...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Monday, October 13, 2008

you realize if I played by my rules, I'd be cleaning out kids' rooms right now?

This post is in honor of Caitlin at iMommy, who's looking forward to the arrival of a new baby into her family. Several of her blogging friends (The Big Piece of Cake, Is Any Mommy Out There?, Eat, Play, Love, Insta-Mom, Issas Crazy World, Marinka, and Psych Mamma) are also posting in honor of Caitlin today as part of a virtual baby shower to share our parenting advice. After reading this rather long-winded, typically wordy post I've laced with random bits of "awww" and sprinkles of "that's so sweet," I hope you'll take a moment after commenting (if you wish to here) and visit Caitlin's blog and offer your own advice or even just your well wishes.

Last Tuesday afternoon, armed with garbage bags and a wavering sense of determination, I stood in the hallway outside the boys' bedrooms and viewed the carnage that littered their hovels. Stuffed animals loitered shamelessly with action figures. Clothes I couldn't recall either victim wearing earlier in the week laid tangled among the other cast-offs. Books were dumped on the floor just inches short of their shelves. Under my nose, a distinct yet utterly untraceable funk that can only be labeled "boy" mingled. I closed my eyes and counted to 10. Ten came to pass and still I stood there, eyes still closed, hope - never really there in the first place - fading.

"This is ridiculous. OK. I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go," I muttered, channeling my best Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

But I didn't go. I stood there a second or two longer, thinking about how a day spent clearing out these two crime scenes - slash - bedrooms wouldn't be fun. How it wouldn't include lunch at a fancy restaurant with the Sausage King of Chicago, or singing a Beatle's song in a spontaneous parade through my house. In fact, like Cameron fighting the plan, I may have hopped up and down in a mix of anger and frustration. Mostly frustration.

Frustrated? As a mom? Shocking, isn't it? Well come a little closer so I can let you in on a little secret...

Sometimes I get incredibly frustrated being a mom. I have days where hearing the word "Mom" - whether from my kids, a stranger's kid, or even the television - puts me on edge. Makes me want to run screaming out the door, down my street, and straight into some child-free paradise. Except the screaming part would remind me of my kids, and then I'd get all frustrated again, and see? Hello, vicious cycle.

Perhaps I'm not alone in this thought. I hope not. I hope I'm not the only one who wakes up some days and wonders how they're going to face the same routine, put together the same peanut butter sandwiches, repeat the same set of rules that were in place yesterday, but seem to have evaporated from smaller minds during slumber. Wash, rinse, repeat. If I am, I should obviously look into making an appointment with a qualified specialist. But first let me figure out how I'm going to juggle the laundry, get one kid to sports practice, and arrange childcare for the other.

Yes, being a mother is frustrating. Staring at the cavernous mess my two boys had created in their rooms (Did that pile of clothes just breath? Is something alive in there?), I was struck by the thought that the only reason I'd want to go in and dig out that day was the hope that my excavating would turn up a human resource office to which I could submit my letter of resignation on the whole motherhood gig.

"What's that?" I'd say when the HR director tried to stop me from quitting. "You say I'm too valued a member of this team to just quit? Ha! Oh, that's rich, HR director. In fact, that's far richer than I'll ever be! Is there value in washing the same underwear and socks every week? Are the heavy sighs of complaint I hear when I put a homemade meal down in front of my children my reward? Are the riches in the missing reading glasses someone else must now be wearing because they so-called "mysteriously disappeared" from my oldest's backpack on his way to school? If so, then I should have quit this job sooner!"

Those are the moments that (sometimes) make me wish I could forget I was someone's Mom.

Last Tuesday night, with the boys' bedrooms still in manic disarray, I sat on the couch. Quiet. In the dark. Alone. "This is good," I thought, closing my eyes to really take in the peaceful moment. When I opened them a few minutes later, my oldest son had quietly come into the room and sat down beside me. Close, but not too close, according to 11-year-old boy standards. My youngest son, 6, stood in front of me. I'd remarked the other day how he's becoming so big that it's hard to lift him, but there he stood in front of me, and before I knew it, I held my arms out in front of me and was asking him to climb onto my lap. Often this boy's own set of standards causes him to shoo away the hugs, but on this evening, he willingly entered the half circle my arms were creating, climbed atop my lap and settled in. In seconds, he was nesting his head under my chin, allowing me to smell the fruit-scented remains of the shampoo earlier used to wash away that distinct yet utterly untraceable "boy" funk. His hands, still small and with the last glimpses of the knuckle dimples I'll mourn when completely gone, rested upon my shoulders.

The three of us just sat there. Quietly. In the dark. I could feel my youngest son's body relaxing into mine, and soon after heard the faint sound of a "pop" as his lips - typically moving rapidly and always with the need to tell me Very Important Things - opened slightly as the final indicator that he'd sunk into deeper sleep. "This is great," I thought, once again closing my eyes to really take in the moment.

And I really did want to take it in. I wanted to sit there forever with these two boys who mess up my world, forever request peanut butter sandwiches, who can't seem to remember even the smallest thing from one day to the next. Yes, I get frustrated being a mom. Yes, there are days when I (sometimes) wish I could forget I was one. The dirty rooms, the sporadic whining that feels like it goes on forever, the complaints about my meatloaf? They're always going to be there. The moments like the one I got to have with my boys last Tuesday night (and, truly, so many other times) though? They're the ones that won't always be, and they're the ones that make it easy for me to remember why I'm happy to be a mother. So, remember those. Hold onto them. Forget about the messy rooms and hold onto your children as often as possible. They are, in essense, the Sausage Kings of Chicago.

Which, come to think of it, could finally explain that distinct, but utterly untraceable funk...



Blogger Sherendipity said...

Every Mom should read, and marvel at this post.

Monday, October 13, 2008 8:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other day when M got home from work him and I were talking and what should have been a 5 minute conversation turned into 20 with all the "MOM!"s. I burst into tears and told him to deal with it... "If I hear the word "mom" one more time I'm gonna lose it" (which, actually, I already had when I burst into tears). A few nights later we all pulled out the sleeper sofa and watched "Iron Man" and eventually all three of them were curled up on the bed next to me (and in R's case, on top of me) and I wished I could freeze that moment.
Wonderful post... for all of us.

Monday, October 13, 2008 8:31:00 AM  
Blogger xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx said...

Thank you, so much. This is a beautiful post, and I am so, so touched that you're posting as part of a virtual baby shower!

I won't lie, I totally sat here in my cube and cried while I read this. You've hit so many points of motherhood here... humor, frustration, beauty, peace, love, longing. . .

Thank you again. You are a great friend.

Monday, October 13, 2008 8:54:00 AM  
Blogger steenky bee said...

I loved this post. You rock, sister. You hit it right on. Abe Froeman would be so proud right now. He would definitely bestow his sausages upon you. My love for you is like a spore mold. Toxic and ever growing.

Monday, October 13, 2008 8:56:00 AM  
Blogger Chasity said...

What a perfect way to word what Motherhood is all about. And beautiful, too. I think we all try to breathe those moments in and then hold our breath as long as we can before they slip away.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:21:00 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

Keep the bedroom doors shut. That is the secret to a happy mom. Lots of hugs rock my world too!

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:27:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That was a very moving post - good call.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger Eternal Sunshine said...

This was great. There are days when i tell my kids "My name is not Mom anymore, I changed it, and I'm not telling you what the new one is"

But there are moments...

Mom's not always such a bad thing.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:59:00 AM  
Blogger Kopperhead said...

My baby, out of five children, is now 21, and I barely remember the messy rooms or the forgetfulness or the crazy timetables. I do remember the hugs and making cupcakes and teaching them to read. All the good stuff, definitely floats to the top.

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

yes. indeed. exactly.


Monday, October 13, 2008 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

You are such a talented writer, my dear. . .

And your mom-ness warms my heart (and, incidentally, reminds me the least bit of a certain mother-of-eight of my close acquaintance. . .)

Even as a dad, sometimes you just have to look at 'em and marvel that such a being came from ME. . .

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Kori said...

Amen to this post; and any mom who says she has never felt the desire to run away screaming is a flat-out-liar.

Monday, October 13, 2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger anymommy said...

Definitely not alone. Some days I feel like the entire day is an exercise in trying to get time away from my kids. But, then there are those moments, just like you describe. Beautifully said. I'm so glad that we both know iMommy, because now I found you.

Monday, October 13, 2008 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger MereCat said...

Oh I so get this. Even in the wee hours this morning when my son woke up with a fever. I hated the crying and even said dammit when I had to get up in the middle of the night. But when I was sitting in the chair holding him, it really was nice. I tried to be very mindful of the moment since I know it will be gone so soon.

Monday, October 13, 2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Wonderful post. I think your label should be the title of your book of essays. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

That was lovely. I enjoyed it so much. And now I want to take a nap...

Monday, October 13, 2008 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger Lipstick Jungle said...

Hon I feel it too. Let me tell you, 11 year old girls have funk too.

BTW, I am officially part of the 6-11 club! Jadon turned 6 yesterday.

My 6 yo runs up to me all the time for those hugs. He even told daddy he loved me a lot more. It makes me remember why mom isnt so bad.

But then they move/speak and its all over again!

Monday, October 13, 2008 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger Lipstick Jungle said...

Oh, and that "just lori today" - that is to remind myself that I am not always "their mom" or "his wife". Sometimes I am "just me".

Monday, October 13, 2008 1:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad I'm not the only one crying happy tears at this gorgeous, gorgeous piece, sweet girl. Hope you don't mind that I'm going to forward it and make a few other friends' day. Brilliant. xo

Monday, October 13, 2008 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

Just LOVELY!!! My absolutle favorite time of every day is the morning when my 4 year old wordlessly climbs into my bed to snuggle. We just hug and kiss and I am the happiest I've ever been at that moment. Thanks for reminding me of that!

Monday, October 13, 2008 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Wow. Just wow.

Monday, October 13, 2008 3:15:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Becky said...

My days, like yours, are a mix of "this is the best thing ever" and "I'm fucking nuts for doing this." I love every second of the chaos, but could use some space.

And when I'm older and my kids have moved out, I'll miss it all.

Monday, October 13, 2008 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Shonda Little said...

Holy Bejesus, I've been cleaning out the clutter this week, too. I will think I am done, but I swear the shit is multiplying.

Monday, October 13, 2008 3:25:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin McKeever said...

Is there any situation in which on can't relate it to "feris beuller"? Is there? Is there? beuller? beuller?

Monday, October 13, 2008 4:55:00 PM  
Blogger Brian o vretanos said...

All of this makes me wonder how my mother must have felt, and a little bit surprised that she didn't just get the Atomic Energy Authority to put a hazard sign on my bedroom door ;-)

Monday, October 13, 2008 5:04:00 PM  
Blogger MsPicketToYou said...

when my kids learned to say "mom" or "mama" actually, i felt that relief and payback like when each smiled for the first time.

i need to remember that -- and read this -- on the days when my aka name literally turns my hair gray.

because sometimes i want to sit there forever too...

Monday, October 13, 2008 5:17:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea with the Flipflops said...

as I read you blog I was also listening to my little beasts "clean" their rooms (wink wink). And your post made me remember that the sounds of ninjas cleaning a bedroom will not last for forever ... so best to enjoy it for now. Just maybe a clean room is not such a big deal...

Monday, October 13, 2008 5:54:00 PM  
Blogger PsychMamma said...

Those moments are the absolute best. Thanks for the great reminder to cherish them. Today was a "cherish" day for me. They get a little far between sometimes in the "terrible two" stage, but always just as precious.

Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing.

Monday, October 13, 2008 9:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe you were lying earlier. You totally give those boys both mixer thingies to lick the cookie dough off of. And you smile when you watch them.

You talk a big game, but you're really just another SUCKA like me.

Admit it.

Monday, October 13, 2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Sometimes I tell my girls that I am changing my name and I am no longer "mom". They always call my bluff.

Monday, October 13, 2008 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Manager Mom said...

I can never get enough of the Ferris Bueller references.

I got interruped mid-post by my own sweaty little something, who padded down the stairs to give me an early morning sweaty hug.

Tt's those little moments that make everything right with the world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 6:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sweet. And very, very nicely told.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Nature Girl said...

you know, I'd love to tell you that when they're 16 and 19 it's better and you no longer want to run away screaming, but you're my friend, and I won't lie to you like that.

the smell doesn't get any better either. they just try to cover it with cheap cologne or body wash which really? just makes it worse.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this.

I love you though.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

My nine year old crawled in bed with us last night pretty early on. Which meant no sleep for me as I got stuck in the middle. Somewhere in the middle of the night though, I threw my arm over him and had this huge rush of emotion...because he won't be little much longer...and he won't need me when he has nightmares...and now I'm crying again. :) They grow up too fast!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are days (like yesterday) when I just cannot hear the words, "Mommy, mommy!" one more time and I lock my bedroom door and get into the shower just so I can have a few minutes of blessed quiet.

But then, there are those moments like you describe, where you have a rush of love for them that eclipses everything else. Great post.

P.S. From my experience having a younger brother, I know a rake can be handy when cleaning out boy rooms. And rubber gloves. Good luck.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Bee said...

Well, as you know, I don't have kids but I promise I'll go home and give my mom a tickle hug!

Beautiful post!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 1:11:00 PM  
Blogger Phyllis RenĂ©e said...

Why are trying to make me cry?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger Bogart said...

Exactly why I am in a little bit of a hurry to be a dad...I long for those moments.

Although my buddies all tell me that jealousy is not very becoming and that I can have their kids anytime I want them.

I must be missing something.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:31:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

sherendipity - Thank you. I need to be sure to read it often.

sammanthia - Those kinds of moments really do sneak up on us, don't they?

imommy - It was a pleasure! Enjoy twice the love that will be coming your way!

jen - Danke Scheon, darling. Danke Schoen. :)

chas - They do wipe away the tantrums, don't they?

cocotte - It's an option. I'm afraid the funk may blow the doors off the hinges, though!

Chris - Thank you!

ES - There are days I just don't respond, but you're so right...

Princeton - This makes me happy to hear!

pgoodness - totally :)

Des - There truly are moments in a day when I'm stunned I had a role in their make up. Thank you for your words, too.

kori - I thought about it the day after writing that post!

anymommy - I've been to your blog a handful of times to comment and my darlings keep interrupting me, but I'm glad, too!

merecat - Even without trying, they know how to lay the charm on thick, don't they?

Meg - Thank you! And I'll put that suggestion on the short list!

kate - I've only been up a couple hours, and already I'm eyeing a nap!

lori - I love the reminder your user name gives you! My other email address is sort of along the same line. Secret handshake for the 6-11 Club, yo!

that girl - You forever make me smile. Your sweet words totally humble me.

Christina lee - The hugging! OMG, I could go on all day with the hugging!

laggin - Thank you...

Aunt Becky - I need to ask my mom if she misses it! She's all "Just because you live two minutes away doesn't mean you have to come around constantly!" Or, you know, something like that. :)

Shonda - I am here to tell you, there is no bottom. You'll uncover a new society before you ever get to the last toy. Mark my words.

Always home - None. Zero. Ferris Bueller is my hero. And my gospel.

Brian - I'm seriously considering crime scene tape, but they still need caves to hide in, so they'd have to cross!

Ms Picket - It's totally worth it, isn't it?

Andrea - The sounds of cleaning here really mean the boys are playing with their wrestling figures. I guess it's just as good to hear happy sounds as it does productive ones.

psychmamma - Love to grab those precious times!

bejewell - OK, I'll admit it. I'm a sucker, but I promise you, there's no way I'm sharing my mixing beaters!

kat - If I change my name, I'm pondering either Cassandra or Queen of the Universe. I've not decided which has a cuter nickname!

Manager Mom - I'm not so down with the sweat, but for the hug, yeah, I'll deal. I will also force them to appreciate Ferris Bueller as their mother does!

twobusy - Thank you, truly.

Stacie - Part of me wants to be all "GAH! NO!" but as the boys have gotten older, I've gotten a glimpse of this and resigned myself to my fate!

stiletto mom - When my 6 year old has done that, there is no more sleep to be had for either of us. He totally likes to play and talk and tickle and, as exhausted as I am, I totally eat it up. I'm a big enabler!

blissfully - I either need to get a rake or I need to blow up that side of the house. I suppose the rake eliminates the need for further clean up like the bomb would!

bee - Give her extra tickle hugs if she makes you a fantastic dinner!

phyllis - Here's a tissue, dear :)

bogart - If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger DKC said...

So late to the party here. Partly because I've been dealing with a sick little boy of my own for the past two days. Which sucks, except that he is so cuddly when sick.

This is so true - and as usual, you say it better then I ever could!

"I recall...Central Park in fall..."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 6:02:00 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

dcd - Hope everyone in your house if feeling better now, and that you're still getting some residual cuddles!

Thursday, October 16, 2008 5:47:00 PM  

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