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A huge thank you – it’s a community thing

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” ~Herman Melville

I’ve always been a very independent person, capable of juggling and getting things done on my own. Then I had children. When you have children, even if you have a helpful husband and helpful parents like mine, you find that you need others– you need community.

I’ve known this for a while and I’m so blessed that I’m part of one. It’s sometimes difficult for me to ask others for help, and because of my work schedule I can’t always reciprocate and return the favors, I feel guilty, but when something happens and people step up for you without you having to ask, it’s like a huge warm hug.

In a quirky accident at my son’s soccer game this weekend, (my husband was at work so it was just me), my daughter tripped, fell and cut her knee open on the metal edge of a sun umbrella (a large one, not the smaller rain deterrent version).

I did not see her fall, so when she first hobbled over to me, crying and bleeding, my initial reaction was to stop the blood. I grabbed wet wipes, sat her down and applied pressure. Another mom immediately came over and said gently, we have to look and see how deep it is.

I’m not the queasy at the sight of blood sort, nor am I a panic in stressful situation person, but I admit that my instinct was to stop the blood. And that is as far as I got. It didn’t occur to me that it could be dangerously deep or need medical attention that I could not provide.

I’m thankful for the mom I know, who was a step ahead of me, grabbing her first aid kit and reminding me to check out the wound.

As my daughter’s pain and fear rose to higher levels and my arms and words didn’t sooth her, I’m thankful for the other mom I know, who came over and acted as the master of distraction, creatively taking my daughter’s mind off her knee, long enough for a dad I know to come over and help clean and dress the wound.

It turns out that the cut, while not deep, was wide and on the part of her knee that bends, so she did in fact need three stitches.

I’m also eternally grateful for those friends of mine, my community, who offered to go with me to the emergency room, but who understood that I needed to go alone because I needed them to stay at the game and cheer on my son, and watch over him. I’m eternally grateful for all of them banding together, taking my son to dinner and saving two spots at the table for my daughter and I, who, after two hours in the emergency room, really needed food.

And I’m eternally grateful for their concern the next day, for them needing to know if she was ok, if she was in pain, if the bleeding had stopped, as if she was their own child.

After the craziness of the weekend, my sense of community was reinforced this morning, when I had another scheduling issue with two different summer programs (one soccer, one VBS) in two different locations but starting at the same time. I was reluctant to just drop my son off, but a dad who is part of my community, said he’d keep an eye on him for me and another mom gave him a ride back to his school camp when soccer was done. And took him for hamburgers. And sent me a picture. The silly face he is making means he is happy. Which makes me happy.FullSizeRenderI’m thankfulfor these freindships,  that I’m part of a community, and that they are part of mine.

gingerbreadmama

The age of…

The kids had a dentist appointment last week and if making your sister cry a gazillion times in the short drive over was an Olympic sport, my son would win gold. He was unusually hard on her. We’ve entered the age of everything she does bugs him and he never takes the high road. He can’t let anything go. And she can ruin his day merely by repeating the same thing several times (admittedly, I lack patience with this as well). On this particular day, Little Miss, who, for some reason thought she was getting a shot, was more vulnerable than normal so Fussypants decided to mime and mimic her every action, delivering his final blow by drawing a picture of what he thought she looked like.
FPK_by_MZKSeeing this “ugly” picture of herself sent her 3 year old (and already dramatically honed) emotions over the edge. Of course, I was driving so couldn’t do much about it. Ok, I did laugh when he flung the picture up to the front seat but I did it subtly. I had one child manically laughing and one manically crying when we arrived. My head was pounding.

Do I even have to justify why I sent my young children back with the hygienist alone,  to get their teeth cleaned without me? No? I didn’t think so. The serene minutes I had to myself in that pleasant lobby were bliss.

Thankfully Despicable Me 2 was on the TV, which got the kids to sit still and because they were in separate chairs they couldn’t see/touch/talk to each other so it was quiet, gloriously quiet.

When both kids had clean chompers and were locked and loaded in the car with balloons and a toy (my childhood dentist was nice but not the play date kind of nice my kid’s dentist is) we headed home.

Fussypants was quiet on the way home, but I figured he had tapped out his pick on my sister reservoir. Then I noticed him looking at me in the mirror. When my eyes caught his, he said, “Mommy? Can I tell you something?”

He’s my curious child, and the most honest one. He often tells me everything so I wasn’t worried. But it wasn’t what I thought. Apparently my son, my popular at school, all the kids want to play with him son, had his first experience with teasing and being ganged up on during recess. It wasn’t anything terrible and he wasn’t bullied but for him, it wasn’t fun. Four boys, three of which he counts as “best friends”, teased and laughed at him for falling asleep on cute Grace’s shoulder on the bus on the way back from a field trip in Kindergarten. Yes, he was teased about something that happened in October of 2012.

I asked him how he felt, if it upset him, what he said to them. I told him they were just envious because they all have a crush on Grace. He was matter of fact about it and said it didn’t really bother him. He thought it was silly since it happened so long ago. The boy who started it has an older brother, so I’m not surprised. I’ve seen the difference between first grade and third and there is plenty of teasing, I’m better than you, and one-upmanship. What bothered him the most is that the other boys joined in, two of which weren’t even in his Kindergarten class when it happened. I got the feeling he felt betrayed, and had his feelings hurt by that betrayal but he didn’t have the words to really express that’s what he was feeling.

And I found it difficult to know the right words needed to soothe my child because this was such a minor thing. If it were something worse, I would have sprang into action but a couple of kids laughing about a nothing that happened over a year ago? Do you tell them to ignore it? Defend themselves? Tease the boys back? Let him know his friends that went along with it maybe didn’t know better? Or worse, they did and aren’t really good friends? I don’t know what is right in that situation. So I asked him what he did.

He opted to mostly ignore it, telling them that they were silly, it was Kindergarten. He said a teacher overheard the boys laughing and upon learning what they were laughing about, told them the same thing. It was a long time ago, so who cares. I don’t know if that is the right thing to say either but I’m proud of my son for standing up to them in the sense that he didn’t resort to their level and tease them back. He didn’t get angry, he didn’t cry. But I’m sad for him as he loses a little more of the true innocence of being a child. It won’t get easier, as kids get older and their individual personalities develop, so does the peer pressures and cliques, their reactions, interests and the importance of others opinions. I’m also sad for him that the boys he bonds with the most weren’t there for him. In a big picture way, I know they didn’t mean it, but I’ve seen my son around similar situations (but not the one being teased) and he’s never turned on a friend. Now he might, if he thinks it’ll take the spotlight off him.

It makes more sense to me now, the relentless picking he did on his sister on the way to the dentist. Part of it is being the big brother, but part of it was something he could control. He could tease instead of being teased. And maybe I need to be better at looking past some of the noise , to see if there is something else going on.

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
~Angela Schwindt

 

 

gingerbreadmama

Stronger. 2012, here I come.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like them and the only one I’ve kept is the one I made not to make them. I’d rather set goals throughout the year, targeting areas that are meaningful to me at that time. And 2012 won’t be any different, except that I’m going to be more focused in what I want to accomplish.

The truth is, 2011 was a good year in a big picture sort-of way but ended poorly. In fact, December really sucked. Happy, worth-celebrating events, like a dear friend’s 40th birthday and the Christmas holiday, were overshadowed by a miscarriage, coming in dead last in my 5K (stupid of me to attempt it two days after my D&C), crappy deadlines, and a horrible cold (I even lost my voice). All of that put me in a foul mood for almost the entire month.

But 2011 is behind me and 2012 brings a fresh start. So far, I changed my hair (went a little darker with a little ombre, adding a touch of spicy to the new year), Fussypants turned 5 and in itself is monumental but also brought my brother, sister-in-law, cutest nephew ever and my aunt in town for a visit and I started working out again. So far, so good.

After the miscarriage, I did some reflecting and realized that without question, I am content to remain a family of four. And since four has always been my favorite number (I don’t know why, it just is), it becomes even more meaningful that I have four areas I want to focus on in 2012: Family, Friends, Fitness and Me. I couldn’t come up with an F-word for myself (ha) so I’m calling that area Feng-shui Me (simply defined as improving life by receiving positive qi – life energy, life-force), so it works as my F-word.

My four areas for 2012

In addition to my four areas of focus, I am also incorporating a word theme. Shell from Things I Can’t Say had a fb post about word/themes for the year and that intrigued me. It was easy to pick one since I know what I want to accomplish: Stronger. I want to be stronger in several areas.

Family: My family is my everything but I plan to be stronger and more focused on prioritizing certain areas so that I am really embracing the moments I have with my family.

  • Date nights. 2011 was a better year for my husband and I in terms of making more time for date nights, which often included overnight babysitting, but I want to be more consistent in making sure he and I have alone time. This ranges from the simple matter of getting the kids to bed at their bedtime hour so he and I can have time to ourselves each evening to actually going out on dates and taking weekends away. The last weekend away we had together was in July – I know. But so far, 2012 is off to a good start…we are going to Vegas, just the two of us, in a few days.
  • One-on-on time with my kids. Fussypants is at the age where he enjoys and benefits from just mommy & me time and daddy & me time. My husband is better at this than I am (but only with our son) and I want to spend more time with each of my kids, doing what they want to do. They each have their own interests and I want to embrace that. This will also include time with my son, husband and myself and my daughter, husband and myself. We tried this on Fussypant’s birthday. My folks took Little Miss and my husband and I took him to the hockey game, just the three of us. It was really nice and he enjoyed the one-on-one attention.
  • Family fun time. In direct contradiction to the bullet above, I want to spend more time together as a family. We are always better at this in the summer but there is no reason why we can’t focus on this all year. My husband’s work schedule means that sometimes he isn’t home 24-72 hours in a row so we need to take advantage of when he is home and do fun things, even if it is something as simple as a family bike ride.
  • Extended family. My parents live in Southern California now and I don’t want to only see them when we are passing the kids off when they babysit. I really like my mom and dad and want to spend quality time with them, sometimes without my kids. And I need to see my brother and his family more often. He lives in Arizona but my nephew is growing so fast and I don’t want to miss out on every single moment. I also have an aunt, and two cousins (one who also has kids) in Northern California that I miss and a biological family that I very much enjoy spending time with that I want to see more of. It’s difficult to fit it all in but I need to find a way.

Friends: I used to be a really good friend but then I had kids. I thought I’d see more of my friends after having kids but it rarely works out that way. Our kids are on different schedules or in different age groups or have different interests so I don’t have as many play dates as I thought I would. And some of my friends don’t want to do play dates, they want to get together without the kids which then introduces scheduling and babysitting dilemmas. I’m not saying I never see my friends, that’s certainly not the case, I just want to be better at it. In 2012, I want to make more of an effort, I want to be the one inviting my friends to lunch rather than just accepting their invitation. I want to reach out to them more, just because. I plan to be stronger and more focused on being a better, more accessible friend.

Fitness: I’m off to a good start in 2012 but I don’t want to be in getting in shape mode forever. I want to achieve maintenance mode. Maybe that is not the right term but I want what my husband has. Ok, not the freakishly fit, carving out 3 hours a day to workout routine but he is already in shape, and works out to maintain that shape. I feel like I’m constantly wading in the deep end of getting back in shape and targeting certain areas (currently I’m all about cardio and core). But I need to dig deeper (says the girl who likes carbs and wine and chocolate). I have a 10K trail run coming up in March, and the week after that I’m doing a mud-run with a team of moms. Working towards a goal. I plan to be stronger and more focused on consistently working out and pushing myself to achieve the results I want.

Feng-shui Me: I’m always tired and usually cranky, forgetful, and unorganized. I never used to be that way, especially forgetful and unorganized. And I’m done with it. We recently watched Kung-Fu Panda 2 and it occurred to me that I need to find my inner peace. If I can align myself in my own mind, then my family, work , sleep, and everything else will benefit. There is so much to do in this area; I need to purge and organize closets and kid crap, time-manage my work projects (I’m actually really good at meeting deadlines), get a freaking handle on the laundry (my life would be more pleasant if I folded and put away at the same time), actually look ahead on my calendar so I don’t almost miss birthdays and really, really, really make more time for myself to be me. This could be as simple as reading a book (I’ve set a goal to read a minimum of 25 books this year), taking a nap, getting a pedicure or as big as having a girl’s night out. I almost always operate in Mom-Wife-Career Mode, which I love and wouldn’t change for the world, but sometimes I just need to take a step away and be in Coreen Mode. I plan to be stronger and more focused on myself, so that I am more peaceful and productive.

And that’s that. 2012, here I come.

gingerbreadmama