Monday, March 9, 2009

Don't read this...I'll just confuse you

Okay, I've been noticing that several of my favorite blog goddesses are having trouble coming up with things to write about. I so cannot relate right now. I have more things to say than I can coherently unravel from my jumbled mind. The problem with everything that is swirling around inside my brain is that much of what is plaguing me is a small detail of a larger problem. Therefore I have been refraining from trying to put words to what is bothering me, but, I think my head may just explode if I don't, so I'm going to try. To avoid confusion (yours) and embarrassment (mine) if you are reading this you may wish to tune out now.

It was brought to my attention in a rather abrupt way, like while doing 70mph and trying to merge from one interstate to another, that EVERYTHING I own is broken and only half works, which is a constant source of frustration and stress for me. The bad ignition switch in my truck is a fine and rather expensive example. The steamer I used to clean my kids' carpet this weekend is another. The handle falls off, so in order to dispense the shampoo, the operator must exert ten times the amount of effort that is supposed to be necessary to use it. The modem for my computer is a third. While my stepson was watching the kids the other weekend, their wrestling match apparently ended with someone hitting the computer desk. The modem fell, broke, whatever. Instead of telling me, they hit the a/c adaptor with a hammer got it working and left me wondering why my connection was so crappy until guilt got the better of BB and he confessed. These are three examples of a trend in my life. Shit breaks, but, doesn't get fixed because it is by itself a small annoyance, a barely perceptible time/energy suck. However, when EVERYTHING in your life is in this same state of not BROKEN but not right limbo...the combination is overwhelming and defeating. Like you cry because your can opener has to be jerry-rigged back together after each and every can you open. Worth tears? No. If anyone else has been there, they probably know what I mean though.

BB's never ending, ongoing saga of slacking off at school. I am so tired of being tired of dealing with teachers/admin/guidance counselors/etc and begging for them to help me stay on top of him so he doesn't fall behind. He has two teachers. One teacher was concerned with his absences (this cold/flu season has so been hell) because she has already been fighting to get him to keep up with his work. She contacted me, with her sitting on BB at school and me cracking the whip at home, we got him 100% caught up in two days. Whew! The other teacher sent home a list of what he hasn't done for the last six weeks. OMG!!! The vast majority of it was classwork from when he was PRESENT. It took us five days of me neglecting the other kids and my home and him crying and begging for mercy...with us working non stop to get his work done. Excuse me, but, what the hell is she doing in school when he isn't working? Six weeks worth of shit. Really.

My parents. I love my parents. My kids love my parents. There is however a total lack of understanding between us. The biggest issue is BB. I hate the way they interfere with BB. I ground him from games, they send him a new one. They even sent it to Nana's house so she would give it to him and I wouldn't censor it straight from the mailbox. They tell him that he can come visit over the school holiday if he does all of his work and doesn't fall behind...they told him this to motivate him (or so they tell me)...of course, now that he has fallen behind they want to amend that agreement to 'brings his grades up' before the break. Then, they fail to understand why I ask them not to help. Number one, it is ultimately my decision if he goes or not. Therefore, it is not terribly practical to make promises on my behalf to try and force my arm on the issue. Number two, if you tell him that blank is the reward for good behavior and blank is the consequence of bad behavior, and then you always alter your expectations so that he can get the reward...he learns nothing...and we all look like idiots in my son's eyes. When I try explaining this to them...well that really will fill a whole post. So, for now I'll just say that break starts at the end of the month. They want him to come, and my mother is particularly persistent because of her health in wanting him to go. On one hand I would be devastated if something happened to my mom and I was the reason they couldn't share one last visit, on the other, she has without exaggeration on my part, been telling me for 25 years that she was dying. It is kind of hard to take her seriously when she adds, "for real this time," at least twice a year.

My kids are total slackers. I am a total slacker at heart. If all five kids produce laundry, make messes, and need to be fed...and I am only one person washing, cleaning, and cooking...mathematically it is impossible for me to keep up with all of their needs if they aren't doing their part. The reality is that I am totally stressed and tired out. I require my kids to pick up their own toys, walk the dogs twice a day, put their dirty laundry in the hamper, pour dog and cat food into bowls, and listen to me. They on the other hand bitch and moan to my parents who call me and say things like, "expecting an 11 year to hold a baby while you do whatever is child abuse you know." Riiiight...must have been why I was babysitting at 11. Frankly, I see nothing wrong with my 11 year old, who is my size, holding his sister so that I can pull a pan out of the oven. Beats the hell out of me burning the baby and all of us skipping dinner in favor of a trip to the emergency room. I also see nothing wrong with the kids cleaning up after themselves. I was an *only child* my half sisters had already moved out before I was born. So, I guess as a SAHM to one, my mother could do all the work and live to tell the tale. I have five, at least for now, and I cannot wipe their tushes for them and spend all day following them around with paper towels, a spray bottle, and a trash bag. The kids have to pull their own weight. When I point this out to my mother, she loves to tell me that *I was the the one to have five kids* and of course she is right. One of the reasons I have a big family, was that my growing up years were great, but, I was always jealous of my dad and his brothers and sisters (he is one of 8) at family gatherings. I want my kids to know what it is like to be part of a big family, and I want them to learn to do things for themselves. One of the reasons I am such a sucktastic housekeeper is because I never had to do anything for myself (like ever honestly) and frankly it is a real bummer to clean up after myself. I don't want my kids to grow up with that attitude, it is darn hard to overcome, and I'll let you know if I ever do. I was also a pretty lonely kid, but I am surely not a lonely Mommy. I would never go back and do it any other way. I like my family and being 'the Mama' to these awesome kids too much to change anything...but, I would love to have them help more with chores. I can have both right? It is okay to love my family, but still see room for improvement...right?

Okay, I think I feel better. At least I feel more cheerful and am actually thinking about cleaning out my lame duck truck and letting my H and TLL soak up some sun while I do it.


  1. Oh, I am so there, right down to the can opener! I am easily overwhelmed and having so many things not working properly is driving me crazy.

    I think it's healthy for kids to help care for younger siblings, and to do things around the house.

  2. I am right there as well with all the half broken, but working well enough to not fix right this minute stuff.
    I struggle to keep up with three kids plus the hubby. I can imagine your struggle with 5. There is nothing wrong with asking the kids to pitch in.

  3. Viv, far from being confused, the entire post makes perfect sense. Almost everything you wrote is a page from my book too. You are not alone! I wish I had answers...maybe there are some out there.

    I think having kids help out A LOT around the house is actually a gift to them. One they bitch and moan about, to be sure, but I am trying to turn around the diesel truck that is my habit of doing too much stuff while they don't do enough, and I know how hard it is. Let's figure out how to do this and then publish a book about it!

    :) Monica