What Kindergarten Means to Me

What Kindergarten Means to Me

What Kindergarten Means to Me

All across the country, parents are preparing to send their kids back to school. And some, like me, are sending a child off to Kindergarten. For some, it’s a time to celebrate freedom. For others, it’s time to turn on the waterworks as they watch their babies grow up right in front of them.

This year, I’m sending my first off to Kindergarten. He did a year of preschool, so this isn’t new territory to us. But sending him off to public school has me in knots. I’m worried and relieved all at the same time.

Kindergarten means longer days away from me. I’m a control freak. I’ve loved having my babies under my thumb. I’ve loved knowing exactly what they’re doing and what they’re eating. I’ve had almost total control. They do, of course, have a very involved father with his own ideas, so I can’t have complete and total control over raising them. But, for five years, I was the one to structure his days, give him things to do and try, and foods to turn his nose up to. Now that he’ll be gone for six and a half hours five days a week…well, I’m having a hard time letting go of my control.

Kindergarten also means earlier starts to our days and nights. Preschool never started before 8:30am for him. We had relaxed mornings where he could sleep a little more if he’d had a bad night. We had plenty of time to figure out breakfast, and more than enough time to get in the car and head to school. But now he’ll be starting before 8am. He’ll have to get up earlier. Breakfast will be a little more rushed. I’m the kind of person where on time means late. Mornings will be riddled with anxiety for me, and I’m afraid my family will be getting the brunt of it. Nights will also be starting earlier. We’ve gotten used to bedtime between 8:30 and 9pm. Perhaps that’s late to many, but my kids have a bad habit of getting just enough sleep. If the sleep requirement was 12-14 hours, they never slept more than 12 hours. A late bedtime worked out well for us. It also meant they got plenty of play time with their dad at night. Now bedtime must be earlier so they can get up on time. Which means less play time with daddy. I may be glad for more time at night, but I’m going to miss my little pumpkins.

Kindergarten means uncertainty. As I mentioned, I’m a control freak. I had my son doing workbooks all summer. I had control over what he learned and what he practiced. Now a teacher I don’t even know yet will get that honor. I don’t know what that teacher will be teaching him and how. But, beyond learning, I worry about my strange little guy making friends. We can’t tell if he’ll be the teacher’s pet or the class clown. He thrives on being strange. While I hope he always retains that, I do hope he manages to make a friend or two. And let’s not even go into bullying right now. It’s happening at younger and younger ages. But I’ll be in tears if I ever learn  my sweet little boy is a bully. I’m raising him to be better than that. I hope. And then there’s also the fear of school shootings. When I was a kid, it wasn’t even a thing. It didn’t happen. Now? It could happen anywhere, anytime. I’m scared.

But Kindergarten also means freedom. This kid will talk nonstop if it pleases him. Some days I feel like he’s about to talk my ears off. Half of the time he doesn’t even make sense. Words just fall out of his mouth and even he doesn’t know where it’s going. It’s funny, but so confusing. I’ll be glad for some peace. He’s a very demanding child, one not accustomed to not having my attention. I’ll be glad for some breathing space from him.

Kindergarten means more flexibility for me. Preschool was just a couple or so hours. It was often hard to plan things between drop off, pick up, and naps. There were so many days where I wanted to do something, but couldn’t. Now, with him being in school for six and a half hours, there’s more time to do things, like take my daughter to the zoo because animals are so not his thing.

Kindergarten has it’s pluses and minuses. I’m looking forward to it and dreading it in equal amounts. I’m torn. I’m going to miss my little boy so much. He keeps asking me if I’ll miss him. It’s going to be quiet and lonely without him. Then again, it’ll also be blessedly quiet.

Oh, wait. I still have a second child. And she’s noisy. Is it too early to start counting down to when she starts Kindergarten in 3 years?

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The Mom I Admire

The mom I admire is a bit harried, a little scattered, and definitely missing a marble or three.

She constantly wonders how she’s stacking up against every other mom, especially the one without a hair out of place.

She spends all day begging her kids to eat, clean up after themselves, and stop screaming. And half the night tearfully pleading her baby to go to sleep.

She has permanent stains on her clothes from the time her oldest refused peas as a baby and the time she skidded on the dirt and grass to save her child from getting hurt and the time her sick kid puked all over her before falling asleep on her lap and the time…

She sneaks in chocolate or wine throughout the day just to maintain her sanity, and help her forget the cold coffee still sitting on the counter.

She never feels like she can remember anything, much less try to pull her family together so they look less like a zoo.

She pleads, begs, bribs, and cries, only to be met with laughs, screams, running kids, and hide and seek.

But she’s also the mom who lovingly kisses her kids no matter how naughty they were.

She’ll curl up on the couch for a snuggle and forget the laundry in the corner.

She plans activities her kids rave about to their friends and finds the cutest accessories for her daughter and the coolest shoes for her son.

Things don’t always go the way she planned, but they sure make for great memories.

She sweats the small stuff and stresses the big stuff, but always manages to pull herself together just to keep everyone alive.

Dinner isn’t always homemade, but at least everyone gets fed.

She’s always there for hugs, kisses, and unwanted advice. Her heart is always in the right place.

Sometimes she screams and yells and feels like a bad mom, but her kids still hug her and say she’s the best ever.

She’s patient and testy, silly and stern, but she’s perfect for the little humans she’s trying to raise.

Most of all, she remembers her kids will one day say thank you and I get it now when they have little humans of their own and it’s her turn to slip a piece of chocolate in her sugared up grandchild’s hand.

The mom I admire?

She’s you.

The mom trying to do everything and be everything and only half succeeding. Or maybe the mom who can do everything. Or the mom who can’t. But always the mom who loves her kids with her whole heart.

You are worthy of being admired.

My Parenting Philosophy

I always thought my parenting was simply informed by my background in psychology. To a large degree, that’s true. But, one afternoon, I was out to lunch with my family, watching my husband and I interact with our kids while the book I was currently reading flowed through my head. It hit me then: I have a parenting philosophy.

One afternoon, we were having lunch in a restaurant. It was lunch on a weekday, so it was far from crowded. Perfect when there are two kids under 5. We were having a good time with my husband keeping our son occupied with some games on one of those devices that lets you order, pay, and play games, and me keeping our daughter from wrecking havoc on the table and destroying the menus. Then I noticed our son was goofing off while Daddy was playing his game for him. Nope, nope, nope. He’ll never learn to do things on his own if we continue to step in. After all, he’ll be going into Kindergarten in August. As for my daughter? I could be nice and continually fetch crayons from under the table and from her feet, but she would never learn to fetch them on her own.

Courtesy of NetGalley, I was reading a book called After the End by Clare Mackintosh. It’s about a couple who have to make an impossible choice about their terminally ill toddler. With my daughter being about his age, it tore my heart apart to read.

Lunch was interesting. Not only was that book running through my head, but I was also caring for and disciplining my children. And that’s when it hit me. How I parent. What informs what I do.

Love them like they’re going to die tomorrow; teach them like they’re going to live forever.

Love them…

Hug them, kiss them, snuggle them. I’m all too aware that my babies are growing up fast. My almost 5 year old has already started running and twisting away. Hugs and kisses become fewer and farther between. My love for them will only grow, but the way I love them will change. Gone will be the hugs and kisses. One day it might just be showing up or leaving them alone or wordlessly handing over a treat without asking questions. Whatever it is, I’ll always love them, and try to love them in a way that they know but won’t find invasive.

…like they’re going to die tomorrow;

It’s a terrible thought, your child dying. After all we go through to grow and birth and raise them, we think they should grow to be old and they should be the ones to bury us. But in a world full of school and mass shootings and stabbings, hate crimes and gang violence and domestic violence and more, not to mention accidents and terminal illnesses, that isn’t a guarantee.

My oldest is off to Kindergarten in August. I’m going to spend his hours at school worried, fearful for his safety. There will be no guarantee he’ll come home alive every day. Beyond that, there are so many things that can happen any time and any where to cut a life short.

So, excuse me while I go love my children like they’re going to die tomorrow.

teach them…

Even though I will spend the rest of my life worried to death about them, I still have to teach them. My husband and I trust their future teachers, but we’re also going to take the reins of their education. But it’s also our job to teach them about life, about right and wrong; to help them develop their values, goals, and morals; to help them learn to socialize and treat people well; to teach them the soft skills; to teach them to be good people.

There’s so much for humans to learn as soon as they’re born. Each thing will build on something previously learned. If I hope for my kids to turn out to be good, contributing members of society, then I have to teach them to be that way.

…like they’re going to live forever.

Even though I love them like they’re going to die tomorrow, I will still teach them like they’re going to live forever, because there’s just as good a chance they’ll live to bury me and live to be 110. Even though I’m afraid of them dying young, I still have to prepare them as though they’ll live forever. They’ll need everything I can teach them.

My Parenting Philosophy

It’s so simple. I must love my kids as though I could lose them at any time, yet I must also teach them and discipline them as though they’ll live long, long lives. It wouldn’t do to do one or the other. I’ll do them a disservice if I only love and cuddle them. I’ll also regret it if all I’ve done is teach them and I end up losing them.

It’s a delicate, daily balance. I look for every opportunity to love and teach them. But there are so many opportunities that can go either way. I can love my kids by fetching a snack for them or I can teach them to be self-sufficient and have them fetch the bag of chips themselves. I don’t intentionally flip between them; instead, I look at the day as a whole and decide if this should be a loving or teaching moment. There are no clear answers, but if I know for sure they can do something and I’ve made them do it or they’ve done it on their own, I’ll choose to love them.

There are no real guidelines to raising kids outside of milestones and what the education system demands they know, so having my philosophy helps guide me. I only stress over whether to cuddle or teach them and not what someone else thinks I should do.

Looking Forward to Having Both Kids Home All Summer

Many parents, my own included, look forward to sending their kids back to school as soon as summer vacation starts. Actually, I liked sending myself back to school, too. But I know my mom, and many other parents, look forward to having some child-free time again, look forward to some degree of freedom knowing their kids are being taught and watched for a number of hours five days a week.

I don’t doubt that that will be me one day, especially when both kids are in school.

But, right now, this summer, I look forward to having both of my babies home with me.

It’s my son’s last summer before he really starts school. He’ll be turning 5 and heading for Kindergarten. He’s recently finished preschool, so I’m kind of used to having him away for a few hours. But the Kindergarten days are longer than the preschool days, and I just don’t know what my daughter and I will do without him for that long. Eventually, we’ll figure it out, but I’ll still countdown to pick up time. As it is, I was usually the first one to pick up my son from preschool. I don’t like not having him at home.

Life is louder, busier, and more chaotic with both kids home. I step on more toys. I have more kids whining at me and making demands. I have more disciplining that needs to get done. I have to split my attention between two kids who cling to me and pull in different directions half the day. It’s not always easy having both kids home and sometimes I wish my son had school that day.

But I really do love having them both with me. I like knowing they’re safe and happy and I’m right here to take care of their needs. They only have to wait for each other, but they love playing together most of the time, so sometimes they don’t mind having to take turns.

I look forward to having them both home all summer. I don’t look forward to having to send my son away for most of the day five days a week starting in August. I know I’m going to long to have him home just as much as I like having him and his non-stop word flow at school. For now, I’m just going to enjoy it.

Keeping Busy

When I was very young, my mom read somewhere that, over the summer, kids lose most of what they learned over the past year. My dad’s solution: have us do workbooks all summer. There quickly came a time where I didn’t remember not doing workbooks in the summer. I looked forward to taking a trip to the local teacher resources store as soon as school let out.

My kids will have their grandparents to blame.

As my son is about to start Kindergarten, this will be his very first summer spent the same way I remember spending my summers.

My mom drew up reward charts for us and taped them, one below the next, to a wall. Every weekday we were to do our assigned number of workbook pages, do a half hour of reading, practice piano, clean out rooms, and whatever other tasks she chose for us. My brother and I would compete to see who finished first, and often did the next day’s pages the night before so we had less to do the next morning.

We were raised to work first, then play, so, even though our mom didn’t demand it, we still spent each morning doing everything we had to do we could spend the rest of the day playing.

Almost as soon as our son graduated from preschool, we headed for the local learning store. My husband and I were like kids in a candy store while our actual kids loved the toys that were out for them to play with.

Laden with workbooks, phonics teaching tools, construction paper, stickers, paints, crayons, and a cute robot set, we exited, simultaneously wondering if we had over done it or were still unprepared for the long summer days.

Coloring is our son’s nemesis. It’s been that way since I say him down with paper and crayons when he was a little more than a year old. He flipped out when he had to touch paint shortly before he turned two. He made faces when he had to touch chalk. Teaching him to take his time with coloring is going to be fun this summer.

But, when it comes to STEM, this kid lights up. Science experiments, robots, magnets… His favorite activity is sink or float, where he explores weight, mass, and gravity. He’s also been doing simple addition and subtraction for almost a year. His dad couldn’t be more excited about what he gets to teach our son this summer.

The summer will fly by. We’ll keep busy. There’s learning to do and learning to maintain. There will be exciting trips to the city, the beach, the library, and parks. There will be painting and building and hopefully no permanent stains (right, husband?).

But I hope it doesn’t move to fast. I hope to have time to just breathe in my babies, to enjoy having them in my clutches. Ahem. I mean, at home with me. I’m terrified of sending him to school, but am also eager for him to learn and, hopefully, love learning as much as I do.

I’m going to love having both my babies at home with me all summer. Just 13 short weeks.

Two Peas in a Pod

My siblings and I were three peas in a pod, at least until I got older and wanted my own time away from them. That was closer to my pre-teen years.

My kids are two peas in a pod. They’re a couple of months short of being three years apart, but that doesn’t stop them from having a ton of fun together. They like yelling at each other. They like getting frustrated with each other. They like fighting over toys. But, most of all, they like playing with each other. They also really like tattling on each other.

These kids feed off of each other. One of them will initiate and the other will follow along. They don’t always get along, but it’s usually whoever is loudest and most vocal gets their way. They’re always calling for the other to join them and get sad when their other half is unavailable. My daughter loves being near her brother. My son loves having someone to lord over and take care of. Seriously, he’s always thinking of her and almost always wants to share, even when I ask him not to.

When my son started preschool, my daughter had such a hard time adjusting that she spent about two months wanting to do nothing but lie on the floor and wait until I said it was time to pick him up. She would be interested in whatever activity I offered for a few minutes, and then she was back to lying on the floor and waiting. She’s so used to him that it’s sometimes tough on her to be without him.

My son doesn’t get much time without his sister. He loves whatever time he gets away from her, but he also loves having a ready-made playmate. Whenever I’m too busy to play, he knows he can always count on his sister. He just has to call her name and mention some fun toys and she goes running. I think he loves being a big brother.

My siblings and I had a point where I grew apart from them. I know there’s a chance of that happening with my babies. But my younger siblings never really grew apart from each other, and they’re about three years apart, so I’m hoping they’ll always be there for each other, they’ll always want to be around each other, and they’ll always be able to count on each other.

My two peas in a pod. I hope they never leave their pod. Though I do hope they both leave home one day.

It’s Not Just Children Who Stare

Whether you have kids or have found yourself around them, you know the stare. They can’t seem to help themselves as they stare intently at a stranger. Sometimes it’s unblinking without the hint of a smile. Sometimes there are a few blinks and a partly open mouth. And, no matter what you do, they won’t turn away, won’t smile, won’t say a word. They just stare.

My kids don’t do this often, but it’s still a bizarre experience.

But it’s not just kids who have mastered this stare. Or perhaps adults have simply remembered how to do the stare. That’s right. Adults. People older than my kids and people older than me.

Maybe it’s because we live in the city. Maybe it’s because I look more like a big sister pushing around her two much younger siblings. Maybe it’s because some people think I must have been a teen mom. I don’t know why, but I think adults doing the stare are much creepier than kids doing it.

My son’s preschool is close by, so I walk my kids over when the weather permits. Considering we live in Los Angeles where a car is almost as essential as breathing, we don’t actually encounter too many people. There are the occasional joggers and frequent dog walkers, but that’s about it. I don’t mind them; they’re too busy to notice me.

But sometimes there will be an older man or woman or couple walking by. If they’re not alone, they’re busy chatting to each other until we come close to crossing paths. Then they go silent and the stare starts.

I used to watch them out of the corner of my eye. They would stare until they passed me by. It didn’t take long for me to just keep my eyes forward and my feet moving. It’s the city; I’m not going to make eye contact or flash a smile. You never know when it might trigger someone, as strange as that might sound. Though there is a more than good chance they’ll just ignore it and continue that stare.

It’s not just kids who stare, but I’ll take one of them over a staring adult any day. It’s not cute.

And, no, I’m not going to give a pretty smile and wave like adults do to my kids when they stare.

What I Could Have Used After My Miscarriage

For 26 years I lived a very happy, very stable life. I excelled at everything I wanted to, and even did well at the things I didn’t care about. I had, and still have, wonderful friendships. I never had a bad romantic relationship or devastating breakup. Other than the early losses of grandparents and gains of little siblings who stole my mommy’s attention, I was blessed with a very emotionally stable life.

Until I was 26. When I lost my first pregnancy. When the women around me had successfully gotten pregnant and given birth or were happily expecting. My husband and I were devastated and crushed by our loss.

Emotionally, I shut down, while my husband turned to research. I didn’t reach out to anyone, but everyone knew. I heard the statistics one too many times, was told it was a good sign I could get pregnant at all, heard stories of other women who had miscarried, and was told “I’m here if you need anything.”

I dealt with it by shutting down. It probably wasn’t the smartest move, but it was what I needed. My husband is a research scientist and depends on facts. Together, we existed in a place of cold facts and logic. But it was a good thing, because we were able to conceive again right away. The product is currently snoring next to me as I type this.

While my husband was just what I needed at the time, it shrank our world down to two. Not a bad thing, but two people hurting over the same loss drastically narrows the field of vision.

Miscarriage is painfully common, but I had no idea it was until my own. No one really knew what they could do for me other than offer their own stories of struggles and hope. I can’t speak for any other woman who has experienced a miscarriage, but I know what I could have used:

A distraction.

I didn’t want people giving me statistics. I didn’t want to hear someone else’s story. I didn’t want to hear encouragement or sympathy. I didn’t want people telling me they were there for me. I didn’t want to be told to grieve or mourn, as though I needed the permission.

I could have used something to distract me from losing my child. Sure, I could have asked my husband to take me to dinner or a movie or a night out on the town. But putting that on him wouldn’t have been fair, not when he was hurting, too.

It would have been nice to watch a stupid comedy, go out for ice cream, or walk around a museum with a friend, talking about life, love, and books (because I can’t get my fill of books). Anything to get my mind off of my loss.

Perhaps people assumed they had nothing to offer, no real comfort they could give. Perhaps they felt uncomfortable because it’s not okay to talk about miscarriage. Perhaps they thought it was a private family matter they ought to stay out of.

Maybe they were waiting for me to say something, ask for something. Maybe I could have. But I was too emotionally devastated. I was too far down with my hurt. I was incapable of reaching out.

Too much of what I read about to cope with miscarriage centered on just feeling the pain. On letting the loss wash over you, of letting yourself feel the crushing grief. But I’m not the kind of person to wallow in my pain. I process grief in my own way. I don’t try to reason it out. I acknowledge it happened and it hurts, but, if I wallow, I end up drowning.

I could have used a distraction. I could have used something to take my mind off of my loss, something to remind me life is still going on and it can still be happy and fun. Something to remind me there’s still a future.

Yes, losing a child is painful and private and personal. But we women also make it known we are daughters, sisters, wives, nieces, mothers, and more. We are social creatures. If we’re able to reach out and tell others how to help us as new moms and find out tribes, then we can also break the silence around miscarriage and let people know how they can help and support us through a devastating loss.

I know what I could have used when I miscarried. What could you have used?

Parenting with Psychology: Therapeutic Alliance and Ruptures

In psychodynamic therapy, the therapeutic alliance is what allows the psychologist and client get the therapeutic work done.

What is the therapeutic alliance?

Another term for it is working alliance and yet another is rapport. It’s the relationship the therapist and client have formed that enables the client to accept what the therapist has to offer and be able to enact change in their life. When it has been established, the client knows the therapist is there for them and trusts them. An alliance has been established where the goal is to help get the client to wherever they want to be in order to live their best possible life.

What does that have to do with motherhood and kids?

It may seem a little weird, but the therapeutic alliance is what makes parenting easy for me.

When I was working with children with autism, the first thing we had to establish was rapport. The child had to see us as someone they wanted to work with, much like a client in a therapist’s office must see the therapist as someone they want to work with, and establish an alliance. With kids, we did this by just playing with them at first. We issued very few demands, and only those we knew they could accomplish with success. Gradually, our demands became harder and more frequent, once the relationship was established.

As a mom, I have an alliance with my kids. Even though they’re my kids, I don’t feel entitled to their obedience. After all, they’re completely new to this world, but are their own persons. I need to teach them, but they need to be able to trust me first (see Parenting with Psychology: Erik Eriskon’s Stages of Development for more information). They need to know I’m going to be there for them.

My kids are more than willing to do as I say because they know I’m the bearer of fun. I spend a lot of time playing with them. I teach them through play and give demands during play. They know that if they want me to keep playing with them, they should listen.

I’m here to guide my kids to their best possible lives. They trust I have their best interests at heart. They don’t always like what I do and say, but they know that if they want fun mom they had better listen. We have a working alliance. We’re in this together.

What about ruptures?

Ruptures are when there is a break in the therapeutic alliance. Something has happened and the client has become upset and wonders if they can trust the therapist. There is distrust and dissatisfaction.

This happens in parenthood, too. As parents, we make mistakes, but our kids expect us to be perfect. Sometimes we say something, but mean something else. Sometimes we agree to something, and go back on our word. Sometimes we yell and punish for seemingly no reason. Sometimes we’re tired and nowhere near our best. It happens. We’re human. But, to our kids, it’s painful. They don’t know what they’ve done wrong. They don’t know if they can trust us in that moment, and later on.

Ruptures happen, but they can be repaired. With my kids, all it takes is letting them know they did nothing wrong. I need to admit I was wrong. My son is very quick to point out when I am wrong. He’s also quick to point out when he is wrong. I don’t want them to see me as superhuman. I want them to know I can and will let them down, but I still love them and will work my hardest to take care of them. When I’m wrong, I tell them. I explain it to them. If I upset them, I give them hugs and kisses and do my best to make it up to them. I admit my faults and let them know I still think they’re wonderful.

Of course, I know my kids will also let me down when they’re older. They will, after all, be teenagers one day. But I hope we’ve managed to cultivate trust and respect so they’ll be able to take steps to repairing our relationship.

 

I’m not the kind of mom who demands my kids listen to be simply because I’m their mother. I can’t help but see them as individuals with their own ideas and life goals. I’m here to guide, teach, and protect them, but their choices have to be their own. The best I can do is establish a trusting, respectful relationship where we can work together and have the opportunity to fix anything that goes wrong in our relationship.

Sometimes I Want to be Mean. On Purpose.

Living in the city, especially Los Angeles, can be nice. There are a ton of things to do, and I had been wanting to live closer so it would be easier to take the kids to educational and cultural places. The interesting part of LA is that it’s a large, sprawling city with an incredible number of areas and neighborhoods that are still a half hour drive from downtown. Where we live, it feels sort of like an urban suburb, if that makes any sense.

But the city is a bit more…fast paced than the suburbs, especially in comparison to the suburb I was raised in and the one we moved to the city from. And that’s putting it nicely.

There are a lot of people. And a lot of cars. And a lot of people in a lot of cars trying to get somewhere in a hurry. It might just be a leisurely shopping trip to the mall, but it’s always in a hurry. Road rage is definitely a thing here. Tailgating and cutting people off and taking the rules of the road and twisting them so they’re customized are the norm.

I hate driving in the city.

I hate walking in the city about as much.

I’ve always loved going for walks. I love taking my kids for walks. I love being able to walk my son to preschool.

But we walk through a residential area with lots of apartment buildings that have lots of cars. Cars that just go because their drivers are in a hurry. Cars that break hard when they’re surprised to see a pedestrian. Cars that double park ’cause they can, and then a car behind them veers into your lane to get around, completely ignoring the fact that you have right of way.

But back to pedestrians because that’s my focus here.

I’m a pedestrian pushing a stroller with two kids. More than that, I’m a cautious, courteous pedestrian. I always look for cars and relinquish my right of way when it’s obvious they either didn’t see me or were in too much of a hurry to even think a living soul would be walking around in a residential area in a city.

Sometimes I have to wait because the car is completely blocking the sidewalk and there’s traffic. Seriously, couldn’t they back up or maybe have checked for pedestrians?

The hazards of walking in a city?

Perhaps.

But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be mean on purpose sometimes.

When I know a car is coming up (and the driver sees me) or has just come to a sudden halt to let me pass, I usually hurry by because I know they’re in a hurry and city dwellers are not always nice. But they’re being nice by letting me pass, so I hurry as best I can so they can be on their hurried way as quickly as possible.

But sometimes I want to be mean. I want to slow way down and stroll across the driveway. I want to glare at the driver who had to stop suddenly. I seriously just want to take my time. At a leisurely stroll that’s a whole lot slower than my usual pace.

It’s tempting, especially for the fifth time during a 12 minute walk.

I remember I have kids, though. I remember I’m their role model. If I want them to be kind, courteous, and thoughtful, then I have to be, too. I can’t just be mean on purpose. But I can teach them kindness as both a pedestrian and a driver by reminding myself to be kind and always offer a smile and wave in thanks. And hope they pick up on these little things like I learned from my parents.

But sometimes I still want to be mean. On purpose.

It’s Because I Love You That I Clean

I think it’s common knowledge that moms often feel guilty they’re not spending every waking moment caring for their kids. Many even pass on cleaning because it takes time away from the kids. My own mom has said she wishes she had spent more time playing with us instead of cleaning.

Clean or play with the kids?

Well, one solution is getting the kids to help or baby wearing. But what if they not amenable to that? Well, I guess cleaning can wait.

Except sometimes it can’t. At least, for me.

I don’t sacrifice my time with my kids just so I can clean. I don’t spend more than an hour cleaning a day. Not everything gets clean every day, but everything gets clean each week.

Sometimes my kids help. Sometimes they entertain themselves. Sometimes they just whine and ask when I’ll be done.

It used to make me sad, and remember my mom’s words.

But then I started thinking about it differently. Was I cleaning for my own satisfaction or to keep them healthy? It’s definitely the latter.

I clean the kitchen so I have a clean, mostly sanitary place to prepare food for them, food that’s properly cleaned and cooked and won’t make them sick. I ensure the counter is clean so they have a clean space to sit when we bake.

I clean the floors so outside dirt, grime, and nasty germs don’t make their way around our home, just waiting to infect my darlings. I also feel a little better when my daughter picks a crumb from the floor and shoves it in her mouth before I can say no.

I clean the bathrooms so they have a clean place to go poopy and wash their hands, so they don’t have to try to get clean where mold would get them sick.

I wash the towels, sheets, and clothes so they have clean things to use and wear, so they can be wrapped in pleasant smells.

I tidy their toys so they can better find what they’re looking for and so they have space to play and fight over toys.

I clean because I love my kids. I want to keep them safe and healthy in their own home. I won’t sacrifice whole days just so I can clean, but I will also not jeopardize their health.

So, kids, when you’re older and reading this and wondering why mommy was always cleaning, it’s because I love you.