Posts Tagged With: mothers and sons

Birdie’s on it!

My friend Holly gave me a funny little book. It’s very tongue in cheek, written by a grandmother and filled with some silliness, some heartfelt things, and a fair amount of honesty.

In this book, she talks about how the mother of the mother always ‘wins’. How because it’s her baby having a baby, it’s different than her son having a baby.
And I get that. To a point.
However, I don’t feel any more or less ‘winning’ than Husband N’s mother. I mean, apart from the fact that I’ve been told I’m the one they’re going to rely on. To be perfectly honest, in my gut, it does feel that mother-mother connection has a strength the mother-father connection may not have.
But what do I know? I have two daughters, I truly cannot imagine what being the mother of a son would even feel like.
All that said, I feel like there doesn’t have to be a difference.

Only it turns out there is a difference. At least in the case of Baby K’s grandparents.
Thing 1 and Husband N took Baby K over her Nana’s house late Saturday morning.
(just to clarify, Nana is Husband N’s mom)
Nana came home from Savannah and got sick. And I mean sick, like, with sinusitis and a fever, and all that jazz.
(I’m over here like, thank fuck we didn’t all catch it when we were at the hospital together!)
So Nana hasn’t seen Baby K since the day after she was born.

Thing 1 and Husband N knew I needed to write an essay, and I’d been working on it but could use some uninterrupted time to finish it. They also knew if they took Baby K to her Nana, they could control how long the visit would last.
So off they went late Saturday morning so Nana could snuggle Baby K.
In the time they were gone I:
quickly bathed
let the dogs out
started laundry
finished my essay
switched and folded laundry
and
washed a handful of dishes
I was just about to reach out to Thing 1 to see if she would want a bit of late-ish lunch, but got distracted by the dogs needing some water. As I was carrying the water dish out, Thing 1 and Baby K rolled up the driveway. (Husband N stayed at his mother’s to get some stuff done.)
Thing 1 got the baby settled and I made lunch and we talked about their visit.

I asked if she slept or was awake. Thing 1 said she was awake most of the time and Nana snuggled Baby K the whole time. (Of course she did! I mean that’s all any of us want to do!)
And here’s where things get wonky for me…
She shared that Nana made some remark about how your mom probably never puts her down.
That got my girls hackles up a bit. But she remained calm and was polite when she explained how I was here making sure they all had food to eat, and doing the laundry, and making sure the floor was swept (y’all there are three dogs and four cats in this house, the sweeping never ends) and changing dirty diapers, and staying up in the night with them so she didn’t feel completely alone, and generally taking care of everyone until they can figure out how to do it all.
And here’s how I feel about that.
Appreciated.

And you know what, I am absolutely savoring every single moment I get to spend with Baby K. I’m living in this sacred moment and also storing up that feeling for when I go back home and don’t get to see her.
But, I am truly, madly, deeply loving that I’m here with my girl. Stuffing her with calories so she can make milk to feed her daughter. Making sure she has help maintaining her household while she figures out how to be a mommy. Helping teach Husband N to trust his instincts, and how cloth diapers work. Getting up early with the baby so Thing 1 can rest as much as possible.
I’m here to actively love and care for my daughter, and by proxy, her daughter.
I am here to be of service.
Because that’s what the mother of the mother does.
Well, at least that’s what this mother of the mother does.

That’s not what Husband N’s mother would do. Not because she’s mean spirited, but because that’s not how she functions. She’s the hold the baby, talk ridiculous baby talk, give her too much candy and send her home with a sick belly kind of grandmother. Thing 1 and Husband N already know that. They’re prepped for it.
But here’s what I believe is important to remember. She has love to give. It may be selfishly motivated, but love is love is love is love is love, right? Nana is going to love Baby K the way she knows, the way she can. How can that be wrong?

I am so blessed to experience this love.
I have so much love to give, it bubbles up in my heart and overflows out into the world. I’m hopeful that my daughter and her husband are content having it poured over them at the moment.
But that’s not why I’m doing it.


This teeny girl next to me is waking up for a second time this morning. She’s ready for a clean diaper, some warm milk in her belly, and a big ol’ burp.
Birdie’s on it!

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Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

Categories: education, love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

it’s all about your point of view

I’m eavesdropping on a conversation between Thing G and his mother. Apparently something happened at school today and she called to talk with him about it.
She got an email and has one version of the story and asked him to her his version.
He immediately gets defensive and says: I can’t really explain it.
She reads the email verbatim. (I know this because I can hear her clearly.)
He says: That’s not what happened.
She asks to be told what happened.
He repeats that he can’t really explain it.
She explains if he can’t explain his version how will she understand.
He gives a HUGE exasperated sigh.
She asks him not to get mad at her for trying to help him.
He says: I’m not mad. I’m just frustrated. You go on and on.
She pauses. (I can hear her pause.) Then she explains she’s trying to help him by understanding his point of view, how he was feeling at the time.
He sighs again.
She tells him she loves him.
He tells her he loves her too.
The call ends.
He returns to watching videos on his phone.

This exchange fascinated me. She’s a tough mom. She takes no prisoners. She calls him on his BS straight away. BUT she’s the first one making sure he’s getting everything he needs when it comes to his education. She needs his input to know how to respond to the teacher. She needs his input to make sure his particular educational needs are being met as laid out by his IEP.

YBW will come home and ask about this incident. He’ll say I got an email. He’ll say I know Mom already talked to you. He’ll clarify he just wants to hear what Thing G has to say.
Thing G will present with the same defensive attitude.

We’ve been working on trying to help him see what it is he presents to the world. His perception of his behavior is vastly different than how it’s viewed from the outside. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all like that. But in the case of this particular individual, he cannot seem to take the outside perception into account.
We’ve been talking to him about how his actions look. We’ve been trying to explain to him what is expected behavior of a fifteen year old boy. (Honestly, he behaves like my three and four year old preschoolers a great deal of the time.)
He’s too smart for his own good. He’s been accommodated in life and in school since he can remember. He manipulates it to his advantage.
He has so many excellent qualities and I absolutely adore him.
Sometimes it’s hard to get past the roadblocks. Some of these roadblocks are naturally occurring based on his diagnosis of ADHD and Aspergers, but some of these roadblocks he creates. He is literally his own worst enemy.

YBW and I were talking with him the last time he was at this house about how what he does and says looks to other people. He simply can’t see it. Whether he chooses not to see it or really can’t, is the question and none of us have the answer.
I found what I considered a perfect example on the fb page of a local community theater. We were at one of the performances and they shot a preshow photo of the audience. In the photo you can clearly see Thing C, me, Thing G, and YBW in the second row. YBW and I were reading the playbill, Thing C was smiling because he noticed the photo being taken. But Thing G, who had complained about going to the show since he got in the car was bent over at the waist with his head in his lap.
So I asked him what did he notice when he looked at that photo.
He told me he thought that guy looked tired.
I agreed and told him that he knew he was tired. (An excuse, because the moment the play started he was COMPLETELY engaged.) But then I pushed further, I asked him about the other audience members. I asked him to pretend he didn’t know that guy with his head in his lap. I asked him what he thought then. He repeated that he thought he looked tired.

I don’t know how to help him realize how he looks to the rest of the world.
I don’t believe he has to care all that much. He’s his own person, etc. BUT by behaving the way he behaves, he’s not presenting the complete picture of who he is.
Most of us strive to put our “best face forward”, it’s like he’s working hard to put his “worst face forward”. I understand not caring what the world thinks of you…to an extent.

He has been accommodated for so long that he utterly lacks skills to cope when things don’t go his way.
I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I’m stating fact.
He’s great as long as things bend to his will, but the moment he has to make accommodations…well, all bets are off. But that’s the way of the world. We all spend our days accommodating and being accommodated. It’s a delicate give and take.

I want the absolute best for this kid.
Helping raise other people’s kids is so much harder than raising your own. I can pinpoint each thing I did or did not do that buggered my girls. Where I failed, where I was successful. So it’s not that I think I’m the perfect mom and should be able to raise this kid who isn’t really mine.
It’s tricky. I love him. He is part of my brood. But I don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to him.

It’s hard to help someone that simply isn’t interested in being helped.
I experience it with him fairly regularly, but witnessing it today while he was on the phone with his mom was an entirely new way of seeing.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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