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Bet On It

My husband and I are big fans of casinos.  During our cruise to the Bahamas, we spent so much time in the ship’s casino that the employees working the room knew us by name and memorized our favorite drink orders.  Locally, we love the Indiana Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, and even spent a Christmas there when our son was out of town with relatives.  If time and money allowed, I’d be at the casino more often, but our schedules, our son and dog, and countless other factors only leave room for a handful of visits every year.

I love the sound of the slot machines, the tight look on the faces of gamblers around card tables, the crowds that form when someone hits big, and that satisfying feeing of cashing out with as much (or hopefully more) money as you walked in the door with.  I’m a timid gambler; I stick to the penny slots and only put in a max bet when my husband reaches over my machine and does it for me.  Even us frugal gamblers can get a lot out of the experience, which is unique in itself and unique to the individual locations.  No two trips to any casino are the same, and I love that.

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When you mention a casino, most people’s minds go to Vegas, but you don’t have to make that trip to have a good time.  Yahoo has a great list of casinos outside of the Vegas strip that offer a great time and unique atmosphere.  The Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut is one I never had a chance to visit when I lived in the area, but plan to get to in the near future.  If none of those locations work for you, a quick internet search can pull up plenty of alternate options.

One alternative to being there in person is taking advantage of an online casino.  CNN Money posted Q3 earnings from Galaxy Gaming that shows incremental growth, which highlights the increased popularity of online gaming.  Playing online at Netbet casino is as close as you can get to being there while never actually leaving home.  If you do a Google search for “casino” and virtually any other word, the top ten results will be about 50% physical locations and 50% online gaming sites.

As someone who just kicked an addiction to a SmartPhone slots app where the winnings were purely for fun with no real money involved, I can definitely understand the appeal of online gaming and gambling.  With the holidays breathing down our neck, it might be worth a shot to take a short break, get in the car or log on, and see if you get lucky.  My husband and I won $500 one year off of a scratch off ticket; anything is possible.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to pull some virtual levers and roll some digital dice.

 

 

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Boobs

Yesterday, a random woman on Twitter felt the need to educate me on my hypocrisy regarding breastfeeding in public.  According to her, moms should be allowed to do it wherever and however they see fit.  This stemmed from a comment I made earlier in the day on Twitter.  It was not directed at her or hashtagged, so I assume she was just bored and searching for people to annoy.

What I said was “This whole right to breastfeed in public thing drives me nuts thanks to moms who have no respect for others & think they’re entitled.  Yes, you should be able to breastfeed in public, but YES you should cover up your jugs & not be an obnoxious twat about it.”  This was in reaction to a news story about mothers who harassed a business owner after he had requested a mother cover herself in his restaurant while breastfeeding.  The mother in question, according to all accounts, made no effort to hide her bare breast in full view of the patrons.

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There is a big difference between a mother trying to feed her child and a woman using her child to make a point to whoever happens to be watching.  Just because you are still breastfeeding your child doesn’t mean you are entitled to be disrespectful to others.  Having your breast fully exposed in public, especially in places with a captive audience such as a restaurant, is not okay.  I’m not suggesting moms go hide in the restrooms or in their cars to breastfeed, but I do feel they should make an effort to cover up.

My sister-in-law used one of those massive tent-like covers that completely masked everything.  I’ve seen other moms carefully use a blanket to hide certain areas so you can tell what is going on but it’s not in your face.  My issue is with the women who feel that breastfeeding is something that needs to be announced to the world.  A child should not be used as part of some twisted statement.  Even if a business owner wrongly shoos you away while you rightfully feed your child, you should have enough decency to not react by turning your child into a tool for revenge.

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Feeding your child does not make you special.  Providing the most basic of needs doesn’t make you better than anyone else or entitled to receive all sorts of special treatment at the expense of others.  Why should I have to hide my son’s eyes because some woman decides to whip out her breast at Applebee’s?  Why can’t she have respect for those around her and do it discreetly?  Why am I wrong for wanting mothers to make an attempt to not flash their milk jugs to the world?

I’m not a prude, but I’m also not okay with seeing random tits everywhere.  The “it’s natural” argument is lost on me, as a lot of things are “natural” but shouldn’t be blatantly done/performed in public.  If your true goal is to feed your baby in the best possible way, then do it.  But when your breastfeeding becomes not only an inappropriate public display, but a tool to shame mothers who choose formula and a tool to harass businesses, you’ve crossed a line.  Your baby is not a prop.

29th April 2014 PHOTO CREDIT SHOULD READ: MATTHEW PAGE Sports Direct Clumber Street, Nottingham.  Mums held a protest at Sports Direct after a woman was asked to leave the shop for breastfeeding her child.

I suppose I was called a hypocrite by random Twitter lady because I support breastfeeding in public, but I don’t support certain ways it is done.  What needs to exist is a mutual respect for each other by mothers and business owners/patrons/etc.  Mothers need to make an effort to cover so we’re not seeing nipples galore and everyone else needs to be understanding about the fact that babies need to eat on their schedule, not anyone else’s.  Moms should not be forced to hide in a dirty public restroom to breastfeed and I should not have to see nipples and giant engorged bare breasts while shopping at Target.  It’s give and take on both sides.

According to my new Twitter BFF, covering hinders lactation.  So because a small percentage of babies don’t like any type of cover whatsoever, all mothers should be able to skip using it?  I have yet to hear a good argument as to why I shouldn’t demand a bit of modesty from nursing moms.  I have yet to hear a rational reason why this angry group of breastfeeding mothers insists that frontal exposure is not only necessary to properly breastfeed, but is something the rest of us should simply deal with.  I have yet to hear a good reason why breastfeeding has to be an odd political statement instead of an act of providing nourishment to a baby.

Breastfeeding alone does not make you more woman or more mother than anyone else.  You might be the loudest person in the room but volume has nothing to do with your value.  If you want to be a good mother, be a good mother.  If you want to be respected when you feed your child in public, do so in a way that doesn’t also make you a public nuisance.  If you just want to get your knockers out and yell at passerby, no one is going to respect you or listen to a damn thing you say.  There is a way to make this whole thing a nonissue, once people get off their soapboxes, quit using babies as protest signs, stop shaming mothers, and start acting like decent human beings.

What About Me

I’ve been getting a lot of new visitors to my page lately and I wanted to open up a little to anyone who is willing to read.  My morning was spent Google searching About Me questions that I can answer for you.  Below are a few of the ones that I felt were worth answering.  Please feel free to answer some yourself in the comment section!

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DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
I have an eight year old son, who is smart as a whip but as stubborn as his mom.

PHOBIAS?
Spiders!  I still have a small fear of the dark; I’m not afraid of the boogeyman but I don’t like that something unknown could lay right in front of or behind me.  Heights don’t bother me, but I do have a fear of falling, so if I’m up high I had better be secure.  Scientologists also frighten me a bit.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
I want to say yes to this question, I really do.  But honestly, anything extreme such as bungee jumping, skydiving, or cliff diving scares the piss out of me.  I’m not afraid of heights, but the whole possibility of death is enough to put me off of taking that particular plunge.

TWO PET PEEVES?
Rude eaters; keep your mouth closed and keep the sound effects to a minimum.  Bad drivers; use your turn signals, drive somewhere close to the speed limit, don’t tailgate, and get off your phone!

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ARE YOU RELIGIOUS?
I am not.  I was raised Catholic but began to doubt the existence of a God once I was able to educate myself about other religions, science, and was able to directly expose myself to different types of people and beliefs.  I am a proud Atheist.  That said, I DO in fact have morals and values and I encourage my son to believe what he wishes (he was baptized as a baby and currently believes in God in the way you’d expect an eight year old to believe).

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
I do.  I’ve been through a lot of hellacious situations and I somehow have survived them all.  Health scares, financial turmoil, family turning against me, losing nearly everything I’ve owned, and things I’d never mention in a public forum.  I don’t often give myself proper credit for it, but I am definitely a strong individual.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
How they are dressed, their hairstyle, etc.  I’m not looking for fashion statements or designer labels, but looking for whether or not a person seems put together, neat and organized, clean, and respectful.  If you’re covered in filth or wearing socks and crocs, I’ll likely write you off.  If you’re clean and you look like you made sure you were properly put together prior to leaving the house, I feel that you’re worth my time.

ARE YOU SHY?
I’m very shy upon first meeting someone; I tend to lean on someone I know until I become comfortable with the new person.  I also become shy and withdrawn when thrust into unfamiliar situations.  Public speaking is only an issue when I feel unprepared; if I’m asked to stand and say a few words unexpectedly, I will likely freeze.

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WOULD YOU FORGIVE SOMEONE FOR LYING TO YOU?
It depends what the lie is.  If my husband lied about an affair or something else of that nature, forgiveness would come hard or not at all.  If someone tells me I look pretty when I look like I just ran a marathon after being mauled by a tiger, I’ll forgive that lie and love you for it.  Lies that protect me from silly things of that nature or that protect you because you’re not ready to tell me something about yourself can be forgiven.  Lies about serious things (you once killed a man, you stole my cash last night) may eventually be forgiven, but certainly not forgotten.

ANY TATTOOS?
I have ten.  I’m a big fan of body art and I love expressing myself through the pictures decorating my body.  I hope that one day, people will stop associating tattoos with criminals, deviants, and slackers.  I do plan on getting more; I’m working on a half sleeve and I want to add to a couple existing pieces.

BEST PIECE OF ADVISE?
If you have to poll your friends and family about your situation prior to making a decision, chances are you already know the answer and are simply looking for either an assurance that you are correct or looking for someone to talk you out of something.  Trust your instincts.

REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT?
Neither.  No party out there has it all and I don’t want to align myself with any of them.  Some definitely have more valid points and better views than the others, but none of them have gotten things right enough for me to jump on their bandwagon.

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DO YOU PREFER EMAIL/TEXT OR PHONE CALLS?
My current cell phone plan has 400 minutes, of which I use about 20 per month.  I’d decrease the minutes if Sprint would release a data plan with fewer.  I used to be big on talking on the phone, but now I prefer to text or email.  I can’t really carry on a conversation here at work, and when I’m home I’m busy with my husband, son, and dog.  I’ll text you immediately, but if you call, I’ll probably let it go to voicemail.

WHAT IS YOUR GOAL IN LIFE?
I want to eventually earn money for writing, be it through books or blogs or articles for a newspaper or magazine.  I’m slowly getting there, as I do earn a bit of cash from this blog.  I want to become fully financially stable, for myself, my husband, and our boy.  I want to be happy with who I am; I know I may never be 100% satisfied, but I need to be close to it.  I want to learn to relax and take things in stride.  Whatever happens around that doesn’t matter so long as I can do those things as so long as I have my family with me as I do them.

Riled Up And Rowdy

On Tuesdays, my mother-in-law usually picks up our boy from school so he can have some fun quality time with grandma before coming home to his boring parents.  This past Tuesday, he talked her into a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese for pizza and games.  After insisting he had behaved beautifully in school to both her and to us over the phone, we agreed that the trip sounded like a great idea and off they went as my husband and I went in search of sushi.  The boy came home with goodies won with tickets, got his bath and some playtime, and went to bed with a smile.

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The next morning, I drove the boy to school minus the husband who stayed home to telework, and went to work in an attempt to get through those eight hours as quickly as as smoothly as possible.  Shortly before noon, I got a phone call from my son’s elementary school.  From the principal, to be more specific.  She had my son sitting in her office while she explained to me the reasons he had landed himself there.  First, he stomped on a boy’s foot at recess on Tuesday before telling him “if you tell on me, I’ll beat you up.”  Then, after the child’s mom called the school to complain, my boy was called down to the office.  Once he realized he was in trouble, he proceeded to throw a fit so violent that he had to be restrained.  Once he calmed, she told him that she would get me on the phone.  He was still agitated as we spoke, learning that he would lose his recess for the rest of the week and possibly longer if he didn’t reign it in.

When I picked him up Wednesday afternoon, he knew he was busted and made no effort to hide it from me, although he did ask me to hide it from daddy.  He knew I was upset, especially since two weeks ago, he got in trouble on a field trip for bullying 3 and 4 year olds.  I wish I could say he learned his lesson, but he has been a disaster the past couple of days, breaking the rules and coming up with ridiculous lies to try to save himself from getting in trouble.  He knows from experience that we always find things out (mainly because he’s a terrible liar) and knows that he gets in less trouble if he comes clean in the beginning, but he still keeps lying about the smallest and stupidest things imaginable.  He’s been grounded from TV, video games, and most of his toys, but the lesson is still lost on him.

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What frustrates me is that my boy knows right from wrong and knows it well.  He’s one of the smartest kids in his class and has been in previous years as well.  His teachers always comment on how sweet he is, and they’re absolutely right.  There’s just something in his 7-year-old brain that pushes him to jump into action even when he knows that nothing good will come of what he’s about to do.  He will bully other children, knowing full well how awful it feels to get bullied since he went through it.  He’ll lie about what he did even if you saw him do it.  The thing that bothers me the most though is that he just doesn’t seem to care sometimes.  He doesn’t seem to understand the effect his actions have and the stress it puts on his parents.  His only concern seems to be how things affect him and how soon he can get his privileges back.

There are quite a few moments where I take a step back and try to see what I’ve done wrong.  What did I do wrong, what did I miss, where did I screw up?  He knows darn well that we didn’t teach him to bully people or lie, and he even admitted that to my husband on Wednesday night.  The awful things he does are not things he learns at home, through us or through television.  We don’t spank him, so he’s not learning that it’s okay to hit as long as you have a good reason for doing so.  We don’t BS him about things and he’s not witnessing us lie to each other or anyone else.  Try as I might, I can’t see where I’ve slipped up or what I can do in order to have my words sink in and for him to finally come around.

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I know, I know; he’s just a kid and this is what kids do and I need to get used to it because it’s just going to get worse.  I just cannot stand this careless attitude combined with the silly lies.  I want the best for him and he’s not going to get the best unless he fixes himself up and quits beating on kids in school before he’s old enough for them to throw him out or lock him up.  I want to rid him of the habit of lying to get out of a bind so he doesn’t grow up to be a totally dishonest and untrustworthy person.  This kid is incredibly smart and lovable, and he can do great things.  I just want the best for my son and I want him to be able to come to me with his problems without instantly assuming that I’ll be angry and that his behavior must be masked or downplayed with lies.

The boy is grounded again today and on his way to having a very uneventful weekend.  The goal of my husband is to make him hate losing his things so much that he will never misbehave like this again.  I usually give in after feeling bad and return some forbidden toys to him early, so I’ll have to be tough this time around and stick it out.  I’m very hopeful that he can bounce back, stop the crazy lies, and knock of the bullying before he pushes the wrong kid and gets knocked out.  I’m trying to remember what it was like to be 7 and trying to understand that he still has so much learning and growing to do.  I think he has a pretty good support system in my husband and I, plus an amazing grandma and fantastic extended family, so I hope that between us all, we can keep him on the right path and get that little punk in line.  Meanwhile, I think a beer is in order for the stress of this week.  Cheers.

My Father

My father has cancer.

It’s a very odd thing to type, even a stranger thing for me to say.  On September 10th, he told me that he has prostate cancer, the same thing that claimed his father a few years back.  When I heard the news, I began to cry at my desk at work.  Then I laughed for being so emotional.  Then I was simply numb.  It’s stage 1 and was caught early, so chances are they he will be just fine except for side effects from the treatment.  That doesn’t change the fact that it frightens me.

It’s not a secret that I don’t exactly get along with my parents anymore.  I haven’t spoken to my mother since moving to Indiana and haven’t received any correspondence from her since last Christmas when she told me how worthless of a person I was.  My father has refrained from the low blows, but he’s always been that way.  He and I are a lot alike and have always gotten along, but since my mother’s wishes come before my own, he has been following her lead on making my life slightly uncomfortable.  We see each other once a month but rarely speak.

Cancer changes things.  It made him vulnerable in my eyes for the first time in my life.  It makes me come face to face with the fact that sooner or later, my parents will be gone from this world.  It makes me angry that my mother is still being so petty, holding on to anger and cutting me out of her life and the lives of my family members.  It makes me disappointed in myself for accepting that they are not part of my life and for not including them in it.  It makes me afraid.

I am one of the worst people in the world when it comes to dealing with anything related to death.  I never know what to say when someone has a loved one pass away.  I loathe funerals and would rather skip them and pay my respects in another way.  I don’t even want a funeral held for myself when I go; just cremate me and go about your business in private.  Since finding out he has cancer, I’m not too sure how I should be acting, feeling, or doing.  I feel lost.

I’ve spoken to a few people who have had parents battle cancer and who have lost their parents to it, but none of it really helped.  It’s either “don’t worry” or “it sucks.”  I’m not sure what I need to work through it and I’m not sure if I should even be allowing it to affect me as much as it is.  I’ve researched it online a bit and that helped temporarily, but there really is no easy fix when it comes to dealing with this sort of thing.  I guess all I can do it hope for the best.

Daddy Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!  I hope your child(ren) treat you wonderfully and spare you the awful neckties, tacky t-shirts, and cheap BBQ accessories.  I’m writing this blog a few days before Sunday and postdating it to automatically throw itself onto WordPress because I plan to be busy with my husband and son all day.  This weekend will be filled with picnics in the park, bowling some great games, possibly a WWE Pay Per View and pizza, and gifts that I hope he’ll enjoy.

I have the boy making a card because to me, a handmade card from an almost 7 year old is more personal than a Hallmark card that I pick out and my almost 7 year old signs and hands over with little idea of what it says.  I also printed out a coupon book for him to write favors in; he’ll be choosing what to write so I expect quite a few will have to do with being good and not destroying the house.  I’ll also be letting him hand over most of the gifts I purchased.  Hopefully he’s excited.  The husband has a few things coming, such as a Shark Attack mug I wasn’t able to get for Christmas, the soundtrack for the movie Drive, some random items from a British food supplier, and a pack of ginger beer that he became a fan of when we went out for my birthday.  What I’m most excited about though are the three tickets to WWE Smackdown on July 31st and the t-shirt from WWE.com that hopefully gets here by Saturday!

My husband is a hell of a dad and I could do three times what I’m doing for him for Father’s Day and not have it be enough.  He loves our boy and has gone above and beyond to provide for him and teach him what it is to be a man.  He’s a tough guy, but my son respects him and highly values his opinion.  I’m the pushover and Daddy is king; the boy knows he’s the boss, the protector, and the guy with all the answers.  He is the opposite of his own father, which makes him the greatest dad on Earth.

For me, Father’s Day is also a time for me to show that I appreciate him being an amazing husband.  We’ve been together for about 4 ½ years now, married for slightly less than that, and I love the guy more every single passing day.  He drives me insane at times, but he supports me like no other, is strong for me when I have weak moments, loves me unconditionally, and knows me in a way that no one else in this world possibly could.  I hit the damn jackpot when I said “I Do” to this man and while I know I don’t tell him that enough, I hope he knows it.

Father’s Day shouldn’t be a forgotten holiday where kids raid the holiday sections in Walmart and CVS on Saturday night to grab dad a gift out of obligation, getting whatever happens to be leftover or cheapest.  It shouldn’t be a day where mom buys a few gifts and the kids do nothing more than slap their name on it and hand it over.  It should be a day where you thank dad for all that he has done for the family and all that you know he’ll keep on doing.  It should be a day where you take over some of his responsibilities (dog walking, lawn care, etc) instead of just giving him a break until tomorrow.  It should be a day about family and a day where he knows you love him and he can feel like all his hard work is worth it and is appreciated.  Take time out today and give dad all the thanks that you missed out on giving him on the other 364 days of the year.

I’m A Fake Mom

Thank you, TIME Magazine, for putting a spotlight on attachment parenting.  Some principals of attachment parenting, and I’m not about to list them all, include breastfeeding and often extending the feeding for longer than typical parents would, co-sleeping with the child, no childcare for more than 20 hours per week for children younger than 30 months, avoiding feeding schedules, and never spanking or yelling.  Obviously the TIME cover made the general public focus mainly on the breastfeeding piece of attachment parenting, asking all us other women if we are “mom enough” to do what this mom did.

I am the mother of a soon to be seven year old boy and I am proud to say that I’m not even half the woman the TIME mom is.  I didn’t breastfeed at all due to a vitamin deficiency that forced me to supplement on formula, prompting me to decide to skip breastfeeding altogether and stick with Enfamil.  I did scheduled feedings, ensuring my son got the right amount of ounces per feeding and panicking when he seemed to spit up everything he just drank.  I slept in my room and he slept in his, and he was in daycare at 18 months old when I quit my nighttime bartending job and got a “real” office job to earn better money.  My son is a happy and healthy kid, incredibly intelligent, active and thriving, and other than his inability to keep his hands to himself in kindergarten, I have zero complaints about his development or behavior.  I love the kid and he knows it.

I’m happy with my decision to skip breastfeeding and I plan to skip it if/when my husband and I have a baby, although I WILL be pumping it out and bottling it.  I’m very weirded out by the entire breast feeding process and I want nothing to do with it whatsoever.  It’s a personal thing and I don’t think it makes me any less of a mom to feel this way.  Perhaps my husband will change my mind, but I don’t see how holding my baby to my breast will make me bond deeper with him or her.  I bonded with my son the minute I saw his little purple face and heard his cry.  We share little looks and inside jokes that I’m sure make no sense and I have amazing memories from his time growing and learning.  My feeding method did nothing to help or hinder that; our bond comes from the fact that I love the hell out of that kid and I would do anything in this world for him.

Another thing that I am not mom enough to do is arrange a co-sleeping arrangement with my child and future children.  My son, as an infant, would often nap on my bed or with me on the couch during the day, but when it was time for me to sleep (or attempt to) we went to our separate rooms.  My bedroom is a private place at night, meant for my husband and myself, and eventually our pup dog who thinks he’s people.  I saw no need to have a bassinette in the bedroom, nor do I see a reason to have sleepover parties as a way to help my child’s development and self esteem.  I want my child to learn that his room is his place for privacy, as mine is for myself and my husband, and that he deserves that privacy and should enjoy it as he sees fit.  I don’t want to raise a clingy codependent child by gluing him to my side and not even allowing him alone time to rest.

In a perfect and ideal world, we wouldn’t need childcare.  Sadly, I have these annoying things called bills that refuse to go away, so I need a steady job with good hours and high pay.  This means my son and future babies will need to be in childcare at an early age.  Unless someone out there would like to gift me with a few million to pad my account, I can’t afford to keep my kids home until they reach three, or until kindergarten.  My husband can’t afford to stay at home at this point in time either.  Assuming his novel takes off as I hope, he can definitely do so in the future and keep our boy and hypothetical future kids out of daycares, but for us and for many couples, it’s not realistic and simply doesn’t make financial sense.  I would love to be able to save up a nice chunk of cash to give to my son after graduating high school for college, an apartment, or wherever life decides to take him, but I can’t do that if I don’t work and I can’t work without daycare.

Am I less of a mom because I disagree with attachment parenting and I don’t follow their rules and guidelines?  I don’t know.  I was mom enough to fight through a pregnancy solo, holding two jobs and struggling every step of the way from the positive test to the drive home from the hospital.  I was mom enough to remove him from living situations that were convenient for me but harmful to him.  I was mom enough to keep him healthy and consult doctors immediately at an early age when he had breathing issues (that are gone now).  I was mom enough to be picky about daycares and do what I had to do to ensure he was in a good one and was happy.  I was mom enough to teach him right from wrong and feed him knowledge, making him the smarty pants he is today.  I was mom enough to now have a kid who loves me to pieces and refuses to leave me at his school without a hug and a kiss.  Maybe I’m not mom enough for the TIME Magazine mom and maybe I’m not mom enough for you ladies who breast feed until your kid boards the bus to kindergarten, but I’m mom enough for my kid and that’s all that matters.

Mother’s Day The Right Way

The first mother’s day I can remember involved me getting up extra early and sneaking down the hall to our kitchen while my parents were still asleep.  I grabbed a platter from the cabinet and stacked it with napkins, a handmade card from the night before, and a fake flower I borrowed from the floral arrangement sitting on the dining room table.  With all the culinary skill of a four year old, I constructed a cheese sandwich on white bread, cut into fourths, and a cup of tap water, bringing it to my mother for breakfast in bed.  In the years following, mother’s day was always a day centered around mom with my brother and I doing the bulk of the work in order to show mom how much we love and appreciate her.  There were school projects and crafts that were brought home, allowance that was spent, and a lot of whispers of “I hope she likes it” between my brother and I.

In 2005, I became a mom and had my first real mother’s day in 2006, although my son was still too young to realize what it was.  As he got older, he began bringing home various works of art for me from school and started working on homemade cards and other cute gifts for me with the help of my husband.  This year I asked him to please behave himself at school as a gift, so hopefully I receive that for the remainder of his school year.  My husband participates as well in the gift giving, getting me little things that will be marked from my son that he’ll be able to give to me.  He never goes overboard, which I greatly appreciate, and always skips the flowers and jewelry.

Mother’s day is a day for moms to be appreciated by their children.  It’s not a day for dad to rush out and drop big bucks on diamonds and roses, not a day to make reservations at some fancy restaurant where you’re never sure of which fork to use, and not a day for the entire family to put mom on a pedestal and kiss her ass for 24 hours.  It’s a day for the kids to step up and do some chores to give mom a break, for dad to allow her to sleep in an extra hour or two, to say thank you for the countless things she does that she generally is never thanked for.  It’s not about how much cash you can drop on her gifts, but about the gestures you make throughout the day to show you care.

No holiday out there is safe from being over commercialized, especially not mother’s day, but that doesn’t mean you need to fall prey to the Jared ads and expect to receive an overpriced heart pendant to say “Hey, thanks for popping out my offspring and putting up with their nonsense.”  You don’t need to compare notes with the other moms at work or school on Monday to see who got what from their family and you definitely should not feel jealously or envy if you didn’t receive a giant bouquet like mom-of-the-decade over there or a huge diamond ring like Miss Prissy down in accounting.  If your kids woke up and hugged the hell out of you, then did their own laundry and made their beds without being asked, take that as a major victory and put a smile on your face.

Any idiot can spend money, so the dollar value of whatever you end up receiving or giving on mother’s day shouldn’t matter at all.  What matters is what you do with your day.  Treat your mom (or the mom of your kids) with love and respect, give her a break, handle the dinner preparations, keep the kids from fighting, let her do what she wants to do, and say thank you.  Don’t complain when she wants to watch her favorite movie for the hundredth time, give her some Xbox time, and walk the dog so she won’t have to.  Make her feel like the luckiest mom on the planet and make sure it’s centered on the kids doing things for their mom.  I promise it can be done without overpriced bracelets, a dozen roses, and a five course meal at some stuffy restaurant.

What’s In A Name

I read an article on CNN the other day about a mother of a child with cerebral palsy.  Ellen Seidman is on a mission to make “retard” and “retarded” as much of an unacceptable term as “nigger” or “faggot.”  While understanding that not everyone who speaks the “R-word” (as she calls it) is doing so as a slight against those with challenges, she worries about how it affects her child and how other people will perceive him if he’s associated with that word.  Already, a law passed in 2009 has mandated that health, education and labor laws say “intellectual disability” rather than retarded, and the article reports that already, derogatory use of “ID” is present in today’s society.

When I was in film class in school as a teenager, my friends and I got called out by the teacher for calling each other retards.  His son was disabled and he didn’t appreciate us using the term, but he was very nice about it and we did make an effort to tone it down.  I never once felt that I had done something wrong though and only curbed the behavior because I really respected the teacher.  I wasn’t calling people retards because they were mentally or physically disabled (can you still say disabled?), I was doing it as a joke among friends.  It’s the same with calling things gay; not once have I used gay as an insult to any homosexual person, but I do use it to describe certain behaviors or things I encounter.  I see nothing wrong with midget or dwarf and honestly have no clue at this point what is okay to say and what isn’t when you’re referring to those who are less vertical than the rest of us.  There’s a difference between being intentionally hurtful and calling someone a “spic” and simply stating what you feel is right to say and calling someone Hispanic, totally unaware that they prefer Hispanic-American or prefer not to have their race acknowledged at all.

It’s at the point now where illegal immigrants are getting up in arms about being called illegal immigrants.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t immigrant the proper term for someone coming from one country to another, and isn’t illegal a proper term for an activity that is against the law?  Why pretty up a term when it perfectly describes a person?  Not to dehumanize them, but in addition to being a human being of equal value to the rest of us, they are illegal immigrants and we cater enough to them as is without adding pretty new terms for their illegal status in our country.  Just as Seidman is worried of the perception of her child due to the word used to describe him, these immigrants are worried that calling them illegal will make them look like second class citizens (regardless of the fact that they aren’t citizens).

It’s odd how some terms are perfectly acceptable on one end of the spectrum, but offensive and rude on the opposite side.  If I call someone skinny, they’ll likely take it as a compliment.  Call someone fat and suddenly I’m being rude.  Even if they do happen to be morbidly obese and my statement is truly fact, I can’t point it out the way I could point out someone’s slim figure.  Meanwhile, we all act like hypocrites while sitting at home calling Snooki a slut and Lindsay Lohan a drunk idiot, things we would never tolerate being said about ourselves.  We laugh at comedians who make racial jokes but are intolerant to them when they are aimed in our direction.  We operate with such selective feelings towards things that may or may not be offensive that it’s truly mind-boggling.

I understand and respect what Seidman is attempting to do for her child, and while I support her efforts to help her son, I don’t agree with them.  The word isn’t the problem, it’s the perception of it and the power we give it.  When I was younger, one “SKANK” yelled in my direction was enough to rile me up.  People calling me “oreo” and “skunk” because of my mixed racial background angered me to no end.  I overcame it because I learned to be strong, and not once did it cross my mind for people to stop saying these terms, or any others, in derogatory ways because that isn’t the actual problem.  Making those girls stop saying “oreo” wouldn’t fix their perception of me, nor would it rid their racist feelings or prevent them from coming up with new creative ways to annoy me.  Ridding the world of “retard” would have the same effect, which really is no effect at all.  Ignorant people aren’t going to embrace her child’s disabilities and view him as an equal simply because no one can call him a retard anymore.

People are all assholes.  The degree of our asshole behavior varies, but it’s always there.  My child is only 6 and we’ve gone through the bullying nonsense and name calling more times than I can remember.  I can’t go run to his school and whine to his teachers that someone said he is a smelly baby and that is an offensive term.  What I can do is teach the boy to have some metaphorical big balls, hold his head up high, and ignore the true retards out there:  the ignorant masses who have little else to do than bash people who are different or who they just don’t care for.  You could rename Down’s Syndrome as Awesome KickAss Superman Syndrome and people would still find a way to mock it and tear down those who had it.

I think what gave me my open-minded perception of people and caused me to view everyone as an equal (except stupid people, because screw you guys) is that as a child, I was exposed to all races, to disabled children, to kids with cancer, to kids with two moms or dads or with just one parent, and all sorts of other situations that were very different from mine.  As a child, I didn’t focus on the differences, but rather our similarities because I wanted to make friends.  Now, that’s not saying I didn’t make fun of people because that was a staple of my adolescence, but it wasn’t done in a cruel manner and most of my targets weren’t exactly nice people to begin with.  The point is, getting a child’s mind to open as wide as possible at a young age is a hell of a lot easier than trying to rewrite the English language to fix people after that time as passed and their mind isn’t quite as open.  We can’t erase words, can’t rewrite history, but we can make changes with the new lives that are brought into this world every day.  I think that’s a good place to start.

Early Retirement

Kids are funny little creatures.  They come into this world as tiny bundles of love and joy, little beings that people will call adorable even if they bear a closer resemblance to a frog than they do a human child.  Behaviors we find offensive in adults become cute when performed by a baby; who hasn’t let out an AWWWW at a baby’s burp or fart, or at least heard someone else do so.  We marvel when their tiny fingers wrap around one of ours, we stare intently at their eyes as they wander around the room, and our vocabulary becomes reduced to wittle cutesy baby words.  Oh yes it does!

And then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, they begin talking to us as an actual human being.  The “mama” is replaced by “mommy,” little grunts and moans become “I want juice” or “give me that.”  The terrible twos are upon you and your little bundle of joy suddenly becomes a screaming banshee worthy of their own horror movie.  Parenting websites and magazines will give you all sorts of advice on how to handle your child, fellow parents will give you a ton of advice as well, and almost all of it will fail miserably.  Questioning your worth as a parent happens far too often than it should.

Somehow, by some miracle, you get a handle on things and it seems to be smooth sailing.  You review all the ways your own parents succeeded and failed and promise yourself to never repeat the silly mistakes they made.  You will do it better because you are determined to learn from their mistakes.  If only it were that simple.  I was once told that I would have a child twice as naughty as I was to my own parents and I always dismissed it as one of those silly things old people say to make themselves feel better.  Little did I know that my cutie pie would be biting, hitting, throwing chairs and toys, and driving his poor daycare providers up the wall.

It seems as though every time we overcome one obstacle, such as the biting, we are presented with a new one.  I never would have expected my little man, who everyone compliments on his wonderful manners, to be calling his kindergarten teachers annoying and insisting he doesn’t have to listen to them.  I never would have pictured him stomping on boxes or knocking his chair over because he doesn’t want to go to the library or clean up his mess.  Things he wouldn’t dream of doing at home have become common activities in school and I’m at a loss as to what to do to fix it.

I’m one incident away for filing for early retirement from motherhood.  I feel torn in two; one part of me wants him to enjoy his childhood as much as possible and not endure the horrible groundings I endured, but the other part of me wants to be strict and raise him right so he can be the best he can be as an adult.  I can’t seem to find a middle ground that is satisfactory and covers both areas sufficiently.  At the end of the day, I feel as though I failed.

I suppose that is all part of being a parent and I suspect that I really am doing all that can be done.  I know my husband is right when he says I can’t give in and let him off easy just because I feel like a jerk because then he learns nothing, but I still feel like a jerk.  I keep hoping things will get easier and I’ll figure out the big mystery behind being a successful parent and raising a child the right way, but if I’m being honest with myself, chances are there is no big mystery.  Every little kid is different and brings about different challenges and different victories.  I often feel as though I have it worse off than anyone, always forgetting that there are millions of moms feeling the exact same way I do.  I’m hoping I can stop blaming myself, take a few deep breaths, and wake up tomorrow ready to face whatever nonsense my son comes up with.

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