Tag Archives: Parenting

The Cult of Parties: Staying Focussed When Planning Children’s Birthdays

26 Mar

When I turned six we went to Showbiz Pizza and there exists only a simple Polaroid picture of me wearing a crown.  For my fifth birthday I remember getting a tricycle that was tall and red.  For my fourth birthday my mother made me a strawberry pie and I got a peacock-blue paper parasol.

There were no big party stores selling aisle after aisle of themed paper products back in the early ’80s.  There were no goodie bags handed out as guests left the celebration.  And we all know there was no Pinterest and Instagram. (If you’re like me, then you are particularly irked that you had to plan an entire wedding without a virtual pinboard and had to haul around a scrap-book.)

These days parties are color-coordinated creations full of photo-ops and party favors.  Starting with the very first birthday, they include an elaborate spread where all the food, cakes, plates, and straws match each other.  Striped straws, to be exact, preferably in little glass milk-bottles filled with the perfectly colored beverage (sans food-coloring, naturally).  We create backdrops, not only for this optimal display of edibles, but also for pictures of all the gorgeous, exceptional children attending.  For more flare, we even use photo props as well, like a little gold-glittered bow-tie on a stick to hold in front of a toddler (he will lick it). We have hand-crafted party games complete with costumes and take-home gifts.  The cakes are covered in fondant and the pictures of the darling Little eating that cake?  (It’s called a “smash cake”, by the way). They were taken two weeks ago in an antique high-chair in the middle of a pasture, bathed in golden sunlight.

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Interuptions

18 Mar

From where I’m sitting I can see a tipped toy basket, hemorrhaging plastic replicas of machines and weapons.

I can see the dishwasher half-open, with the top rack pulled out and half empty.  The counter is piled first with dirty dishes, then with clean, and next with more toys.

Nearer to me is the cabinet by my desk, standing open and on the floor are pieces of a day-old tortilla now brittle and crumbling.

Chunks of cheese are cupped in an upturned Darth Vader helmet.

This is just what I can see from my desk, but around the corner is more, and more up the stairs, in the bathroom, down the hall, in the guest room, and everywhere else.

I assure you each night when I retire, every room is tidy.  The kitchen is clean and often the floors are swept.  All it takes is one solid bout of imaginary play from my four-year-old with the help of his younger brother who’s recently begun walking.  All it takes is one hour in which I attempt to tackle some significant task, like laundry or balancing our budget, for the two of them to entertain themselves into a frenzy of homemaking’s undoing.  Sometimes I think, “a play room would be great!  One room to contain the chaos.” But that’s fantasy parenting at its finest!

My children want to play near me, always near me.  They have a bedroom, and more toys in our guest-room, but they carry everything to wherever I am, and grace me with their enthusiastic pretend-play.  Today alone my son has discussed being the King Kong of ninjas, told me he doesn’t belong here because he belongs to the future, and explained how he works for a restaurant called “Charlie’s Pizza” that is all out of pistachios.  The reason my kitchen is half dirty and half clean is because of all this participation involved.

I know it only takes five minutes to empty the dishwasher!

But I haven’t enjoyed an uninterrupted five minutes unless my children are soundly sleeping. Often the HD will come home to a scatter of projects throughout the house: laundry in different stages of completion, a half-vacuumed room, a partially-prepped meal, and so on.  Someday they won’t be near me, I know, and I’ll have more complete thoughts and conversations with myself than will be healthy.  I know one day I’ll have to urge them to sit in the same room with me, at the same table with me, ride in the same car with me.  Right now the size-6 jeans are home to the largest lap my sons know, one big enough for the two of them.

Welp! This entry will be interrupted, too: I have to sprint my garbage can to the curb for pick up.

 

 

More to Come

20 Nov

My husband’s deployment was the hardest year of my life — outranking two divorces in my childhood, the murder of a friend, and the cumulative effects of post-graduate depression — and yet it’s the hardest for me to write about because I don’t feel unique.  My husband blogs from his perspective, books have been written, wives military-wide have experienced this for over a decade, every previous generation has war-stories, and even a young teenage girl has published a memoir of her painful fourteen-months without her mother.  I don’t know how my experiences stand out amongst them all, especially when so many war-wives (even most of the ones I know) had it “worse”: their husbands engaged in combat, or divorced them afterwards, leaving them as true single-moms.  

My year of loneliness, single-motherhood, cynicism, and grief seems sometimes to only be unique (and interesting) to me.  

Regardless, I can’t shake the desire to write. 

He deployed from our military home in Hawaii in April of 2011, and was gone for 355 days. Our son was 15 months when he left, and two years, three months when he returned.  We packed up our home ourselves and put it all into storage, shipped my Volkswagen back east, and with only as much as I could fly with my son and I traveled the East coast from family to family for the entire year.  My son has been on 19 planes and 11 of those he and I flew solo! Lots of ladies go home during a deployment, though.  

It’s hard to know where to start, because the beginning seems to keep reaching further and further back.  Did it begin the day he left?  The day we found out he’d go?  Or perhaps the story begins when we fell in love?  More than likely the story begins with his own childhood as an Army brat.  Our whole story matters, though, because it wouldn’t have ended as well as it did if we didn’t have the foundation we find ourselves on.  Truthfully, without this deployment we would have never known just how strong a foundation that is.  Stress and anxiety threatened us (the unit “Us”) to a breaking point, but grace and humility healed us.

We both are forever changed, but thanks be to God we have changed together and not apart. Some of this I’ve already written about, but there is more to come.

Wait till Your Father Gets Home

2 Aug

I’m not mad at *him*. I really never am. He’s just a child and wants so dearly for me to approve with smiles. When he refuses to walk away after I tell him “no”, it doesn’t make me mad at him.

I’m mad that I’m the only one who is here. The only consistent disciplinarian in Young G’s life. The only rule maker. Also the only comforter.

He’s very strong-willed, and he hates for us to not be “cool”, so when he insists on his way, usually a look of disappointment on my face will turn him around. Other times he laughs maniacally and deliberately disobeys me. When I pick him up to remove him from the situation, he slaps me. So I just put him down, walk away, and let my heart break.

I’m the tender one; the HD is the disciplinarian. I can not wait to have his support in parenting again! Young G doesnt disregard HD (or other men for that matter) like he does me. HD will have to do little more than use stern-voice to be effective. G hasn’t touched a particular drawer since my brother told him not to.

It doesn’t make me mad that I’m not taken seriously. I’m mad I don’t have anyone else to fall back on right now. I’m mad HD is deployed.