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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The Evolution of Parenting

Do you remember the episode of Little House on the Prairie when Albert Ingalls becomes addicted to morphine? It was a doozy complete with Albert stealing from Doc Baker, hitting his teacher and then going through severe withdrawals after Pa takes him away to a makeshift rehab at Mr. Edward’s cabin.

"Don't cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction."

“Don’t cry Pa. Albert will get over his drug addiction.”

This episode shows that no matter the era, parenting is a really difficult job. Kids are kids. You will always have the needy infant, toddlers who throw fits for no apparent reason and of course, the rebellious teenagers.

The differences that come in to play between parenting during the 19th century and the 21st century, or even the generation before us is all of the technology and advancements to our world.

A lot of the technology and new inventions have made parenting in the present much easier. I feel bad that my mother’s generation had to use cloth diapers. I feel bad for the pioneer woman that had to wake up before dawn and start a fire in the house and bake bread even though she had probably been up all night with a baby. I know that dishwashers, microwaves and washing machines have made my role as a parent so much easier.

Technology is a double-edged sword though. It puts today’s parents in predicaments that Charles Ingalls never would have thought possible as he sat and cleaned up the vomit from one of Albert’s major puking sprees as he withdrew from that morphine.

The other day when I was in the shower, my 6 year old son came running into the bathroom screaming that my 3 year old son puked in the recliner while they were watching television. I quickly rinsed the shampoo out of my hair in a frenzy, horrifically anticipating the mess that waited for me when I got out.

I was happily surprised when I entered the living room and saw my 3 year old sitting in the recliner, watching his episode of Dora the Explorer with a blanket on his lap covered in puke. There was not one single drop on the chair or anything else. All I would need to do is deal with the blanket. As I lifted the blanket off of him I noticed something sticking out from the pile of vomit.

It was the remote control for the television.

Pioneer women may have had to make their own candles and hand sew all of the family’s clothes but they never had to figure out how to wash a remote control covered in puke.

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

Thankfully I got the remote cleaned up so my son can watch television again!

I’m In England

Hi Folks!

Today you can find me in England!

Okay, actually it is just a blog out of England called Little Steps run by my friend Dean. She is originally from the Philippines and is now living in the most charming area of England by the ocean with her husband and daughter.

She asked me to partake in her monthly Chat With A Mom and I graciously accepted. So hop on over and find my answers to her burning questions!

October Chat With Moms

Also, I believe it is tomorrow you will find me over at the Sadder But Wiser Girl’s blog doing a guest post about what made me a better person (it is probably not at all what you expect)! I will be back with the link when that post comes up!

Have a great day!

Melissa

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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Stop Grabbing Your Uvula

There have been scientific studies done about this.

There have been books written about this.

This is not a new revelation and yet even though I know this, it never fails to surprise me how different boys are versus girls.

Boys are gross and weird.

If you don’t agree take a look at my case and point:

The other day my 6 year old son is coughing and sputtering. I ask him if he is okay and what is going on. He replies that he is fine and is just training himself to be able to hold the dangling thing in his throat without coughing and gagging.

Insert brief moment of silence while my mind races wildly.

Next I explode with, “What? What? You are grabbing your uvula? GRABBING YOUR UVULA? UVULA?? Why would you want to condition yourself to hold your uvula without coughing or gagging? Please stop grabbing your uvula!!”

I rest my case.

Don't grab your uvula

Don’t grab your uvula

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!

6 Things Your Child Will Never Say

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We recently moved my youngest son out of his crib and into a regular bed. Seeing as we have no further use for a crib; I listed it on Craigslist the other day. I posted a picture of it, a very brief description and the price of $40. It’s not a fancy crib by any means and I didn’t advertise it as one. It is clean, sturdy and does the job.

A man called shortly after I posted it and asked if he and his wife could come look at it. We set up a time and they came. The man was very friendly while the woman wouldn’t even look in my direction or say hello. I showed them the crib which the man seemed very enthusiastic about. The woman on the other hand rolled her eyes, shot her husband a glare and when he asked her if she was okay with it, she shook her head in a way that indicated she was completely disgusted.

I have no idea what the lady expected for $40 but apparently she was hoping for something along these lines:

Even though I kept my mouth shut I really wanted to tell that lady just how quick your child’s time in the crib goes by. You blink a few times and they are ready to go into a regular bed. Also, there is a chance your kid won’t even sleep in it. Only 2 out of 3 of my kids spent any considerable length of time in theirs.

I also wanted to tell her that her child would never say any of these things:

1. I know I could learn my ABC’s better if I just had a proper crib.

2. I promise I’ll stay asleep until 8 am if you just buy me a better crib.

3. You are the worst parents ever for buying this junky crib.

4. Tommy has a better crib than me so I bet he will be valedictorian of his graduating class. 

5. This crib is a bigger embarrassment to me than the time I had a blow out diaper at Story Time at the library.

6. I can only picture a life of hard drugs and alcohol because I had to spend my baby years sleeping in this cheap crib.

Iris crib

 

 

A Show of Hands Please

A hunched over figure, taking slow, methodical steps made it’s way through the yard as I peered out the window. It appeared to be a crippled old lady, bent over by the years of old age.

In actuality it was my 8 year old daughter a few months ago making her way home from school with the weight of her backpack crumpling her over and slowing her process.

When she entered the house I helped her remove the monstrous backpack and looked inside to find a book the size of Cincinnati. It was entitled “The Encyclopedia of Dogs”.  I asked her where it came from and she replied that she checked it out from the school library that day. Despite being alarmed by the weight and size of this tome, I wasn’t surprised at all by the title and it’s content. For the past year my daughter had been checking out books from the library every week about dogs.

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Books are always coming home about Yorkshire Terriers, Huskies, English Sheep Dogs, how to care for dogs and how to train dogs. This new book was the mother load though as far as information. It contained hundreds of different breeds as well as common problems that exist within each dog. It explained how to get rid of fleas and mites in ears.

When my daughter wants something she goes above and beyond to gain knowledge on the subject and THIS GIRL WANTS A DOG!

I know, I know, you’re reading this and thinking, “Well, get that girl a dog.”

Iris pic3

It does seem like the simple solution to prevent my daughter from breaking her back carrying huge books around but there is so much hesitation behind my willingness to welcome a furry canine into our family. The biggest factor is that I have 3 children who still need so much care and attention. I just don’t think I can take on the responsibility of one more thing at this time. I’ve told my daughter this on numerous occasions and just when I think she understands and is willing to wait a while longer she brings me this hard core sell the other day:

Daughter: I really think having a dog around will make your life easier.

Me: How so?

Daughter: If we have a dog and one of us kids gets hurt you will no longer have to kiss our wounds. The dog can just lick them.

Me: I guess that would be a time saver considering how often you kids fall down and get hurt.

Daughter: If the boys and I are not willing to go get you something when you ask; the dog can do it. Dogs are great at fetching things. Just don’t ask it to get you a can of soda; it’s teeth might puncture the can.

Me: Great point. You and your brothers have been a bit lazy lately.

Daughter: The last thing is; I know that if we have a dog around there will be no more fighting between us kids. We won’t have anything to fight about because there will be a dog here to play with.

Before I can say anything, my 6 year old son comes bounding into the room and asks, “What are you talking about? Did someone say we are getting a dog?’

My daughter pipes in with, “I don’t know, I am trying to convince Mom that getting a dog is a good idea. I told her that if we get a dog that we won’t fight anymore.”

I will let you be the judge if my family should get a dog after you hear the next conversation:

Son: Yes, there would not be anymore fighting. I can walk the dog and she can feed it.

Daughter: No, I’m older so I should walk the dog and you feed it.

Son: THAT’S NOT FAIR! I AM TOO OLD ENOUGH! JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE OLDER DOESN’T MEAN YOU GET TO DO EVERYTHING!

Daughter: OH YEAH MR. POOPY BUTT? YOU WOULD JUST LET GO OF THE LEASH AND THE DOG WOULD RUN AWAY AND THEN WE WOULD NEVER GET ANOTHER DOG AND IT WOULD BE ALL OF YOUR FAULT!

Son: I WOULD NOT! YOU ARE SO MEAN! YOU ARE THE MEANEST SISTER IN THE WHOLE WORLD! IF MOM AND DAD LET US GET A DOG I WOULD HIDE IT FROM YOU SO YOU COULD NEVER SEE IT! IT WOULD BE ALL MINE!

A show of hands please for all those in favor of my family getting a dog!

Iris pic

How To Raise a Well-Rounded Child (Or Not)

I’ll be the first to admit; my children are not well-rounded individuals.

My daughter is a reading maniac and can rock your socks with the amount of author knowledge she knows. My middle son gives me a run for my money when it comes to a game of chess and recently my 2 year old drew a stick person that has catapulted him into the ranks of Picasso.

This is usually how you will find my daughter

This is usually how you will find my daughter

Why can they do these things?

I can only attribute it to the fact that these are the things that I like to do. These are the things they see me do.

When it comes to sports though; that’s a whole other story.

I spent a lot of time in my youth at hospitals after my forays with sledding, tree climbing, tennis, softball and general lack of grace.

Therefore, as I entered adulthood I pretty much shied away from anything physical. My husband is really no different. He spent his short-lived baseball career as a child picking grass in the outfield. I think my children were kind of doomed from the get-go with the make-up of our DNA.

This has not stopped us from signing our children up for sporting activities. I do want them to be well-rounded. I want them to try new things. I want them to understand about sportsmanship, the importance of exercise, and the difference between a basketball and tennis ball.

Our adventures into this arena have been comical at best. It’s clear we do not have the next athletic phenom on our hands after sightings of my son scoring goals for the other team in soccer, my daughter dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld or just general wincing from all of them when a ball gets thrown their way.

Part of this is due to their young age and I’m sure their hereditary genes but a large part of it falls on me. They do not see me do anything remotely athletic.

This summer I am trying to change that. We are utilizing our pool pass to the fullest. I dusted off my old baseball glove and I have been giving lessons on jump roping without trying to injure myself in the process.

It pains me to do these things both figuratively and literally because in my head I am thinking about all the great art projects I want to do and all of the wonderful books I want to read with them as I am sweating my hiney off.

Will it pay off in the end? I don’t know but we’ll give it a shot this summer.

I do know that after this summer I am going to sit down with the 2 year old and work on his artistic skills more. A talent like his can not be wasted! Maybe Tiger Woods could make a hole-in-one in golf at the age of 3 but he could draw a stick man like this?

This is my 2 year old's picture. I drew the guy on the right and asked him if he could do that. This was his first try!

This is my 2 year old’s picture. I drew the guy on the right and asked him if he could do that. This was his first try!