Saturday, August 24, 2013

If I wrote a book...

I'd have no problem coming up with the title.  It'd be something like: I Am That Mom (It Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time! Don't Judge).  

I see it and hear about it all the time: moms judging other moms.  The truth is, whether you're a mom or not, you don't know the whole side of the story.  This, really, applies to everything/everyone in life, but I think motherhood has influenced my perspective on this issue the most.
Mirabel loves watching Disney princess movies right now.  Though she will always be my little princess, I'm not going to lie...of all the Disney characters I know of, she resembles Mowgli from the Jungle Book the most.  This kid is something else.  When she gets home, she likes to strip off all her clothing, except her underwear (but she usually requests a new pair about 3 times a day).  Then she begins to scream about her hair.  If the pigtails aren't snugly glued to her head (not literally, but she hates when they start to slip), the screaming begins.  I'm not exaggerating.  In fact, I believe saying she screams puts it lightly.  It's an ear piercing cry that sounds a whole lot like what you'd hear out in the wild: it's the sound of a suffering animal giving its final cry, after it's been ripped apart by a ruthless beast.  Yes, this happens on the daily, multiple times.

So, of course, when it's too hot to go to the park (triple digits out), I try to find something fun to do indoors.  Fun is probably not the word I should use.  Entertaining and fun aren't the same thing, I've learned, at least not for all parties involved.  A clever idea of mine: I know, why don't I take my kids to the LIBRARY?!  Yes, because, given the fact that even my youngest prefers to spend time playing/rolling/bathing in the dirt (or eating it) buck naked (or with just a diaper on), I can't imagine why the kiddos wouldn't want to quietly cuddle up and read a beautifully illustrated book with more words than a Charles Dickens novel (why are all children's books so lengthy!!!!  Ok, maybe getting thru one page doesn't really take an eternity...) 

Sometimes we actually go to the library to check out a book.  I've given that a break.  For some reason or another, these books usually get trapped/lost in random places, like between the bed and the wall (proof that my kid enjoys "reading" during her naptime, when I'm not in the room--of course she's quiet and still when I'm not around).  Then, when due date comes around, I can't find it... and chances are, despite the fact that I've had the book in my possession for a month, we've only gotten thru half (or the Cliff's notes version: I read two lines and silently read the rest to myself, then quickly summarize it in the most dramatic way possible, to keep them engaged for 5 seconds, or less.)

So keep this in mind when reading the following:
A few young boys enter the library around the same time we do.  Then, we pass by another kid who kindly asks his mother if he can borrow a movie, the mother responds by saying, "No, we're getting books, we have plenty of movies at home."  I walk by holding not just 1, but 3 movies, because we don't own any Disney movies (and when I need a break from the screaming, I put on a movie...but why do I need to explain myself.  Oh wait!  I don't.)  Mirabel approaches this family with her beloved Ariel movie en tow.  She's the most outgoing kid in the bunch, and, thankfully, doesn't care what anyone thinks of her movie-watching (I could stand to learn a thing or two from this kid).  

After introducing herself to the family, she makes her way to the pile of giant stuffed animals in the children's section, where the boys we entered the library with are jumping/rolling around.  Mirabel joins in on the fun, and why not?  Man, I should've too.  Instead, I scurry around the early readers section, trying to quickly find a book with a theme Mirabel will appreciate, realizing this book is more for me than my kids.  Meanwhile, Juliette is climbing chairs in an effort to reach the tabletop, since that's the most dangerously exciting thing she can do in that part of the library at the moment.  Two minutes pass, and I decide it's time to leave (we're heading to the Toybrary after this, because going to one library wasn't enough. ;)  Thankfully, we get out of there without any tears.  Success!  (It's the little things that make you smile, really.)  Leaving without tears is progress, yesssss!!!!

So, we head to the Toybrary for a Teddy Bear Tea Party!  Mirabel decides she wants to bring her naked barbie along instead of her bear (I think Mirabel would prefer to attend without clothing, too, but I convince her that we aren't attending a tea party at a commune.  I can't blame her, I want to strip down when it's 1,000 degrees too.)  Before the tea party begins, kids from various ages gather around to play in this colorful indoor space which is really set up to test their sharing skills.  We have a few frustrating moments, involving a certain broom (yes, a broom, I've trained my kid well; she loves being domestic already!  Heck yeah!).  A certain toddler about a year younger than Mirabel is convinced he needs this broom to survive.  A tantrum begins, and this time it's not my kid, though I empathize with the mother because it looks like that mom has a Mowgli of her own.  I pull Mirabel aside and explain to her that the little boy is younger than her, and that she should share the broom with him because he is sad.  She walks over to the boy and hands him the broom!  Holy smokes, a miracle!!!!  Suddenly, my hearing returns in spite of all the screaming fits that took place that week, and I feel like a rockstar!  Heck yes.  Mom walks over to me, and gives me props, saying, "Your daughter is so sweet!".  I ignore her for a few seconds while I dust the dirt off my shoulders, and then I say, "It took us awhile to get here, but thank you."  I hope she's encouraged, too, because it takes time...  And a lot of tears, from everyone.

Then, not long after that, when the story begins, one of my kids climbs onto the stage while the other one pulls up a chair and begins climbing onto the shop owner's desk, while very loudly begging her to open the door to the other playroom.  Of course, both of the moms I'm next to (actually, all the mothers in the room) have these quiet little girls sitting peacefully beside them with these elaborate lunches before them (the crusty ends of a smashed peanut butter and honey sandwich, what I whipped together while one kid was crying and the other was asking a million questions, are hiding in the lunch bag I brought along).  They don't speak above a whisper, I think, or maybe my hearing is going again because all I hear are my oldest's deafening screams?  This time, leaving is a struggle.  I try to use my superhero mom multitasking skills to find a way to fly out the door while carrying two flailing, fussy children.  But somehow, thankfully, the tantrum only lasts 15 seconds.  Then, the battle is over and we head to the grocery store, our other favorite hangout.  It's air conditioned, right?! 

 A few more dramatic moments and then we begin slowing down for the afternoon.  Somehow, we end up outside without much clothing on again (I still have mine on, because it's a good day).  My children are angels outdoors.  I cannot tell you what peace they have about them when they're covered in dirt and sunshine.  I text Jose and tell him that we need to start saving up to move to a farm with acres of land, because that would easily solve all our problems, right? :)  Then, we watch Mulan.  

It's a good day; I've learned to get over it, or I'm learning.  And it's not just about learning to get over the tantrums, those are inevitably going to happen at this age.  So are the judgey looks and the "words of advice" from random people who think they've got it figured out--the folks who are convinced their children behave in all circumstances because they are stellar parents--as if they really have something to do with it at their children's tender age of 2 or 3.  But what they don't have figured out is the obvious: we are all born with certain strengths and weaknesses.  We all come out screaming.  Hopefully, if we're lucky, we're tossed into the loving arms of the clueless creatures we call parents.  Hopefully, they love us and want the best for us, because everyone deserves that much.  Just because my children watch Disney movies doesn't mean they will amount to nothing but Cheeto-eating (or sponge-chewing, if your name is Juju) couch poatoes with an IQ of 5, or that they will never appreciate a good book.  Somehow, her parents came out ok ;).

The truth is, there's something we can all learn from each other.  I learn something from my little Mowgli's every day.  In the wise words of another beloved Disney character, Pinocchio, "Always let your conscience be your guide."  As a parent, instead of worrying about what other parents think of you, ask yourself what influences your conscience, or rather, who.  I seek to follow in the footsteps of the ultimate Father.  I've lost my way many times, but He still helps me out even when I'm kicking and screaming.  I owe my children that much.  I'm still learning, too, because it never stops.  

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