“Diet” is a Four Letter Word

Posted on | June 13, 2014 | 6 Comments

All my life, it seems, I’ve been telling people I’m on a diet.

In high school, I counted out how many grapes I could eat and not go over my calorie limit. In college, I took appetite suppressants and “yoga-ed” like a crazy lady. I was always counting and measuring and denying and starving myself into submission. Always two or three or four steps away from the “perfect” weight, no matter what my weight actually was.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was being THAT mom who lingers on the playground talking to the other kids and soaking in their awesomeness, when I heard a little girl, no more than six, say something in their play about dieting. They were playing house, nothing major, and certainly the child was NOT on a diet, but perhaps she’d heard her mother say that before, or her aunt, or a friend, and to her, that was what mothers say when faced with food of any kind.

It broke me a little inside to hear those words come out of the soft lilting lisp of a pre-K student.

It flashed those images of my high school self, dressed in baggy clothes and embarrassed by my boobs and body that didn’t fit the “00″ stereotype of most of the girls in my class. I was an 8 on a good day. On a day when I starved and sucked in and tightened the strap around my boobs. On most days, I was a 10.

I weighed 120 pounds at 5’8″ and I thought I was fat. I thought I needed to diet to mold myself into that “00″ ideal of the 5’3″ girls around me.

Even now, I’m uncomfortable saying what I weigh… scared that someone will raise an eyebrow. I’m scared to have my boyfriend, who loves me for exactly who and what I am, stand beside me when I’m on the scale. I’m terrified to take that first step onto the large office scale of my doctor and constantly joke that I’m wearing “heavy shoes” or a lead bra.

But when I heard that little voice say the word “diet” it occurred to me that it’s time I stopped saying it.

diet

Because “diet” is a four letter word.

Diet implies imperfection. It implies there’s something wrong with the way I look, with what I weigh, with how I feel about myself. “Diet” implies that I need to deprive myself of all things, to force myself into a shape other than the shape I am.

“Diet” implies I am unhappy, displeased, discontented with being exactly and precisely who I am.

So yesterday, when J asked me why I was having a salad for dinner, I didn’t say it was because I’m on a “diet,” even though I’m sure I’ve used that word before. Instead I smiled and said “Because salad is healthy. And I want to be really healthy so I can stay your mom for a long time.”

“Diet” is a four letter word. But “healthy?” Healthy is not. And I’d much rather our girls say THAT when they’re pretending to be grown ups.

Candy Apple Women

Posted on | June 11, 2014 | 17 Comments

Over the weekend, a friend invited J and I to their pool. We got there early and set up our towels and picnic lunches and then crept slowly into the pool, letting the coldness soak in through our bathing suits. I’m not thin. I like to think of myself as “curvy” or maybe “average” and my friend is teeny-tiny. We both were wearing tankinis, me in swim shorts and her in a swim skirt. As families filed into the pool, I took note of the bathing suits, noticing the men in their swim trunks, bellies on display. I noticed the little girls and boys contentedly wearing their suits without the slightest pause. They were all different shapes and sizes. They were in brightly colored patterns and summery prints. Everything was fresh and bright and cheerful.

Then I noticed that around the pool, every mother there was wearing a black bathing suit. Regardless of height or age or weight or curves or straight thinness.

Every single mother was wearing black. It was as though we were all shouting out “I SHOULDN’T EVEN BE WEARING THIS BATHING SUIT BECAUSE I AM SO LARGE.”

There was, in fact, one girl in a bikini, perfectly tan, perfectly thin in all the perfect spaces. Her stomach was without lines. Her bathing suit was bright blue and stood out in the crowd. She looked exactly like she’d stepped off the cover of a women’s magazine.

She was fifteen, if that.

I looked down at my black top and my friend’s black skirt and I mentioned the color theme. She looked around. She sheepishly shrugged and so did I. Because black is slimming, right? Because as women, we’ve been brain-washed into believing that we must look fifteen to be beautiful.

Well guess what… we aren’t fifteen anymore and we aren’t SUPPOSED to look fifteen. We are supposed to have curves and lines and the tugs and pulls of a life well lived.

We’re all so scared, aren’t we, we women. We’re so scared that someone will notice that our bodies aren’t “perfect”, that they aren’t what the fashion industry and the movie industry and the television industry tell us they should be. We’re so scared to relax for a moment, to curve our spine and let loose our breaths because dear GOD what if a roll appears between the thickly suctioned layers of our “instantly swimming suit.” We are so invested in someone else’s definition of perfect that we’ve forgotten that we have our own voices, our own opinions, our own definition of perfection.

And you know what? It’s never going to change. Our sweet daughters who don’t currently care one bit what they look like in their clothes will one day suck in and sit straight. One day they will pinch and pull and turn sideways before a mirror to see if it’s acceptable… to see if they are acceptable. Because it is what they see from the women around them. If you think they don’t notice that we’re all wearing thick black bathing suits, you are sadly mistaken.

Is that what we really want? Do we want these young girls to grow up thinking they have to meet the definition of “perfect” or even “acceptable” to someone other than themselves? That they have to look like they stepped off the cover of a magazine before they step outside?

Because they will. If all they see around them are women who meet that “perfect” definition wearing bikinis and women who don’t, trying to hide in their suits, scared to show their imperfections… then they, too, will learn to hide. To cover up what makes them so perfectly unique and special.

I don’t want to see that happen to my niece or your daughter. I don’t want to reinforce the pattern that only the perfect can be in public.

Because as beautiful as that one fifteen year old was, as “perfect” as she seemed to be, she was not the real person who stood out to me that day. After we’d been there a while, in through the back gate, a family slid in, a boy and a girl and their parents. The father climbed into the pool with the kids as the mother set up their things. After setting up, she pulled off her cover-up to reveal a beautiful candy apple red bathing suit.

She wasn’t fifteen.

She had curves and lines and marks of a life well lived.

And she was so beautiful, a colorful flower amidst the sea of black suits and careful postures, that even my friend commented on her bathing suit choice.

That one woman was perfectly herself, perfectly content, and yes… perfectly gorgeous. And I hope that her daughter knows what an amazing gift her mother is giving her… the gift of being comfortable in her own skin; the gift of being happy to be out in the sun with her family, happy to be thirty-something and to LOOK thirty-something.

I wanted to be her, as I watched her splash with her kids. I wanted to be that happy and carefree.

So I went home and bought myself a candy apple red bathing suit.

And I am going to wear it proudly every chance I get. Because it’s hard to be an “imperfect” woman; and if I can’t change the “industries” who make REAL women feel bad about themselves, at least… at very least… I can change myself.

bikini

Hey you with the new baby… you’re doing awesome.

Posted on | June 9, 2014 | 1 Comment

When I was a new mom, and I mean a BRAND SPANKING NEW mom, I was convinced I was the worst mother ever to walk the planet. I just knew I was thinking all the wrong things, feeling all the wrong things, and in general doing every single thing 100% wrong. Because no one told me I wasn’t. No one took the time, other than my awesome sister, to tell me that it was normal to think and feel and do all those “wrong things” I was thinking and feeling and doing. And as I look around my office, filled to the brim with VERY pregnant women, I couldn’t help but think about how much I needed someone to tell me that I was doing it just right.

So if you’re a new mom, let me hopefully not be the first to tell you that you are doing awesome right now. And the things you’re thinking/feeling/doing are all (probably) perfectly normal. What things? Glad you asked.

1. It is perfectly normal to have fleeting thoughts of hating your child. It is. Trust me. You don’t actually hate your baby and it doesn’t make you a bad mother. You have just brought in a permanent house guest and they are NOT obeying any of the etiquette rules for house guests. They don’t let you sleep. They may be leaving your nipples raw and ragged. They scream and cry incessantly but never tell you what is wrong. If they were not your child, you would have kicked them out within an hour of their arrival so OF COURSE you wish they weren’t there. This is all new. And it’s perfectly normal to wish they weren’t there at all. Did you actually throw them out with the trash? No? Then you’re awesome. I spent many a night pacing the floor, bouncing my child on my chest and bawling my eyes out, chanting “don’t hurt the baby. don’t hurt the baby.” Because being a new mom is tiring. And these strange little mostly-bald creatures just. won’t. stop. crying. It’s okay to have moments of fear/anger/frustration/hatred. It’s normal to have those moments. If you don’t have those moments… that’s okay, too, I’m just not sure we can be friends.  (Of course, if those moments are more than fleeting you should talk to your doctor because PPD/PPA is for real and shouldn’t be swept under the rug.)

2. It doesn’t matter how you feed your child. Honestly. I feel like I should say this three times in bold. Breastfeeding? Good for you. Bottle feeding? Great job. Is. Your. Child. Getting. Nourished? Then you’re awesome. Period. No matter what the hell else anyone else says or does or makes you feel. You are feeding your child and that makes you a good mother. Not everyone can breastfeed, no matter what people want you to believe. Not everyone can do it. That’s why formula was invented, folks.

3. No one knows what those cries mean. When J was little and would cry, everyone would tell me what was wrong. “Sounds like he needs a change!” “Sounds like someone is hungry.” And all I wanted to do was should “SOUNDS LIKE YOU SHOULD SHUT UP!” Because all his cries sounded alike. He was crying. Yes, I know, he was probably dirty or hungry or tired or not a Katy Perry fan, but dammit, I didn’t know which one it was. And odds are, neither do they. So don’t beat yourself up because you don’t know the difference between a “tired cry” and a “hungry cry.” If you try to figure it out without throwing the baby against the wall and screaming “WHAT THE EFF DO YOU WANT” then you, my friend, are awesome.

4. Poop is without explanation. This is kind of a big one, for me, because I remember people telling me that the color of my kid’s crap could indicate problems. I don’t remember who told me this, but if I could go back in time and punch them in the face, I probably would. Because my kid pooped in rainbows. Sometimes I swear he created new and unexplainable colors. Sometimes he didn’t poop at all for several days and I had to put Vaseline on a thermometer and “jiggle it” in his butt (even though SOMEONE told me that if he didn’t mind it probably meant he was gay and 1. who the eff cares and 2. really? You’re going to tell a new mom that?).  So don’t spend too much time worrying if the poop looks like he ate straight grape jelly, or candied apples, or whatever else. It’s going to be inexplicably multi-colored at times. As long as he/she isn’t pooping blood, you’re probably okay. And side note? If it LOOKS like he/she is pooping blood… check and see if it’s a side effect of a medication they are on so you don’t freak your freak and call poison control. Trust me. That’s not fun and you will carry a chip on your shoulder against your physician at least until your child is almost five.

5. All babies are different. This is crucial for you to remember during those moments when your well-meaning “friend” with the two month old comes over and says “Is he still crying every night/not sleeping 8 hours/feeding at 2am/not reading the Wall Street Journal? Mine was at that age…” They don’t mean to be rude… they’re just crappy people. No, honestly… they are. Anyone who tries to compare your child to theirs to your face deserves one of those yellow-y green-ish poop diapers smeared on their head. Pay them no mind. This is YOUR child, not theirs. And YOUR child will do things at his/her own pace. This is crucial to remember as they grow, too… though oh so hard in this Facebook world of “Little Max took his first steps! And at only three months!” If your child is loved and fed and changed and loved and yes I said loved twice… then you are awesome. End of sentence. End of paragraph. End of story.

Because being a new mom is 99% survival and 1% sanity/knowledge/serenity/peace. And as long as you can eek out that 1% somehow?

You are awesome.

Battle Lines

Posted on | June 4, 2014 | 21 Comments

This morning, we were up before six… again… and there were tears before eight. Everything these days seems to be a struggle of epic proportions. He doesn’t want to pick out his own clothes but hates the ones I bring him. He doesn’t want to tell me what he wants for breakfast but hates what I make him. When it’s time to bathe, you’d think the water was made of poisonous darts, piercing his skin and do. not. get. me. started. on washing his hair.

Everything is a battle.

And I’m worn out and frazzled and tired of saying “TIME OUT” and at this point even his name sounds like a freaking curse word or at the least a nonsensical sound, the same way saying any word over and over seems to strip it of meaning.

I don’t know what to do anymore.

He is, for all intents and purposes, a great kid. His teachers love him. He has friends who love him. His baby sitter adores him. His grandparents spoil him rotten and he has not just two parents who love him but two pseudo parents in his father’s girlfriend and my boyfriend, who think the world of him, too. And he is a really great kid.

When he wants to be.

But it seems that he expends all of that greatness of all of these other people and what is left at the end of the day is a whirling dervish of a gremlin who hates everything, especially me, and left his ears or at least his ability to listen somewhere along the road between our house and school. What’s left at the end of the day is a child who wants nothing more than to take out a full day’s worth of frustration on me… and a mother who is too frustrated from work to soothe his moods.

We are at each others’ throats from the moment we walk through the door until the moment he falls asleep, with small pockets of sweetness in between. And some days, those pockets are VERY small. It’s like he came equipped with a handbook that told him where all of my buttons are located and he simultaneously stomps, kicks, slaps, and spits at every single one. (no. he doesn’t actually kick or spit at me, though he has been known to swat at my bottom WHICH MAKES ME GO ALL CRAZY-EYED.)

I want to remember that he’s four. I want to draw in a deep breath and remember that my kid missed me all day and wants my attention. I want to nod and smile and drink in these moments because “They don’t last forever” and “blink and he’s all grown up” and all that other stuff people with selective memories say to parents. But honestly?

I have a hard time remembering any of that when he screams “I AM NEVER SNUGGLING WITH YOU EVER AGAIN AND YOU CANT BE MY MOMMY ANY MORE” at the top of his lungs from approximately one inch away from my face.

I have a hard time remembering that patience is a virtue and kids are precious and these moments are the golden days of our lives and yadda yadda yadda.

What I DO remember is that his door closes and his room seems to be  fairly safe and if I sit directly in front of it with my hand on the door handle, I can have five minutes of peace while we both cry. What I remember is that I will not hit a kid, I will not hit a kid, I will not hit a kid, until those words become a Broadway musical in my head.

I feel like I’m drowning in the fourness of him… the pseudo-teenager, angst-filled, angry and emotional crazy that is pre-school. And what I’d really like is for someone to tell me that it’s all going to get better soon.

Please?

 

How to Choose Happy

Posted on | June 2, 2014 | 3 Comments

My boyfriend always tells me that happiness is a choice. And usually I respond with a choice gesture from one of my more used fingers. But this morning, when my son woke me up for the second day in a row before 5am, I decided I’d give it a chance. So I lay very still for a moment, snatched the blue flashing flashlight from his hands, and thought for a moment about how happy I was that the blinding light was no longer flashing in my face.

I climbed from my bed, happy that I only had to stretch twice to get my back to stop hurting, then I slowly walked to the kitchen, happy that I remembered the coffee I bought was decaf so that I didn’t waste my time making it. I chose to be happy about the fact that J wasn’t listening to any of my instructions for the morning because obviously that meant he could think for himself and wouldn’t be a mindless follower all his life. I chose to be happy about the fact that we were up so early because it meant I had time to clean the counters, fold the laundry, wash the sheets, make the bed, watch Scooby Doo (twice) and make a batch of “Ants on a log” for snack.

Have to take my kid to work for the day? So happy about it.

Coffee spilled on my pants? Hey look! It’s like a new pair!

I was angrily going about “choosing happy” in the most sarcastic manner for most of the morning. Every time I “chose” happy I considered it a slap in Banks’ face. “Oh yeah… this is SO happy! Thanks for telling me that happiness is a choice. I’m SO FREAKING HAPPY RIGHT NOW.”

On the way to work, we were sitting in the drive thru line at Starbucks and I was stewing on all the anger and irritation of my morning when suddenly I realized that choosing happy isn’t about choosing to make everything that happens to you a positive.  Choosing happy is about letting the bad roll off your shoulders the best way you can. Choosing happy is about making the choice not to dwell on all the negative but to, instead, look forward for the potential of awesome.

I can’t make this morning any better.

I can’t go back and not blow my top at my kid or not spill my coffee or not be hell bent on being aggravated for the first three hours of the day. But what I CAN do is choose to put them where they belong, in the past, and focus on making the rest of my day that much better.

Because even though happiness might be a choice, it’s not a choice you make about things that already happened. It’s a choice you make to embrace the possibility of good things to come.

So my apologies, Banks, for all the flicking of birds and rolling of eyes. It seems that (just this once) you may have been right. And I’m going to spend my day choosing not to dwell on the demon child bouncing behind me in my chair as I work.

Instead, I will choose to be happy about the babysitter coming tomorrow.

 

Emptying the Water Bottle

Posted on | May 30, 2014 | 1 Comment

This morning, I filled J’s water bottle for his official last day of school. I tucked it into the corner of my purse and went on about my morning ritual of brushing, washing, dressing and the like. To be honest, I didn’t think much about it being the last day of school because he’ll be in the same class next year, though it will officially be called “Kindergarten.” We piled into the car and chatted all the way to school and then parked directly in front of his building. Like we always do, he ran up the ramp and I chased him, making bets on who would reach the door first (always him) and who would reach the classroom first (still him).

It wasn’t until I reached into my purse to hand him his water bottle that I realized I’d forgotten to close the lid and the ice cold water had been leaking all over the contents of my purse all morning long.

A slow trickle of water, tanning the liner and pooling down in the forgotten corners of my purse.

All the way to work, that pool of ice water soaked through the neat and messy corners of my life. It slowly eased its way through the cracks and stitches of my bag and trickled down onto the passenger seat.  All the way through the entryway of my building, a slow drip of water followed me, puddling into the corner of the elevator, trailing the click of my shoes against the cool tiles.

I dripped and splashed my way to my office, casually sitting the purse down against the floor, knowing that when I lifted it again the carpet would be darkly dull, marked by the slow spread of water. And I didn’t care.

Not really, anyway.

It didn’t bother me the way it could have, didn’t hound at me in the way it once would have, not so very long ago.

I didn’t sit and think and worry and twist myself in knots over the spill, over the mistake, over the silliness of placing an open water bottle in a full purse.

Instead, I let it drip. I let it trickle down my cheeks and heart and soul… an icy reminder that it’s okay to be a little broken, a little messy, a little unkempt. I let it trace its stain around my path, knowing that it’s only water, knowing that… well, like the tears I may have swallowed down at one more year past… this, too, will dry.

This too will dry and fade into nothing more than the faintest memory the next time I fill a water bottle.

The next time I kiss his cheek for the last day of another school year.

The Aftermath

Posted on | May 29, 2014 | 6 Comments

Lately I’ve been feeling trapped by this space… trapped by the fact that people read, trapped by the fact that people know me. I have felt scared of the words I place here, being meticulous to say them in just the right way, to frame them in exactly the right light. I’ve been so concerned with how I come across… how I appear to be, that I’ve lost sight of who I am, or maybe who I was…. at least, at most who I meant to be when I decided to write here in this little non-descript corner.

It was meant to be an outlet… a creative zone for me to remember what it felt like to write daily; to pour my thoughts out onto a page the way I used to in a diary or journal. It was meant to be a safe place to just be. And when I got divorced, it was my safe place. People commented that I shared too much, that I was too honest with my emotions but honestly I didn’t care. I just wanted to get them out and to feel, even momentarily, less burdened by the weight of sadness that hovered on my shoulders.

But being honest came with a price… it came with a giant sign of TRAIN WRECK that brought in people who hadn’t read before. It brought in “strangers” to my little spot of the internet and even worse, it turned me into someone who wanted to please the people who read. I wanted to make sure they stayed, you know. I wanted to make sure they thought I was special or unique or at least awesome in some way or fashion. I started to write, thinking about the reader instead of writing for the sake of my soul.

And honestly?

I hate writing for a reader.

I think writing for a reader makes me less honest. It makes me wonder if what I say will offend or annoy or hurt the people who read. And I don’t want to care, no offense, about how YOU feel about my writing. I want to care about how I feel about it.

And in the aftermath of my divorce, I have not felt good about my writing.

I have felt hindered by my desire to please you, the people reading. I’ve felt hindered by knowing who reads, by getting the emails and text messages that say “Read your blog today.” I’ve felt hindered by the Facebook shares and the people here in my own town who have reached out and said “Love your blog.”

So from here on out, I’m going to forget about you guys. I don’t want to worry about SEO or tag words or stats or any of that crazy nonsense. I don’t want to plan posts or write and re-write to make it the exact way I think you’ll want to read it.

As far as I’m concerned, you don’t exist…. because this is my space. And if I offend or annoy or hurt feelings, well… then… so be it. Because if I don’t have this space for me, then there’s no point in really having it at all.

Some Days You’re the Fire Hydrant

Posted on | May 27, 2014 | 2 Comments

Before becoming a parent, I thought I understood the whole “some days you’re the cat and some days you’re the mouse” line of thinking. I thought it made sense… I mean, some days are good and some days are bad, right? It’s not hard to understand.

And then I became a mother of a boy and suddenly all of that cat and mouse, dog and fire hydrant, nonsense hit me square in the face like the moment you first remove a baby boy’s diaper and, well, you get hit square in the face.  I, quite literally, became a fire hydrant in that moment. And it wouldn’t be the last time.

It’s usually most apparent when you’re around other parents with kids around the same age. Like this weekend… for random example.  We split our weekend between two sets of friends… two were friends of mine and two were friends of Banks. While at my friends’ house, my kid was mostly golden. He was also, mostly, the only child. So he was showered with attention and love and basically adored for every tiny thing that came out of his mouth. Sort of like at home. The one time there were other kids around, he behaved swimmingly, offering his lunch to the little girl (yes. I know. I just can’t even.) and not resorting to any sort of histrionics at all. The little girl had a few meltdowns and, let’s face it, in those moments you don’t MEAN to compare… but you do. And you’re totally proud of your kid for holding it together. We left their house on Sunday afternoon and I felt like top dog. My kid was so well-behaved and clearly I was the best parent EVER.

Then we pulled up to Banks’ friends’ house, where the wife was almost 8 months pregnant and a three year old boy was anxiously awaiting play time with J. At first, things seemed to go well. I was still basking in my “dog not hydrant” moments at the prior locale so I just knew that J was going to continue to be his charming, adorable self.

And then, as they say, and then.

First, it started small. Little tiffs between the boys. Little moments where J would say “NO!” or “I DON’T WANT HIM NEAR ME.” Then it became full blown melt downs with tears and stomping around. At one point he slammed the bathroom door; at another, he screamed that he wouldn’t sit at the table with us at the restaurant because he wanted to sit just with me at a booth. He refused to eat. He cried a lot. He wouldn’t share toys. He was about as obnoxious as he could be, as often as he could be obnoxious.

Meanwhile, Banks’ friends’ kid was just chilling. He was in his element, hanging out, telling my kid that he was not being nice, and being basically as awesome as my kid had been the day before at MY friends’ house.

I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t much like it when my kid acts… well… four. I like it when he shows off how awesome he is. I like it when he doesn’t throw fits or slam doors or act as though he was raised by a pack of wolves. But he was tired and he’d been going non stop since Saturday morning… not that I’m making excuses. (No, really I am.)

Saturday and Sunday morning, I was top dog.

By Monday, I was covered in piss.

But as a parent, you have to just come to grips with the fact that there are days when you just have to be the fire hydrant.

Underwear Isn’t THAT Important, right?

Posted on | May 8, 2014 | No Comments

One of the hardest things about being a parent is learning how and when to let go of the quest for a perfect child.

I thought, when J was a baby, that dropping him off at daycare was the worst thing I’d ever go through. I remember the first day like it was yesterday… placing him gently in the arms of his daycare teacher and slinking back to my car to sob for a good twenty minutes about leaving him. It felt like the hardest thing I’d ever do… entrusting him to someone else to protect and love and nurture. Who could possibly love him as well as I can? Who could possibly take such good care of him as his own mother? How would they keep him happy and clean and, well… perfect?

As the years have flown by, there have been a lot of those moments. There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt like my world is too wrapped up in my son, too invested in trying to give him everything in the world to make him, yes, perfect. There have been many moments when I’ve wondered to myself how anyone could possibly screw up parenting and just as many (okay maybe more) when I’ve wondered how anyone gets any of it right. And as I’ve watched him grow from a baby to a toddler to the crazy pre-schooler that he is now, I’ve watched myself grow right along side him.

When he was small, I thought that everything was important… how he dressed, how often and how well I bathed him, how much he ate, how little he cried. And yes, those things are important, but that’s not what it’s really all about, is it? At least that’s not everything. Being the cleanest doesn’t make you the best, I suppose, though it certainly seemed to be the most important thing in the world to me when I had a newborn. I distinctly remember the moment when I dropped a pacifier on the floor of a restaurant and sent my ex-husband to wash it off in hot water in the sink. An older couple at the next table laughed and said “First child?” with a knowing smile. I was shocked.

I couldn’t fathom I’d ever not want to wash a dirty pacifier off in the sink… what kind of parent does that?! Isn’t dirt a sign of bad parenting or something? Who could possibly just clean off a pacifier in their own mouth and give it back to their child? (Me, that’s who, several weeks later and for the rest of his babyhood.)

Because dirt don’t hurt, am I right? And there’s just no trophy presented to the parent with the cleanest and best-dressed child. Nor, thank God, are there demerits for having a dirty one. How my child dresses himself is no reflection on my parenting skills though for a while, I really thought it was. I used to argue with him over mis-matched clothes, shoes on the wrong feet, two different socks. I have had to learn to let go of the need to tell him what to wear, when to wear it, and how to put it on. And it’s been a struggle for me not to think that his appearance, what he is happy in, is some sort of telltale sign that I’m raising him wrong.

This was never more clear to me than when, last week, my son came home from school, covered in dirt with, of course, holes in the knees of his pants and sixteen pounds of sand weighing down his shoes. I ran the bath water and hovered as he undressed to climb into the bath. When he pulled off his pants, I stopped and looked at him for a moment.

“Did you have an accident at school?” I asked, not recognizing the underwear but fairly certain the pants were right. He looked at me sheepishly for a moment and shrugged.

“No. I just forgot to put on underwear this morning,” he nonchalantly climbed into the bathtub and I could do nothing but laugh.

Because these are the moments that remind me what parenting is all about… it’s not about being the best or having the most perfect child. It’s about letting them make their own decisions, remember their own damn underwear, and realizing that when they forget it? It’s not a reflection of how well you’re parenting.

It’s just a reflection of how good they are at being four. And, you know, driving you crazy.

Not All Baseball Players Are Born to Play

Posted on | May 7, 2014 | No Comments

Last year, I signed J up for “Wee ball” and then almost simultaneously got roped into “coaching” the team. To say that it was a disaster is an epic understatement. He cried when he had to go to the games. He hated putting on his gear and hated batting, throwing, catching, and everything else associated with baseball. So when the time rolled around to sign up again, I waffled. Ultimately, I decided to leave the decision up to J, and he immediately announced that he REALLY wanted to play this year.

So we signed up for a different league, one with “real” coaches, and I got to work re-outfitting my four year old with the world’s cutest baseball gear.

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I never really think of my kid as athletic. He has my passion for doing things perfectly along with my desire to quit anything I’m not immediately good at and he’s not a natural ball player by any stretch of my imagination. Not like some of these kids I see out there. Banks and I got him out in the front yard to practice last weekend and he was all about not listening to one single word we had to say about batting stance, watching the ball, throwing overhanded, or God forbid catching. Because he’s four, and just like my brother, his Uncle E,  J knows EVERYTHING already. You can say anything in the world to him and his response will be “I know that.” So it’s slightly trying on my patience levels to try to teach him anything… reading, math, baseball… anything.

But his t-ball coach this year, Coach Charlie, is quite possibly the reincarnation of Job.

Because he not only listens, he teaches… with a patience that astounds me and makes me wonder if he’s slipping himself Xanax on the regular just to deal with this rambunctious team of 4 and 5 year olds. Under his tutelage, my son who couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn is learning how to hit the ball off a pitch and not a tee. My child who threw underhanded and often behind his own head, has started turning sideways and throwing overhanded. And this past weekend, in the midst of a game, my little boy trapped a fly ball against his leg and got an out to end the game.

And that coach made it the biggest deal in the world, taking the time to present him with the game ball for going above and beyond what they thought was possible.

Do you ever wonder what makes a kid love a sport? Do you think it’s because he’s born a natural athlete, a strong and broad shouldered kid with a great arm and a power swing?  Because I used to think that. Then I watched my son beam from ear to ear last night because he barely hit a slow dribbling ball down the first base line, outran it to first base, and brought in a winning run to advance in the playoffs. He looked quickly to me to see if I was proud  and then turned all of his attention to his coach, waiting for an inevitable high-five and congratulations.

The greatest appreciation of a game, I think, comes not from being born to play it… it comes from being taught to love it. Who knows who my son will be as he ages… who knows how well he may learn to hit or throw or catch or even pitch. But what I know from watching him this season, is that he is developing a love for baseball that I hope will stay with him all his life. And I also know that I will always be grateful for Coach Charlie taking the time to teach him that.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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  • I'm a divorced, single mom to a pre-schooler, a full-time attorney, and a semi-reluctant vegetarian. I work hard and when given the chance, I play hard... but I'm almost never given the chance.

    It's possible that I never outgrew 7th grade mentality, as I still laugh when anyone says anything that can be remotely construed as sexual. Let's face it, if you're not down with "That's what s/he said" at the end of almost any sentence, we're probably not going to get along all that well.

    I drink more than I should, I run more than I should, and I laugh as much as I can. So I'm pretty much winning at life.

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