Sunday, September 25, 2011

a bump in the road of mommyhood

I made myself a promise for this weekend.  I.will.resist.Target.  I love Target.  Well, it's a love-hate, really.  Like nearly everyone I know who frequents this delightful little establishment, I simply cannot make it out the door without over-spending by at least $50.  And that's on a good day.  (Sidebar: for those of you who have yet to experience the marvelous appeal of a SuperTarget, be warned.  Any hope you have of 'keeping on budget' dissolves at an even faster rate.  Think SuperWalmart, without the Walmart.  I know, I know...that fact alone intrigues you enough to Google Map the nearest location of this money-sucking gem of a store!)

So, while I *adore* Target, I really needed an intervention.  Weekends are such precious pockets of time, and now that the school year is underway, I am treasuring every blessed moment of them even more.  Why spend a 2-hour chunk of time torturing the kids (and testing my sanity) by dragging them from aisle to aisle?  Did I mention our SuperTarget recently underwent a renovation?  (So now I have *no* idea where anything is, thus adding a good 25-35 minutes to my recent trips--and therefore adding at least another $25-$35, plus an inevitable trip past the toys because I can never remember what is in the area adjacent to them and therefore feel compelled to cruise down each aisle, making sure I'm not 'missing out' on anything.  Yes.  I'm aware.  I have problems.)  It's a small bump in the road for the next few trips to Target, until I'm able to navigate the store with a little more ease.  But I'll face the bump with a positive attitude, despite the fact that I'm beyond frustrated while in the midst of my fourth or fifth pass across the entire length of the store all in search of dryer sheets and night light bulbs.

This weekend, however, I have decided to take a trial separation from our weekly ritual of a Saturday trip to Target.  I know it will only be a brief separation, as I don't have the willpower at this time to call it quits completely.  But, in an effort to be a more efficient and effective momma, I've decided to cut down the number of trips I take into the 'bullseye of doom'.

The kids and I were on our own today, as daddy had a long day at work.  It started out in the usual 'lazy day Saturday' sort of way...Food Network and a small latte treat for mommy, mashed bananas and endless attention while rolling about on the floor for Raegan, playing and the occasional bicker for Gavin and Brynn.

Around 11:00, I decided we needed to 'tune out' of the digital/electronic world for a while.  TV, video game, and cell phone--off....outside, togetherness, and (of course) camera--on.  (Ok, I know.  My DSLR has the word digital in its name.  I made an exception for the purpose of capturing memories.)  So, off to the park we went...

lunch in the shade

posing...'s what these two do best's what Raegan does best!


little miss bright eyes

learning to smile for the camera at an early age
(good thing, since I love taking pictures more than I love Target!)

is it obvious my kids have their picture taken a lot?

always ready for a photo-op!

So...I managed to eliminate the 'usual Saturday trip to Target' from our routine for this week...and lived to tell the tale.  Lunch, the park, ice cream...all these things happen often in our household, don't get me wrong.  It's not as if I have recently *discovered* life outside of a store.  It's more like now that I'm back to the daily grind of 'working-out-of-the-house-mommy', I'm remembering the need to streamline errands, be thankful for online shopping, and live by a stringent-yet-flexible schedule (oxymoron, I know.  But, moms...back me up on this.  Routine is important, but flexibility is essential.  You never know what's coming down the pike when you're in the trenches of mommyhood.  Read on, and you'll see what I mean...)

A lunch-date at one of their favorite parks, an enormous ice cream cone, and no trips to Target (lovingly regarded as 'SuperBoring' by Gavin) to drain my energy, sanity, and bank account.  All in all, a great day.  I couldn't leave well enough alone, though.  Apparently, I was going for some sort of 'Super Mom' honorable mention award from the kids today as I suggested a stop in a local gift shop for a candy treat (not to eat right away--they did just have ice cream, afterall.  An after dinner treat was the intention, and the kids knew that going into the store).

Both kids chose small candy treats; Brynn, a few chocolate kisses, and Gavin, foil covered chocolate sports balls.  Gavin was excited to find footballs in the mix of treats, and plopped two of them on the counter.  Imagine his happiness as the clerk informed him that they were 3 for a quarter.  Faster than my bank account is emptied by a Target trip, Gavin was back at the basket, digging for another chocolate football.  He returned to the counter, triumphant, yet demure, and placed a third brown football on the counter.  With purchases made, candy in bag, bag in mommy's secure grip, we headed for the car.

In the car, donning my aviators, Gavin was unaware of my field of vision.  As I peeked into the mirror to make sure everyone was settled, I saw it.  A small, yellowish-green sphere that represented a new frontier in my adventures in parenting.

Now I know I've been stricken with 'mommy brain' more times than I can count in the 5 1/2 years I've been a mommy...but I know for a fact that the candy I had just bought my son not two minutes prior was not wrapped in foil looking anything close to the color he held in his hand. 

Interrorgation, tears, and a disappointed tone filled the next few minutes.  And I use the term tears loosely.  We're talking all out, drag out tantrum.  As in, I was fearful passersby would think I had severely injured my son.  Truth is, I didn't even touch him.  I sat in the driver's seat, mentally spinning the rolodex of mommy-isms and 'how to's' filed under the "My Son Just Shoplifted, Now What" section.  Gavin was in the far back of my 'mom mobile', tears flowing, feet stomping, pleading apololgies tumbling from his mouth by way of unattractive strings of drool. 

What do I do?  How do I handle this?  The disbelief of the situation took over as I turned the key of my car and began driving.  I was mindlessly maneuvering out of the shopping center parking lot, reprimanding my obviously distraught 5 year old.  The enormity of what happened hit Brynn as she put the puzzle pieces together and began pleading with me to not tell the police officers what Gavin had done.  We continued down the road another minute or two, until my once sweet-and-innocent son calmed down. 

I turned into a restaurant parking lot, put the car in park, and had a moment of clarity.  I knew from the moment I started driving away that he needed to go back into the store.  But, I also knew that for the lesson to be meaningful and effective, he needed to calm down enough to understand what I was explaining to him. 

Within another two minues, Gavin and I were walking back into the store we had just left, only to be met by a confused clerk.  I told him that my son had something he needed to say, and then urged Gavin on with a touch on the shoulder. 

Hearing him say, "I'm sorry, I took this from you", as he looked at the clerk out of the tops of his sorrowful eyes snapped me from the fog I was functioning under and into reality.  My son had stolen.  Sure, it was a piece of dime-store candy.  But it was still 'stolen goods'.  Tears stung at the corners of my eyes as I listened to the clerk tell Gavin pretty much the same message I had: he was very disappointed that Gavin decided to take something without paying, but he was proud of him for owning up to his error in judgement. 

After the clerk finished speaking, Gavin turned on his heel and headed for the door.  I looked back at the clerk, and mouthed the words, "I'm so sorry", and "Thank you".  He smiled, and responded back in the same silent-speaking way, "No, thank you.", and "Good job, Mom".  His tone wasn't condesending or sarcastic.  It was genuine.  He was complimenting my decision to take what I viewed as a horrifically embarassing 'moment in mommyhood', and turn it into a life lesson.  He knew as well as I did that there are people who would have simply expressed their distaste with their child's actions and punished them in some disproportionate way.  What good would that have done?  Gavin would have had guilt for a fleeting moment, but would have still felt like he'd 'gotten away with it', even if I did send him to his room when we got home.  His solo time in his room would have given him oppourtunity think of ways to be 'sneakier' the next time.  And there would be a next time. 

But facing his transgression, owning up it, and verbalizing his contrition gave him perspective on the serverity of his action.  Dime store candy or not, the message is clear for Gavin.  And the message is clear for me, too.  There are bumps in the's in how you approach them.  I'm proud of my son for owning up to his error, and proud of my decision to give him the oppourtunity to do so.  If I can face this bump in the road with a level head (albeit tears in my eyes and a heavy heart), I can face the bump in the road of a Target rennovation with a lot more grace, and a lot less annoyance.  That is, the next time I make a trip to Target.  (curse you, SuperTarget...and the allure of your convienience--and lack of foil covered chocolate sports balls!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Seussify my life

I am mom.  Mom I am.

That Mom-I-am, that Mom-I-am,
I did not like that Mom-I-am!
When I cannot run the fam.

Do you want to run the fam?
I do so want to run the fam,
I do so, do so Mom-I-am.

Would you, could you by yourself?
I have to, have to by myself!
Not all the time, just when he's gone,
The double-duty can make me yawn!

Would you, could you when you're sick?
I have to, have to when I'm sick!
Would you, could you have a job?
I have to, want to have a job!

You have a job and run the fam?
Yes I do, Mom-I-am!
My schedule's packed, my house a mess,
The laundry pile has me stressed.
I try to keep my mood in check,
Even when I am a wreck.

Could I, would I read a book?
Could I, would I bake and cook?
Do I want to fold the clothes?
I do not like to fold the clothes!
Could I, would I play a game?
Could I, would I help write a name?
Do I like to scrub the tub?
I do not like to scrub the tub,
I'd rather have a nice foot rub.

Do you want to run the fam?
I do so want to run the fam,
I do so, do so Mom-I-am!

There's lots to do as moms, you see
Especially when there's children--three!
Your time is precious, your temper, short.
You make up for it by building a fort.
Mac and cheese will win their heart,
Bath, book, and cuddles--each do their part.

That Mom-I-am, that Mom-I-am,
I'm angry at that Mom-I-am.
I'm angry when I loose my cool,
In the morning, on the way to school.
It starts the day in a negative way,
My heart and conscience have to pay.

The day was long and filled with stress,
I was a 'bad mom', I must confess.
The good news is my kids forgive,
I'll do my best so we don't relive.

I am mom, Mom I am.
Tomorrow I will run my fam.
I will not let my stress run me.
I will be strong, you'll see, you'll see.

Would you, could you run your fam?
I GET to, GET to Mom-I-am!

~For my kiddies...mommy's so sorry she lost her cool this morning.  You're little and loving.  You're just kids.  You're trying to help and for that I love you more than the moon!  Thank you for being so sweet and adorable when I picked you up today.  I loved our evening, and our bed time book.  The memories are precious to me!  Sweet dreams, my loves...xoxo...mommy

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years

Today is a day of rememberance.  A day of gratitude for those heroes who lost their lives both as innocent victims and as courageous rescuers who gave their lives while selflessly trying to save others.  The day the world stood still, and the day our world changed forever.  Today is a day about stories.  We all have one.

The setting for my own personal story was nestled in central Pennsylvania in a place referred to as 'Happy Valley'.  I was a junior at Penn State, living in an apartment building just off campus.  It was early morning, and I was getting ready for a day of class, and lunch with a friend from high school.  My roommates had just left when I turned my attention to The Today Show.  The scene of a burning tower in lower Manhattan filled the screen.  I ran to the window to yell out to my roommates what I was seeing on tv.  No sooner did they turn the corner to continue on their walk to campus, did I look back at the screen to see the second plane as it descended upon the second tower.  This time, I did not run to the window.  This time, I sat down in the middle of my bedroom floor, the wind knocked out of me.

At one point or another, I managed to peel myself off the floor and get myself across campus.  I don't remember the walk itself.  I remember getting to class, however, and my professor meeting us at the door to excuse us for the day.  I meandered across to the HUB, the student union building in the center of campus, to find a spot to sit in front of the television.  On any given day, the HUB is a bustling and lively building, a dull roar filling the atrium and hallways.  On that day, however, there was an eerie silence.  It wasn't an empty building by any means, quite the contrary.  In fact, it was a lot busier than normal.  But there was a hush over the crowd as tears, hugs, and stares of disbelief were exchanged by the students, strangers, staring at the screens that dotted the building.  I quickly realized we were literally witnessing history being made, and a shift in the way in which we view the world.

The rest of the day and that evening found me planted in front of the television, huddling with my roommates, tears streaming down my face and disbelief in what I was watching.  I'd occasionally try to make a phone call home, but the service was limited and spotty, (and the cell phones weren't quite near the calliber they are today). 

Over the days and weeks that followed, I, along with the rest of the country was mourning, coping, struggling to understand.  I witnessed the phrase 'e pluribus unum' ring true in the weeks that followed 9/11. Out of many, one. 

Fast foward ten years to this morning.  I woke before the kids for once, so I carried Raegan downstairs, and turned on the television to a channel that wasn't cartoons.  The images that filled the screen instantly took me back to that apartment; filled me with the apprehension and disbelief that I'd felt as I watched the scenes unfold ten years ago. 

At some point, the kids came stumbling downstairs and plopped next to me on the couch.  Normally, they immediately ask to watch 'their shows', but not today.  It was as if they could read the look on my face, know exactly why tears brimmed in my eyes.  We sat quietly for a while and the kids watched as the bell rang to mark moments of silence.  They listened as the names of the victims were read, and watched people make rubbings of names on the memorial that surrounded the footprint of where the Towers once stood. 

After several quiet minutes, Gavin asked me what I was watching.  I had become so captivated by the images on the screen, as I had been 10 years ago, I didn't register that my kids were watching along with me.  I was grateful the scenes from the memorials this morning weren't of the tragic images from that horrific day, but focused more on the healing process, the moving forward, and the honorable remeberance of those thousands of lives lost. 

I guess he wasn't satisfied by my silence, because he asked again.  I put on my 'kid gloves' and began to explain.  I wanted to keep things as basic as possible, remembering that they're just 5 and 3.  I think my explaination appeased their curiosity enough, because they bounced up from the couch, and asked me if they could go in the basement to watch Spongebob so I could watch 'my show'.

As much as I want to explain the significance of 9/11 to my kids, I know what I would want to say is beyond their level of comprehension.  Some day, I will explain it to them.  I will let them see the images from that day, and will share my story with them. 

As I sat and watched the coverage today, the memorial shows sharing stories of firefighters, wives, children, husbands, and Americans who were there that day; I thought about the ways in which 9/11 changed me. 

Some of those changes didn't come full circle until I became a mom, and I began realizing that I am responsible for teaching my kids everything.  I knew I'd have to teach them things along the way, but as they get older, it's interesteing to realize all of the things I'd never thought of before.  Beyond the ABC's, colors, and shoe-tying, there are things like compassion, empathy, and helping others.  They need to learn social skills, forgiveness, gratitude, and sacrifice.  The values I instill in my children have been shaped and formed and refined by the events of 9/11 and the time thereafter.  My mom instilled countless values in me as I grew up, however as I sat in the HUB some 10 years ago, I transformed.  I witnessed events that are etched into my brain, experienced feelings I never wish upon my own children, and watched as a nation came together, united in one cause and one feeling of overwhelming patriotism.

I'm not unlike Americans who are still deeply affected by the images from that horrific day.  I'm not unlike Americans who still cope with the loss our nation endured.  I'm not unlike Americans who give thanks to the heroes who gave their lives that day and who are grateful and support the loved ones of those heroes as they moved foward in their lives.  As unique as we all try to be, it is days like today where we realize just how similar we all are, how similar human nature behaves.  It's day like today when we realize how important it is to put differences aside, to join together for one purpose, and to never, ever forget.

E pluribus unum...and God Bless America.