From the Mommy Files…

Archive for June 2011

Was it the gelato?

Maybe it’s the fact that my daughters are 1/8 Italian?

We went to hang out by a small fountain, near our home.

The girls were fascinated by this ode to flowing water.

They were so excited.

We got some gelato and sat by the fountain.

Then it came.

Boo started to speak, while flinging her long hair back.

Mom, wouldn’t it be so cool to jump in the fountain and feel the water on our skin, wetting our hair?”

Then she started to climb up on the barrier!

I told her we do not go into the fountains.

I don’t know if she was channeling Anita Ekberg or if somehow Fellini was pulling her strings. 

“But Mom, it is a joy, a wonderful and beautiful thing!”

She’s 4!

OK, so she’s never seen “La Dolce Vita,” or any other film or show where people climb in a fountain.

I wasn’t sure where this was coming from.

“Honey, the fountains are for us to look at and admire.”

“No, Mommy,” she retorted.

“The fountains are here to make us happy, to feel alive.

WHAT?

“Maybe I could dance in the fountain too,” she added.

Is this simply the unbridled enthusiasm of a 4 year-old or did someone just invade this girl’s body?

My little drama queen.

Now if when standing on a balcony, she begins to recite “What’s in a name…”

I’ll know I’m in serious trouble.

Oh yes. Mental note.

When we take the kids to Italy, no Trevi Fountain for Boo! 😉

My sweet little ladies are embroiled in what I’m told is a strange, but absolutely normal phenomenon.

It’s an unusual bonding ritual between siblings.

I’ve been told that if no one is getting hurt, I should leave them alone.

That if they are giggling or squealing in delight, to just leave them be.

My daughters are wrestling!

What happened to sugar and spice and everything nice?

One will randomly take down the other and then just stay on top.

They laugh hysterically and think it’s the coolest thing ever.

I don’t get it.

One night, they tried this with Daddy.

One went over and just dived on his stomach.

They’ve never watched wrestling.

What is this?

One got up, and the other repeated the folly.

They howled with laughter.

At one point, I shouted, “Ding! Back to your corners!”

What in the world?

I don’t I like this bonding ritual.

Maybe they shouldn’t bond.

Then again, yes, they should, but can they do it in a non-aggressive manner?

My 7 year-old nephew, who appreciates a good rough-house, witnessed the events.

He came running up to me with a very dismayed look.

“What in the world are they doing?” he asked.

I replied, “Well, if you don’t know, how am I supposed to know?”

He roared with laughter, and then mused, “Whoa! I didn’t know girls could play like that! I gotta tell my dad!”

And he promptly called my brother, reporting a play-by-play of the event.

He put his dad on the speaker phone.

My brother, the family jokester, saw an opening and just couldn’t help himself.

He began to speak like an announcer.

“In this corner, weighing 32 lbs., lover of all things purple and sparkly, and loves to dance – Boo.”

“In this corner, weighing 22 lbs., Loves to blow bubbles and a tiny dancer – Bebs.”

“Ladies, when the bell rings, come out fighting! Remember, no hair-pulling, no biting, no pinching.”

“Above all else, remember, we love each other. Ding!”

I grabbed the phone.

“Hey! Don’t encourage them!”

I thought he’d bust a gut from laughing so hard.

“Ha! They remind me of you and our sister!” my brother chimed in.

“Excuse me?” I said. “We didn’t wrestle. In fact, she would hit me and I would take it, because mom said I couldn’t retaliate because she was older.”

I’ve always been a follow-the-rules-kinda-gal.

“Oh yeah, that’s why you never hit her. When you finally did, wowee!”

He’s referring to the day – I was just 15 – when I’d had more than enough of being a punching bag.

I gave her a swift right cross and knocked her down.

She left home for 3 days!

I was in soooo much trouble!

Funny. We are the best of friends now.

Anyway.

I have observed that the more that the girls do this, the more antagonistic they are getting.

Not when wrestling, but during regular play.

This only provokes tears in one or the other.

Sugar and spice, where are you?

Come back!

Ten minutes later, one of them will announce that it’s Princess Time.

Perhaps they want me to know what it would be like to have boys in the house.

Guess they want me to have the best of both worlds.

Ding!

Back to your corners, Ladies.

Maybe I should invest in a striped shirt.

And every referee needs a whistle.

Wonder what in the world is next.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a mysterious phenomenon.

We don’t know why we do it, but we always put ourselves last and everyone else first.

We feel guilty when we do something for ourselves.

I do it too.

Why do we feel guilty?

Many of our moms were quite skilled at making us feel guilty for their lack of free time or pleasure.

Today’s moms beat themselves up if they have to ask for help or a much-needed break.

I don’t know why.

I’m guilty of it myself.

Guilty of feeling guilty.

You know what I’m talking about.

You go months longer than you should for a haircut.

Lunch with the ladies?

Excuse me? What’s that?

Buy ourselves a new dress?

Forget it.

Kids keep out-growing their stuff.

I’m not saying go crazy, go on a shopping spree, ignore the kids or spend all your days in the spa.

But we need to acknowledge once and for all that we have a problem.

My name is Maria, and I have Mommy Guilt.

I feel guilty when I ask someone to watch my kids, to go to a meeting or a desperately-needed break.

I feel guilty when all the laundry isn’t done.

I feel guilty that on some days I simply don’t have the energy to play with my kids.

So I asked other moms.

What do you feel guilty about?

The answers did not surprise me.

They simply confirmed for me that this is an epidemic.

We have to snap out of this.

Much of this is really out of our control.

Here’s what they said.

“I feel guilty that my husband doesn’t speak to his brother, so the kids have never met their uncle. They ask where he is.”

I feel guilty that I don’t want to volunteer my time in the classroom. I’m tired.”

“I feel guilty that I don’t always spread my attention evenly between my kids.”

“I feel guilty that I rely on relatives to buy them the special toys they want on holidays and birthdays because I am to too strapped.”

“I feel guilty that I can’t stay up late and be with my husband. I see him watching a movie alone and I am full of guilt.”

“I feel guilty that I don’t always feel like going outside with the kids.  I hate the heat and bugs.”

“I feel guilty that I have all of these arts & craft things for the kids, yet I don’t want them playing with it because it will make a mess.”

“I think I feel the most guilty for being a SAHM and not always having everything ‘perfect’…all laundry away, closets organized, house sparkling clean, cooking a gourmet meal every night, etc…”

“I feel guilty that I don’t look as good as I did before we had kids.”

I feel guilty that I can’t provide better health insurance so my kids can get the services they need.”

“I feel guilty that my husband has become more of a roommate than a lover. I’m always tired. After taking care of small kids all day and working, I’m spent. I don’t have the energy to tend to anyone else.”

“I feel guilty that sometimes I just want to be alone, without my kids, or just with my husband and no kids.”

“I feel guilty that I have to work. My salary pays for clothes, activities, etc. If I quit, we can’t afford that stuff.”

“Sometimes I feel guilty that I want to have a career in addition to my kids. I shouldn’t want anything else, right?

There were many recurring themes, such as being tired, stretched too thin, of money woes, feeling guilty for wanting a break, having put on weight, for having other ambitions in addition to being a mom.

You’re shaking your head now because you’ve thought some of these things too.

I don’t know why we beat ourselves up.

We give our kids everything, more than anyone else.

We give up so much, yet we never feel like it’s enough.

We ask so little. Some don’t ask for anything.

We have to learn not to do that!

We’re not trying to be martyrs.

We’re trying to be the best mothers and wives we can be.

But we can’t leave ourselves behind in the process.

I’ve read many times that if we spend a little time away and do things for ourselves, this will make us better moms.

But do we do this?

Not so much.

It’s OK for you to take a break. 

It’s OK for you to treat yourself once and awhile.

YOU DESERVE IT!

There’s got to be a cure for this.

I’m sure we’d all be much happier.

Is there a 12-step program?

How do we stop?

What do you feel guilty about?

When I was little…

How would you complete this sentence?

After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal called “Blanks for the Memories” about childhood memories, it got me thinking.

What’s my earliest memory?

I recall vividly a game my older brother – 8 years old than me – and I played together, and often.

He said we started playing this game when I was 2.

It was called Bucking Bronco.

My brother would walk around on all fours, like a horse, with me on his back.

Then he’d buck up on two legs like a bucking bronco, and try to knock me off.

Sounds cruel, eh?

Nah.

I loved it.

I seem to recall roaring with glee, shouting, “yee-ha!”

I would ask him to play.

Though for years, however, I remembered something not so fun about this game.

And there was blood involved.

You’d think Bucking Bronco would have been done at that point.

But apparently, I took care of the problem and we continued to play.


Then one day, when I was about 11 or 12, and we were sitting around telling stories.

My brother said, “Do you remember when we used to play Bucking Bronco?”

Of course I remembered.

My sister chimed in.

“Do you remember when you gave Jim a bloody nose?”

Huh?

As the story goes, I was about 3 at the time.

We were playing Bucking Bronco and Jim bucked up rather suddenly and unexpected.

I flew off his back and bumped my head on the wall.

I was so upset, that I walked right over to him and punched him in the nose!

He got nosebleeds easy, so don’t think I was a bruiser.

So now we explain the blood, etc.

After she said it, I could see this scenario play out in my mind.

Did I then recall it all?

Did her description prompt my further recollection or did it paint the memory for me?

Who knows?

I remember quite a few things from when I was 4.

My husband laughed as I explained the story behind a photo of myself when I was 4.

I spoke about the dress, and a matching scarf that was not pictured.

We went to Kmart to have the photos taken.

It was a rare occasion for me to have a photo session.

I was the third child, after all.

And I was very excited.

When I turned 4, I found out my mom was pregnant with my younger brother.

I remember her pregnant and fighting with my cousin about who was going to feel the baby kick.

I was about 4-1/2 when he was born.

I remember that day – like it was yesterday.

I wasn’t happy.

I wanted a girl.

My older brother, sister and I had just gotten up and were fixing breakfast.

My dad called to give us the news.

I had just opened the cabinet door to get a bowl, when my older brother made the announcement.

“It’s a boy!”

I slammed the door and shouted, “Send him back! Send him back!”

I can recall where my father worked and some of his co-workers.

I remember my first day of school – I was 2 months shy of 5.

I remember kindergarten and my teacher.

I remember walking to school with my sister.

Other events that took place in my early life, I do recall.

Some with greater detail than others.

I asked my husband once, what was his earliest memory.

He said about 6 years old.

So were my early memories more vivid?

Will I forget these memories as I get older?

Are these really things that I recall or are they memories of someone telling the story?

What makes one person remember more than another?

Do what you can to keep these childhood memories alive.

Especially on those difficult days.

It’s wonderful – and invigorating – to remember our most carefree, halcyon days.

What do you remember?


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BooBoo BeDoux

Bebs LaRoux

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