Confessions of a Clueless Mom

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When did I stop being cool? October 7, 2011

Filed under: Eli my old soul — ambermg @ 9:04 pm

When my son Eli was a baby, he was the most sweet and cuddly child I’d ever met. He loved nothing more than being held in my arms. There was no place he’d rather be than in my lap, and he gave the most wonderful slobbery kisses. When he grew to a toddler, the “love fest” continued. Every time I sat on the couch my cute little redhead would bound over to me, crawl up in my lap and wrap his arms around me. He would always ask for kisses or for me to hold his hand.

In kindergarten I feared I would lose my little bundle of affection, but fortunately I didn’t. Everyday when I dropped him off at school he would instruct me on how many kisses I would need to give him before I could leave.

“Mommy, today I want ten kisses.”

One day as I obeyed and gave him his ten kisses at the door, another little boy began teasing him. My mama bear instinct reared its ugly head and I was about ready to give that little five-year-old a piece of my mind, when my son put his hand on his hip and said to the kid, “I love my mommy and I love to give her kisses, okay?” Okay.

My husband wasn’t quite as excited about this story as I was.

By first grade, Eli no longer needed ten kisses at his classroom door, but he would give me a swift kiss in the car before heading into the school.

But in third grade everything changed. It was a few weeks into school and I remember dropping Eli off in front of the campus. I leaned over, ready for my goodbye kiss but instead felt cool air as he opened the door and hopped out. I waited patiently thinking he had just forgot. I watched his back as he ran off but I didn’t drive away. I was certain that when he realized he left without kissing me he would come running back. He was the one who needed the kiss, afterall, not me. I was just worried about his wellbeing. After several minutes had passed wihout him returning, I did the only adult thing I could think of. I started to cry. My baby was growing up. He didn’t want to kiss me goodbye anymore.

My husband liked this story a little more than the last one. He informed me that it was perfectly natural for Eli to stop kissing me goodbye. I think he even used the word healthy (whatever).  So, I never mentioned anything to Eli and morning after morning he got out of the car without kissing me. Eventually I got over it.

But last year, something happened that really bothered me. My son was in sixth grade and one morning I had to take him to the office to get a late slip. As we walked I noticed Eli walking a lot faster than me. I would speed up to catch up to him and then he would walk faster. Now I know we don’t kiss goodbye anymore but even in sixth grade, Eli and I were pretty close. We laughed and talked all the time. And besides that I’m a young, cool mom! He couldn’t be embarrassed by me, could he? I finally asked him what was going on.

He hissed under his breath, “Mom, just walk behind me. I don’t want anyone to see us walking together.”

“What?” I laughed. “That’s silly.”

“Mom,” he whispered. “Just walk behind me.”

Still thinking he couldn’t be serious, I tried another tactic. “Are you afraid everyone will talk about how hot your mom is?”

The look he threw me told me I went too far. Ooops.

Since that morning, I’ve given Eli his distance when we’re out in public. It’s hard for me at times. In my mind, he’s still my cuddly baby. Sometimes the fact that he’s so grown up gives me an ache in my heart that makes it hard to breathe. I wish time didn’t have to go so quickly.

But this morning on the drive to school I was acting silly and he laughed, told me I was funny. It made my heart swell with joy. My son still talks with me, he still loves me, he still laughs with me. I haven’t lost him. He’s just getting older.

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Can Behavior Bucks Really Buy Happiness? August 14, 2011

Filed under: Parenting blunders — ambermg @ 2:31 am

After a summer of enduring my children fighting and pushing my buttons every chance they got, I decided it was time to take action. In my parenting careeer I’ve never really tried an incentive program. I know, pretty lame since my kids are 9 and 12. You’re probably wondering what I’ve done to instruct and teach them. I’m wondering the same thing. But I figured it was never too late to try something new and so I went online and searched for incentive programs. It’s amazing how many there were to choose from. Apparently there are a lot of challenging kids out there, which is encouraging to me because oftentimes I feel like I’m alone in this.

Knowing that my kids are visual learners and like to experience things hands on, I chose the behavior buck program. Basically, they are little pieces of green paper (brilliant, huh?) that I printed from an online template. I created charts specific to each child that shows what expectations I have for them and how many bucks they can earn or lose from meeting or not meeting those expectations. I felt very proud of myself as I printed out all of this stuff and presented it to my kids.

To which they responded. “What can we earn?”

Oops. I knew I forgot something. The INCENTIVES! Only like the most important part, right?

So, I had them help me come up with some incentives. They can earn things like an extra 15 minutes of video game time, rent a redbox movie, stay up an extra half hour to read, have a friend over for an afternoon, host a sleepover or get ice cream. Obviously, the bigger things like the sleepover cost much more behavior bucks. They can earn bucks by doing chores, keeping their rooms clean, getting along, doing things the first time I ask. Likewise, they can lose bucks by not doing those things. The amount they can gain and lose varies by each expectation. I tally up the points for the day and distribute the bucks each night.

I’m happy to say that a week into the program things are going well. The kids understand the expectations and consequences. They work hard to earn their bucks. In fact, it’s going so well the kids have already reached the highest things they can earn on the chart. Second oops. Is it wrong for me to hope they screw up tomorrow so I don’t have to keep giving them stuff? But seriously, they are getting along better, listening better and doing a lot of cleaning which is helping me out a ton. We’ll see how it goes when we put school into the mix since homework and stuff is included in the chart. I’m hoping that it continues to go this well. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Mom Guilt July 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ambermg @ 10:19 pm

I suffer from a serious case of mom guilt. You know what I’m talking about, right? The kind of guilt you feel when you buy yourself a cute pair of sandals that may not go with anything in your closet but were too adorable not to purchase. At first you float around on the euphoric high of having the cutest shoes ever, until a thought seizes you. Maybe you should’ve spent that money on your kids instead of on yourself. Or when you spend an enormous amount of money every other month to have your hairdresser miraculously remove the gray hair that annoyingly shows up in your roots (this one I’ve only heard about, of course, since I’m still super young and a natural blond). Then you think that you could put that money in savings all year and have enough to pay your child’s college tuition someday, even though you know that would be a disastor since box color just won’t do the trick, and cutting your hair yourself isn’t an option. Or when you go to dinner with your friends and, even though you’re having a great time, you worry about your kids at home and your husband having to put up with them. Am I the only one who suffers from this or can you relate?

Lately I’ve been afflicted by a different case of mom guilt. It comes from the hours I spend pursuing my other passions. I got married very young and had my first kid at 21. That didn’t leave me a lot of time to pursue my dreams…or finish college for that matter. For the first several years of my children’s lives my days were consumed with caring for them. But pretty soon they could feed and care for themselves most of the time (well, at least the girl can. The boy is twelve but I seriously think I might have to live with him through adulthood to make sure he showers and brushes his teeth). So at that point I started writing and trying to make my dream of publication come true. While I don’t spend all my time writing I do carve out a chunk of every day to devote to it. Since I can’t form a coherent sentence in the morning and my evening is spent with my husband, afternoons are usually my best time to write. This means time away from my kids. Also, I recently started singing at church again which means at least one weekend a month I will be gone a lot. This paralyzes me with guilt.

Then the unexpected happens. My son brags about me to his friends saying that his mom is a published writer and beams with pride. He tells them he might be a writer one day too or pastor or football or basketball player. I overhear my daughter telling her dad that when she grows up she will probably be a lot of things like her mom who is a writer, singer and works at the church. I realize that by pursuing my passions I am teaching my kids an important lesson – that they should do what they love and that dreams can come true.

 

Mommy threw a fit…. June 27, 2011

Filed under: Parenting blunders — ambermg @ 6:43 pm

Okay,  it’s confession time. It’s time to get real and tell you how much I hate my job. Not the one I do for pay (no, that one I love). The one I hate is my “secret” job. The job I didn’t ask for or want. The one that doesn’t pay me a dime and yet it’s difficult and frustrating and takes up most of my day.  Alright, here it is: I am an ultimate fighting referee. My home is an ultimate fighting cage. In one corner I have Kayleen weighing in at a whopping 60 pounds or so and in the other corner there is Eli weighing in at around 80 pounds. And then there’s me in the middle with the whistle that I’m convinced doesn’t work. If it does, no one listens to it. I can blow until my face turns blue but still punches will be thrown, words exchanged.

My husband and I have tried a million tactics to try to get the kids to stop fighting and “just get along, already!” but nothing seems to work. Let’s see, there was the time we made them recite the things they liked about the other, every night before going to bed. We hoped this would help them gain an appreciation and love for one another. It sounded like a great idea in theory. In reality they said things like “I really like when Kayleen leaves me alone or goes to a friend’s house.” or “I like Eli’s toys, of course he never lets me play with them because he’s a big meaniehead.”

Next, we tried to not get involved and let them solve their issues on their own. The day I caught Kayleen chasing Eli with a pizza cutter in her hand ended that. If my plan is to have them live to adulthood, they need a referee.

A week or so ago I took a much more sophisticated approach to this issue. It was father’s day and the kids woke up fighting. This went on all day long. My husband was sick of it and I was sick of it. No matter how many times we sent them to their room, or outside, or reprimanded them they couldn’t find one thing to agree on. They bickered and argued and screamed and hollered all day long. By 3:00pm I was cleaning up and preparing for my father-in-law to come to dinner when the kids started up again. It was more than I could take and I ended up throwing a huge temper tantrum. Yes, that’s right. Mommy threw a fit. And not just any fit. No, it was a screaming, stomping, body convulsing fit. I know – not one of my shining moments. But truthfully when it was all over I felt better. For the first time in my life I realized how liberating it is just to let out your frustration. Suddenly I understood why my kids threw all those fits over the years. But really, I’m adult and I shouldn’t have done it. I apologized to my mortified children and my husband (happy freaking father’s day!).

Then we came up with a better, more adult, plan to combat the fighting.  We decided that the kids can no longer dictate what kind of day we will have. If they’re going to fight they can go to their seperate rooms and be in time out (for the rest of the day if that’s what it takes). That way Andrew and I don’t have to listen to it. We want to live in a peaceful environment. Mostly, I just think Andrew doesn’t want to witness his wife acting like a crazed two year old, but whatever. I’m happy with the solution and I’m praying it works.

I look forward to the day that I can retire the whistle and dismantle the cage….

 

Keep Rowing…. June 20, 2011

Filed under: Parenting blunders — ambermg @ 5:57 pm

Last sumer Andrew and I went kayaking. Since it was our first time, we decided to rent a double kayak. I had visions of us gliding seamlessly across the water, laughing, chatting and having a romantic time. With this picture in my mind, I strapped on my life jacket, hopped in the canoe, pushed off from the dock and began paddling. Only Andrew and I didn’t glide seamlessly across the water. Instead, we spun around in circles like a cat chasing it’s tail. I’m sure it was amusing to the more avid kayakers zipping past with ease.

Apparently, Andrew and I were not in sync with our rowing. Being a typical male, Andrew decided to fix the problem by playing drill sergeant and barking out commands, “left, right, left, right.” Nothing kills romance like being told what to do. Finally, after a little bickering and a few more spins, Andrew and I figured out how to row together and we made it a fair distance across the lake. Of course we didn’t exaclty go in a straight line; it was more of a zig-zag, but we’re still married so I think all in all it was a success.

We learned two things from our experience:

1. We need to work as team. Once we figured out each other’s strengths, we were able to work together.

2. Next time we’ll get our own kayaks.

This is a principle I can use in parenting (Number 1, not 2). Over the years Andrew and I have learned that we have very different approaches to parenting. Andrew is much more of the disciplinarian while my approach is most often, “let’s just make it through the day.” How many of you are with me on this one?

Seriously though, it’s confession time: I hate to discipline. I want to just hang out with my kids, laugh and love on them. I don’t want to put them in time out and take away privileges. What a way to ruin a fun day. Because of that I’m not always the best at following through.

Andrew is opposite. He’s consistent and never backs down. Over the years I think we’ve resented each other’s parenting styles. Both of us wish the other were more like us. Andrew thinks I’m too laid back – I think he’s too strict. But lately I’ve realized that if we both had the same parenting style it would be like that kayak. We’d be spinning in circles. I’ve learned that we compliment each other well. The kids need a discplinarian but they also need to be nurtured.

Sure, I’ve had to get better at consistency and Andrew’s had to soften a little. But isn’t it great that we have each other to learn from? We celebrated father’s day this weekend and I was thinking about how fortunate I am to be raising my kids with a man I love and respect so much. Someone I trust completely in this partnership of raising our children. I pray for a blessing on all those dads out there…..it may be hard but keep rowing!

 

Dude, you need to wear a bra…. June 15, 2011

Filed under: The antics of my drama queen — ambermg @ 9:09 pm

Yesterday, my nine-year-old daughter said her first bad word (at least that I’m aware of). My eleven-year-old son Eli was running around the family room acting crazy (typical boy). Kayleen looked at him all perplexed and said:

 “What the he–?” (You know the one – the opposite of heaven….)

I’m telling you – that child has become quite accomplished at saying inappropriate (if not hysterically funny) things. Like the time she was swimming in my dad’s pool with him when she was around six years old. My dad threw her up in the air and when he caught her she looked him straight in the eye and said, “Dude, you need to wear a bra.” When my dad tells the
story he says that afterward he realized Kayleen could hold her breath for two whole minutes under water (I sure hope he’s joking about that).

There was also the morning that we were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast and Kayleen asked Eli to pour her a glass of juice. When he did she leaned over to me and whispered, “He’s my manservant.”

Of course, I always respond in the most mature and responsible manner. I wish. Who am I kidding? I usually end up bursting out into laughter. Yes, I know. Probably not the best course of action, especially because it makes it even more difficult to explain to her why she shouldn’t say those things again. If anything my laughter encourages her. Although you have to admit – she’s pretty funny, right?

Also, I love that Kayleen feels the freedom to speak her mind. She’s the type of girl who will use her words to stand up to her friends at school and speak out when they are doing something that isn’t right. And at recess it’s not uncommon for her to witness to others about Jesus. She also uses her words as a way of showing love and encouragement. Here is an example
of one of the many letters she’s written me lately:

I love you so much. You rock. I love the way you talk and look. You are beautiful. I love you very much! You rock!!!

My husband and I read through the five love languages book, and discovered that my daughter’s love language is  “words of affirmation,” which is cool because that’s mine too.

A couple of weeks ago Kayleen and I were sitting on the couch watching TV when she turned to me and said, “Mom, did I ever tell you about the time God spoke to me?” When I said no, she said, “Yeah, I was telling him how much I love him and he said I love you too, Kayleen.” I asked her if she heard God’s voice audibly or if it just popped into her head like a thought. She said it was difficult to explain but she just knew it was God speaking to her.

I love that God communicates to my daughter. And I love that he knows her love language. It’s amazing!

And you know what else I think is amazing? That he knows yours too.

 

About the Clueless Mom

Filed under: Uncategorized — ambermg @ 12:46 am

Some women are created to be moms. You know the type. Those who are born with paint brushes in one hand, crayons in the other and endless amounts of patience and grace in their back pockets. The ones who conduct science experiments in the backyard on a normal afternoon, who love to work in their child’s classroom, who can whip up a cake from scratch at a moment’s notice and scrapbook on their free time. Well, I’m not one of those mom’s. To me the perfect craft is coloring in the lines in a coloring book and as far as science projects go my kids mix water and dirt to make mud. When my kids have to make a diarama for school I print some online pictures and tape them into a shoebox and when I bake a cake I usually forget an ingredient or two and end up with a mess. For those of you who find pleasure in making your own playdough this may not be the blog for you. But if you’re wondering how the heck you make your own playdough and wondering why you would even do that when you can buy perfectly good playdough at Walmart then this is definitely the blog for you.
Because I know that while we may not be crafty, we love our children and want the best for them.
While I don’t know how to take a plain piece of paper and make it into a snowflake I have sewn God’s word into my children’s hearts. They know how much God loves them and how much I love them and they love us both back. So, I may do a lot wrong but I do some things right. In this blog I’ll talk about both. Thanks for stopping by…..