Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Tag

A Farewell to Birkenstocks   Leave a comment

This week, I had to say goodbye to my Birkenstock sandals.

It was not easy.

I’ve had this pair for nine years, or a bit more.  They were manky and flea-bitten, sunken, tread worn off most of the bottom, some stains, very dark, and when at spring break the top of the inside leather sole basically disconnected from the base of the right sandal, I ended up duct taping them together repeatedly to get through the week.

After we got back home, I kept duct-taping them because with re-entry, I didn’t have time to look for new sandals.  So several more weeks elapsed before I finally was able to get a visual on a new pair of Birkenstocks.

Then once those arrived, I took my time breaking them in–always a good idea, because a new pair always feels so stiff and can make your feet a bit sore.

Then the old ones sat by the back door with another pair of deceased shoes waiting to go to the clothing recycle.  I kept putting it off.

But these Birks were about as used and disgusting as a pair of sandals could get.  Definitely got the money’s worth out of them.

Why couldn’t I let them go?

Those sandals had been around so long, they had come to represent my life.  They’re like my Crunchy Mom uniform.

The sandals were something I wore every day in the house, summer or winter, rain or shine.  I put on tennis shoes to go out if I’m going anywhere, except on the hottest days of summer.  But at home I don’t like tennies because my feet get sweaty.  So–these Birks and I had been together pretty much every day for nine years.

They represent my hard work as a homeschooling mom who does most of her own cooking.

And they start with a really good memory–our first trip to the beach.  How do I know that’s when?  I had just met friends of our friends and we were having dinner together at the picnic table.  There were so many of us, there was too much on the table, the boards were uneven, Sri’s beer fell over and some got in my Birkenstocks under the table.  At first I was annoyed, but then I pulled it together and started singing, “I got beer in my Birkenstocks–it feels mighty fine….”

Hard to recycle a memory.

But hey, that’s why I still have the memory.

 

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Posted June 28, 2017 by swanatbagend in identity, motherhood

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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Yell at your Kids   2 comments

I know, this is self-evident, right?  We all know that you should not yell at your kids.  Maybe you are a parent who yells at kids because they are being frustrating or doing something wrong.  Sorry, I’m not actually talking about that kind of yelling.

And sorry, I don’t have a five step method for not yelling.

I’m talking about the kind of yelling that happens for no apparent reason, at least from your child’s point of view.

I used to get really frustrated because we were often late.  Looking back it’s fairly obvious I just needed to plan ahead better.  I would make some adjustments every time I had another baby, such as adding another five minutes to the pre-boarding ritual, but we were still the same amount of time late to events.

Clue one that I needed to hear was the day when we were heading out to co-op and about to be late again.  Guess what happened to the kids on the way out the door?  My oldest son–probably about eight years old at the time–moved so fast to get out of the way of his crabby mom he literally knocked down his little sister, who then fell sideways onto the stairs which were close to the door in our tiny two-bedroom house.  Had carpet, but no, she hit the wood.

So my baby girl has an injury on her face because I am a grump and can’t control my emotions when I’m displeased with circumstances.

I wish I could say that this was an effective wake-up call.  It started the process, yes.  But it was not enough to fully reform me.

Over the years, there have been any number of incidents in which one child, usually the oldest, would attempt to correct or direct the other siblings.  When I would investigate further to find out why he was being so bossy, invariably, the bottom line was he wanted them to do what I wanted, so I would stay happy, so there would be no yelling.

The classic example comes from a camping trip at spring break.  We are in our pop-up on a warm night in Florida with the fan blowing on me (because yes, I’m the big baby who needs the fan more than anyone else in order to be able to sleep).  It’s dark and I’m sleeping, but eventually I begin to register seismic events in the camper.  Slowly, vibrations that I know are not being caused by my husband, because he’s the solid peaceful log next to me, invade my world.  I pretend there are no vibrations a few times and doze back off, but eventually I realize that ignoring whatever it is the kids are doing is not going to work this time.

There is not only movement but conversation at the other end.  I finally ooze upward, turn on a flashlight, and ask what on earth is the matter.

My youngest child who was 7 or so at the time, was not able to sleep because of bug bites from the sand flies.  But, his brother started their explanation by highlighting his attempt to keep the younger child from waking me up.  He knew the consequences could be dire–but wait a minute aren’t moms supposed to take care of kids at night when there’s a problem?  I thought my kids knew this.  However, the fear that the roof of the camper would blow off short circuited getting actual help.

Thankfully I am at least decent in a crisis, even a sleep crisis.  I told the others to relax and gave the youngest my anti-itch protocol of liquid antihistamine, Calagel applied to the bites, and time with mom, a favorite book and the fan.  Within 20 minutes he was calmed down, and I tucked him back in on the kids’ end of the camper.  Yes, I did put the fan on him, and somehow I managed without it.

Fast forward to this summer, five or so years later.  We took my oldest son to his summer job and moved him in to his apartment.  Something he said that day made me realize there was a possibility that the way he handles conflict is based on cross-examining himself to be sure he isn’t doing anything that would piss Mom off.

I realize now, as a mother with almost 21 years of experience, and as a mother who has loved her kids well in many ways, that my typical short circuiting has meant that my kids have developed in the light of my temper.  Sure, I don’t lose it nearly as much as I used to, but what I have already done has had a long-term effect on my children.

I don’t know how much counseling they will need to get past their fear of making others angry, but I don’t want them to have needed any.

I wanted my kids to live their lives based on what they believed they are meant to do and be, not based on what they hope will keep the peace.

I wanted my kids to live their lives from a foundation of trust and hope, not out of anxiety.

I share my faults with you because I want you to know that hindsight is a truly powerful teacher.

Maybe, you can benefit from mine.

 

 

Posted August 1, 2016 by swanatbagend in motherhood

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