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Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Flunked and now I'm a Momster!

I think I'm a miserable failure. I don't think I got this mom thing right at all. I don't know how to fix it.

The temperatures this past week have been abysmal, in the toilet, my own special kind of hell. I hate winter with a passion not seen in a normal person, but I put up with it and plug along. I layer and layer and layer my clothes. I have all the right things to keep me warm. Being a hockey mom, I know how to dress for cold, even though I despise it. Winter slammed us hard in the past days. Cold, snow, yuck, yuck and more yuck. So I responded by donning the appropriate attire, and I headed out into the elements in my Uggs, fleece lined tights and a warm layer upon warm layer to deliver some groceries to my mom.

As soon as I walk into her house, the peppering begins.

"How can you be warm enough? You don't have enough clothes on. You should be zipped and buttoned up. It's not good to be breathing this cold air into your lungs," with me responding with my best teenage impersonation.

"Mom," I say with an eye-roll as she starts to zip my fleece jacket up to my chin, "I'm perfectly warm. I have plenty of clothes on. I'm layered from top to bottom." And then I unzip the jacket she's desperate to zip.

I plot my escape and leave with nary a zipper zipped, and a teenager's chip on my shoulder. But as I'm driving away, I start thinking about Claire, my own teenager. Before I went to my mom's, I dropped Claire off at the pool where she spends a fair share of her free time. She volunteered to time for other swimmers and accrue some community service hours. I knew when and why I dropped her off, but try as I might I couldn't remember the what of the equation...what she was wearing. The temperatures were hovering around 15 degrees (that's fahrenheit, not celsius) and I couldn't remember if she had a coat on. I was pretty sure she had a sweatshirt on, but I couldn't remember if she had her warm and cozy coat on.

And that's when I started to think that maybe I flunked this most basic of motherhood tests. I didn't even know if my daughter had her coat on in these frigid temps. "Oh, GAWD! I must be the world's worst mother! Who does that? Who lets her kid go out in subzero temperatures without making sure she has a coat on? What kind of a Momster am I?" And yes, I did call myself a Momster...that's no typo!

It happened again today. I was selfishly reading through the posts on Facebook, ignoring my family, when I saw the post on one of the VMI pages that the dining hall was closed yesterday due to the massive snow they received. The moms on Facebook were concerned. How would their children eat? What would they do without the dining hall? So last night some of these moms placed phone calls to restaurants in the Lexington area to have meals delivered to the barracks so their kids would have dinner. And I had no idea this was all happening. My poor baby. What if he didn't have a thing to eat? What if he couldn't walk down to the PX and order a sandwich from Subway, or a hamburger from the grill? It's official. I'm a true Momster! I had no idea the dining hall was closed. I had no idea how my college kiddo was going to be fed. I was in the dark about this issue.  So today, a day late, I texted Zach to ask if it was true...was the dining hall really closed yesterday? "Yes," he said. "Why?"

I told him the story of the parents calling to find restaurants to deliver food. This was his response...

"Hahahahaha. What the hell is the matter with people? Your kids are in college, but they are treated like babies. These moms are crazy. We go to one of the hardest schools in the nation and these kids can't survive six hours without the dining hall. I'm glad you're not like that."

Okay, so maybe I don't really think I'm a Momster, and, yes, this is all tongue in cheek.

I know I'm the first one to lament and whine about my kiddos growing up too fast, but I'm the last one to hover. I'm pretty hands-off, except when I'm required to be hands on. I was the first one to do a happy dance when my kids could take care of their own backsides after using the bathroom. I'm all about my kids being able to fix themselves pancakes, eggs, sandwiches and then clean up after themselves. I'm all about them being responsible for their own comfort, and learning from their mistakes when they're not. I try hard not to rescue them from every imaginable hurt, even though sometimes I cringe and cry when they have to go through something Hell Week at VMI.

I may have flunked motherhood in other ways, but not in this area. I may "flunk" when I don't allow them to have massive, roaring parties on New Year's Eve, but I'm more than fine with that, knowing I'm keeping us all out of trouble with the law. I may be a Momster when it comes to not letting my kids spend the night at someone's house when I don't know the parents, but that's okay. I'll take the title in these instances and I'll wear it like a badge of honor.

Oh, for the love of my children....

Monday, February 2, 2015

The biggest impact

Thoughtless. It's what I named one of my blogs a couple of weeks ago and it got me to thinking. In my Thoughtless blog I talked about how Claire surprised me by doing something so thoughtful and I wondered where I went wrong with the boys...

But truthfully, after thinking long and hard about it, I don't think I went wrong with the boys.

Zach was the brand new kid when he was in second grade.
We grew to dislike the public elementary school in Louisville where we sent him for kindergarten and first grade. Lucas was there for preschool and they showed their true colors with their littlest students, and we decided it was in our kids' best interests to move schools. So we enrolled Zach in Catholic school and looked forward to a new educational chapter. In the first weeks Zach was there, he was shy, nervous, a little quiet and kept to himself. As time went on he came out of his shell a little and began to blossom.

Zach was never a kid who went looking for trouble, but neither was he a kid who strove to stand out with exemplary behavior. He was a normal little boy, with exuberance out the wazoo so his trips to the coveted treasure box were few and far between. I don't even know if elementary schools have treasure boxes anymore, but in his young school days they were not only the norm, but the expectation. These "treasure" chests contained a myriad of treats, from brand new pencils to bouncy balls to treats and so on. On one particular day, Zach was rewarded with a trip to his classroom's treasure box. I wasn't there, but I can imagine him standing there, looking through the box and trying with all his might to find the exact right treat for himself. He came home bursting with pride and excitement about his trip to the box full of toys and treats. I gave him a giant hug, and asked him what he picked out. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pair of gold earrings and handed them to me. 

"I picked these out for you, Mom. I hope you like them." 

My heart nearly burst out of my chest. Zach stood before me with bright, shiny eyes and a huge smile and handed me his heart. He didn't get many trips to the treasure box, and he could have chosen anything for himself, but he chose something for me instead. They were just a little thing, but his gesture was one of the biggest things to me. 

Fast forward many years. In March of 2011 Jan, our Czech exchange student, and Lucas went to the mall. I don't know the exact date, but I do know it was in March. Jan was crazy about new technology and he was desperate to get his hands on the new iPad 2. I dropped the boys off so they could claim their spots in front of the Apple store, and as they stood in line with 50 of their new, closest friends they found out that each customer was allowed a maximum of two iPads. The gentleman behind them wanted to get four - double his limit, so he asked Lucas to help him. In exchange for helping him to get the additional iPads this gentleman offered to pay Lucas $100. To a 12 year old kid, that was a ton of money, and he jumped at the chance to pocket some much desired cash. After they purchased their iPads, Jan and Lucas decided to spend a little extra time strolling through the mall. They walked by Teavana and were given delicious samples of different teas. Even at the age of 12, Lucas knew my love of tea, so with his newfound cash he bellied up to their tea bar and picked out what he thought I would like. His kind and thoughtful gesture may seem like just a little thing, but it was one of the biggest things to me. 

I don't need big, showy things to make me happy. Give me a box of Hot Tamales, a bag of Chewy Sweet Tarts, a small bouquet of tulips, some tea or a sweet little treat from the treasure box and I'm one happy mama. 

I just hope my kiddos will remember sometimes it's the littlest things that make the biggest impact.

Oh, for the love of my children...