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.

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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.

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.

The Lily Cafe Digest, No. 3

This year, I’m doing a 6+1 blogging schedule of 6 weeks blogging followed by a one week break. Since it’s time for another Digest, it’s also time for another blogging break. Enjoy, and thank you so much for following!

A Look Back

Reader

I’m experiencing a bit of a blogging shift. I’ve always been a huge reader, but, most of the time, I’m so far buried in a book that I often forget to rave about or destroy them in a review. That seems to be changing, though. I’m reviewing more books now and find I really enjoy talking about them. So much so that I’m in the process of turning The Lily Cafe’s Instagram account into a Bookstagram. It’s still a work in progress as I work to find time to even do it, but, so far, it’s been fun. I also follow several book bloggers who take part in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and decided to start to take part, too. So far, I’ve posted about the first 10 books I’ve reviewed online and the 10 books I won’t lend out to anyone. I also talked about how important covers are and what I like and don’t like. But what I was most excited about was taking part in my second ever book blog tour! This one was for The East End by Jason Allen, which takes place over Memorial Day weekend and, as it’s upon us, I highly recommend you read it now. Finally, courtesy of the publisher Canelo, the author Matt Doyle, and NetGalley, I was given the chance to read and review Oracle’s War by David Hair and Cath Mayo, Addict, and Split-Level by Sande Bortiz Berger respectively.

Writer

What I have written of Raven is quickly coming to an end, but not before Raven and other characters have been in for some surprises.

Chapter 13|Chapter 14|Chapter 15|Chapter 16|Chapter 17|Chapter 18

As part of my personal writing exercises, I’m sharing personal stories, experiences, and thoughts. I jumped into this by writing about the nine years I’ve had this blog. Nine years! Not that it was actually active for that long…but, still. The Lily Cafe is nine years old! Late last year, we moved to the great sprawling city of Los Angeles and, while it’s offered a lot to us, there are still things that annoy me. Sometimes I just want to be mean on purpose, especially when I’m out walking with my kids. Drivers in this city bother me. Then, of course, also while walking, there are fellow walkers whose manners are more childlike than adult-like. Adults complain about kids staring at them, but it’s not just kids who stare.

Baker

I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately, about once a week, but have only posted about my adventures in ratio baking once in the past 6 weeks. Previously, I’d written about how much I love it and what’s so great about it. This time, I wrote about what isn’t so great. I still love it, but it’s not a perfect way to bake.

Mother of Two

Lately, I’ve found myself floundering when I came time to write my motherhood posts. I’d lost sight of why I was writing them. So I took a step back, re-evaluated a few things, and decided to turn my focus towards writing about the magic in motherhood. I also sometimes feel awkward when reading the mom blogs that talk about the nitty and gritty because I can’t do that, I can’t pretend I’m wearing leggings that haven’t been washed in weeks and I live in a pile of laundry. It may not be popular to talk about, but I’m proud to be a put together mom. I admit that sometimes I feel guilty about cleaning, especially when it’s just my daughter and me while my son is at school, but then I remember there are reasons why I clean. And it’s for their benefit. It might sound like motherhood comes easily to me, but it’s still hard. I still fail my kids, but knowing how to repair therapeutic relationships has been an immense help to me. Thank you, psychology training and education! On a more serious note, I’ve thought about my early miscarriage off and on, especially as I read about more accounts of miscarriage, and I’ve realized there was something that I could have used. Finally, to end on a happier note, I talked about my son’s funny shorts story. He probably won’t find it funny years from now, but, gosh, I still giggle about it.

The Weekly Question

In an attempt to combine two things I used to do last year, I’ve started a weekly question series.

#1: Do you prefer physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

#2: Parents: Where do you prefer to keep your kids’ toys?

#3: Do you believe in magic?

#4: Go-to dinner

#5: If you could build your house, what shape would it be?

#6: Share one of your posts

Looking Forward

The next Digest will come sooner than you think. July has lots of important dates for us, so I’ll be posting for the next 4 weeks instead of 6. During July, I plan on fixing up some older posts and creating images for Pinterest. August is a little up in the air right now since my son starts Kindergarten, but I’ll hopefully decide whether to post during that month by the next Digest.

Reader

I have plans, so many plans! Not only will there be more reviews, there will be more chatter about books. I have so many ideas for what I want to write about and the books I want to share. There’s so much, I almost can’t focus. I also have 14, and counting, books to review. Yikes!

Writer

Raven is coming to an end. I’m toying with the idea of writing a story I’ve been planning for a while and posting it as I write it, but I’m not sure yet.

Baker

I’m still on my cake ratio baking journey. There are just so many different types of cake and I have a post about 3 of them I’ve been working on. I also want to share a basic list of ingredients because, with ratio baking, there is no recipe with a handy list of ingredients. At first, it felt a little complicated to me, but, the more I bake, the more I realize it’s really easy to walk into a moderately well-stocked kitchen and be able to whip up a cake, and I’ll be sharing my experience doing exactly that.

Mother of Two

Summer is fast approaching and I’m really looking forward to having both of my babies home with me all day every day. I know. I will likely become one of those parents who count down to the first day of school, but, right now, I really love having my kids with me, so I’m going to enjoy it. I’ve also realized I have a parenting philosophy and I plan on sharing that.

Favorite Posts from Around the Blogging Community

Mostly because I feel self-centered about writing a whole post about my own blog, but also because there are so many lovely blogs I enjoy and want to share them with you. Here are some of my favorite posts from the last 6 weeks. I do hope you check them out and give them a follow.

Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers from I Didn’t Want to Be a Mother: As a mother, daughter, and the mother of a daughter, this one really spoke to me. Coming from a mom who didn’t aspire to be a mom, this one felt quite powerful to me.

Waiting to Fail – Advice from a GenXer from Write Side of the Road: I come from the millennial generation, but this one really hit me. I was raised with similar ideas and plan to raise my children in much the same way. I love the advice Lisa gives, and hope it’ll make my kids better rounded in the age of technology.

Why I Stay Up Late, Instead of Just Going to Bed from A Sweet Life with Style: Yup, I do the same thing. As a mom with little ones, it sounds stupid, but Ashley hits it on the head: often, those late night hours are the only time we get to ourselves.

I Wish I Could Call My Mom For Advice and Share My Daughter’s Accomplishments from Confessions of a Parentless Mother: I’ve followed this blog for a while, and everything she writes always hits me right in the heart. I couldn’t imagine traveling motherhood without my parents, but this wonderful, strong lady has to do that. The strength she shows amazes me and brings me to tears.

Training Wheels from Clever Girl Writes…: As a fellow So Cal driver, I just really loved this one. It’s entertaining, and way too true. Also, if you ever dare travel the roads of Southern California, make sure you know how to drive properly, and do it.

How To Be Good by Brooke Cutler: For any mom or dad who wonders if they’re doing this thing called parenting right…you are. Short and sweet, but full of power, and the words that any caregiver needs to hear daily.

Despite dire warnings of my demise if I did so, I deleted Facebook from Boondock Ramblings: I once deleted Facebook, and survived. I contemplate deleting it again. Lisa’s post really speaks to how lazy it makes people. A simple like doesn’t make a friendship. Getting together and chatting like people with mouths and voice boxes does.

The Change…Dun-Dun-Dun! from Unconventional Mami: It’s official. I’m terrified of my son turning into a preteen. Much less a teenager.

Life with Lucas: Our Journey with Autism (Pre-diagnosis) from That Playground Life: I’ve worked with children with autism, and seriously respect their parents for everything they do for their kids every day. This mom knew something was different about her son and, despite professionals ignoring her mother’s intuition, she stuck with it and was able to get what her son needed.

Surprise me – but not too much from By Autumn Rain: This is great for any writer out there. It’s so hard to add something new to a genre without being too out there. It’s also so hard to keep everything recognizable without being boring. What is a writer to do?

Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

Kat

Book Review: Split-Level by Sande Boritz Berger

 

Title: Split-Level

Author: Sande Boritz Berger

Publisher: She Writes Press

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 

 

 

 

Summary: It’s the 1970s, post-Nixon, and Alex and Donny Pearl appear to have the typical marriage, complete with two darling little girls. Alex is a devoted wife and mother, but also feels stifled by society’s expectations of her in those roles. A friendship with another couple offers something new and different, but will test her marriage and her loyalties, while also giving her room to explore and develop who she is regardless of what society dictates.

Split-Level is set in 1970s New Jersey, but it also felt like it could be anywhere, any time. The words and phrases placed this book in the 1970s (though there’s almost no mention of Nixon or what life is like post his presidency) and the location is clearly stated as New Jersey. The societal ideals are also squarely in that time period, where women were more often teachers than doctors and their most likely place was married and at home with the kids. At the same time, it also felt like it stretched a little to encompass a wider time period and could take place anywhere in the country. Every point in time has its ideas of what women should and shouldn’t do, even our current one. And, at every point, there are women who struggle against it, who fight it and try to make their own way. While it might not necessarily be married with kids, the core struggle of woman against society’s standards is still present. This book presented an intriguing story of one woman struggling between conforming to society and being true to herself, something women across generations can identify with. It may be set in the 1970s, but it could be thought of as taking place at any point in time.

I appreciated the story the author was telling, could identify with Alex’s struggles, but really struggled with the characters. Alex really bothered me. She came off as naive, a little slow, and self-serving. She went with the flow and, when it came crashing down, just wanted to maintain her innocence in it all. As a mother, I was mostly irritated with her lack of responsibility for her daughters. Throughout the book, she maintained she was a devoted mother, but there were few interactions between her and her daughters and she was always willing to let someone else take care of them while she went traveling or just wanted to paint. The other characters, as seen through Alex’s eyes as she was the narrator, all fell incredibly flat. They were one note and served their purpose in the story and Alex’s narrative. I suppose she didn’t find any of them to be exceptionally interesting? I’m not sure, but the only character I really liked was Gussie, Alex’s in-laws’ housekeeper, who came off as both droll and caring.

As much as I disliked Alex, though, I also thought it was smart to see her in conflict with just about every other character. It served to highlight how she was and felt different from everyone else around her, especially the women, and most especially the women who seemed to have it all together. Her interactions helped her craft a sense of who she was and what society demanded she be, and, when we’re in her head, we get the collision between the two as she struggled to make her place in society while also longing for something more and different.

What I found most interesting was how the story was laid out. It takes place over about a year and each chapter explores, more or less, a particular segment of time. With each chapter, the story moves along and provides a new story within the greater story. It was almost episodic, and I was a little dissatisfied when it seemed to leave off on a cliffhanger, though it was resolved in the next few pages. But it was also nice that it was laid out this way. It prevented the story from becoming bogged down in any point in time and kept it moving at a nice clip.

Overall, this was both annoying and satisfying. There were parts of it that annoyed and frustrated me, but, given time to think about it, I also developed an appreciation for the story the author wove. At its heart, it’s about about a woman (any woman) who wants something other than what society dictates.

Get your copy (The Lily Cafe is NOT an Amazon Affiliate)

How many cups of tea will you need?

3 cups should be sufficient.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Funny Shorts Story

My son threw his shorts up onto the hall light.

I know he didn’t mean to, but it happened, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

My kids enjoy their baths together. For now, at least. After all, I do have one boy and one girl. But, in California, it’s a good way to conserve water, and they get to have fun together. Most of the time, they enjoy it.

Lately, my daughter has been a little fish. She’ll easily spend an hour in there turning into a prune. The novelty has worn off of my almost five-year-old. There are other, more fun things to do. He’ll last 15-30 minutes before he’s ready to get out.

That day was one such day. My little fish kept splashing and my big boy wanted out.

Now, my son likes being wrapped in a towel until he’s mostly dry. Not a problem. It’s easier to dress him when it’s on his own terms. So, after a while, my daughter decided it was time to get out, but I’d left her towel in my bedroom. While the water was draining, I hurried over and grabbed it, and noticed my son still didn’t have his shorts on. I told him to get his shorts.

I got my daughter out of the tub and wrapped her in her own towel. We left the bathroom, and my son still didn’t have his shorts on. I idly wondered why his bathroom chair and two pillows were in the hall, but he’s a strange little boy. While holding a happy, towel-wrapped little girl, I told him to get his shorts. Again.

He just stood there and whined.

I went to get his sister’s diaper on her cute little tushie.

My son still didn’t have his shorts on.

How many times have I asked by now?

He just whined at me and finally pointed down the hall.

Okay. I get it. I’ll get his shorts for him.

Except, I go into the hall and, there, dangling from the light, are his shorts.

IMG_20190404_084048_593

How he managed to toss them up there, I’m not sure.

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.