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Proving to my kids that they ARE Friends

There’s sibling rivalry, and then there’s my kids. I’m sure every parent says that, including my own mother. I wouldn’t have argued with her before I had my own. My brother broke my nose growing up. We really had it out for each other. But I swear, and I’m being honest and without any exaggeration, my kids are mortal enemies.

78% of their time is spent arguing about stupid bullshit, 12% is spent tattling on each other, 8% is spent quietly fighting so I don’t hear them and they avoid getting in trouble, 1% is spent sort of getting along while still being horribly condescending to each other, and the last 1% is sometimes spent genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Maybe. Probably not, though.

Every mother’s dream is to have their kids be the best of friends. Thick as thieves, with an unbreakable, unshakable bond.
I’m not gonna sit here and whine about how I’ve failed at my job, I’m a horrible, terrible mother, blah blah blah. I didn’t. I’m not. They’re kids. This shit happens. But that doesn’t mean I can’t hate it, and want to change it. And I have tried. Over and over again. Now THAT, I have failed it. I know, I know– you can’t force these things.
Why not try to influence them, though? Quietly. Secretly. Discreetly. Make them think it’s happening without outside interference? Show them that, despite all the arguing, they actually have a lot in common and truly could be the best friends that ever existed?

I feel like over time I’ve built up a pretty big buffer for their bullshit. I tell them to resolve their own arguments because eventually they need to be able to do that kind of thing without a mediator. I tell them not to tattle, I won’t hear it, yadda yadda- but there’s only so much one person can take, and lately, literally all they’ve done is fight. Even the most innocuous things turn into an argument. One orders something at a restaurant and if the other orders the same thing, all hell breaks loose. It doesn’t matter if I’m yelling YOU CAN BOTH HAVE THE SAME THING WHY DO YOU EVEN CARE? They want to fight. They want me to turn into a stark-raving mad-woman, and I’d had it.

Come yesterday, they’d both had their tablets and basically everything fun else they own taken away from them for a month. Yeah, a month. While they understood the severity of such a lengthy punishment, and they knew how they’d managed to get themselves into such a mess, it wasn’t doing enough of the trick for me when it came to their attitudes toward one another. With nothing else to do, it almost seemed like the only thing left to do was to annoy each other. And me. And I’ll be damned if I was in the kind of mood to tolerate that level of bullshit. Nope.

It just so happened that yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and that gave me an idea.

When the kids got home from school clamoring on and on about all the candy they received from classmates they DON’T fight with, I told them they would have one way to earn back their crap- thereby relieving me from having to listen to them complain, and maybe teaching them something in the process: They had to hand-make Valentine’s Day cards for each other, and in them, list 5 things they actually like about each other.

There was a bit of complaint–swearing that it was going to be an impossible task– but they soon agreed and got to work. SHOCKINGLY, IT DIDN’T TAKE THEM THAT LONG TO FIND THINGS THEY LIKE ABOUT EACH OTHER. I know, my jaw is on the floor, too.

 

Parker’s:

  1. Your Smile
  2. Your hair
  3. Your clothing
  4. The way you laugh
  5. Your drawings

 

Holden’s:

  1. You’re smart, so you usually know what I’m talking about
  2. You have a good sense of humor
  3. You share with me a lot
  4. We have fun together
  5. Most important, you’re a good friend

 

Well, would you look at that–AND I DON’T MEAN HOW MISTY THESE MADE ME–but how, even though they swear they don’t–they DO like each other, and each other’s company.

I’m not under any false pretenses, here. No rose colored glasses for me. I know this isn’t the be-all-end-all-solution. It’s not going to make happily ever afters, or make them instantly best friends 24/7. I know it doesn’t mean they’re never going to fight again, but it’s a really great reminder for them when they aren’t getting along that it is possible. That if they’d just drop the petty garbage-level fights, they can have a great time with each other. And if they refuse? I’ll have them make new cards.

Posted on February 15, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

The Best Lazy Ideas for Valentine’s Slackers

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day as a big holiday, showering your significant other with gifts, cards, chocolates, flowers- hey, good for you! I’m glad you find joy in it. It’s pretty cool that you’d do that for someone else.
If you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day as a big holiday- if you think it’s stupid. If you would just rather treat it as any other day- hey, good for you! You do you. Whatever makes you happy, I always say.

I don’t really care what you do today as long as you and whomever you may be with have a good time. Whether that good time is a night on the town, or a night on the couch.

Valentine’s Day has never been that big of a deal for me because I don’t do jewelry, I am not particularly fond of flowers, and I have no self control when it comes to chocolates so I’d rather not have them in my house. BUT, I will generally take any holiday, constructed or not, as an excuse to eat good food, because I love food. Any day I don’t have to cook is a good day to me.

Maybe it’s my age, or the fact that my kids have ripped away my patience, but going out on one of the busiest restaurant days of the year and dealing with traffic, people holding hands across tables, and long waits even with reservations is just not all that appealing to me anymore.
IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANNA DO MORE POWER TO YOU.
If that’s not what you wanna do, and your still looking for something even the most mildly festive, I have some ideas to toss your way:

 

Nothing. Do absolutely nothing. I mean it- nothing. Get home, sit on the couch, order a pizza, say screw the housework you were swearing you were gonna get around to. Take this time to love yourself and your laziness.

Pick up a special dessert of your liking. Tell the kids you’re gonna have some sexy time and send them to bed early and then just veg out on the couch and eat it all without having to share it with them. If that ain’t love I don’t know what is.

Spend the night beating the shit out of each other. VIRTUALLY. YOU KNOW, VIDEO GAMES? Get some comfy pajamas on, settle down, and whoop each other’s asses.

Go to bed. You don’t get enough sleep as it is, and you know it. What could be more romantic than a full 8 hours of rest and not wanting to stab everyone in the morning?

Save your time and money on Valentine’s Day itself and go out the day after- chocolate at 40+% off.

That’s the thing- you don’t HAVE to do anything. Or you can do a tiny something. Or you can make the day an excuse to do something you’ve always wanted to do, or eat food you wouldn’t normally eat. Cook something special, or don’t cook at all. It’s another day. It’s all about what you make of it.

 

 

Just make sure you significant other is on board with this idea or it might be a cold sleep on the couch.

Posted on February 13, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

Alone Time: We Deserve it, we NEED it, but we’ll never get it

Why is it that it has to be our birthday, or mother’s day, or some other special occasion to give ourselves an excuse to do nothing? In order to sit down, and relax, and not worry about all the things that aren’t getting done, it has to be a special treat. And why is it that on those days that are supposed to be special for us, where we’re supposed to treat and pamper ourselves–our general idea of treating and pampering is sitting on the couch and not doing a load of laundry for once. Not sweeping the floor, or chasing after our kids, or looking over homework, or doing the dishes, or cooking dinner.

We pressure ourselves, bully ourselves, even, for even sitting down for as little as a half an hour to browse the internet, or watch a TV show because there’s always something more productive we could be doing. We work ourselves crazy, and then feel guilty because we didn’t get it all done. Everything is more important than ourselves, and what we need. We put ourselves last, and when it comes time to put ourselves first, we usually still find ourselves chasing kids, looking over homework, cooking dinner, or thinking about these things so much that we can’t relax.

Parenthood finds us trapped in this vicious cycle of our own expectations, expectations of others, and a constant sense of overwhelming responsibility. Things need to be done, because if we don’t do them now, they’ll pile up and we’ll have to do more later. Every now and then we get a vacation because the pot needs to soak, or the dryer isn’t done, or the project isn’t due for a few more days.

It’s not that we don’t think we deserve it– we KNOW we do. We yell it from the rooftops- WE DESERVE “ME” TIME. We encourage and advocate for others to take time for themselves. It’s important to us– we cherish it, and crave it, but when it comes down to it, we rarely take it. We go on about doing our daily chores, picking up after others, folding the laundry, unloading the dishwasher.

I’d tell you to just do it. Take your time. We don’t just deserve it, we need it. But I know you won’t. I won’t. We never do. But we should– seriously, we should. If we can’t do it for ourselves, we should do it for the people who have to live with us, who might not live with us for much longer, because we’re forever thisclose to either kicking them out, or running away- and then who would do the laundry? THINK OF THE LAUNDRY!

Posted on February 8, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 1 Comment

For the Underappreciated Parent

Thousands of loads of laundry over the years,
Without a single recognition of sweat and tears,
Though I lie and say I don’t need any thanks,
And I continue on sorting underwear and tanks–
because it’s all part of the job, I’m the mom, so it’s no big deal
cleaning and sorting, and making the meals.
They all come with the territory, I knew this going in,
So complaining about it seems wrong, and I can’t win.

I’m left feeling unappreciated, like nobody cares,
When I’m the one scrubbing stains from underwear.
With each garment, each dish, I learn something new,
About every single one of you.
I know what you like, what you don’t, the vegetables you won’t eat,
I know to remind you about homework, and when you actually fall asleep.

I know everything- so why do I feel like you don’t know me?
What I want, what I don’t, and what I really need?

One thing I don’t question is the love that we share,
even if you don’t always speak it, I know that it’s there.
But sometimes, consolation just isn’t enough,
because parenthood isn’t easy, it’s tiring, and rough.
I’m human, not perfect, I waver, and falter,
It would be nice to know that I’m more than just the one who provides shelter.

I want to know that you care, I want to know that you notice,
when I’m worn down, feeling out, but I don’t think that you know this.
I put on too good a face, because I want to be strong,
to be the role-model you deserve, to suck it up and get things done.

Parent is what I do, but it’s not who I am,
beneath the surface, it can feel like I’m running a scam.
Like you, there are times where I just want to be held,
and told that it’s all okay, that I’m unparalleled.
To have the comfort, and notion, that it’s not all for nothing,
that I’m not the invisible fish in this ocean.

I’m acutely aware that things will soon change,
and I won’t be able to see you just by calling your names.
You’ll be older, moved out, on your own,
Hopefully with my lessons helping you manage your own home.
But while you’re here, take a moment, stop, and see,
the one cleaning up behind you, pushing you to be better, is me.

I don’t need endless praise, or gifts, or money,
just every now and then stop, and say “thanks for all you do for me.”

Posted on February 5, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

I Painted my Toenails Today

Matte red. I dusted off the top of the small glass nail polish bottle and shook it a few times, hitting it against the palm of my hand. Red seemed a lot more festive than say, hot pink, seeing as how it was a few weeks until Christmas. I knew it didn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things because it was cold out and my feet would usually be covered by socks (much to my dismay, I’m a flip flop person)– but I’ve always had a thing about having my toenails painted.

Growing up, my grandmother had those thick, yellowish toenails that old age can sometimes bring (or is it fungus? I can never quite remember). They absolutely terrified me. More than dolls. More than Snow White’s Haunted Adventure at Disney World. Her toes were the things of my nightmares. Since then, I could never stand to look at bare toenails. Not even my own. So I kept them painted at all times. If they chipped, I’d take the time to sit down and remove the remnants and shellac on a new color. I even learned pretty designs and patterns to change things up.
That me would not recognize me now.

I sat on the floor, wiggling my toes back and forth, thinking that maybe it would help the matte red on my toes dry faster. You hear people joke about how polish on your nails will chip off if you even sneeze, but the polish on your toes could survive a nuclear holocaust. I certainly didn’t need the red to last for that long, but I’d hoped it would at least last through the new year.

Right around Christmas, I saw the first few chips. Disappointing, to say the least, but not enough for me to pull out the nail polish remover and start over again.
Over the coming weeks, I would watch the polish chip more and more, and instead of doing what I’d always done and picking a new color to shellacked onto my toes, I pulled on a pair of socks.

Maybe tomorrow.

And I kept saying “maybe tomorrow” until it really did look like my toes had gone through a nuclear holocaust. Still, as I stared down, disappointed that the natural nail was peeking through because of the memories of “Fungus foot”, I pulled on another sock.
It’s not because I didn’t want to paint them. It’s not because I stopped caring, or because I’m out of any color other than matte red, and it’s just not festive anymore. It’s not because I have two small children who keep me busy, or because I’m trying to get so many things around the house and with my writing done that I can’t find the extra time that I had when I was younger.

At 26 years old, pain crept in a window and never left. From that moment on, I had to rewire my brain. It wasn’t always about what I wanted to do. The consideration into whether or not to do things like laundry, or paint my nails, or even making myself a decent lunch became “Can I?”

Can I do this without hurting myself more?
Can I do this without it causing me to spend the rest of the day on the couch?
Can I actually complete this, or will it take me multiple tries?

And is it worth it?

As much as I love having my toenails painted, the amount of pain it has the potential to cause me is rarely worth the relief I get from not seeing cracked polish staring up at me from the floor.
Chronic pain doesn’t always give me the choice. It closed the window behind it, and proceeded to seep into every inch of my life. How I think. How I act. What I do. It’s crept into my motivation. My writing. My parenting. Some days I can get a lot done, and don’t feel much pain at all. Other days, I do one load of laundry and my back is screaming to sit down. I never know which day it’s going to be. I never know how much I’m going to be able to do.

Sometimes it’s not about the size of the thing you do, but that you did it. I painted my toenails today. They need another coat, but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

Posted on February 2, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment