Mothers' Hideaway Blog

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Mothers' Hideaway

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We've Moved!

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Can't wait to see you there!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mother-in-Law School

Have you ever had to acknowledge your limitations when it felt like the world was falling apart?? I have.

I have lupus. People know it. I know it. Yet, some internal mechanism in me says "Don't let anyone see it." I hurt most days. I'm tired every day. Yet, I won't ask for help unless I really need it or my husband gives me no other alternative (aka harasses me until I give in). Even then I'm dragging my swollen feet and it's rare I'll explain that my lupus is the cause.

On Sunday night I had to rush my four month old to the ER. After a series of tests on the poor baby, he was admitted to the hospital for further observation. Monday my husband didn't have to go to work (woohoo for holidays!) so he was able to watch our older son. We knew that, regardless of when I got home, with only two hours of sleep I would be rendered useless and my lupus would start to rear its ugly head even more than normal. So after going through our list of options for help, I did the unthinkable....I asked for help from *DUN Dun dun* my monster...err...mother-in-law.

Now I will give her credit where credit is due. She did help with my older son and I did get to sleep in. Of course, she didn't or wasn't able to do this without making me feel like a lazy mother. Many times she purposefully dismissed me. She made it seem as if the trip to the ER was because I was nothing more than a neurotic over protective mother and that the baby was "just fine". (He was diagnosed with GERDs so go ahead and tell him that the burning in his throat and chest is "just fine".) She wouldn't talk to me, wouldn't be more than polite (if that), and when all I needed was some validation that I was a good mother and some rest she made me feel worse. What hurts the most was when I finally acknowledge my own weakness and my own painful limitations (which is extremely difficult for me), I was made to feel subpar.

So here's the point of this blog....

After talking to quite a few of the women on Mothers' Hideaway, I began to realize that mother-in-laws must take some course in "How to Torture Your Daughter-In-Law 101". I've scoured the internet and have yet to find an accredited school that provides this course. I'm starting to suspect that maybe the pediatricians sneak it to them when the mother-in-law's son hits puberty. I have yet to test this theory out seeing as my kids are under 3 years old, but I anxiously await the results.

Until then I have created my own draft of what that syllabus must look like. It has been created from my own experiences or the experiences of others that I have spoken to about this issue. I decided to make this public so that every one of us daughter-in-laws will be able to fight the monster if we know what they've learned!

How to Torture Your Daughter-In-Law 101

Step 1: As soon as your son begins to date a girl worth of bearing your grandchildren act normal. It is essential that you do not show any signs of insanity that may scare her away because you need those grandchildren!

Step 2: Once your son has chosen the aforementioned girl and has solidified plans with a proposal make sure you support her in most, if not all, of her wedding plans. Make sure you include plenty of "Girls Trips" or loving "Thinking of You" cards during this time. This will ensure that she won't notice you sticking your claws into her back.

Step 3: After the wedding begin to drop not so subtle "it's time to have kids" hints.

Step 4: Once she is pregnant slowly let the insanity slip into view. Overbuy, overbear, and overwhelm the new mother-to-be. Make plenty of "you just wait" comments and talk about all the things you're going to do with that grandbaby. Do not ask her what her opinion is and if you must, ask in a passive aggressive way so she can not disagree with your wishes.

Step 5: As soon as that child is born you are given the right to act insane. Your daughter-in-law can never rid of you (even through divorce) so there is nothing for you to hide! Make sure you call constantly the first few weeks to see if she has more pictures, buy more newborn and 0-3 month clothing the child will never wear because "it was too cute!", and drop by the new parents' house frequently. You must be capable of vocalizing your opinion on everything she does from changing a diaper to how and what she feeds the baby, from how she lets the baby to sleep to how she bathes the baby. Tell your friends how horrible a mother your daughter-in-law is and bask in their nods of agreement. Whisper poisoned suggestions into your son's ear and revel in the knowledge that, at the end of the day, he will choose you if you act pitiful enough. Enjoy the fights between the young couple.

Step 6: Continue Step 5 for the Make sure to passive aggressively add insults to your daughter-in-law when your son is not around. 

Now that we have their rules. I want to make sure to encourage every mother, especially those with sons, to make sure to never ever follow these steps. It will only lead to  heartache, frustration, and inevitably...insanity. Then again if you're into those sorts of things....I just gave you a cheat sheet.

Do you have a great mother-in-law story?? Share with us here at Mothers' Hideaway!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Girl I Used to Be

 She came tonight as I sat alone...
The girl I used to be...
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye
And questioned reproachfully:

Have you forgotten the many plans
And hopes I had for you?
The great career, the splendid fame,
all the wonderful things to do?

Where is the mansion of stately height
With all its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you
And the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad
For I wanted her pleased with me...
This slender girl from the shadowy past
The girl that I used to be.
So gently rising, I took her hand
And guided her up the stairs
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay
Innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems,
And precious they are to me;
That silken robes is my motherhood
Of costly simplicity.

And my mansion of stately height is love,
And the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls
For the dear ones who come and go

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest,
She smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw the woman that I am now
Pleased the girl I used to be.

I read this poem today. It perfectly fits my mood lately, because I've been mourning the old me. I have a younger single childless sister that I slightly envy. She's beautiful, carefree, career driven, and free to do whatever it is her heart desires. I miss being able to do what I wanted when I wanted. I miss having the body that, while I had my fair share of issues with, I didn't mind having the lights on (if you know what I mean). I miss working at a job and having glowing reviews. I miss teaching. I miss having time for myself. I miss looking good and made up. I miss my high heels. I miss my short skirts. I miss looking good and looking like it didn't take much effort. I miss my confidence. I miss my ambitions. I miss my dreams. I miss my future.

I miss the girl I used to be.

Don't get me wrong. Just like many of you, I love my family and my life now. That doesn't mean I don't have the right to mourn what used to be. Maybe not mourn...maybe daydream about the past. My husband and I have been talking a lot about "back then". Back when we first met. I was 20, he was 25. We were sure of who we were. We knew what we were capable of doing. We didn't have a care in the world beyond the today. Yeah we were finishing with school and entering the "real world", but really...we thought we were hot stuff. We thought we were invincible. We were carefree. Then we grew up and reality hit us like the heat on a humid day when you step outside.

Over the past eight years I've gone from that carefree girl to a woman with lupus; who has had to learn a new pace of living; who has moved to another state 1000s of miles from home to be with the love of her life; who has had to leave the job she loved because her body just couldn't keep up; who has carried and birthed two beautiful boys; who has suddenly gone from motivated, energetic, inspiring teacher to a worn out, disheveled, housewife and mom, who hasn't had her body for herself for 3 years;  who hasn't looked like the girl she remembers in just as long (wow, just saying it all makes me winded!).

Is there a way to meld the two worlds? The carefree, self-attentive girl with the sleep deprived, selfless woman? I don't know and I have yet to learn how to do it. The irony of it all is that this woman, this person that I barely recognize, is really who I always wanted to become. I wanted to be a mom at home with my kids. I just didn't want to lose me in the process. People tell me that someday I'll have the time to take care of myself, but until then I stare into the Fountain of Youth and reach out to touch fingers with my younger reflection and try to think "I miss you, but I love me."

I hope that someday I'll be able to be that girl and this woman at the same time. Do you?

Share your story with us today at Mothers' Hideaway

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are we over-sensitizing our kids?

I wanted to take my two and a half year old son to see Toy Story 3 at the theaters today. I've been planning on it for a few days since our local theater has Mommy and Me Movies on Tuesday mornings. This was going to be his first trip to a movie theater and I wanted to make sure he had a blast! So...being the mother that I am I decided to look up the reviews made by other moms from this past weekend to see if it was appropriate for his age group. After reading a few I was petrified.

Apparently, according to these mom reviewers, Toy Story 3 was going to scar my child's retinas with burning flames and a pit of fire. They said the characters were too mean, the theme was too dark, the scenes too scary. They were positive that my child would have night terrors, horrible thoughts, and an imagination that would include, but not be limited to, psychotic toys coming to life to throw them into the fiery pits of hell as a maniacal monkey clashes his tambourines together as he sounds an alarm. My son would be scared of putting his toys in bins because suddenly he would think he's sending his beloved trucks and trains to jail. He would be over sexualized by the relationship between Barbie and Ken. He would mentally be broken from the underlying theme of growing up and throwing out the past. He would not survive! Ok, ok, the last sentence may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.

Regardless, I decided I was going to make the venture out to the theater. I wanted to take him, darnit, and I would! So I did. Hesitant that at any moment all hell would break lose and my son would scream and cry as he clutched to my bosom because heaven knows a G rated film should never be watched by a two year old. I waited and waited and waited. Sure, the monkey was a bit crazy looking and I admit it freaked me out a bit, but that may be due to my own hesitation of dressed up monkeys. Not once did my son get upset at the "scary" parts, and not once did he cry (except that he wanted out of his chair to walk in the row a bit). At the end of the movie, my son was there in my lap cuddling with me as he sucked his thumb (I know, I know, he shouldn't do'll ruin his teeth. You can scold me later.) and as the final credits came on I wiped tears from my eyes and my son said "Mommy! Watch again!"

No, Toy Story 3 did not scar my child.

I left the theater angry. I was mad I had ever doubted myself because of multiple other sites saying it was too violent a film. I started to think "Are we over-sensitizing our children?"

Let's think about it. Our children are not allowed to play "Cops and Robbers" anymore because they shouldn't have guns. They're definitely not playing "Cowboys and Indians" either because heaven knows that's not PC (even if one could argue it's historical reenactment). A child comes to the park with a squirt gun and the other moms are sure that he's going to join the "Future Criminals of Amercia" club when he's in high school. I mean, isn't that how they all started??
I remember the first movie I ever saw in the theater was with my mom, sister, and some friends. We saw Bambie. In case you don't remember, Bambie's mom is killed pretty early on. Shot dead by a hunter. Years later, I loved Lion King and in that movie the father is killed by his own brother as the son watches! And let's not forget Dumbo where the mother is holding her baby through the grills of her circus car jail. No one ever said I'd be screwed up from that, and in fact, besides a few mom issues...I'm totally fine.

I'll be the first to admit I am a bit overprotective. I won't go to a wood chip park because what if he fell and that woodchip landed in his eye? I bust out the suntan lotion because what if I didn't one day and he got skin cancer? Oh, and hand sanitizer...I love me some hand sanitizer. I will admit that I've had to learn to say "He's a kid, he'll get over it." I'm learning that I can't and shouldn't protect him from all the harsh realities of the world. Yes, we live in a world where there is good and evil. Yes, we live in a world where people are mean. Yes, we live in a world where the right thing isn't always the easy thing. Yes, we live in a world where we all grow older and things that were once important to us get left by the wayside.

Today's children are going to end up unable to handle any of these harsh realities if we continue to protect them from it. Toys get hurt, they get thrown away and broken. People get treated the same way (although metaphorically). Tomorrow's adults are going to be scared to stand up for themselves, of taking risks, or of being adventurous because we, as their parents, have handicapped them by over protecting them. Sure, there's something that is "age appropriate", but that age seems to be getting older for some things (harsh realities) and younger for others (sexualizing).

We're turning our children into adults that have no spine or gumption when it comes to life.

We're turning our children into...dare I say it....sissies.

Do you think we're over-sensitizing our kids? Tell us today at Mothers' Hideaway!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Parents vs the Childless

Pop Quiz:

You're in Target and you see a mother carrying a screaming toddler in a football hold as he screams "Nooooo!!! Down! Down! Mommy NOOOOO!!!" while she has a newborn in the basket in his car seat crying for one of the many reasons a newborn cries. What do you do?

a) Smile at her with the "It's ok...I've been there" smile
b) Obviously roll your eyes while giving the mom the stink eye and think "Why won't that mom shut her kids up????"
c) Turn on your heel running in fear and think "Holy crap, there's my birth control for the day!"

I've been that Target mom. I was lucky because I got more people that answered with "a" instead of "b" (although my sister did say "c" to me later that day). That was a good day and I was able to leave Target feeling a little less ashamed of my disheveled appearance and screaming children. A feeling that lasted for ohhhhh 5 minutes.

When you have a child your life changes. Your world is flipped upside down and inside out and no one can truly prepare you for what comes with it. Oh the beginning is easy. Your newborn sleeps, eats, and poops. They sleep in their car seat while you go out with your husband to a much needed dinner. Maybe a little peep, but nothing a binkie or a rocking of their car seat can't fix. Life is good.

Then one day that sleeping child wakes up. They want to look around. They want to make noise. They want to grab that spoon, that fork, that salt shaker, that pretty little vase with the silk flower that resembles something of a centerpiece. Suddenly before you even sit down at the table you assess the table, remove any potential meltdown makers, and whip out the hand sanitizer. Suddenly your not quite one year old wants out of the high chair, they want to crawl/walk on the floor, they want to scream and discover their voice, they want to make their needs known to the entire restaurant, and want to hide from the stink eye you're getting from the other restaurant patrons. As you're trying to hush your child while simultaneously trying to melt under the table you realize that the other restaurant goers don't have what you have..........a child.

Now that I have joined the parenthood posse I've realized there is a large and quickly growing abyss that separates the parents and the childless. The childless glaring at the parents and the parents glaring at the childless. As a parent you're judged all the time from anyone and everyone. You're judged by your parents, your in laws, your siblings, your friends, other parents, other people that have no idea what it means to be a parent except that you have this slobbering ball of drool and mucous that wants you to hold them all the time.

People without children will be the first to tell you "Stay home!" or "You have to make sacrifices when you have kids." I have made make sacrifices. Lots of them. I haven't had my body not be carrying or feeding a child in 3 years (except for 3 months). I haven't been to a baseball game in 2 years because I can't bring my son and I haven't been able to find a sitter when we wanted to go because they were going to the game. I haven't been able to travel as often as I'd like without having to worry about all the logistics. I haven't been able to sleep in just as long. Do not tell me I can't take my child to a child-friendly restaurant. I have the right to not have to cook for ONE night!

When you get married, you lose some of your single friends because "you've changed" and you must now consult with your new husband about your plans for the weekend/night. When you have children, you lose some of your childless friends because "you've changed" and you must now plan your get togethers around naps, babysitters, and schedules. The childless don't understand the ins and outs of parenthood and they won't until they become parents themselves. It's the way the world works.

I understand both sides, I really do. My husband used to be that childless guy that would say "What's wrong with that parent for doing this or that?" While I always would say "Give them a break. It's hard keeping an 18 month old entertained." Then again, I was also the person that didn't think having a baby was going to be bon bons and butterflies. Sure, it's easy to judge the kid's parents, but we don't know the temperament of the child or what that child needs to be happy, if anything. I admit, I like to see that the parents are at least trying to keep their kid quiet, but I understand that at a certain point parents learn to tune out the annoyances. I am positive that it's a self preservation mechanism otherwise the parents might decide it's a better idea to eat their young.

So childless people of the world....what would you like for us parents to do? Get out of the house to maintain our sanity, or lose our minds and eat our young to get through the day?

Discuss with us at Mothers' Hideaway today!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Who I was yesterday, who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow.

I was talking to my sister on the phone today. She's 2.5 years younger than me and living a life completely opposite of mine. She lives in sunny California, I'm in windy Chicago. She's single, I'm married. She has no children, I have two. She works as a supervisor in a bank, I stay at home with my kids. We're at completely different stages of our lives, but I am so proud of her.

You see, my parents typecasted us as kids (more about this at a later date) and predetermined our futures for us based on who they believed we were. I was smarter than average, she was average. I was quieter, she was social. I was a leader, she was a follower. I would be the successful career woman, she would be the stay at home mom. I would marry a passive guy, she would marry a strong man. I hated this as a kid. Passionately despised it. I knew I didn't want to be a career woman. I knew I didn't want a passive guy. I knew my sister was more than they gave her credit. I was sure of it, but.....I went to school. I had a career. I dated those passive guys. I was exactly who they wanted me to be.

When we were young I pushed my sister to be something more. I told her she could do whatever she dreamed of doing. I told her she could be whoever she wanted to be. I told her she was smart and she would succeed. And she has. She followed what my parents said at first. She didn't believe in herself and couldn't focus on school or life. It took her a while and a path less than traditional, but she's there. She's successful and happy, and everything my parents thought she wouldn't be. In fact, my mom constantly says "Who would have thought? You're the stay at home mom and she's the career woman." I'll tell you what, Mom, I thought it.

Anyways, back to the original point. My sister and I were talking about how funny life turns out. How we've ended up completely opposite of what our parents had destined us to be. How we have changed so much in the last few years. My sister has matured in how she deals with men. I've changed in how I see my life. We've had big life changes. We've had small ones, too. Yet, we agreed that one thing remains the same....

We're not who we were yesterday and tomorrow we won't be who we are today.

People change. Daily. It may be seemingly insignificant small changes or sometimes we have huge life changes and that alters us in more visible ways, whether they be bad or good. But the bottom line is....we change. If we're doing something right we change because that means we're able to adapt to our lives. We adapt to being single or married. We adapt to new jobs and new homes. We adapt to new people and new friends. We adapt to becoming parents. We adapt to our environments. That's what makes us survive. We grow comfortable in our skins only to have them shed and change as our world changes. We know who we are based on who we were. We can only hope to become someone better.

I'm not who I was yesterday, and tomorrow I won't be who I am today. I hope to be someone better by all accounts.

How about you? Tell us today at Mothers' Hideaway.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Is marriage easy?

I read something today that irritated me. Someone said it's not true that marriages are hard. That they're easy, breezy, beautiful, and natural. That many, many women are happy wives.

I call bull.

I love my husband. I do. But our relationship isn't always easy, breezy, beautiful. It's hard. There are moments that I love him with all of my heart and loving him comes naturally. I can't get enough of him and the thought of him going to work makes me sad because I'll miss him. There are also the moments where I can't stand him. I want to run away and avoid him at all costs. I dread (yes, I said dread) when he comes home from work because I just don't want to deal with him.

Love is work. Plain and simple.

I don't know anyone that loves going to work everyday. That when they wake up to the sound of their alarm they jump out of bed excited and ready to conquer what lies ahead at their job every. single. day. Sure, there are moments; moments of accomplishment, recognition, success. There are also moments of grueling hours, demands, unsuccessful encounters, and inter office drama (or was that just mine?). During those periods that snooze button seems so much more alluring.

The difference between work and marriage is one you can change with a simple two week notice....the other you made a promise to stay for better or for worse. Inevitably, we usually try not to get fired from either job and try to dodge the pink slip.

Statistics show that 50% of marriages result in divorce. Clearly, those aren't happy marriages. What about those that are still married?? Are they all happy? I don't imagine so. There are the marriages where the unhappy spouse stays for "the kids" or money's just easier. Finally, there are those that are really, truly, happy. Although, it's really hard for me to swallow that these people are always happy and that conflict never enters the relationship.

Maybe I'm just jaded.

I've been with my husband for over eight years. We've been married for over six of those. We were young when we were married and life looked glamorous, wonderful, and we were invincible as individuals and as a couple. Now, we're older, have two young children, I have a chronic health issue, and he has a high demanding job (read: high stress, long hours). Life gets in the way of "us" and "we" get in the way of life. It makes sense in some warped way. The trick is to remember that marriage is work. You're not always happy at work, but you still trek through it because don't want that pink slip.

I am not always a happy wife. I'm not always an unhappy wife. I'm just a wife...and mother...and friend...and chauffeur....and housekeeper....and milk factory....and cook.....and entertainer....and psychologist.....and social worker ...and... and.......

Is marriage easy? Tell us what you think today at Mothers' Hideaway and join our discussion here!