addicted to no

Saying yes is hard. Really hard. It’s no wonder that “no” is one of the first words spouted by infants everywhere because it’s literally all they ever hear. Sure, many of the “no’s” we as parents are throwing around have more to do with fostering a safe, injury-free environment for our youngsters than with our general closed-mindedness, but the negativity flourishes even in our rare child-free hours as I will soon exhibit.

In my nearly two weeks of experimenting with saying yes I’ve done little more than create a heightened awareness of all my nay-saying. I can think of only one specific case where I turned a “no” into a “yes” and it was at the suggestion that we take our kids to a (gasp!) public restaurant for dinner. A sit-down restaurant, with real servers and lots of other grown-ups (read: not McDonald’s Play Place). Sean has a much greater tolerance for putting our children in front of the world at large than I do. I prefer to keep them confined to our home or at least to a park where there is certain to be one other child behaving more irrationally than mine. My first response was, of course, “no,” but with a smirk and an eyebrow raise from Sean I quickly recovered and flipped that “no” on its head and into a convincing “okay…um, sure…really?…alright, fine, let’s do it.” And that’s how I ended up at the Texas Roadhouse with my entire flock (Stop judging, Chicagoans, these are the dining options I’m faced with in Colorado Springs, okay? Also the ribs are amazing and you know it.). I’m happy to report that K & K put my negativity to shame! Granted they were stunned into submission at the fact that they were allowed and even encouraged to throw peanut shells on the floor, but nonetheless it was a family breakthrough in the dining out department. Dare I say, I actually enjoyed myself.

Where I find myself struggling the most is not in agreeing to things I would otherwise have disagreed with, but in my overall resistance to and judgment of people, places and experiences. I tend to create snap judgments and find myself unable to back up and reassess the situation more openly. This is especially true when it comes to people that I just don’t like. For example, I’m currently signed up for a 5-week yogi training that has about 15 students and 3 coaches in the group. Due to the negative judgments I’ve made about a particular individual in my class, I now find myself unable to learn from and collaborate with this person. In fact, the judgments keep piling up. The irony of this as it relates to “the path of a yogi” is not lost on me. A part of me knows that the answer to my dilemma lies in powering through the negativity and getting to know this person on a deeper level so that I can better relate to them or at least be able to approach the relationship from a more compassionate place. Uh huh. The bigger part of me still thinks this sounds like a pretty shitty idea. Do I have to like everyone? Does my personality have to “say yes” to every other personality out there? What if the person, in addition to sucking overall, has toxic breath? Do I get a pass then? Ugh…I knew this was going to be way harder than going phone-free.

I’m nowhere closer to letting go of my expectations of how things should go either. This became evident over Mother’s Day weekend. After having corrective eye surgery on Friday, I expected to be mostly blind and bedridden for the majority of the weekend, thus having no real plans in place. As it turned out, I was more than a little bit functional post-op and this completely threw me for a loop. Most of you are probably out there going, “but your surgery went better than expected, isn’t that a good thing?” Not when you have a crippling addiction to making and having plans. And when Plan B involving a babysitter on Saturday night fell apart due to the weather, you can imagine what that did to my mindset. I actually lost my mind altogether, and by Sunday was either crying or in a sleeping pill-induced coma. Happy Mother’s Day! By Monday I had realized what an insane person I was and would now like to publicly apologize to my husband and children. That being said, I’m not even sure how I begin to change the part of myself that doesn’t like to roll with the punches. How do I say yes to unexpected change? Or at the very least, not let it ruin my weekend? Some people, even some mothers I dare say, embrace changes to their best laid plans gracefully. If anyone out there has a 12-step program for my special type of addiction, or hell, even an article you think I should read, bring it on.

Here’s to the next two weeks of saying no…I mean, yes. 🙂

2015 tribute to my offspring

In October of 2013 I dedicated one of my blog posts to the two most dynamic people in my life – Kellan Robert and Kathryn Blake O’Malley. My intent was to write a similar post once a year so that I (and they) can reflect back on the immense changes in their lives and personalities over the span of their adolescence. Just the other day I realized I had completely forgotten to write one in 2014. Well ironically enough, I blame it on the fact that I am a mother of two toddlers. ‘Nuff said.

In the last year and a half, K & K have completely dis-proven the theory of the “Terrible Twos.” It was instead right at that 3-year mark when each child in his or her own right brought forth the hell fire that now has us questioning on a semi-regular basis what on Earth we were thinking when we decided to become parents. Except for when they aren’t in the room and both parents are drinking – then we might briefly go down that “what about just one more? wouldn’t it be nice to have more grand-children?” road. Inevitably, though, one or both children reenter the scene, a shit storm ensues and the conversation turns instead toward vasectomies. Kellan’s third year was a shock to our system – he was stubborn, aggressive and irrationally emotional. I’m sure to more seasoned parents out there these traits seem par for the course, but I assure you he put us through the wringer, so much so that even his preschool called us numerous times over his “age inappropriate behavior.” One of his teachers described a typical day with Kellan: “Kellan likes to control the classroom and when he doesn’t have control (or loses it), then he becomes enraged and might stomp on a friend’s toy (or the friend himself).” Well, well, well…a control freak with a temper, you say??? Now where in the world might he have ended up with that set of chromosomes??? Cue the visit with the child psychologist, followed by an observation day at Kellan’s school, followed by a brilliantly well-behaved Kellan, followed by an annoying bill for $200, followed by two parents throwing their arms up in exhaustion and self-pity, plus the simple gut feeling that he would work things out. And he did, with the help of a little thing we like to call consistent discipline, something that was all but missing from our chaotic home (and from preschool, it would seem). Oh, and the whole turning 4 thing. Kellan has at a very young age taught us the importance of parental accountability – he is a mirror of our emotions and the more we react, the more he reacts. I have had some very shameful moments as a parent in my relatively short tenure and most of them have been a result of letting my emotions (anger, frustration, impatience) get the best of me. And when you have a child who is as wickedly smart as Kellan is, it can be difficult not to treat them like mini adults, expecting them to act always with kindness, compassion and reason. Fortunately, on the cusp of his 5th birthday, we have seen a truly delightful transformation. He is gifted in so many ways – he is a great thinker, a quick learner (both in academics and in sports) and a truly compassionate little soul. Yesterday he was devastated that Sean cut down a small tree in our yard to make room for my garden because, not only was it apparently his favorite tree, but he was upset that it hadn’t grown up yet like the bigger trees. “Only the big trees have to die, Mommy,” he said through his tears. And last week when I was explaining that we needed to tell our gatekeeper Jasmin how sorry we were for her because her mommy had just died, Kellan replied, “Your mommy died too, so we are really sorry for you too, Mommy.” These are the moments that wipe away any recollection of tantrums or being told “I hate you” (or worse, in my son’s case). These are the moments when as a mother I can sit and say to myself, “Yes, you are doing this right. Have faith in yourself.”

Kathryn. Kathryn, Kathryn, Kathryn. She’s three. I should just end it there given what you’ve read so far. What a little pistol. She’s always been a little pistol, but now there is a whole lot of shrieking involved. Miraculously, unlike her older brother, she manages to mostly keep herself in check at school, but man, oh man does she test the limits at home. That girl literally wakes up crying and goes to bed crying every single day. Admittedly it’s easier to discipline Kellan than our beautiful little girl, but her beauty has just about reached its limits for manipulation and she is now (finally) starting to get the same strict discipline that her brother gets. Not that we’ve seen any improvements in her behavior because of this (and this is how I now know that age plays a huge factor in toddler behavior). Speaking of her beauty, she’s apparently well-aware of it and a huge fan. Her favorite past-time is staring at herself in the mirror, making all manner of faces. Several times I’ve caught her watching herself cry in the mirror. I’ve also seen her pick her nose in the mirror. Yep, she’s also disgusting. Eats boogers and pees her pants with reckless abandon. These particularly charming aspects of her personality do little to temper the fact that she is 100% boy crazy. I don’t know if she could name a single girl in her own preschool class, but she knows every single boy from age 3 and up, including the older boys from the after school program. Sean is cleaning his gun as we speak. She’s also built like a brick shithouse and if it weren’t for the fact that her head is always in the clouds, she’s definitely got some serious athletic potential. ADD and boy crazy? Again, those genes…where ever did they come from??

Right now we are just trying to hold down the fort until we have a 5-year old and a 4-year old to contend with, holding tight to that naivete that a glorious period of perfect little ladies and gentlemen is waiting just around the corner…