Sunday, May 30, 2010


Before my son was born, I read a lot about being a parent. I knew I had no clue what to expect, so the book that offered to tell me What to Expect was appealing. I also read a number of baby websites in hopes that I would not be a completely clueless parent. Well, that helped about as much as you might expect.

One of the things that most sources stressed is to be consistent with your children. Consistency helps them learn what to do and what not to do. It is an effective tool in the discipline tool box. I have discovered this to be very true in my brief 4 1/2 year tenure as a parent. Consistency helps breed least sort of.

I think I'm starting to understand why. Now for a radical left turn...

I am also completing my degree in psychology (as I have previously mentioned). Part of the requirement for this degree is writing a number of research papers. I'm not a half bad writer, so I'm fine with this (how some of the people made it to this point in college with their piss poor writing ability is beyond me...there are people who cannot even write a clear sentence in my class. WTF.) We are supposed to use a certain format (APA for those who might be curious) when we write our papers; however, it seems that the teachers have not gotten the memo that it is a standardized format...which means that it should be the same format from one class to the next. Consistent, right?

Every teacher I've had for the last 3 or 4 classes in a row (there have been more, but not in a row) has a different idea of what this format should be. The last one contradicted herself from one paper to the next (I think she just didn't like me). Now, how am I supposed to write a "correct" paper if the standard keeps changing? The school provides a template, but the teachers don't seem to follow it. Again, WTF. Please, teachers, don't make a rule for me to follow & then change it or disregard it just to make me wrong. If it's a rule, then it's a rule & you should be following just like I do, dammit.

Nonetheless, this experience has taught me 2 things (related to consistency). 1. I understand why it's needed & why my kids behave better if I use it. And 2. Inconsistency pisses me off.

I'm so sick of being in school.

But, I guess I can't say it hasn't been educational, right?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When do I worry?

Does anyone else ever stress about the kind of person your kid(s) will grow into? My kids sometimes do things that worry me, and I wonder if they are doing normal kid stuff or if these traits are something that will eventually be problematic.

My son's father (dirtbag alcoholic who abandoned us pretty much immediately upon learning I was pregnant) has a number of annoying traits about him, a couple of which I see in my son. One is the need to tease, harass, & otherwise make fun of other people well beyond the point that is funny or even nice. Granted, my son is a 4-year-old boy, so I expect some of that is normal. But at what point should I become concerned?

Conveniently (or perhaps inconveniently) enough, I'm a psych major, just about to (finally) graduate (thank GOD). Based on a lot of the research I've been doing over the last couple of years, plus some good ol' observation of my kids, I've come to the conclusion that (in my opinion) nature wins the nature vs. nurture battle (to heck with Watson & his dozen healthy infants...). I firmly believe that there is a lot that is hardwired into the brain, more so than many people realize (not that I'm an expert, I just don't think many non-psych folk ponder it much...).

I think environment plays a big part in how traits manifest themselves, but the traits are already there. My son exhibits mannerisms, gestures, expressions, etc that come from his father. Being that he does not know or spend any time with his father (again, thank GOD), he cannot possibly have learned any of these from his father.

So, that being said, there are traits in there that are just there. Nothing I can do about wiring. Likewise, there's wiring in there from me, my parents, their parents, etc. So who knows how he's actually put together. All I can do is provide what I hope is a positive environment & hope for the best, I suppose. Nonetheless, my hope is to rear a child who grows into a quality man...& not the mean, dirtbag alcoholic* that (1/2) created him.

I'm probably just worried about nothing, but I don't know what the hell I'm doing with this whole parent thing & I get a little freaked out sometimes...

*We'll save the "why on earth were you seeing a mean, dirtbag alcoholic" issue for another time. Suffice it to say, sometimes you realize a lot of things in hindsight...and sometimes you just do dumb shit. Let's leave it at that for now. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Look Mommy!

So, I took the kids grocery shopping on Monday. This was not one of my better ideas. I only went to procure some of the pork chops & boneless chicken breasts that were allegedly on sale. I say allegedly, because despite arriving at the store less than 24 hours after the ad ran, there was no sign of pork chops or boneless chicken breasts. Well, there was that 1 bloated pack of chicken, but it wasn't the sale kind. That one was full price.

Kids were good for about the first 10 minutes...after that, well, let's just say they didn't get that McDonald's they were trying to pitch me on the way to the store. "I'll think about it" rates up there with "because I said so" in my parenting lingo. Two things I hated hearing as a child....and I am disgusted hearing them come out of my mouth...but, dammit if they aren't helpful with nagging kids that don't accept the unabridged answer the first 3 times you give it to them.

Although the grocery store trip was mostly a bust, I did get one good chuckle out of the debacle. As we are tooling around the grocery store, my son discovers one of his very most favoritest things & feels the need to inform me of his discovery.

"Look mommy! Balls! I like balls! Blue balls are my favorite! I like blue balls!"


I'm saving this story for later in his life. This one will compliment the Dog Poo Incident nicely....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Look

There are a few things that I remember striking fear into my heart as a child. One of them was "wait until your father gets home..." I use a variation of this, but it doesn't seem to have the same effect on my kids as it did on me. Perhaps this is because when my mother said that it meant "you are so getting your ass spanked when your dad gets home..." We don't spank our kids (for less than running into the road or other such dangerous offenses), so I think that might contribute to the lack of quivering fear observed when I drop the "daddy" bomb.

Another was the full name. If I heard my first and middle name, I knew there was trouble. The full legal name? The full legal name often lead into "wait until your father gets home..." which never ended well. This is one that we have not yet cultivated with our kids. Perhaps we should whip it out & see what happens. Always good to have an extra deterrent in the arsenal.

Then there was The Look. The Look is a wordless, soundless force to be reckoned with. The Look is developed over years of child rearing, being continually refined with every ridiculous transgression the children commit. The Look is the mute warning that legal names are coming soon, then we will be waiting for father to arrive. I'm pleased to say that I'm cultivating my Look well. It's not quite striking fear into the hearts of my children just yet, but it at least slows them down. My husband is even developing his own Look now that he is forced to work from home & do daddy day care. Of course, it's not as good as mine (at least that is what I tell myself. I'm the mommy, it's my job to wield The Look).

Hopefully I can refine the effectiveness of these skills. The electric cattle prod is frowned upon in most states, after all...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Joy of a Working Mommy

So, I'm totally supposed to be doing homework right now, but discipline be damned...

I'm mother to two kids - my 4-year-old son & my 5-year-old stepdaughter. We just got custody of my stepdaughter & it has been an adjustment. It's expensive to suddenly have a kid. At least when you get pregnant, there's a little prep-time (not that one can ever be adequately prepped for such a thing, but let's pretend).

Have I mentioned my babysitter? She is "family" so there are some serious pros & cons with that. There's a cost savings & a little higher level of accountability, but let's just say that there are strings attached. There is no dropping off children & going to work. There is the 20 minute diatribe on the transgressions of her mother, sister, father, husband, etc. that I seem to be unable to escape. I don't want to be a total bitch about it, she does have my kids, after all. But it seems anything short of just walking out the door mid-sentence will be completely ineffective.

She refuses to watch both children more than 1 day a week. It's just too much for her (yet my husband can work & watch both of them...granted, he's a little crabby, but it can be done). We otherwise have to alternate 1 kid with her & 1 with my husband & then both with my husband on Friday. We had to give her an extra day off to buy the 1 day of both kids so my husband can actually make a weekly appearance in the office (I can't work from home).

There is also a disparity in how she treats the kids. One can do no wrong (how did I never notice the rose-scented poo??) & the other is an unmanageable jerk who refuses to listen. Ever. This is according to her 20 minute after work diatribe detailing how put-upon she has been dealing with the terrible behavior.

Now, I have never experienced the unmanageable jerk-ness she describes. My husband has not experienced this either. Frankly, this behavior is an anomaly anywhere but with the babysitter. Perhaps it is not the child. No one likes to be talked to like they are a stupid piece of crap, have orders barked at them, and screamed at for every (normal, age-appropriate) transgression. Well maybe her husband does...the sex can't be that good...but I digress.

So, yeah, we're putting the "problem" child into preschool. To hell with that pesky savings plan. Really tho, I can't subject a child to that. No amount of saving money is worth that. What kind of parent would I be for letting that continue?

And for the record, I don't care that she hates her mother. She's just like her mother. And I'm about to choke the crap out of her for treating one of my kids the way she does.

There. I feel better now.

I really hope the kids do something funny and/or adorable soon. I've got too much stressy stuff to blog about. Perhaps I should have a conversation with them about that...

Thursday, May 20, 2010


After we moved to Maryland nearly 3 years ago, I got talked into returning to college by a very convincing enrollment counselor. After finishing my AA, I got talked into going for my bachelors by a less convincing continuing education advisor (he just freaked me out about my student loans & I rushed to keep going).

Now, I'm less than 5 months away from being done with my bachelors, up to my eyeballs in student loans, & somehow, I still don't know WTH to do with myself. Most of what I want to do takes a masters...but the kind of masters that requires internships & residencies. The ideal masters program strongly recommends that students not work more than 10 hours per week in addition to their coursework. If I could afford to only work 10 hours a week, I wouldn't be going for my masters, would I? I'd say that would be a pretty sweet deal. 10 hours a week. Pffft.

Am I the only one that finds this stupid? Perhaps.

At first, the research into a masters program was exhilarating. Now I'm just tired & my brain hurts. I haven't answered any questions, but have seriously freaked myself out about the feasibility of going for my masters. I made a choice to pursue more education to create more opportunities for myself...but just not quite enough education, apparently. Now I'm scared that I'm little better off than I was before, but much further in debt.

Ok, so a degree helps to get a job, but if it's not a fulfilling job, what's the point? I can get an unfulfilling job without the $35k in debt. I need more than just a paycheck, I need to feel as if I'm fulfilling my purpose in life. I'm not helping anyone with what I'm doing. It bores me to tears. But now I feel stuck. I can't get the education I need to do what I really want. I can't afford to pay back the loans on the education I just got. I've spent nearly 3 years getting here & feel like I'm no better off than I was to start with. I've missed out on time with my family, sleep, keeping my house in some semblance of order, & so many things I can't even list...& for what? To get a degree that's not enough to get me a job that will afford me the income to pay off the loans I racked up getting the damn degree in the first place.

Who is stupid here? >.<

I'm frustrated, angry, and want to cry. I'm trying futilely to hang on to my pride that I'm already a college graduate. That I'll have an undergraduate degree in a few months. I have more education than I ever thought I would. I thought at some point in this educational process I'd get some idea of what to do with it to fulfill my purpose...& I'm still in the same place I was when I started. Hell, I'm in the same place I was when I was 18 & starting community college wondering what the hell I'm going to do with myself. I've been searching for 14 years for the answer & it's just not coming to me. I've read, I've researched, I've conversed, I've learned...still nothing. I suppose one could argue I have 14 years of experience in knowing what I don't want to do.


Now what? I need to pay bills & I don't want to miss any more of the formative years of my children. Read: the years they still like me & want to be seen with me. Perhaps I should wait to "find my purpose" until they're attitudey teenagers that would rather streak through school than be seen with me. After all, by then, they will know everything & will no longer be in need of my archaic guidance. Perhaps that would be an appropriate time for boring old mom to dust off the walker, put the knitting down, & get her learn on.

My brain hurts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I think I'll move to Australia

Ever have one of those days where you just wake up pissed off. No good reason, just pissed off. That was my morning. I wasn't even mad when tiny dog #2 woke me up at 5 am nosing me for affection (ok, I actually woke up after she landed on my head as a result of my husband tossing her gently to the side after she first tried nosing him...). But, for some reason, when it was actually time to get up, I was just mad...moreso than the usual "dammit it's already morning" kind of mad.

Then I was irritated by something my husband did yesterday. Wasn't irritated by it yesterday, but today it became irritating. Then the dog begins yap yap yapping in her funny yet annoying smoker's bark. No one else is up yet, you loveable overgrown rat. Shut it. Upon letting the dog in, the cat went out & immediately took up residence under the porch. Fabulous. 20 minutes later, cat emerges having snacked on some mystery weeds & is now covered in cobwebs. Awesome.

This much silly little irritation should not be allowed before 7:30 in the morning. I think I'll move to Australia....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Anyone Else Bored?

Trying to decide what to think about today.

My husband is in mediation as I type to get custody of his daughter for the next year while her mother "gets her life together." We go back & forth about whether or not the "getting her life together" bit will actually happen (she is bipolar & prone to go off her meds, plus there's that pesky history of compulsive lying, cheating, manipulating, & sucking off the system among other things).

Adding a kid to the mix (especially a 5-year-old) is not particularly easy, but at least with the change in custody agreement, we'll know we're keeping her for a while, which helps with the ol' life planning bit...sometimes I think we're the only ones in our vicinity who does such things. Think before acting? Take care of what *needs* to be done? Evaluate problems logically instead of emotionally vindictively? Why would anyone want to do that? How boring.

I'm also bored with my job. Like I mentioned previously, I'm pretty decent at what I do. I really like my coworkers. I like what the company stands for, but it's not my passion. When I'm bored, I don't focus well. I will never love this enough to really know it & excel at it. I know I want to do something else, I just don't know what. I've been actively trying to figure that out (ok, *really* actively trying) for the past couple of weeks. I'm burned out on school & don't want to do anymore right now, but in order to "help people" & still "feed my family" I'll need a masters. Dammit, I don't want to do more school right now. How about sleeping, or cooking, or cleaning? Maybe even spend some time with my family??? I don't have enough energy to properly focus on anything & that just makes me grumpy...& no one likes that. I may have mentioned that before.

It's funny, but when I decided a couple of weeks ago that I am *definitely* not pursuing my life dream (I've tried to talk myself into doing this as a career because I don't like change), I've had a much harder time taking my work seriously. I'm going to have to do something about that. I'd prefer to choose the time & situation in which I change jobs/career paths. It may be a long while before I'm ready, so I'd prefer not to get my ass fired because I'm bored. Probably not the most practical path.

I also have some issue with my sciatic nerve. As I am prone to do, I Googled what was going on with my back & leg & have now diagnosed myself with Piriformis syndrome. Basically, a hip muscle is spasming & pissing off my sciatic nerve in the process. I know how this happened, but I'm trying to keep my blog PG-13, so we'll not discuss that. Nonetheless, I'd love to prescribe myself a nice potent muscle relaxer, too...

I've been having fun reading other blogs, too. There are some very amusing people out there. Perks up my day a bit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sill waiting on that instruction manual

Ok, this is going to be rudimentary at best until I get this figured out...but here it goes...some background on WTH am I doing?

I have been spending most of my adult life (& truthfully, many of my formative years) trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with myself. I am now in my mid-30s, a wife & mother, & I still have no idea. I'm discovering that the further I get in life, the less defined things become.

As a child, there are specific rules. This is what is ok, that is not. This is what you do, this is what you don't do. Things are pretty well mapped out for you through school, church, activities, etc. Oddly though, as the level of responsibility increases - fending for one's self - eating, roof over head, choosing relationships, rearing children - the specificity of direction seems to dramatically decrease. I realized this most pointedly when my son was born. I had no idea what to do with him, having no experience in any form with a baby. Nurses said I had to feed him, change him, etc, but no one told me *how* to do any of those things, or even offered any help. I'm no dummy & I know I can figure it out, but anyone who has ever tried to "wing it" with changing a diaper on a newborn or breastfeeding will know it's not as straightforward as it might sound...especially when you're exhausted, emotionally wound-up, & perhaps a little afraid.

After some reflection (I do this a lot, but results vary), I realized that most of my life feels this way. I don't know what to do with myself. I'm not fulfilled in my career. I never meant to have a "career." I expected to stay at home - do the wife/mother thing. For a number of reasons, that didn't happen. But now that "career" is in the "plan" it would be nice if it were somewhat on purpose, perhaps even a little satisfying. I'm good at most things I do (if I continue to really do badly at something, I'll quit doing it) & I learn quickly. So, I have fallen into several jobs that I do well, but don't enjoy. I've never been one of those people who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I've never had an answer to that question...& as I got older, became horribly jealous of those who did...and a little annoyed at myself for not being able to figure it out.

So, now that I have children, I honestly don't have the energy to muddle through a job that is mentally, physically, & emotionally draining. That just makes me grumpy & no one in my house benefits when I'm grumpy. Nor do they like it much. Besides, I want to set a different example for my kids.

We are going through a lot of change right now - kids starting school, etc, and I feel a very strong need to figure out WTH I'm supposed to be doing with myself. I believe everyone has a purpose. I know mine is to help people. Beyond that, I'm stumped...for a number of reasons...