Thanks for stopping by for another fun Saturday Playdate! Today we're playing with Vivienne from My Real Life Parenting. I had the pleasure of meeting Vivienne through Twitter when I tweeted that I was looking for someone to come over and play today. I checked out Vivienne's blog and after reading her About Me section, I knew that was a blog I wanted to follow. Vivienne's kids are much older than mine, so I can definitely learn a lot from her. She has over 16 years of experience of being a mom. She has four children ranging in age from 16 to 10, so you know there is always something for her to blog about!
When you're done here, make sure you stop by Vivienne's blog and read a few of her posts. If you're like me and have young kids, you will get a glimpse into what the future holds for us. Or if your kids are a little older, I'm sure you will be nodding your head in agreement.
Thankful for the Memories
By: Vivienne Borne
After visiting some of the other play dates, I guess I am coming from a different place and time. I am the nearly 41 year old mother of four. Three boys and a girl ages 16, 14, 12 and 10. My husband and I are on the cusp of celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary. Some days that is hard to believe - some days it isn’t. I have been a stay at home mother for 16 years, a homeschooling mother for 8 years and a part-time working mother for 5 years. I teach ballet multiple evenings a week and have started coaching high school cheerleading as well.
My time is certainly very precious as I am so busy, but through my entire life I have always written. Something of a passion for me – though amazingly therapeutic in nature. I started blogging this past summer after mustering up enough courage to put myself out there to be read and heard. Shockingly and soon after, I landed a writing job for a local magazine. During the past 6 months, I have interacted with wonderful people in the blogging community. I have also found myself criticized and my parenting analyzed by those online individuals that feel it is their duty to go out and tell everyone that posts anything online all they are doing wrong and should improve upon. Writing publicly has been bittersweet.
Insecurity is a problem for me. It's a HUGE problem for me. I've spent a lifetime worried what others think of me. Worried that I don't measure up somehow. Worried that I talk too much. Worried that I am doing something I have no business doing because obviously somebody else can do it much better than I can. Worried that someone doesn't like me. (Which if you think about it - is ridiculous - because do I like everybody?) Nonetheless, that's me. The worrier. Worried mostly that people will think I'm not worthy of their friendship or their effort or their time. Yes, I know what the Bible says about worrying. I worry about that too.
Becoming a mother put that much more pressure on my insecurity. There are so many ways to do so many things with a plethora of choices to make down the road of parenthood. The past 16 years have presented themselves with many challenges. All mothers want to make the “right” choice – it’s just the continual debate over what the “right” one may be. I remember when we moved into our community and my oldest son was 4, my second son was 2 and my 3rd son was about 1 month old. I would take the boys to the playground in our neighborhood and I was bombarded with concerns from the neighborhood mothers that I had not yet enrolled my 4 year old in preschool. To hear them talk, he was destined to be a complete loser and would forever be behind. They informed me that I would have to “camp out” in the church parking lot the night before to secure my son’s preschool registration. I was horrified by all of it. I just wanted to be home with my children. They were so young – why did they have to leave me so soon?
Boy, have I learned a lot since then. If I could go back and do it over I would do it differently. Not necessarily the choices that I made – but the way I felt and reacted. The way I dealt with people. The insecurity that I allowed to rule me – I would do away with. I wouldn’t question myself again. I would follow my gut instinct every time and not be swayed by public opinion or the masses of mommies. But alas, hindsight is 20/20.
I have now embarked upon the most grueling, challenging and heartbreaking stage of motherhood that I have encountered. I have teenagers. Several of them. Make no mistake – this is difficult. When I think back to the days when my children were all younger, I didn’t appreciate what I actually had. I was busy wondering when I would shower, complaining that I couldn’t wait for the next childhood stage, dreamt of every child being toilet trained, missed eating out in nice restaurants, dates with my husband, uninterrupted sex, and I wanted to wear nice clothes that I didn’t worry about vomit episodes over my shoulder. I wanted time for myself. Time to go to the bathroom without someone on the other side of the door pounding or crying. Time to fix myself a decent dinner, not scarfing down leftover chicken nuggets or spooning applesauce into my own mouth after the baby’s. I wanted time to read a book other than Goodnight Moon or If You Give a Pig a Pancake. Time to take a nap without a restless toddler digging his feet into my ribcage next to me. Time to clean the house without someone walking behind me spilling Cheerios and Goldfish all over the floor and stomping happily in them.
Those days are long gone. What I didn’t know back then was those were the really good times. Every young mother hears everyone tell her those words but we don’t listen. We don’t hear that sweet grandmother in the grocery store tell us how much we should treasure that precious pumpkin sitting in the cart. Why don’t we hear her? Mostly because we just spent 2 hours racing through that store forgetting most items on our list, to constantly feed lollipops, fruit snacks and American cheese from the deli to that child to keep him from trying to stand up in the cart with his arched back, screaming and crying to the point of choking and gagging and eventually vomiting in the midst of our shopping. We just can’t get our brains around the words that this is a wonderful time. Gee, I wonder why.
But I can look back now and tell you I miss those days. Well, maybe not those grocery store trips, but at least that time in my life. We were happy and healthy. We all got along. I was the Pied Piper – they were eager and willing. There was unconditional love on a two way street. All for one and one for all. With teenagers, it’s not like that. It is at this stage in my life that I have learned how incredibly stupid I truly am. I don’t understand anything and I never will. And for goodness sakes, I am the only parent who ever does or says anything like that. NOBODY else’s parents are like me. I am completely embarrassing and utterly humiliating. Everything I ask them to do is ridiculous and obviously way too much effort. Why can’t I be like everyone else’s mother?
For the past 16 years, I have taken my children to the pediatrician office and hanging on her wall is a plaque that reads:
For 16 years I sat right beside that plaque in that little chair. I read those words and each time I thought – “Not my kids. Besides I’m a cool mom.” But a couple of years ago I was sitting in that little room, upon my little chair – I glanced up to that sign and knew...
I was wrong. It happens to all kids (even mine) and once they were teens – no moms are cool – even me. I suppose that is the design of adolescence. So most of my writing these days is devoted to the experiences that come with raising teens. The good. The bad. And the ugly. Don’t get me wrong there is definitely “good” – but generally not enough to counter the daily “ugly.” Sometimes they still inspire me to write something sweet about them – but I struggle. My mother once told me that you go through stages where you love your child, but frankly you don’t like them very much. I have found this to be true at times with my teens. I will always love them from the bottom of my soul – but there are moments I look at them and think, who are you and what have you done with my kid? Writing about it is helpful because it feels great to hear that another mother is going through the same thing. Every mother appreciates a healthy dose of validation.
Because I had scheduled this play date right after Thanksgiving – I thought it was important that I find something that I was thankful for and to write about that. I have watched Twitter and my Facebook blow up with everyone’s thankful statements. I read them and waited to be inspired. I try to dig really deep – to find something wonderfully blissful to write. But sometimes that just isn’t real life. The teenagers are home on vacation today with their attitudes and arguments so I found myself challenged to write about thankfulness today. I am all about being real and telling it like it is…thus My Real Life Parenting blog was born.
As a mother and a blogger I am inspired by my emotions. I realize our lives could be extremely challenged with some sort of health or financial issue. But we’re not. We are very blessed. I know there are so many out there that are facing such difficulties that I probably don’t have a right to feel discouraged. But I’m just going to confess -everything tends to get a bit clouded – even jaded – when they are in their adolescent funks with their long faces moping around the house wanting nothing more than to be out of the house. There are times it is simply painful.
Forgive me for not having the warm fuzzies at the Thanksgiving table tomorrow. While I love my mother and father dearly and am looking forward to spending the holiday with them as well as my brother and sister-in-law, it does stink when you have to suck it up and pretend to be a happy family when at the present moment it is tense at best.
The best I can do is tell you that I am so thankful that my teenagers were once babies, toddlers, preschoolers and little elementary schoolers with cherub faces. I need those memories now more than ever. They are what I hold onto when my 9th grade son looks into my eyes and tells me that I couldn’t possibly help him with his homework because it is too difficult for me since I didn’t finish college and I couldn’t possibly understand. When every fiber of my being wants to run into my bedroom and cry- heartbroken by those words and the malice with which they were said, I now unequivocally realize that God gave me the capability of remembering when that same child put his sticky popsicle hands on my face to give me butterfly kisses with his eyelashes while we would swing on the swingset on a hot July summer evening and tell me that I was the best mommy in the world because I sang “You Are My Sunshine” with him.
Today I am thankful for that memory. I’m sure I’ll remember something else tomorrow too. So for the young, new mom’s out there – that is what you are doing right now. While it is a trying time in your life – it really is glorious. You are squirreling away dozens of memories to help you survive adolescence. It doesn’t matter that you are stressed out right now – you won’t remember that part…trust me. :-)
Please visit me at My Real Life Parenting for my family stories. Visit me at My Real Life Parenting on Facebook to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you – well as long as you aren’t going to criticize me for my parenting tactics. :-)
Thanks for stopping by for our playdate! I hope you had fun! If you would like to come over for a playdate, let me know in a comment or an email.