Everyone has lofty ideal’s when they start out on the joyful journey of parenthood. We all spend the 9 months of pregnancy excited and looking forward to this little bundle of joy which we will love and cherish. We will not and I repeat not say the things our parents said or do some of the things our parents did we did not like. We will negotiate and work out our differences with our children- they will be brilliant right?? . We will hug them and tell them we love them when they misbehave- they will be brilliant right? We will talk and have intelligent conversations with them- they will be brilliant right?
Then the inevitable happens and the child is born. Within the first year you start to have a sneaking suspicion the child may not be brilliant. You spend the whole year working with the child and the first word they truly understand and can say is “NO” and they have no intention of negotiating with you at all. You struggle with trying to explain: that’s dangerous, that’s hot, that’s bad, that’s scary, that will break etc etc etc. The child still looks at you steadfastly and says “NO”. After the negotiations fail you resort back to the tried and true method of – OK I’m bigger than you so I will just move you. This method works every time and you start to think- hmmm- maybe those who have done this before me, might of been on to something 🙂
As they grow they learn new words and start to use your words against you. I was a parent who never spoke baby talk to my children. My eldest was about 2 when we were standing in the grocery store check out line. He had been sitting in the cart through the whole shopping experience and was just about at the end of any 2 year old’s patience limit. He pointed at the ground and said “down”. I said “No” so he pointed again and said “Down” in a more forceful manner. I again said “No” at which point my two and 1/2 year old looked at me and said “Down- mommy that’s not negotiable” Now the negotiable was a little garbled, but hey- I got the point. He stayed in the cart, but I realized he was smart. He wasn’t smart in the way I had expected- more in the way I dreaded.
This new found child intelligence turns quickly into the “WHY” stage. Now for those parents who have not survived the “Why” stage yet- get ready because you will shortly find yourself saying things you never ever expected. The “Why” stage sneaks up on you. As a parent you have spent the last 3 to 4 years teaching this little being who you made all about the world. This little fat faced toddler now thinks you are the most brilliant human on the planet and know everything. My favorite conversation every went something like this:
Chid: Mom- Why does that man have a chainsaw in his truck?
Me: Because he was cutting down a tree (perfectly good explanation- I thought)
Child: Why was he cutting down a tree?
Me: Because it was probably dead (I think I’m doing well)
Child: Why was it dead?
Me: Because some bugs eat trees and they die (OK- now we’re teaching)
Child: Why do they eat trees?
Me: Because just like us they need energy and have to eat
Child: Why? Why? Why?
After the next few why’s and my explanations of each I found myself trying to explain a bugs circulatory system to a 4 year old. Right then and there I learned that sometimes a perfectly acceptable answer is “Just cause”
After the why stage their intelligence suddenly turns into the most evil kind of all. At about 8 to 10 they now have the skills to out negotiate you!! They ask to do something and you say “NO”. They then look at you, with that 4 year old cherub face (which they’ve mastered now) and say “Why?” Being the intelligent parent, who wants to always be reasonable, you spend about 4 to 5 minutes giving them many valid reasons for your decisions. Then something terrifying happens!!! That child- who until now thought you were the smartest person in the world- turns into Matlock, Ally McBeal, and Jack McCoy all rolled into one. He could now, at 9 years old, get a job in any court room in the land. He’s arguments are brilliant, valid, and worst of all – better than yours. You try to negotiate, but somewhere around 30 minutes in you realize by the smirk on the little shits face- you are beaten.
This is when you learn the most important and tried and true lesson of parenthood that has been passed from generation to generation. This lesson is painful to learn because it goes against EVERYTHING you believed while you carried them and changed their cute little diapers. It is a beautifully simple statement with no negotiations possible. They hate it because it seems sooo unfair. A perfectly good explanation to any child’s question is “BECAUSE I AM YOUR MOTHER AND I SAID SO!!”
We hear about “the one” a lot in life. “The one” perfect person, soul mate, friend, job, house, outfit and on and on. We spend most of our life waiting or searching for that perfect “The One”. I’m not sure I believe in “the one” in most of those circumstances. I know some do find it early, but I think most of us have many many “One’s” over our life times. These “one’s” fill different spaces and needs as our lives progress through the craziness.
I only started to believe in “The One” after this long insane ride through motherhood. If you have multiple parasites (or those wonderful little creatures who you gave birth too) you will understand my version of “The One”. My version is “That Child”
This “one” hits you right between the eyes- you weren’t waiting, or expecting, or probably even wanting it to come. It’s “that child” who was born with the innate ability to push every button you have until your head starts to spin like the Exorcist, you scream, threaten, and in general look like you should be committed to the asylum at any second. The amazing thing is that this child (who has accomplished this monumental feat of turning you into The Wicked Witch of the West) now stands looking at you confused. He has even said in these volatile moments “Wow mom- Why are you so mad?” I’m not sure if he really is dumb enough to not know or if I he believed somehow in that hollow head that this would help. Needless to say- either way- WRONG!
The first two parasites I birthed did not come out of the womb with this skill. They were pretty good at listening, minding, not arguing and in general not making moms head explode. Maybe that is why I thought having a third seemed like a brilliant idea. Note to self- more children than adults – never a brilliant idea!! The older parasites have their moments, but they are fewer and much farther between. They now sit and watch “the one” with faces of astonishment at – what they call -stupidity.
Now “the one” also came with a built in survival skill set. I believe God put him all together and looked and said “oh my, she may kill him before he’s grown so we may need to make him funny” Well they may of overdone it, but he IS funny. He uses his humor to convince perfectly normal adults to protect him when he turns me into the raging lunatic. When he was little he could wrap an entire room of adults around his finger in about 30 seconds flat. Now this would be great, but after he accomplished the feat he would walk up to an adult call them a fart knocker and smirk at me. I would get up to punish the child and most adults would hide him while laughing and say “Now Val, he’s just so cute and funny” OK- just cause he’s cute he still can’t call adults fart knockers. (NO I STILL DON’T KNOW WHERE HE EVEN LEARNED FART KNOCKER)
He can be stubborn, argumentative, loud, difficult, manipulative, never gives up, never forgets, funny and is the baby. Basically all of my husbands and my own traits that drive me bat shit nuts all rolled up into one package of my insanity. Basically “The One” is “That Child” that shows you your own strengths and weaknesses magnified by 1000 every day. Remember when your parents cursed you with “I hope you have to pay for your raising” Yep you guessed it – that’s “THE ONE”
There are divisions of labor in all facets of life. At work the engineers design, the sales people sale, the project managers manage, the installer installs, the stocker stocks, and the cashier checks you out. In most companies, these positions don’t overlap and people get downright testy when you step over into their role. Almost all conflicts in a business have to do with someone getting in and someone wanting them out of their world.
Marriage is similar to business. Every family does it differently, but we all have our divisions of labor. As long as they are negotiated and both parties are content and there’s no bait and switch in the agreement then everything should be fine. I was a simple lady and I hate bait and switch so before we were married I advised the love of my life that I never wanted to:
1) Touch Trash- ick
2) Change Light bulbs- Yes I know it’s a little thing, but it just annoys me
3) Mow the grass and do lawn maintenance- it’s freaking hot in Ga
4) Take my car in for maintenance- Those men lie to women
If I was going to have to do these things I saw no real reason to get married. I had a daddy who would help me if I was sweet to him and eventually I could hire a 17 year old to do them for the view. I will give him credit and I married good- cuz I haven’t done any of those yet
Now in exchange I said I would:
(Get your minds out of the gutter- that’s a whole different entry) 🙂
1) Do the Laundry- which I promptly hired someone to do
2) Do the Dishes- which I promptly didn’t do to his specifications so he demanded he do them
3) Do most of the day to day of the children- Damn he got me there!!!!
When I made this deal- I thought I had this licked! I had negotiated and pulled off the deal of the century. I had this made and he was a sucker- Boy Howdy was I wrong!
Through the first infant – things were going great and my deal was solid. I realized I had gotten out maneuvered after the 2nd child in 13 months was born. The night I realized I shouldn’t ever be allowed to negotiate again was the evening about 2 am as I had a 2 week old and a 13 month old in my lap crying as the love of my life lay snoring. This night- I realized I had been had!!!
Now I am reminded everyday that you should never negotiate without understanding the full terms of the contract. No one ever told me it had such clauses as:
1) All Children come to your side of the bed- even if you maneuvered it the farthest from the door
2) Bathrooms were made for audiences and the commode is just your stool for conversations
3) Getting children ready to go to school is a 3 hour morning ordeal
4) Philosophical questions are really hard to answer before coffee
5) Children only know your number when they forgot something
6) Taxi services for sports, friends, school, etc etc etc – require more hours a week than sex ever did
I’m glad there is no warning label or a true contract that allows negotiation before parenthood. There’s no way either party would ever agree to any of the stipulations. However; once the parasites are here and you look at their little helpless, wrinkled faces you know you’ve been had and will probably never sleep again. You believe it will get better as they age, but t doesn’t- because they just grow into much larger, deeper voice helpless parasites . So when I’m dragging myself out of the bed at 5:30 am for his weight training and look over at the love of my life who’s still snoring and want to quietly strangle him – I don’t. I remember – I negotiated this crappy contract and That’s my job!!
As I’ve said many times- I should not be allowed to watch the news!! It is a confusing and disturbing time of day for me. Today I saw a an 18 year old teenage girl in New Jersey sue her parents to support her because she didn’t want to live by their rules. Now I live in the South and I’ve watched Jersey Shore, but I truly thought those producers sure are good. There could not possibly be that many people that self absorbed – Well – I stand corrected. I have some great friends who are from Jersey and they don’t exhibit this trait, but hell they also moved to the south. Now- I also saw a New Jersey judge throw the case out so my faith has been semi restored
I’m by no means saying my family is perfect. Insanity comes in a takes a long slow stroll through periodically just for fun, but I was taught to respect my elders even if I didn’t want too. The reasons are many but her are a few:
1) They hold all the money so they hold all the cards
I thought I was all grown up about the same age and informed my parents I was leaving. My daddy being the unreasonable man he was promptly went in my room, put my suitcase on the bed, sat down and said “Pack” Now as I’ve told you my dad and I can both be stubborn so I obliged his request. As I folded my first shirt he asked “Did you buy that or did your mom?” I replied “Mom” He said “Put it back- you can take anything that you bought” This exercise was repeated through my entire wardrobe. Needless to say after I finished packing my 3 pair of underwear and one pair of jeans I decided to stay. Pride always cometh before the fall they say- well I fell off the cliff.
2) Youth and Enthusiasm will lose to Age and Treachery every time
When your young you always hear about this stuff called wisdom. You think it’s only a scam that old people say to feel better about getting the wrinkles. As I age I’m realizing there might be something to this thing. Wisdom isn’t really the ability to be wise, scholarly knowledge, or even good judgement. Wisdom is the ability to out maneuver your off spring. The parasites which you carried for 9 months, you fed, you rocked, you changed, you sang to etc etc etc and in general accomplished keeping alive will soon TURN ON YOU! They will think you are now the dumbest human alive. I am not insulted by this phenomena. It actually brings out the evil in me. I remember starting in the business world in my 20’s and having “men” underestimate me and me feeling the evil Grinch smirk form on my face- I get the same reaction now with my teenagers. I now just sit around and formulate plans. My favorite so far – If you get in trouble in any way during middle school- I will come eat lunch with you for a week. I will make a big scene about how cute my babies are and in general embarrass you to death. Two though middle school and no issue’s yet. Why are you crying mama cuz treachery is fun!!
3) Guilt is a powerful thing
My parents and I learned from the VERY best the ability to dispense quilt and it’s power to motivate and manipulate. Now over the years manipulate has taken on an evil context and I don’t understand why. We all manipulate. When we talk our spouse into watching the chic flick instead of the blow em up movie for a little nooky- that’s manipulation. Why is it evil to use it on our children? My Great Granny was the QUEEN!! She demanded command performances for holidays. It went something like this “We WILL be having lunch on Thanksgiving day and you will be there, unless you seem to think you have something more important to do than your family?” These could only be considered optional, at your own guilt free risk. The most powerful guilt manipulation words of all time are “We are disappointed in you” followed up with “if we didn’t know what you were capable of it would be ok” Now I always knew and understood exactly what they were doing and swore I would NEVER parent like them. Guess what I said to my eldest 3 days ago who is failing his first subject ever- yep – word for word! Amazingly it still seems to work.
Our families teach us many things as we grow. We learn respect. We learn to deal with people we don’t like or even understand. We learn to let arguments go because they’re not going anywhere anyway. We learn wisdom, treachery, and manipulation techniques. We learn the roots to keep us grounded and that we really need our wings to sprout so we can get the hell out for a while before we kill each other.
We all from time to time wish we could return or at least exchange a family member or two. Thankfully God made family with a no replacement policy cuz I’m pretty sure I would of replaced all of them by now at least once. Since it’s not an option I guess I’ll just learn and teach the lesson that many a generation have been passing down on to me- unconditional love. If ya can’t beat em might as well join em- and hey- the treachery part is fun!!
I just realized Lent comes at the perfect time of year!
Everyone knows and understands that wonderful time of year when we pop champagne, stay up too late, light fireworks, wear funny hats, sing Auld Lang Syne, and kiss our beloved (or at least who’s standing there). New Years Eve is that drunk time we all have those brilliant idea’s of starting fresh or starting over. The next morning we call those New Year Resolutions – gym memberships increase, hungover people around the world swear they’ll never drink again, green vegetables fly off the shelf’s, and new savings accounts are established. Now on there face values these lofty goals are considered healthy. They could even be considered luxuries of the self indulgent. What typically happens, however; is we fall short of any semblance of achieving them within 2 months. We then spend the next 10 months looking at ourselves in the mirror with that disappointed look that your preacher gave you when you accidentally stole the $20 out of the collection plate.
If we had ever had any hope of doing those dazzling resolutions in the first place- we wouldn’t of needed to be drunk to imagine we could pull them off.
Now this year I formulated the perfect plan to avoid the 10 months of personal discouragement. About the time the resolutions are starting to feel like you have taken on a Herculean task- and you ain’t Hercules- It’s Mardi Gras!! If you think about it Mardi Gras is a lot like a several week loooong New Years Eve culminating with Fat Tuesday. We drink too much, wear funny hats and masks, have parades, fireworks, show our tits for beads, and in general carouse as if it’s the world is gonna end. The festivities are only over when it’s time for us to behave again because it’s Lent.
Now the beginning of Lent, or Ash Wednesday, is a lot like New Year Day with one very important difference. Hangover’s abound, but now we must learn to suffer in order to be prepared for Easter. We are supposed to give up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. Now many choose to fast, give up candy, soda’s, or booze. Y’all can do as you please, but I’ve decided I’m gonna give up all those self indulgent luxuries called New Year’s Resolutions I made two months ago. It’s my form of penitence.
I think it’ll work for me. Not cooking is similar to fasting, not eating healthy is similar to not eating candy, not drinking water is similar to not drinking soda, and going back to wine from whisky is technically giving up booze!
Hey- if nothing else- I’ll wink at myself every morning 🙂
As I travel through life I am continually amazed at the things I see parents do and hear them say. I understand that cultures, priorities, ideas and techniques change with time. However; that doesn’t always mean for the better. An example of a good change that’s valid and smart is the change to smaller family sizes. If you ran a farm and needed free labor, a large family was appropriate. As our culture has changed away from farming and (you now have to support the parasites) having fewer of them makes perfect sense. The changes in parenting today where most adults allow their children to rule their world I just don’t understand. Whoever decided it was a bright idea to give the reigns to a child – well let’s just say I try not to use that language often.
I always had a rule when mine were little and they fell that I didn’t get out of my chair if they were crying for at least 30 seconds. Needless to say I always got dirty looks and looks of amazement from other mothers as I sat there while they cried. These mothers typically jumped every time their child made a noise. I guess they thought that if I didn’t validate every cry my children would grow up to be mass murderers. It was amazing how quickly you learn they are much more self reliant than they appear. 9 out of 10 times when they looked around and realized no one was freaking out or coming to their rescue- they got up, dusted off, and went about their business. Children do not need to be validated and told outright lies at every turn. A small 4 inch fall for a toddler is not life threatening and doesn’t need to be validated with “I’m so sorry’s” and “you have a boo-boo” I was usually that mean mama you heard saying “Suck it up- you’ll be fine” You know what- they sucked it up and so far no mass murderers. I’ll never say never, but so far so good!
Why are parents so afraid to actually say – no child you’re not good at that- when if they don’t society will be sure to make it so abundantly clear? My mama always said “When God closes a door he opens a window” so why cant we tell them to find their window? Oh I know- because society now is supposed to be a land of sunshine and flowers where we all have rainbows coming out of our asses. Last time I had a rainbow coming out of my ass I think I was in my twenties and was having way too good of a time! I guess we are all supposed to live in a permanent drug trip where there is no reality. Guess what- society has never and will never be the land of the perfect. I guess if you need a job done you’ll continue to pay and allow someone who is horrible at it to continue so you don’t hurt their feelings?? You know- we all love paying for services not rendered. Why would you allow your child to continue to pursue something that is obviously not their strong suit. Don’t look at it through parents rose colored glasses and spoon feed them a reality that 9 times out to 10 they even know isn’t true- They aren’t stupid either. Teach them to accurately access their strengths and weaknesses and pursue accordingly. If you have a sick need for them to live with you forever- then by all means- praise away. I wanted them out of my body at the end of pregnancy and want em out of my house at their beginning of adulthood. Isn’t that written in the laws of nature somewhere??
No wonder our bubble wrapped, entitled, and self absorbed youth is having a problem and falls apart at the slightest challenge. No parent allows them to actually have a challenge or if they do- let’s blame someone else. That’s the new parenting game- let’s complain, sue, and fight their battles. Let’s do absolutely everything for them- except teach them how to be self reliant and ready for life. I’m not saying there are never times to validate, but there’s a point when it’s no longer validation and becomes self indulgence.
In parenting my own parasites I have always, in no uncertain terms, made them aware of:
1) your father and I were here first- you get an opinion after ours
2) No- you will never have nicer cars or phones than those of us who work
3) If an adult tells me something and you tell me something – the adult will always win
4) You can try it, but you must finish the season- even if you’re not good
5) We are all not good at everything, so if you’re not- we’ll move on and find something you are
6) Life’s not fair- nor is it ever gonna be
7) Yes I heard you and no I don’t care
I know most of these aren’t the popular or PC ways of parenting and nor do I care. If you don’t like it you can do as I tell me kids- Suck it up- you’ll be fine!!
Explain to me why any of my children, including the largest I call my husband, believe they are allowed to basically throw 2 year old temper tantrums at any non announced moment? Now- if they could manage these fits without involving me I would be fine and just say “hey- to each his own”. However; this is NEVER how these things roll! These things typically involve:
1) Screaming commences by said temper tantrum thrower (cussing if largest child)
2) I begin to hear things being thrown around and it starts to get louder
3) I jump straight up worried that my house if being destroyed (which 50% of the time is valid)
4) I begin to accomplish task that started temper tantrum
5) I accomplish said task
6) I clean up after temper tantrum
Now if these were typically difficult tasks I might be OK with the balance of power stated. They are never difficult. These are typically on something as simple as finding a clean pair of jeans or socks. Really- How have I raised a husband and 3 kids who are incapable of dressing themselves on occasion? I can dress myself – can’t they learn by example or do I need to start laying their cloths out for them to avoid the yelling. Maybe if I confuse their cloths and lay the dresses out for the boys and gym cloths out for the girl they might learn?? Probably not though- they would just yell louder 🙂
This morning might be my favorite hubby temper tantrum of all time!! I asked him to do the one simple morning task that even the dumbest and most incompetent of people can usually accomplish- making coffee. Everything seemed to be moving along swimmingly. I was watching TV and relaxing when suddenly I hear lots and lots of cussing, then yep you guessed it- the banging. I jump up and run as fast I can to the kitchen in the fear he has somehow burned himself and we need to go to ER. What I see was even amazing to me- coffee grounds and coffee ALL over the kitchen and the entire coffee maker in the sink. How do you even pull that off??? I learned that the filter had accidentally folded over and it was running over. Instead of handling this minor situation (or even calling me too) his solution was to unplug the entire maker and throw it 4 feet in the sink. WTF?? Well needless to say 20 minutes later it was cleaned up and I was laughing at him. Ya know- sometimes ya gotta laugh instead of cry!
Now I’m by no means implying that I don’t get mad and say a few choice words and yell on occasion because that would just be a lie!! I’m just saying mine usually have warning! Mine are more like a great composer writing a symphony that builds to a crescendo. Trust me- you can see em coming and have the choice to continue or not!! Most of my family is smart and knows to stop or run- my hubby and youngest – yep just not so smart!!
Every time one of these split second tantrums happens I remember Sally Fields in Steel Magnolia’s saying something about maybe she should have more emotional outbursts at home because her husband would be so pleased. I think I may start trying them just for fun so they can stay on their toes. I want to see them jump on command- JUST ONCE!! 🙂
I’m going to say something very shocking for those of you who know me- I can be a little irreverent. Well OK maybe a lot! I don’t tend to be the disrespectful kind- I just usually see the humor in things that most people hold dear so some take it as callous. I’m actually too old to care most of time and since I’m getting older I don’t think it’s going to get much better. You know the old saying “F em if they can’t take a joke”- well that pretty much sums up my thought processes of the issue.
I see all of these list of 10 things etc etc going around so I figured why not do my own. I’ll never get it all done today in this blog because as life goes on we learn new things everyday!
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
1) People that are mushy and tooooo nice usually are full of ……!
I don’t think they mean to be, but for gods sake, please do not try to convince me you are that happy and gushy all the time! I have no doubt most of them “think” the same things I do, but don’t have the stones to say them. That’s OK- I have no problem if you are not comfortable saying them- just don’t judge me or think I’m callous because it “accidentally” slipping out of my mouth! You thought it too and if not well “Bless your heart”!!
2) Be proud and own the things you can’t live down anyway!!
I know this is shocking, but I’ve done some down right stupid things in my life! If you have long term friends and family you will be all too aware that they will NEVER let you live those stupid things down anyway so you might as well embrace em!! I accidentally slammed “my own head” in a car door in my 20’s (yes I was sober). I still hear about it at least once a year!! I have learned to bow and take my applause. Sometimes the stupid things we do make us memorable and memorable is always better than forgettable!!
3) Sometimes I know who NOT to vote for by whose yards their campaign signs are in
Everybody knows someone who falls into the category of “those” people. My definition of “those” people is very simple. They are always the people that have extreme views on everything and no tolerance for anything else. If they put a campaign sign in their yard- you can be darn tooting I will not be voting for that candidate! We investigate our candidates -sometimes I think candidates should be able to investigate the craziness of their supporters before they advertise it! 🙂
4) People who have no or very few friends- usually there’s a valid reason
This life lesson took some time and age to really sink into my brain!! I always had this empathetic need to be their friends. I felt like if only they could see that life was fun and enjoyable they would magically change their attitudes and become decent human beings. Guess what??? It NEVER freaking happens!! Miserable people want to be miserable people! Best advice I can give you is get out of their pig pen and let them wallow alone!! My granny always said “if you fly with the crows you get shot with the crows” well I’m changing it to “if you wallow with the miserable- you’ll need Prozac too”
5) Marriage is a wonderful institution for those of us who really need to be institutionalized!!
I hear all of these people saying “marriage is work” “marriage is a journey” etc etc I don’t think marriage is any of those. Marriage is simply a choice you both make everyday to be downright stubborn. Now I’m not saying you’re even gonna agree on the decision to stay married everyday cause trust me- you won’t. In 16 years of marriage we have had some humdinger arguments and we are probably still married only due to my husbands steadfast hard headedness. We are still here and most days I’m happy he can be a stubborn ass and he just knows I need to be institutionalized!! 🙂
I’m working on “Things I’ve learned during motherhood” so if you think I’m irreverent now- you ain’t seen nothing yet!!! 🙂