Motherhood and the Mob

Motherhood is a tapestry, finely woven with the threads of manipulation, coercion and brilliant wit.

The similarities between a mother and a mob boss are nearly identical that their definitions could be one in the same.

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There is however, one key difference…Mothers have the ability to turn what they do into a beautiful package. Motherhood truly is an art form in and of its own. A mother must control, dominate and fight a war everyday but must make it look as graceful as a well choreographed ballet, sound as lovely as a brilliantly composed piece of music and look like a painting straight from the Louvre.

One of my favorite painters, Mary Cassatt, has captured the heart of motherhood time and time again with her beautiful artwork. One look at her paintings will instantly make you feel loved, and almost make you feel like you can feel the warm embrace of your own mother and her warm breath on your cheek.

As beautiful as Ms. Cassatt’s paintings are, I know there was most likely an ugly side to each of these as well that wasn’t captured. The moments before the beautiful took shape are not the highlights but they existed and need to be recognized to fully understand the art of motherhood.

Breakfast-in-Bed

Here you see a mother and daughter snuggling in bed. What a sweet cherub with her tousled curls and her mother’s arms wrapped around her so lovingly.  The truth is, when that little girl entered the room and saw her mother with her eyes closed and softly snoring she approached the sleeping woman and started poking her and saying, “Mommy, Mommy, Momma. Time to wake up. (poke, poke, poke) Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY!”

No one saw the mother fight back her irritation lean over and whisper in the girl’s ear, “If you let Mommy sleep for one more hour, I’ll let you have 5 cookies today.”

mary-cassatt-mother-combing-her-childs-hairOh, how beautiful! A mother gingerly combing her little girl’s soft blond hair.

No one saw the tears that erupted minutes before this and how the mother threatened to cut off all of the girl’s hair if she didn’t sit still and let her get the giant snarl out. The mom let out a slight giggle that instantly quieted the child because she wasn’t sure if her mother was just joking around or perhaps just crazy enough to do it.

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And finally the bath portrait. What a tender moment where the mother is gently washing up her young girl.

No one saw when the child threw a raging fit declaring she was never bathing again. The true art of motherhood set in when the mom went on a tirade declaring, “That’s fine if you don’t want to take a bath. See if I care if your feet smell like cheese and the rats come nibble on your toes at night. See if I care if you get so dirty that no one can tell you apart from one of the hogs. You’ll get thrown out to the stye with the rest of the bunch and be served turnip heads and slop. You know that will happen if you don’t come take a bath right now little miss.”

No one saw the child’s eyes grow ten times bigger and then stoically walk to her mother’s lap so she could be washed.

I am a mom. Don Corleone has nothing on me.- Motherhoodisanart

 

 

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How To Problem Solve

Problem solving is an essential part of life.

Around every corner is a minor incident or catastrophe just waiting to be remedied.

It takes great skill and aptitude to be able to fix some things quickly or have the knowledge to know when to take your time to think things through clearly.

Like most things in life you would think that this takes years of practice and only the wisdom that climbing the years of age brings.

Today that notion has been knocked out of my head.

A bumper harvest of pears this year from my neighbor’s tree has found me scrambling to make use of all of these golden green beauties. This week I found myself making several batches of fruit roll-ups or “fruit leather” as my dehydrator dubs them. I patted myself on the back for whipping up a delicious, healthy snack for the kids and have been doling them out generously.

Today my 3 year old son, Cesar, clutched his pear fruit roll-up in his hand and sauntered my way. He slightly cocked his head to the side, scrunched up his nose in a twitchy rabbit kind of way, put a pleasant smirk on his face and said, “I tink they have mossmallows at the grocery shopping. I tink they do.

In other words, the kid is already sick of these stupid fruit leathers and could I possibly just go buy him some soft, pillowy marshmallows.

And this folks is called problem solving at it’s highest form. A sweet purr to your voice, a cute look on your face and a bunch of words wrong and mispronounced.

Marshmallows was added to the grocery list.

Cesar wants some marshmallows

Cesar wants some marshmallows

Beautiful Minds

I looked out the window and saw my children all huddled around the slide on the swing set peering at it. I continued cooking supper and would steal glances every now and then. All of them stayed put in their places and every once in a while someone would throw their arms in the air and say “Yes!” or “Go, Go, Go!”

Curiosity filled me but I was intent on getting the meal ready.

Soon, my husband arrived home from work. I saw him walk across the yard and approach the children. He entered the house shortly after and announced, “Please make sure those kids wash their hands good before supper.” When I asked why, he informed me the kids were having slug races.

Slug races? What is a slug race? I had to run out and see for myself.

The kids having slug races

The kids having slug races

Apparently my 6 year old son discovered 3 slugs and everyone decided they wanted to enter them in a race to see who could get down the slide first. Surprisingly, even at a downward incline, slugs move at a very slow pace. My kids had engaged in this activity for over an hour and it probably could have entertained them much longer as the slugs had only completed half of their course when I called them in for dinner.

The racers

The racers

There are days that I lose faith that children remember how to play. As they grow older their imaginations wane as they are introduced to technology and television. The phrase of “I’m bored” is added to their daily language. The simple things they used to find enjoyment in are now babyish.

And then something like slug races comes along.

It restores my hope that they do know how to be creative. They can find pleasure in nature. They are satisfied with the simple joys that this world has to offer. They don’t always need something blinking and beeping to keep them entertained. They don’t need something that has come in a colorful box and found on a toy store shelf.

They just need their beautiful minds.

And they just need to wash their hands good before supper.

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We Broke Our Mom

Hi Everybody! This is Cesar, my mom’s almost 3 year old son. She normally writes here at Motherhood Is An Art but for the last few weeks my mom has been broken.

My name is Cesar!

My name is Cesar!

Last year I also wrote a piece on my 2nd birthday. It was one of my mom’s most read posts. Seeing as I have quite a way with words I thought I would fill in here for my mom and give you some insight as to what is going on at our house.

As I mentioned, I am going to be 3 years old in a few weeks. I also have an 8 year old sister and a 6 year old brother.

My brother Bency and sister Iris

My brother Bency and sister Iris

Together, we broke my mom.

It was a slow and gradual process but we put up an united front. By the last few weeks of summer we had officially “driven her up a wall”. There was a lot of walking out of the room to take deep breaths or her just standing and staring at us while her face twitched and turned beet red. There were also the sudden outbursts of long tangents with incoherent sentences about, “No one listens to me. No one appreciates anything.”

You could see my mom slowing cracking as she heard my older siblings fight for the 50th time over who got to be the dog in the Monopoly game.

You could see her mood change drastically when she made a big batch of refrigerator pickles with my sister while my brother was upstairs watching Phineas and Ferb. When my brother came down and discovered his sister got to make pickles he whined, “It’s not fair that I didn’t get to make pickles. You just love Iris more.”

My mom relented and let Bency make pickles too even though we already had more than enough. That batch managed to leak all over the inside of the refrigerator and my mom had to spend hours cleaning up the sticky vinegar and sugar brine. Plus, no one even likes the pickles.

She began teetering on the tipping point when all of us kids wouldn’t eat the big watermelon she purchased. Even though it was a seedless variety, my sister said the little white seeds were making her gag. My brother and I followed suit and pretended to gag too and refused to eat the red, sweet flesh.

Because my mom didn’t want to see it go to waste she pureed up the rest of the watermelon and made popsicles with it. We all took two licks of those frozen pops and deemed those gross too. Mom huffed and puffed and told us to go put them in the kitchen sink to melt. We all fought to get to the sink first and our popsicles fell to the floor and drips of the sticky substance splattered all over.

Someone made the mistake of asking for a different and better snack.

The day before school started my parents took us all out for miniature golf. On the 2nd hole I managed to fall into the water trap. I began screaming… not so much because I was hurt but because I was certain this was the straw that would break the camel’s back. I was sure this would put my mom over the edge. But as my mom pulled me off the concrete alligator as the water rushed over me I heard a sound I had not heard in a long time. It was my mom laughing! Instead of going on a ramble about how there always has to be some glitch in everything we do…she laughed as she pulled algae out of my hair. I thought it was a bit inappropriate seeing as her 2 year old had just experienced a harrowing ordeal but it was nice to see the sparkle in her eye and I began to laugh with her too. I didn’t even complain when I had to golf the next 16 holes sopping wet.

My mom laughing at me after I fell in the water

My mom laughing at me after I fell in the water

My mom is coming around and getting back to her old self. Although I noticed last night when I sneaked in the kitchen and stole a cookie without finishing my supper she started to say, “What do you think you’re doing?” and instead just finished with a “Whatever” as she shook her head in a tired, defeated way as her eye twitched a few times.

Maybe I’ll wait until later to tell her I pooped my pants and hid the underwear in the toy box.

Take care folks and I promise to start being really good so my mom can get back here real soon!

Cesar

The Battle Wounds of Childhood

The nearing end of summer signifies a great change my family will soon embark upon. No, not just starting school. Something that impacts us even greater.

The battle between summer and childhood is coming to an end.

The war that breaks out each year around the days when it starts to get warm is not one necessarily of violence or animosity. The attacks are not planned and there is no general leading the fight. It is merely incidents and accidents that weave their way through little children brought on by the force known as Summer.

Summer has a cruel way of luring children outside to play. It makes them run, jump, ride their bike and roller skate. And then without warning it knocks them down and laughs in their face.

This is where I come in. As a mother to 3 children I am constantly tending to a scraped knee, elbow or bump to the head. It seems my role as infirmary nurse is never done and my supplies of band-aids, antibiotic ointment and ice packs are always in need of replacement.

It doesn’t help that my two older children have contracted a strange addiction to band-aids and require them for every little injury regardless if there is broken skin or blood. The band-aids act as a sense of security and my children apply them generously to everything that even remotely hurts from small bumps to stubbed toes.

If band-aids were an indication of a wounded soldier my children would definitely earn a purple heart.

In this war between Summer and childhood there is no white flag to wave. There is no truce to sign. You must just wait it out until the chaos subsides and we enter the autumn and winter months when there are fallen leaves and snow to soften the blows.

Until next year when Summer rears it’s ugly head in our part of the world, lures children outside to ride their bikes and then knocks them to the asphalt with a roar of laughter and the fight between the two parties starts again.

Here is a picture I took of Bency the other day. Notice the band-aids on his eye, knee and a toe!

Here is a picture I took of Bency the other day. Notice the band-aids on his eye, knee and a toe!

 

* Also, check out MomTimes4’s cartoon today that she did with the idea I submitted!

I Get It. I Got It. Really. Truly.

“Do you get it?”

“Yep, I got it alright! It’s pretty darn funny!”

“No, I mean did you really get it? How do you get a baby astronaut to sleep? You rock-et (laugh, laugh, laugh)! You know instead of ROCKET, it’s rock-et. Like you’re rocking a baby in a rocking chair. Are you sure you get it?”

“Honey, I really get it. Really. Truly. I totally understand it. It’s so funny. If I could slap my knee any harder it would fall off. The thing I don’t get though is who on earth would put a clearance on a baby to go in outer space. That part doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“Well, maybe it’s dad who is a real astronaut couldn’t find a babysitter so he had to bring his baby to work with him.”

“Yeah, maybe. That sounds about like my luck too.”

And this is how it is now. My 8 year old daughter “gets” jokes finally. I never thought this day would come. For the last two years she has checked out joke books at the library and I have had to explain every single joke and she still could not comprehend them.

Just 6 months ago while going through a knock-knock joke phase she would make up her own jokes. Her favorite was:

Knock, Knock

Who’s There?

Tigger

Tigger who?

Tiggerific

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It doesn’t even make any sense. If I heard that joke once I must have heard it 5000 times and I had to do an obligatory laugh every time she told it. There were days that I often considered dunking my head in a bucket of boiling acid but I held out hope that this phase would soon pass. And it did.

For a fleeting moment I was happy when she finally started “getting” jokes. That is until she started explaining every single one to me and why they were funny. She does not have to tell me why an astronaut’s mid afternoon meal is called “launch” instead of lunch. I get it. It’s so hilarious; now pass me the bucket of boiling acid.

I really should just be content with this new stage. It’s sweet and innocent. It really doesn’t constitute much effort from me except for a hearty laugh every time to let her know “I got it. I really, really got it!”

Besides, I’m sure I’m going to really despise the next stage; the next stage when she “gets” jokes like: “When life gives you lemons, stick them in your bra.”

“Do you get it? Instead of making lemonade you stick them in your bra because your boobs are as flat as pancakes.”

Yep, I got it. Totally get it. It sure is funny. It’s actually Tiggerific!

cartoon

 

 

Swallowed Up by a Sea of Childhood Treasures

I remember being about 10 years old at my grandma’s house. There was an older lady who lived up the hill from my grandma whom my cousin and I would go visit from time to time. She lived in an old farmhouse all by herself and she was a hoarder. I had only stepped into her house once and at that time you could really only walk a few inches before being roadblocked by a huge stack of newspapers and a tower of milk jugs. Like I said, I was only 10 years old but even I knew this was beyond any mess I had ever seen.

Even though she wasn’t a housekeeper she was a very nice lady and strangely enough on one particular day I was visiting she took me with her to shop for a trailer to put on her land because she could no longer get into her house. Afterwards she took me to the local A&W stand for a hotdog and root beer and it was quite a lovely afternoon.

I often think of that dear old lady as I watch my own house filling up. I don’t save newspapers or milk jugs and you can usually find a path through our house, but the amount of stuff I save for my children is slowly engulfing our house. Someday I fully expect to be swallowed up by a sea of artwork, favorite toys and beloved baby clothes. If we had a big enough property I might actually consider buying a trailer to put in our yard to store it all and really that is just insane.

Instead of parting with all of this childhood nostalgia I just continue to add to it and with that comes more storage containers for it all. Our house is filled with tons of antique trunks and boxes holding all of these treasures and this past weekend I had to make one more:

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter's treasures

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter’s treasures

I also made a box for one of my daughter’s friends who is having a birthday this week. I figure we can’t be the only ones who need storage containers:

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A box I made for my daughter’s friend

And as I sat working on that trunk to hold more of my daughter’s treasures I pondered our whole storage problem and how we could have accumulated so much stuff and how many more years I have left in their childhoods to grow their collections. It’s really quite mind-boggling.

Even though I realize this problem; it apparently never truly sinks in because the very next day this is what I had my children do:

My kids painting huge canvases outside

My kids painting huge canvases outside

Someday, I will be that lady taking a visiting child to shop for a trailer with me because I can no longer walk through my own home. Afterwards I will take them for a hot dog and root beer and it will be quite a lovely afternoon.

There Really is a Candy Land

Do you lie to your children?

I do.

I tell them things like, “No, I didn’t put onions in the casserole,” or “We have to leave the park NOW. They are closing it early today,” or “Sorry, I don’t have any money for a bag of M&Ms.”

Two years ago I told my kids that there really was a place called Candy Land. This isn’t a lie. Candy Land truly does exist as I mentioned in a previous post called Yes Dear, There Really is a Candy Land.

Thanks to my mom, I really got to take my children to Candy Land this past weekend.

My mom has spent the last 6 months creating Candy Land in her backyard for my kids and many more. She found almost everything at rummage sales or the thrift store and then went to work handpainting everything herself. She also made quite a few of the things with her saw and power tools. She is truly a remarkable lady who brought so much joy to kids and adults alike with this labor of love.

Enjoy the photos that I captured on that glorious day!

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That’s my mom on the side of the tree who created all of this!

A clever sign above a mirror!

A clever sign above a mirror!

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This chocolate area was really cool. The pots are filled with cocoa bean mulch which really smells like chocolate. The kids had fun digging in it!

This chocolate area was really cool. The pots are filled with cocoa bean mulch which really smells like chocolate. The kids had fun digging in it!

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All of the children's furniture is stuff that my mom found for a couple of dollars and then fixed and painted! The treats on this cupboard were made by mom out of wax!

All of the children’s furniture is stuff that my mom found for a couple of dollars and then fixed and painted! The treats on this cupboard were made by mom out of wax!

This is an old manger converted into a little house!

This is an old manger converted into a little house!

These decorations were bought at after Christmas clearance sales

These decorations were bought at after Christmas clearance sales

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This cupboard was full of dishes and the kids had a ton of fun playing tea party!

This cupboard was full of dishes and the kids had a ton of fun playing tea party!

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My mom made tons of little cakes and treats out of wax!

My mom made tons of little cakes and treats out of wax!

One of the doll houses my mom painted and decorated

One of the doll houses my mom painted and decorated

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The table of candy

The table of candy

ribbon candy

ribbon candy

more doll houses in Candy Land for the kids to play with

more doll houses in Candy Land for the kids to play with

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My mom also cut boards and painted all kinds of signs

My mom also cut boards and painted all kinds of signs

Inside the candy house. My mom decorated this. She used blocks to make the furniture

Inside the candy house. My mom decorated this. She used blocks to make the furniture

All of the kids playing a game of Four Corners to burn off all of the sugar they consumed!

All of the kids playing a game of Four Corners to burn off all of the sugar they consumed!

My son was so sticky by the end of the day that all of the confetti on the candy table was sticking to him. My brother said he must have contracted a case of the "candy pox"!

My son was so sticky by the end of the day that all of the confetti on the candy table was sticking to him. My brother said he must have contracted a case of the “candy pox”!

This was truly a remarkable event and one that the kids and adults alike will never forget!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watching Her Save the World

I’ve always admired activists; people who are so passionate about a cause. I’ve never been passionate about anything enough that would make me want to stand out in the hot sun, rain or cold all day and shout my beliefs for all to hear.

That is why it is kind of mind-boggling to me that I am raising a budding activist.

It started earlier this year when my 8 year old daughter came home from school and told me she started her own club at school called The Nature Experts. She recruited several other children to join her crusade. According to her, they met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at recess. They picked up trash around the schoolyard and talked about ways to save animals. She also made pins for all of her members.

Her passion has continued on this summer.

She made up several signs and hung them on telephone poles up and down our street.

One sign said:

Save the animals like dolphins, clownfish, and many others. Please stop littering. You could make some animals endangered. Be careful Please. (there was also a picture of a fish saying, “My home is ruined for good. I will not live. Wha-Wha.”)

Another sign said:

Try not to cut down as much trees. We need trees to live. If you cut down the trees we would not be able to breathe. With all the trees you cut down we might not be able to live. Please stop cutting down the trees. (this one included a picture of a girl saying, “I feel like I can’t breathe.”)

My daughter with her signs

My daughter with her signs

The other day she also rode her scooter up and down the sidewalk for an hour shouting, “Save the Animals!” She made her brother run behind her holding up various different stuffed animals. I wonder what the neighbors thought!

She also recently held a lemonade stand/fundraiser in our front yard.

My daughter's lemonade stand

My daughter’s lemonade stand

The kids charged 25 cents a cup and were able to raise $5.00! People were obviously very generous!

After the lemonade stand my daughter requested that we bring the money they made along with some of her own money to the local animal shelter.

Off we went across town to deliver the $9.50 to The Humane Society to help aid them in buying food and medicine for all the dogs and cats.

I love that my daughter is trying to change the world and help out. I love seeing her determination and conviction to this cause. I don’t think I am going to march up and down the street shouting, “Save the Animals” with her but I will gladly make up pitchers of lemonade and drive her across town to donate her money. I am happy to take the backseat role and watch as my little girl takes steps to save the world!

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part IV

In the past I shared 3 love letters that my grandpa wrote to my Grandma Charlotte when they were courting back in 1936. My grandma was 17 at the time and my grandpa was 23. She was still attending high school and he was a school teacher in a one-room school house. If you haven’t had the chance to read those letters; you can do so here:

There’s History in Those Love Letters

There’s History in Those Love Letter Part II

There’s History in Those Love Letters Part III

Soon after he wrote those letters they got married. The letter I am sharing today is a letter written in 1943; 7 years into their marriage and with 2 of their 4 children being born (Janet and Judy). By this time my grandpa had quit his job as a school teacher and since work was somewhat scarce in the rural area of Wisconsin that they lived, he had taken a short-term job in Omaha, Nebraska helping to build their airport. He went with his brother, Denver. I guess in a way it is not a true love letter but by all accounts it shows that my grandpa was still very much in love with my grandma. There is also some important history in this letter. I thought about omitting a part where my grandpa made a comment about African-Americans. Although his comment wasn’t intended to be racist and merely indicated that rural Wisconsin did not have a lot of African Americans at the time; he used a term that is no longer acceptable. After some consideration I decided it was important to include it and to show how far we have come as a country.

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Grandma Charlotte and Grandpa Ed

Plattsmouth, Nebraska

May 31, 1943

Dearest Charlotte, Judy and Janet,

Denver is writing to Marie so I thought I would write to you too. I have just began to get rested up so I feel like writing.

Well I went to work today. I worked in the shop with Denver, helped on the trucks, took care of the gas pumping and fixed tires and things like that. I sure was a greasy mess when I got done work. I don’t know what I will get to do yet. Swanson isn’t here; he is in Minneapolis. I am staying in a room with Denver and a fellow by the name of Ed Jacques. He is a big fat fellow.

We eat at a restaurant downtown. It sure cost a lot to eat. It is awful crowded in our room. Denver and I may get a room to ourselves right away. One fellow from Arkansas thinks he may go to Asnaha (?) and stay.

Right beside the place we work is a bomber plant. They say they make eight planes a day there. They are taking off and landing all the time. They also try out their guns there.

There is only about two weeks of work unless something else turns up. I will let you know if there is. Some say there is an airport going in at La Crosse. I would rather go up there then. It wouldn’t be so far to take the kids.

I sure miss you and the kids. I sure hope your are well. If the kids get sick be sure and let me know as soon as you can.

Tell Janet there sure is a lot of negroes down here. I looked downtown for something to send home but I couldn’t find anything but I will look again tomorrow night. Maybe I can find something.

Did you go to the Cherser’s Memorial Day? I wished I hadn’t come down here when I did. If I had waited until now I would have known it would be a short job. The company put the bid on a lot of work but did not get it. Unless they can sub contract, the job will be very short.

Well honey, I guess that is about all I know. Take good care of yourself and the kids and give them a big smacker for me.

Are the berries ripe? I sure would like to have a big dish full with a little sugar and cream.

Write soon and tell me something.

Denver just asked me if I was getting homesick and I told him I wasn’t, but I really wish I was going to crawl into that old bed of ours instead of this bunk in the cabin.

When you get this newspaper read you’ll probably need a pair of specks. So I will quit.

With All My Love,

Ed

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