself it won’t happen again. Go into bedroom and shove Husband over so I can fall into the most comfortable bed in existence. (Let’s be honest though…at this point I could fall asleep on the concrete outside while mosquitoes eat me alive)
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So this is why I can’t make it to that thing this week.

I’m sorry.

I still love you…I just also love sleep and not failing at the education I am literally paying a small fortune for.

This semester I have managed to pack in every family law related class I could, a super demanding seminar class and because I really like pain, a clinic. With the exception of one class, all of them center on family law and/or domestic violence…not the most uplifting of class schedules, but that’s where my passion is, it’s what reminds me every day why I went to law school.

Just be patient with me. Right now I have this super hard, super time consuming thing going on. But it won’t last forever.

I am surviving. Maybe more than surviving.

And as painful as my first year or so of law school has been, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

I have learned more in the last twelve months than I ever thought I would.

I’ve got stronger, smarter and so much more confident in myself.

I met some of the smartest people I have ever known. I am now friends with people who have and will continue to change the world in so many amazing ways. I am a better person from knowing them, studying with them, learning from them, crying in Shari’s with them and, best of all, questioning the logic of Captain Janeway with them.

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Nerd power, yo.

(side note…I’m going to try and do better at posting about how things are going from now on…I think it will help my sanity and will most likely make you laugh once or twice…or at least make you feel a little grateful for the ten minute shower you got today 😉 )

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A Little bit of Luck

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I was sitting in the library this morning when I suddenly realized something that I think I need to share with the world.

I am an infinitely lucky human being. Not just normal, win at blackjack lucky, but lucky beyond imagination.

My childhood had a few bumps to say the least, my apartment is tiny and always messy, school stresses me out beyond measure and I’m constantly nervous that my car is about to break down.

But…

I am luck!

While my parents had their faults, some of them more painful than others, those trials that I went through while I was growing up have made me a better mother, a stronger woman and a more determined individual.  If my mother had not walked away from her family when I was young I wouldn’t know how valuable I am to my children, I wouldn’t understand how much they really need me…even when their yelling that they hate me from their rooms.  If my father hadn’t had the anger issues that he did I wouldn’t understand how important it is for me to take a breath and speak to my boys calmly and I wouldn’t know how important it is to tell my boys how proud I am of them and how happy I am to be their mother.  I am lucky enough to know how important it is to be a good mother to my children.

Yes, my apartment IS tiny, the stove barely works and sometimes the sinks get clogged too easily. But I have strong walls to keep myself and my children warm and safe, and while the sinks might clog and the dirty dishes will pile up, out of the faucets comes pristine clear water and those dishes are a sign that my family is not without food.  Though my apartment may be tiny it is filled with love and laughter.  I have never been in fear of the man I share my home with or worried that he may harm me.  My home wasn’t washed away by a typhoon this week and my children don’t use a landfill as their playground. I am not worried that I will be evicted tomorrow.  My neighbors are caring and compassionate people. I am lucky because my tiny home is safe, clean and happy.

School is stressful beyond words.  To say that Law School is hard is an understatement.  In fact sometimes is actually hurts. There are nights that I barely see my bed and days that I only see my family in passing.  But somewhere there is a woman stuffing a book under her mattress, praying that no one finds out that she is learning.  But I am lucky.  I can spend entire days in a library with books spread around me, with more knowledge than I could ever absorb right at my fingertips.  I have people smart beyond reason to teach me and people equally as smart sitting next to me in class, challenging me to do better.  And in a few years I will be in a profession that my great-grandmother would not have been able to be a part of.  I am lucky enough to be well educated and have the right to pursue any career I see fit. 

My car just might break down today.  My house may also burn down, I could get hit by a car as I walk to class, or some other greater tragedy could blindside me…but I will be okay.  I will be okay because I am lucky.  I am lucky enough to have a partner to share whatever burden the world throws at me…and to even help me laugh at it.  When I married my husband I was lucky enough to gain a family that will be there to hold us when something happens and tell us how to make it better. I am lucky enough to have siblings that understand me and are happy to spend an hour on the phone listening to me vent.  I am lucky enough to live in a place that offers support structures and services to help me if I need it.  I am lucky.

I am so, so very, lucky.

The Droid I was Looking for

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To my AWESOME husband,

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Today marks nine years since we said “I do” and what an amazing whirlwind it has been was.

And it still is.

You put up with me, for better and for worse. And sometimes I’m not sure how you do it. (I suspect some kind of super power or mutation)

I often have diarrhea of the mouth, I’m slightly obsessed with reality television and I allow our kids watch Star Trek.

And you haven’t left me yet.

I’m quite impressed.

You are my partner in all things, my motivator, my best friend and my other half.  I couldn’t imagine a moment of my life without you in it.

Babe, I’ve always said this about you, and I will continue to say it: You are the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you more than I could ever express in words.

Thank you for being my husband.

Thank you for enhancing my life and being such an amazing husband and human being.

Thank you for killing all of those spiders. (I’m pretty sure what you’ve done for me the last nine years counts as genocide…but thank you)

Thank you for introducing me to Firefly and Buffy and gaming and cons…and every other geek thing I didn’t know I loved.

Thank you for loving me for who I am.

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Thank you for accepting my Trekkie side.

Thank you for encouraging me whenever possible, spoiling me (even if I didn’t deserve it) and putting up with my less than sane moments.

Thank you for always telling me I’m pretty.

Thank you for crawling out of our way to comfortable bed to check on that noise I swear I heard in the living room.

Thank you for being and amazing father and helping me to raise our wonderful minions. They wouldn’t be nearly as awesome without you as their father.

True love stories never have endings and I hope ours never does.

It turns out you were the droid I was looking for after all.

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Oh…and I love you bigger!

Baby Got…dancing skills?

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I feel like I need to share my morning with you all…half because I think it was awesome and half because I need you all to help me figure out if the kids are sneaking out to the club while I sleep.

Anyway, the husband and I take turns getting up with Connor at whatever ungodly hour he decides is appropriate, today was the husband’s turn.  A couple hours after they woke up, the husband opened the door to our bedroom and, in a moment that always reminds me of Mr. Burns releasing the hounds, let the minions in to wake me up.

Usually the second the door opens Connor somehow leaps from the door to my pillow and starts jumping around until I surrender and crawl out of bed.  Today he went for a different approach.  He slowly walked up next to my side of the bed, got his tiny adorable face right up next to mine and sang, at the top of his tiny lungs, “I LIKE BIG BUTTS AND I CANNOT LIE!!”

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And then he continued to sing it for the next two hours.

I spent most of the morning assuming that my children were slipping out of their windows at night to go out to a club or something until the elder minion informed me that Connor got to pick their morning cartoon today.  Connor randomly decided to watch Shark Tale this morning and I guess at some point in the movie (I’ve never actually watched the whole thing) one of the characters sings about two seconds of Sir-Mix-A lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Well, I guess it had quite the impression on Connor because he’s been continually declaring his love of overly round backsides for most of the morning.

Because I am the model parent that I am I decided the boys needed a little extra corny 90’s music in their lives and I played the entire song for them and then took it a step farther and played a little Ice Ice Baby.

And then Connor did the most frightening thing I have ever seen a four year old do.  He did the Vanilla Ice shuffle across my living room. To make matters worse he decided to wear a pair of his brother’s sweat pants today so it looked like he was wearing floppy grey parachute pants.  I think for a minute I had a horrific flashback to third grade and those ridiculous hot pink parachute pants my mom thought were soooo cool. It was bad.

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I swear, on everything that is good, that child has never lain eyes on a Vanilla Ice video, and yet, across the floor he went. Part of me was a little proud, the other part was a little horrified. All of me was confused.

How the hell did he learn that?!?!

The only conclusion I can come to is that he and his brother are actually sneaking out to a club at night…an awful, 90’s club that no one should ever go to.  Ever.

The Clean Scale

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When this summer started I made myself a list of things I wanted to get done before I start Law School and lose all of my free time to books and studying.  Chief on this list was cleaning my house.  When I started cleaning it the Husband visible rolled his eyes and claimed that the house was “clean enough” and that I should find better things to do with my free time…like sleeping.  While I totally agree that spending my time napping would be a far more enjoyable use of time, I was pretty sure there was no such thing as “clean enough” and I didn’t want to start school with the added stress of clutter and mess in the house.

But it got me to thinking…is there such thing as “clean enough” or better yet are there different levels of clean? I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as something simply being clean enough, but that there are different levels of clean that make your house suitable for different situations…hence, The Clean Scale.

Level 1: Hoarders Star. This is a level of clean in the same way that pitch black is a level of light. It is merely the complete absence of clean.

Hoarder

Level 2: Frat House.  I realize this is pretty bad stereotyping, I’m sure that there are Frat houses that are beautiful and have cleaning ladies or something that keep them from crumbling to the hoarders level…I’ve just never seen them.  I helped a friend in college clean his bachelor pad once and it was literally the most terrifying weekend of my life…during the process the kitchen and living room floors actually changed color.  It was horrible.

Frat House

Level 3: Finals Week.  A short term mess that exists for two (or three depending on your school) weeks per year.  Hallmarks of this level include notebook paper, coffee cups and microwave dinner wrappers covering all flat surfaces, unusually high levels of dirty laundry and dishes, and a general feeling of stress and anger permeating the home. It is not advisable to approach any home at this level.

Level 4: Husband Clean.  Barely above Frat House and Finals Week this is the clean that happens when the Husband creature is left unattended at home for lengthy periods of time. This is also what my husband might refer to as “Clean Enough.” While there might not be the mountains of crap of the Hoarders Star or the mystery puddles of the Frat House there are dirty socks throughout the house and a dishes pile in the sink that would rival Mount Everest.

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Level 5: Everyday Clean. Dishes are (mostly) done, laundry actually fits into the hamper and the carpet is only covered by small debris.

Level 6: Friend Visit. This kind of clean is reserved for friends that already like you enough to pretend they don’t notice that your kitchen floor hasn’t been mopped in weeks and that there are spots all over the glass you just handed them.  Cleaning for this visit entails starting with Everyday Clean and pouring a glass of wine and spraying Febreeze on everything stationary or slow moving.

Level 7: First Time Friend Visit. You know that friend that you’ve only known for a little while and irrationally still think you need to impress? This is the clean for them. Your home is outwardly cleaner than Friend Visit, but not actually clean because you know they aren’t going to help themselves to anything in the fridge, walk into the kids rooms or rifle through the linen closet.

Level 8: The “Not Really a Friend” or “Neighborhood Supermom” visit. Like the first time visit on steroids. Floors are a little cleaner, kids are wiped down and the linen and medicine cabinets are straighten because you know that wench is gonna snoop through something.

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Level 9: Quick In-law Visit. You’re in-laws are coming over to drop off a thing or pick up a thing and wont make it past the kitchen or living room during the visit.  This is the clean that only covers a single zone of your home while the rest of the house resembles a federal disaster area. Warning: This is  a very dangerous clean, especially if Husband is home and fails to close a bedroom or closet door.

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Level 10: Lengthy Mother-in-Law Visit. The in-laws are staying for dinner, or worse yet, staying the night.  In this case the ENTIRE home will need to be spotless.  All closets organized in the event mother-in-law will need a fresh towel/blanket or mistakes the junk closet for the bathroom door. All kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and  pantries must be clean and prepared for mother-in-law to assist with dinner or serve minions breakfast in the morning. The minion’s bedrooms will need to also be cleaned in the event that they drag one of the grandparents into their rooms to view a Lego masterpiece. Caution: This level of clean is not sustainable for long periods of time!

*Side note: There is currently debate if this clean is actually required in our house, as my mother-in-law is sane and refrains from mentioning stains and dust bunnies present in my home. I maintain that this level of clean has more to do with the sanity of the daughter-in-law and less with the mother-in-law in question.*

Level 11: Surgical Field. This clean is only present in a freshly cleaned surgical room, and then only until a human being actually sets foot inside of it.

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Level 12: Grandmother-in-Law Visit (any length). This level of clean doesn’t actually exist…I don’t think. As far as researchers can tell this is a mythical level of clean that can be used as a goal, but never actually achieved. This is that level of clean that encases white couches and carpets and a glass of red wine on the table.  It is a clean that closely resembles an actual bubble of stress.

Interiors for AJW - Tongue Advertising ©Brendan Read 2011

Hey Doctor! Check out my cabinets!!!

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My house is clean!

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And not it’s usual, just an outward appearance of clean, but actual legit clean! You could come over to my house right now for coffee and I don’t have to spend the whole time saying a silent prayer that you don’t open my bedroom door, or the pantry, or one of the minion’s rooms and wonder how my family was so devastated by the tornado that must have rolled though last night.

I’m not sure I can convey my excitement about this in words alone right now, let’s just say that if the TARDIS were to suddenly appear at my doorstep I’d make the Doctor check out how awesome my newly organized kitchen cabinets look before I let him whisk me off into time and space.

Over the past few months I’ve slowly watched the stuff take over the house.  School papers took up residence on the table and never really left…I kept promising myself to go through them soon.  Except soon came and went and more paper was added to the pile until it just became a pile of stress sitting in my living room.  The same thing seemed to happen in the kids’ rooms.  I kept telling myself I needed to sort out the broken, boring and just useless things in their toy bins.  Instead I bought an extra toy bin, because I guess the death trap of one bin of deadly Legos and broken Happy Meal toys wasn’t enough for me…I needed to live dangerously every time I entered their rooms.

All of that extra stuff and clutter had started to possess me, I think, instead of the other way around. I would ‘clean’ and the house would almost instantaneously be a disaster again because there was just too much crap and no organization to keep it under control. I dreaded having people over because it meant I would have to quickly de-clutter or hide my crap out of view, I didn’t want the kids to have friends over because I was sure that somehow their uber-mom would find out that the crap had taken over at the Flowers house and I wasn’t nearly as awesome as she was.

It was ridiculous.

And now it’s not.

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In the last two weeks or so we threw out enough junk to carpet the moon, we took somewhere around fifteen trips to Goodwill to pass our junk on to those more in need of junk and I still have a few bins of stuff to deliver to friends or return to rightful owners this weekend.

It actually feels like the house got lighter, and maybe even bigger on the inside!

Without all of the extra papers, books, and broken pens I have a nice calm space to try and tackle the impending stress of law school.

Without the bins of clothes we almost never wore, there is suddenly all this extra room around our bed. Extra space seems to have allowed the Sandman easier access to guide me off to dream land.

Without the minefield of toys I’m pretty sure the kids were only using to deter me from entering their space there is now room for Lego cities and epic stuffed animal battles.

When my counters aren’t cluttered with appliances and knick-knacks I have no use for, I actually have space for the most important kitchen gadgets of all, the wine rack and coffee pot!

And friends.

So much more room for friends now!

Lily and I

 

The Husband and I were watching an older episode of How I Met Your Mother a few days ago, and towards the end of the episode Lily made a confession to Ted that sometimes she wishes she wasn’t a mom. That she thinks about packing her stuff & disappearing into the night. That she fantasizes about the life and dreams she once had.

I cried. I cried a lot.  (I’m sure the husband thought I was losing my mind.)

I didn’t cry because I felt bad for her. I cried because until I heard that fictional character say it, I had felt deeply ashamed of myself for having thought the same thing many times, and although I would never do it, the thought is still there.

I adore my minions beyond what words are capable of describing. I love my husband endlessly. I love being a wife. I love being a mother.

Until I don’t.

I don’t resent my family. I don’t really want to be without them.  I just sometimes wonder what I’d be like with a flat stomach, some time to myself and the ability to carry a small purse. Just a small pause, a small moment where I am not a mom responsible for the lives of two tiny people. A minute where I can go somewhere, anywhere I want without having to listen to Thomas the Train for the zillionth time.

And then I feel immensely guilty about it.

Then I wonder what it would be like to just jump in the car and go somewhere far off without needing to plan or pack a car full or listen to demands for Happy Meals as we drive. Or most often, what it would feel like to run out last minute with friends without having to worry about a sitter.

And then I feel guilty again. And again. And again.

It isn’t even that I’m wanting more out of life…in fact when I wish I wasn’t a wife and a mother I usually wish that I have less things. When I’m engaging the fantasy of a life all alone I dream of no mortgage, no car, no phones and sometimes no friends. I have this vision of myself living in some made up city completely surrounded by people, but not having to feel responsible for them or please a single one of them.

I fantasize about my only interactions being with shopkeepers and taxi drivers. I recall fondly the days of being free to curl up with a good book, going on walks alone and then naps.

Oh, naps..

I dream of a completely selfish existence, one that I don’t know that I’d ever actually want and one that I’m not convinced isn’t painfully lonely…but I still fantasize about it.

If you’re a wife or mother and you’ve never had a day, or even just a fraction of a part of a day that you didn’t sit and fantasize about the life you once lived I’m very sorry, but I don’t think I can be your friend. Being a parent is the hardest job known to man. You are at work or on call 24/7, 365 days, for no pay.

(I know people say you get paid in love and respect from your children. Yeah well sometimes that isn’t enough. Not to mention my children can be the most disrespectful little turds I have ever met. But I guess they’re my disrespectful little turds and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.)

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good times. So many good times. Most of the funny and amazing things that happen in my life are because the kids did something. They are little comedians, little geniuses and little wonders. When I’m upset over something or not having a good day I know I can count one or both of them to bring me up.

They are miraculous.

And because our children are amazing, saying the words, “I wish I wasn’t a mom,” is to go against the core of everything women are told that they should want to be in this life. So for those of us who have chosen the path of motherhood, admitting that it isn’t always rainbows and sparkles and that occasionally we want to pack our bags and head for the hills is the kind of thing we often reserve for our own private diaries. Or, more often, not at all.

Telling someone is brave. It’s big. And I think it’s also important and vital to helping us all realize we are not alone, and that we’re all pretty normal as moms.

Try Not to Judge…

This morning did not start out well. But it ended with me meeting the most wonderful old lady and having a great deal of my faith in humanity restored.

It began with me remembering the hard way that I forgot to buy toilet paper when I was grocery shopping last week…which led to me being forced to make a trip to the store at 6 a.m. in my pajamas…before the coffee even finished brewing.

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I was a little worried for any member of the public that was going to have to deal with me.

I was already on the road to a pretty awesome trail of hate by the time I got to the checkout line, but was then given a fresh reminder to count my blessings when I asked the checkout lady how her morning was going.

“Well…I woke up to find that the back window of my station wagon had been smashed out…big ole rock was just sitting there in the back seat.”

“Holy crap! I’m so sorry…that’s horrible…”

“Yeah, well my car was under the car port safe from the rain, and I have insurance and a second car to drive today.  A few of my neighbors weren’t so lucky…turns out a few of the neighbor kids went around last night and for some reason decided to throw rocks through about five car windows…I’m sure some of them don’t have that second beater to drive to work today.  And with the rain and all…”

So I was sitting there feeling pretty shitty about being all upset about running out of toilet paper this morning and marveling at the positive attitude this women had in a situation that might have caused me to hog tie whatever child wielded the rock.

Then the man in front of me in line thought I needed to be set back on my hate trail instead…

“If it wasn’t for all the science crap they teach in school these days that sorta thing wouldn’t happen. Kids stop going to church and get told they come from rocks they lose respect for themselves and other people’s things…”

I personally am not a very religious person but I try very hard to be respectful of how important faith is to a lot of people.  I really don’t care if you think we were created by an awesome omniscient being, delivered by an intelligent alien race or that we evolved from early primates, as long as you use whatever you believe to be a better person.  I also believe that faith in something isn’t a necessary qualifier in being a good person, some people use their religion, or lack there-of, to be a better human being, some do not. It’s a pretty big pet peeve of mine when someone relates religion or belief to being a good person…to me the two are not linked.

And I’m not saying I’m an expert on every theory of creation, religion or the scientific study of evolution…but I don’t recall ever learning that we came from rocks…ever…unless of course you’re this guy…

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I’m also pretty sure neither of the minions are taught anything like that in school either, but maybe I dozed off that day of elementary school, who knows.

Anyway, the super positive checkout lady and I just kind of stood there blinking at him while I tried to fathom how he heard we were being taught that we came from rocks and how that would even be scientifically possible, when a tiny old woman behind me in (I swear I’m not making this up) a “Jesus Rocks!” shirt on cleared her throat.

I’m a little ashamed now to say that I expected her to back up the rock guy, but instead I got a pretty good reminder to take my own advice and try not to judge people based on how they look, or even what they appear to believe.

She opened her mouth and muttered half to herself but loud enough for the entire aisle to hear…

“I may not be an expert on parenting…but all five of my boys knew it was wrong to toss rocks, or anything for that matter, through someone’s window before they ever went to school. But if you wanna leave the important parts of parenting to some overworked teacher to do for you while she tries to teach thirty kids math…well…”

I managed to stifle my laugh…positive checkout lady didn’t have the self-control I do and actually snorted.

“…and honestly if those kids actually believed they came from a darned rock, why would they be throwing their ancestors through some window?”

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Then positive checkout lady lost her self-control again…and so did I as I watched the man walk off in a huff. I thought the poor checkout lady was going to choke. I managed to collect myself enough to turn around and thank the lovely old lady behind me.

“Thank you so much…I was taught to be super respectful of my elders so I appreciate you saying what I was thinking to him so I didn’t have to.”

“Young lady…”

(Yeah, that’s right, I got called YOUNG lady this morning! Best morning ever!! Anyway…)

“…even some of us ‘elders’ need to be set straight once in a while. I taught my boys to respect everyone that respected them and that man just wasn’t being all that respectful.  There are wonderful people in my church and there are horrible people…I think if you’re a good person just because some book told you how and why then you’re doing it wrong. I’m kind of sad about men like him acting like church makes you a good person no matter what and gives you the right to judge someone else…sometimes being good takes more work than sitting in a fancy seat once a week.”

So I walked out with the wonderful lady and talked some more with her as we put her bags in her car, she even gave me tips on potty training the youngest minion and dealing with the elder minions less-than-respectful friends. (I promise to share those later)

Turns out she was at the store so early because her youngest son was visiting with his partner and as she put it, “Neither of those boys drink normal milk, they need this fancy stuff made out of nuts, which I can’t figure out how it’s called milk, but they like it…so I decided to run out this morning so they could have it for their coffee when they wake up…they both get kind of cranky without their morning coffee.”

At which point I remembered that my coffee should be done at home and almost couldn’t get back into my car fast enough…

Am I a Bad Mom?

It’s been a pretty rough week with the minions this week.  And by rough I mean at one point I wanted to crawl under my blankets with a tub of Cool Whip and pray that when I crawled back out they would suddenly be eighteen and away at college.

Like every parent, I love my children with all of my being in a way that isn’t really possible to put into words.  They make me a better person and add light and adventure to my day that I’m sure I couldn’t live without.  They are also the reason I have vivid fantasies about nothing more than having the house to myself for a weekend.

This week has been especially intense.  We’ve had two trips to the ER, Connor mysteriously figured out the Chinese box of childproofing we have throughout the house and we had to have a pretty intense conversation with Nick about taking things that don’t belong to him.

Because I’m a mom, and I assume this is how most moms think, it never crossed my mind that I have bad children.  What did cross, and then imbed itself into my mind was that I am a horrible mother.

I should have taught my children better to not touch household cleaners. I should have explained better to my four year old that he can’t just climb out a window and walk to the park on his own. I should have described every possible scenario imaginable to make my son understand that taking money off grandma’s dresser is not okay. I should have done better for them. I am a bad mom.

The problem got even worse when I was sitting in the waiting room of the eye specialist my son was seeing. There was another mom there with four small children with her, the youngest of which looked to be about two and the eldest maybe eight or nine.  And they were all sitting with every shoe tied and every shirt on right side out, silently reading books. I was dumfounded.  Connor wasn’t with me at the time, but I knew full well that if he was I would have been chasing him around the eye glass display and not peacefully reading Pinkalicious…especially if there were four of him. Any normal week I would have assumed the woman was a witch and had cast some spell on her children to make them behave this way, but not this week. This week I was a bad mom.

Because my brain is an ass and I was sitting next to my eye patch wearing thief of a child…the jerk side of my brain decided to kick it into high gear.  For the next few days all that seemed to pop into my head every time the kids did something even slightly mischievous, was that I was doing something and everything wrong. All I saw around me was silent children saying please and thank you in pristine white clothing. All I seemed to hear from friends was the awesome things their children had done this week. Now I wasn’t just a bad mom, I was quickly becoming the worst mom.

And then my jerk of a brain told me to go to the internet for help…because that always turns out well.

Every blog and news article instructs parents to yell less or yell more, put down your iPhone or use it to distract your child, turn off the television or turn on a certain video, put them to bed early or better yet, let them stay up late. Force them to eat vegetables, no wait, let them eat whatever they want. Take them to the park more often, but be sure to make up more indoor activities. Then you need to make their clothes out of old pillowcases after you buy them the newest fashions. Be sure to teach them to speak up for themselves, tell them not to talk too loudly, teach them not to bully, and somehow also teach them to be their own person.

To everyone who wrote those, you are a jerk.  Writing a different and new opinion on raising the perfect child doesn’t make your way right, it just confuses the rest of us clueless parents and makes us feel that much more inadequate. I’m sure you’re a fantastic parent, in fact I envy you a bit, and your child looks adorable in that dress made of old ties, but for the love of all that is good, STOP!

What I needed this week wasn’t another person telling me the ‘right’ way to raise my children.

What I needed was another mom to look me in the eye and tell me she was a bad mom, too.

I needed to hear other moms tell me that their child throws fits in Target, too.  I needed to know that other kids swipe candy bars from the grocery store and that some other toddler managed to snap off a door knob lock and parade down the street in a Pull-up.  I needed to know that other moms get so frustrated that they cry.  I needed to hear that every mom has days she wants to hide with the Cool Whip.

I needed someone to tell me to calm the hell down and look around me to see that I already was raising them ‘right’. I needed to be reminded that every child is different. That every child has their quarks and moments. I needed someone to say that we all think we’re bad moms…and that we all aren’t.

And then Nicholas gave me a hug and a kiss good-bye…at the bus stop…right in front of his friends.

That one moment was better than any parenting article, therapy session or blog could have ever dreamed of being. It made the non-jerk side of my brain shift back into gear. I suddenly remembered Nicholas standing up to a bully that was picking on a friend in kindergarten.  I remembered Connor hugging a friend that was crying at school and telling her that her mommy would be there soon and it would get better. I remembered that Nick still gives me a hug and kiss at the bus stop even if his friends say it isn’t ‘cool’.

It occurred to me at that moment that it may not be as important that my children sit still in a waiting room as it is that they show care and compassion to those around them. Connor doesn’t sit still because it’s more important for him to explore and learn what’s around him.  Nicholas hears me tell him how something works or that it may hurt him but he still needs to take things apart and see for himself how things work because he loves to learn.

In the long run that may be better for them. My children don’t have to sit silently in every waiting room, they don’t have to play in some organized way when we’re at home or at the park and they don’t have to make it thought childhood without a bruise or scratch on them.

My children are going to misbehave.

My children are going to test my patience

My children are going to get hurt, bruised and sick.

My children will have an ‘okay’ mom, and as it turns out, that’s good enough.

As my sister put it, “All you have to do is make sure they make it through childhood alive, require only minimal therapy later on in life, and that they improve the world in at least some small way.”

And that we always have a tub of Cool Whip in the fridge…just in case.
NicholasConnor

Tide Pods and Pirate Patches

I am now the mother of a pirate…or Nick Fury…we haven’t quite decided yet.

The new pirate child is the result of yet another adventurous night in the Flowers’ household and has also started me thinking we should just have our own room reserved at the E.R.  We’ve had about four trips related to a food allergy we cannot seem to figure out…because my son is a freak of nature and is both allergic to everything and nothing at the same time and no amount of skin pricking has solved the mystery.

Then the elder minion decided one night that it was imperative that he learn how to be a King-Fu master and that the bathroom, right after his bath, was the optimum place to try this.  What I witnessed of the event was the sound of a passionate ‘Hi-Yah!’ followed by a loud thud which was followed by even louder silence. I found the half-naked minion lying on the floor next to the toilet with glassy eyes clutching the back of his head.  And then I saw the goose-egg, or more accurately, his attempt at growing a new head out of the back of his original noggin.  The doctor’s reaction to my son telling the story was pretty priceless and I’m certain I heard him tell the nurses at the front desk that he had never been more grateful for being blessed with two girls. After three hours at the ER he was diagnosed with a minor concussion and the doc recommended we refrain from bathroom Kung-Fu.

And then the pirate night happened. A few days ago I was doing laundry when the elder minion decided to take hold of one of the Tide Pods and see how much it could be squeezed.  The answer is not much.  I looked up from sorting socks to the sound of him screaming that he was going to die and saw his face COVERED in milky white soap.  Despite my super calm efforts to wash out his eyes (translate this to, I tossed him fully clothed into the shower and we both cried as I pinned him down and sprayed off his face) it seemed that the soap had some kind of magic clinging power and I was going to need more expert assistance to clean out his eyes.

When we arrived at the E.R., to my great shame, both the triage nurse and the doctor on call greeted my son and I by name. We’ve had the same man as our doctor the last four times we have visited the ER, Nicholas has now spent more time with this doctor than he has his grandparents in the last few months.  I fully expected child services to be called, but instead I listened to the doctor and nurse rant for fifteen minutes about the evils of laundry pods.  As it turns out Nick is in no way unique in having an accident with one of them, and I should maybe be thankful that he at least didn’t try to eat the damn thing.

It turned out the exploding pod had given his right eye a minor chemical burn so the doc gave us some antibiotics and an eye patch and sent us on home with a promise that he would be back to normal soon.  And then the real fun started.

It took about two hours for the eye patch to go to the kid’s head.  First the pirate jokes started.

“Mom…what is a pirate’s favorite letter?…Arrrrrrrr!!!”

“Why did the pirate refuse to say, “Aye, Aye, Captain”? Because he’s only got one eye.”

“What has 12 arms, 12 legs and 12 eyes? A dozen pirates.”

And on and on it went…

Then his Auntie Marlo came to visit and taught him to blame everything on the eye by pointing at it and exclaiming, “It be the eye!!!”

(Loud fart emanates from beneath the minion) Me: “Nicholas!! What do you say?!?!”

“It be the EYE!!!!”

All the veggies are left on his plate?

“It be the eye!!!”

And on and on it went…

Then we had to go to an eye specialist to get the funky eye double checked.

“Hey Mom…that nurse likes me…”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I’m a pirate…Nurses LOVE pirates!”

“All of them?”

“Well, maybe not all.  But they all love the Avengers and I’m basically a small, pale Nick Fury…so either way I’m good.”

“For real kid?”

“Mom…It be the eye!!!”

You know what Tide? I kind of hate your right now.  A week ago I had a normal geeky child, now I am the mother of a pirate who blames all of his bodily functions on an eye patch…awesome.

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