A Mom’s Breaking Point is not always Pretty!

This past weekend I took the kids mini-golfing as a special treat. Hole after hole I broke up fights over who was going to go first and who ‘won’ the hole. After about ten minutes I notice another family join in the fun with their two young boys. Although my kids were bordering on bad behaviour… these two boys made my munchkins look like little angels. They were kicking, name calling and fighting from the get go. After a few moments I heard the mom totally lose it when one of the little boys hit the other with a golf club. ‘That’s it… little boys who hit each other with golf clubs end up going straight to hell!!’ As I tried not to let my jaw hit the ground, I looked over to see the boys totally unphased and chasing each other with golf clubs. I began to judge this mother for this horrible comment, but I stopped myself because I think at some point or another we all have our breaking points, and they aren’t always pretty.

Now I’m not saying I think it’s okay to condemn children to hell… not at all. Realistically if I ever said that to my kids, they would probably snottily tell me that Jesus was going to kick my butt. Honestly though, I have had my own breaking points, both at home and in public. Those moments where you are no longer yourself, but a raging lunatic with no regard for any onlookers that are shooting daggers at you with their eyes.

I once lost my cool when I was shopping after the holiday season. I screamed hysterically at the kids that Santa was going to fly back with his sled and take back every single present he left for them and give them to little boys and girls that weren’t such snotty brats. Yes… you heard me, I played the evil ‘Santa’ card as well as including a little name calling. This was only after Jocelyn had tried jumping out of the grocery cart and James was throwing a temper tantrum over not getting fruit roll ups. I was totally oblivious to the onlookers wondering if indeed I had lost my mind and they should perhaps intervene.

One very famous mommy meltdown in my household is the time I went off the deep end while we were hiking during one of our camping trips. Jocelyn got about twenty minutes into it and threw herself on the ground refusing to go any further. Naturally, the ‘men’ had walked ahead on their mission to find birds, insects and cool nature stuff. I carried her kicking and screaming until I finally lost it and told her that she was ruining ‘everything’. My husband refers to this as my ‘mommy temper tantrum’.

I love and adore my children, and I totally wish I could have ‘take-backs’, but unfortunately they don’t hand those out to you once you’ve become a mother. The only thing we can do is apologize for our mistakes and tell our kids we love them ALL THE TIME. So getting back to my moment of judgment with the mom at the mini-golf course… we all lose it sometimes, but it’s what we do after we’re wrong that truly matters. I could write an entire article on how ‘wrong’ it is to condemn your kids to hell…. and judge this mother all day long. Instead I’d rather say that as moms I think we all have ‘breaking points’, and it’s okay to be wrong as long as we can share with our kids that moms make mistakes too.  To all the moms who’ve ever lost it and wanted a ‘take-back’… know that I certainly will try my hardest not to shoot evil looks at you while picking my jaw up off the ground.

Does feeling overwhelmed just comes with the territory?

I woke up this morning full of emotion. I’m not sure what type of emotion it was really, but all I know is that I wanted to cry and scream at the same time. Do you ever have one of those moments where you just feel… well, overwhelmed?

I look around my kitchen and the first thing I am drawn to is the giant mommy sized calendar on my fridge. The entire thing is covered in red ink scribbles and yellow highlighting. Between both of us working and the kids not being in daycare, my brain feels like it never shuts off. As I stare at the colossal scheduling mess that is in front of me, I feel the wrinkles develop on my forehead.

Do most moms feel like their plate is too full? I feel like my ‘to-do’ list never gets any shorter yet I am always adding new things to it. It’s like playing a big game of ‘catch-up’, but never being able to win. As moms do we put this sort of stress on ourselves or does it just happen naturally? I am always looking for ways to be more efficient and quicker at daily chores, but in the end I feel like most of the time I just end up cutting corners to get at least a few things crossed off my list. When do I draw the line and start taking things off the list instead of crossing them off?

The crazy part about this whole motherhood thing is that I feel like being ‘overwhelmed’ just comes with the territory. I’m not saying that everyone wakes up, looks at their schedules and wants to scream… but maybe they feel overwhelmed about another part of their routine. I remember feeling this same emotion when Jocelyn cried for months on end. I also remember feeling helpless when James would have countless anxiety attacks throughout the week. Maybe being overwhelmed is just something that comes and goes throughout the years of raising children.

 
I’m not sure how this post is really going to help other moms… and maybe this time it is meant to help me more than anyone else. So, to all you moms out there that feel that sense of being overwhelmed… I feel that way too. Not every day, but somedays… and today is one of those days for me.

Who decides what’s inappropriate these day anyways???

confident_daughter

My extremely confident daughter, Jocelyn.

The other day when I was at the local swimming pool with Jocelyn (my three year old), I realized that others may have a different opinion of what behaviour is deemed ‘inappropriate’. Some older ladies at the pool made it pretty clear that they were quite disgusted with my parenting guidelines….

Jocelyn walks out onto the pool deck with the confidence of an olympic athlete. She puts her life jacket on and struts into the pool like she is indeed going to show everyone a thing or two. With her ears submerged under water she yells at me, ‘How’s this mommy?’ I respond that she’s doing great. After screaming ‘WHAT?!?’ a few times she finally hears me commend her for her swimming, along with everyone else at the pool. She continues to swim and yell loudly for all the senior aqua fitness class to hear.

‘Hey sexy lady…. whoop whoop whoop whoop… Opa Gandam style… Hey sexy lady…. whoop whoop…’ she belts out at the top of her lungs. If looks could kill, the older women would have buried me ten feet deep. As I try to silence my singing superstar, she argues with me that she’s just singing. ‘What’s wrong with singing mommy?’ Hmm… how do I deal with this. I know she has no idea what the word ‘sexy’ means… so is it really that inappropriate? As I continue to get glares from all the women in the pool, I decide that I am not going to silence my singing daughter. What some people deem as ‘inappropriate’, I see as innocent singing.

She continues her American Idol audition throughout our hour long swimming time. I receive many evil eyes and one woman even has the nerve to put her finger to her lips and ‘shhh!’ my daughter. She sings everything from ‘twinkle twinkle’ to ‘I DON’T CARE… I love it’ to ‘Itsy Bitsy spider’ and then ends with her own rendition of Katy Perry’s ‘Wide Awake’. I obviously have destroyed the cd of ‘Elmo’s Favourite Car Ride Tunes’ and replaced it with the radio.

She gets out of the pool and is quite proud of all her swimming accomplishments and singing tributes. I get her dried off and go to get my own towel. I look over and she is now dancing around shaking her little butt as much as physically possible to her rendition of ‘I like to move it move it.’ All the old ladies are pointing and are clearly unimpressed. They see an inappropriate little girl that will inevitably grow up to be a stripper, and an irresponsible mother with no moral compass. I am no longer mortified… I am proud. My daughter isn’t inappropriate… she is independent, confident and has self esteem that I only wish I had.

One day I will explain to my daughter why the word ‘sexy’ is inappropriate. But until then I would much rather show up at the pool with my daughter, her amazing singing and killer dance moves. To all the moms out there that have ever received shameful looks because their child was acting ‘inappropriate’… know you are not the only one. I’m sure I will continue to get judgmental looks and glares for the next fifteen years, but the fact of the matter is I’m too busy raising a strong and confident daughter to worry about what others think is ‘inappropriate’.

Things I swore I would never do as a mother…

This morning, as I walked my son to the bus stop in my pyjama pants, I realized something… we all do things we swore we would never do. I remember watching a previous neighbour come out of her house in her housecoat and walk her child to the corner and I swore I would never become ‘that mom’. Well… my once judgmental self can now confess, ‘I am that mom’. The funny thing is that I think as moms we all swear we won’t do one thing or another… but really it’s just another passive way of judging or categorizing moms. I’m embarrassed to say that I had such a long ‘I’m never going to be that mom’ list… but here are the things I swore I would never do:

Milk myself like a cow. Before I had my son, I swore I would never use the torturous device we all know as a breast pump. I would say things like ‘cows are meant to be milked… not me’. Yet, after an awful month of breast feeding, there was my poor husband standing in front of the breast pump aisle with me desperately yelling at him through his cell phone to ‘just buy me a pump and get home!!!’. I pumped for three months and honestly I became a bit addicted to the calorie burning milk pumping machine. Who knew I would come to appreciated the dreaded breast pump?

Wear my pyjamas or housecoat outside. So I’m not sure if I’ve ever worn my pyjamas to a store yet… but I wouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes I am so busy taking care of everyone else I totally forget that I look like a disaster. I’m sure my neighbours have ‘names’ for the crazy lady who walks to the end of the driveway in her housecoat and to the bus stop in her p.j’s. The fact is… on my days off I want to ease into the day in my PYJAMA’S and I don’t really care about any judgment that might come my way.

Buy a minivan. I think many moms, like myself,  swear they will never buy a minivan. Yet here I am with my minivan that I love to fill with kids, strollers and junk. The other day I went to put my groceries in the back and there was no room despite having the seats put down. It had a wagon, sled, stroller and a box of good will clothes in the back. I never thought I’d have a minivan and I certainly couldn’t have imagined I would be able to fill it with so much crap. It’s definitely not cool… but who am I kidding, neither am I.

Bribe my kids. Before having my second child, I never thought I would need to ‘bribe’ my  kids. I always thought that by enforcing discipline, there would be no need to use bribery. Then came Jocelyn. My time was cut in half, my patience thinned, and my workload doubled. The fact is bribery became easier than discipline. I don’t use it all the time… but considering I swore I would never resort to this, it’s pretty humorous to see me negotiate with timbits.

Allow more than half hour of TV. This one is by far the one that I look back at and laugh at the most. I still find it funny when I read articles and hear moms that condone letting kids watch too much television. I don’t how I could survive without a little Caillou in the afternoon. I honestly have a love/hate relationship with the show. The show drives me crazy with all the whining and crying that kid does, yet my daughter loves it and will watch it from start to finish. I can get 2 loads of laundry folded, dinner prepped and maybe even my floors cleaned. I could pay a nanny to help me out, or I could put Caillou on for an hour in the afternoon. The decision is a no brainer.

The reality of it all is that as moms we are continuously evolving and modifying what works for us. If there is one thing I’ve learned as a mom, it’s to never say never. If you see one mom doing it, it probably means there’s a method to the madness. Right or wrong, we all find our own way… even if it means doing something we swore we would never do. To all the moms find yourselves doing something you swore you would never do, know that you are not alone… and that it’s okay break your own rules. After all, our kids break rules every day so why can’t we?

Is everyone a baby expert these days?

I received an email recently from a fellow mom who wanted me to know how much the ‘Tell Another Mom’ mission had helped her through a rough day. Sometimes I wonder if I am reaching enough moms and if the mission is making a difference for anyone. This emailed confirmed to me that the site is  helping other moms, apparently more than I know. It meant a lot to me and wanted to share it with you…

I have become an avid follower of the “Tell Another Mom” blog. As a mother of two young children I can definitely relate. There is a lot of judgment out there. I felt it as a child, as a teen, as a young adult and now, more than ever, as a mother. I have always been a sensitive soul, and I really take other people’s criticisms to heart. I can certainly appreciate advice, but sometimes advice seems more like criticism. Could my sensitivity be inflating this advice into something more? Sure, I’ll give you that.

People often look at situations and feel the need to offer assistance.  If I am at the grocery store and my baby girl starts to cry, random strangers regularly tell me, “oh she’s hungry” or “poor little girl is tired” or my favorite, “maybe she has gas”. I do not claim to be an expert. Sometimes I don’t know why my little one is crying. But after she wakes up, eats a full bottle and burps several times, I am pretty sure she is not hungry, tired or gassy. Perhaps the influx of baby experts congregating at the grocery store are offering nothing more than random verbalization. Is it so wrong to say nothing? I understand that people feel the need to help, but sometimes it’s okay to say nothing at all, or to offer sympathy without tying to diagnose. Nobody knows a baby more than his or her mother.

While I am on the topic of grocery stores, I feel the need to share an experience I found myself in the other day. I was leisurely walking through the store with my baby girl.  I was taking my time strolling up and down the aisles when I ran into an acquaintance. We stopped to chat.  She bent down to speak to my daughter which ultimately resulted in my little girl bawling her eyes out. This time, mystery baby expert #1 was right; she was hungry. I was prepared with a bottle, but I had left her bib in the car. Oh well, better to forget the bib than the bottle right?

As she scarfed down the bottle, I continued to wipe milk from her chin while chatting with the lady we had bumped into. Then, this lady decided to inform me, “When my daughter was a baby, I always had a bib on her, to make sure her clothes didn’t get dirty.” Oh… okay. I smiled. She repeated herself.  Then, she bent down, talking to my daughter, and repeated -for the third time- how she ALWAYS kept a bib on her daughter so she would not get dirty. I stood there. Silenced. Do I try to justify my parenting by telling her how I simply forgot her bib in the car?  Do I lie and tell her that I feel utter joy and a sense of accomplishment every time I scrub stains out of her clothes? No. I stood there, awe-struck, and humbly received my parenting beat-down. Yes, I failed as a mother. Luckily, my daughter’s wails became so incessant that the woman continued on her merry little way. I remained halted in my crouching position trying to comfort my baby while dealing with the scolding I had just received.

I automatically thought of the Tell Another Mom blog. Instead of berating me for not being equipped with a much needed bib, perhaps a little encouragement or understanding would have sufficed. It brings me back to my sensitivity. Perhaps I should have shrugged it off, but the judgment I felt was astonishing. It left me grasping for excuses. Being a mother has left me tired and forgetful. Sometimes I am not fully equipped to deal with the spontaneity of child rearing. But ultimately, despite the “advice” and sometimes disapproval of others, thanks to this site I do feel as though I am doing a good job as a mother.

Salmon burgers from a box… what was I thinking?!?

This past week I made a real effort to make healthy meals for everyone. We normally eat about half fresh planned meals and the other half ends up being ‘oh crap… what’s in the freezer for dinner’. Naturally the more thought out healthy dinners land on days that I’m not working.

As I walked through the grocery store on a mission to find some nutritious options that were quick and convenient, I stumbled upon something I had yet to try… salmon burgers. Hmmm… this seemed like a great option. The kids love cheeseburgers and they also enjoy when we bbq up salmon filets. If you can’t see where this is going I will spell it out for you… I ended up proudly purchasing ‘healthy low fat salmon burgers’ for the family to try.

The idea that this ‘so-called’ healthy food option was in a ‘box’ should have been the first giveaway that this was truly a very bad idea. Also the fact that the box said ‘60% less fat than our BIG & JUICY beef burgers’ made me feel that perhaps the salmon burger was not going to go over as well as the typical cheeseburger does in our house. I ignored all the red flags, fired up the bbq and excitedly told the family that dinner would be ready shortly.

After watching the patties cook on the grill and smelling no signs of appetizing aromas I immediately began to worry that perhaps my healthy eating experiment was going to be a disaster. I brought the burger inside only to be met with noses curled up and a slight amount of disdain, ‘Those aren’t burgers!!! I don’t want that. What are those anyways?!?!’

After forcing the kids to try them, having them spit out half eaten food and beg me for something else, I finally gave in. My healthy meal had failed and I was now right back to where I started, serving up chicken fingers and fries. As I forced myself to eat this truly AWFUL salmon burger that I ended up slathering with mayonaise, I realized that I can only do so much. I can’t possibly cook healthy organic meals, that supposedly only take ‘twenty minutes’ to make, every night of the week. And clearly, good tasting healthy food does not come from a box. The key to teaching the kids about nutrition and really anything in life is balance. Apparently I have not yet learned this lesson myself.

To all you moms out there that read all these wonderful websites and magazines about how to feed your family healthy meals… don’t worry if you feel like you just can’t manage. I can’t. I do the best that I can and if that means having a good old fashioned cheeseburger or a frozen pizza every once and a while… than oh well, so be it. Please don’t torture your family with store bought salmon burgers because you feel like you have failed on the healthy meal planning. Give yourself a break… do what works and maybe pick up a few extra vegetables to go on the side if you’re feeling really guilty about it all. Providing healthy meals for a busy family is not an easy task. Struggling or not, if you’re trying… you’re a good mom and deserve a pat on the back and maybe even some extra cheese on your burger too!

You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else….

Amber_guestAmber is a stay-at-home mom to a wonderfully unique, special needs little boy that is now three years old. Continuously struggling with finding both of their places in this world, she pours her heart out in her blog about navigating parenting while openly sharing all her triumphs and failures as a mother. She stands firm in her belief that “Love is All You Need” to be a great mom and endlessly promoting non-judgmental parenting. She can be found bumbling her way through motherhood at “Normal” is the New Boring, a blog where she posts too many some e-cards and spends entirely too much time overanalyzing!

It has been said that parenting does not come with a manual. I would like to beg to differ with that simplistic fact, if I may. I believe that it comes with many, [too] many manuals penned by countless professionals with varying degrees of capabilities. There are books that tell you how to raise a garden-variety child to be a successful adult, novels involving the upbringing of a child of a spirited nature, and nearly thousands upon thousands of websites created solely for the purpose of educating you on the care and feeding of your brand-new offspring.

It is, in my humble opinion, where the brainwashing of the need to be a “perfect mother” officially begins.

Sitting home, not even showing yet, we pour over these parenting books with a voracity that can only be understood by a woman that is about to depart into the great unknown of parenthood. We study pictures of perfect moms snuggling up with tiny, sweet babies and determine what kind of parent we want to be. We decide that we will never yell, certainly never cry, and never become overwhelmed because we are learning every trick beforehand. We read these books like the Bible, until the pages are creased and the binding is worn, and we dream of what our families will be, of the holidays by the fire, and the bedtime stories that we will tell. We are fully prepared.

And then the reality comes crashing in like a 50 foot Tsunami hitting the beach during a Tropical Storm.

What they fail to mention in those books, so lovingly and well written, is that being a mom is a 24-hours-a-day-365-days-a-year job. There is no time off, no vacation, and rarely enough sleep to go along with the insanity of all of it. Children are not the pretty and perfect photographs that you see on the pages, either. They are messy, they are loud, and they develop these tiny personalities that are almost unrecognizable to us at times.

Parenting is hard work and, often times, a thankless job.

We are not perfect. We can try, and I am sure that most of us do in our own way, but there is no such thing as a “perfect mother”. We are, by nature, not perfect people, and we certainly do not expect perfection from our children yet we beat ourselves up every time that we feel that we have, in some way, failed. We pride ourselves wholeheartedly on not comparing our kids to other children and yet we sit and stare at the homemade Valentine’s Day cards on PInterest and feel overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that other moms can “do it all”…so why are we not as “good” as they are?

Don’t beat yourself up for having different priorities as another mom. Our differences are what make us unique.

If I am honest, I let my child watch too much TV and probably play too many video games. I let him play in the rain and mud and climb on the furniture under a watchful eye. Sometimes, I even let him have desserts for breakfast. Childhood is a brief, shining time in your life and it goes by much too quickly. I want to look back and remember the moments that I gave in over the times that I stood my ground. I have an extraordinarily laid-back approach to parenting and, while it may not be a popular method, it is my way. Stand by who you are as a mom and be proud of that. Focus on your good qualities and make them better instead of seeing where you lack and feeling frustrated.

I believe that the only characteristic of a good mom is a mother that loves with all of her overflowing heart and learns from her numerous and plentiful mistakes. No one has ever learned anything unless they failed a few times, right? Practice makes perfect (or as close to perfect as one can sensibly attain to be). Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and know that you are doing your best every day. Falling down is all part of the process.

  • It is okay to make mistakes
  • It is okay to lose your temper (as long as you apologize)
  • It is okay to fall down
  • It is okay to cry
  • It is okay to be mediocre sometimes
  • It is okay to doubt yourself
  • It is okay to be you
  • It is okay to do what you think is best
  • It is okay to NOT do what you read in the books

If you are a parent that pours over books or writes and reads blogs on the topic of parenting then, to me, that is a powerful indication that you truly are a good mom. No matter what your strengths and weaknesses may be, you are obviously someone that is dedicated enough to spend your free time perfecting your craft, and that is a surefire sign that you are doing everything in your power to be the wonderful mother that you are. Believe in that.

Love is the only thing that truly ever matters. And we are all aware of the main covenant of giving and receiving love in this world, right? That you cannot love anyone else until you love yourself first and foremost.

So, love yourself, because you are a good mom. Good moms are a state of mind, not someone pinned on a website. Good moms are felt in the heart, not portrayed in movies or on television. Those moments that you witness and compare yourself against are just that…single moments in time. Waking up every day in the chaos that is life with children with a smile on your face and love in your heart is what makes you not only a good mom but a great one.  Just knowing that will bring you the confidence to make it through the hard times as they truly cannot last forever. The only thing that will remain through the ups and downs of parenting is the fact that you love your children. And when we are all old and grey and our children have children of their own, it is all that they will remember about us.

Why can’t I be the FUN parent?

fun_dad

Now that is one fun Dad!!

Some days I really wish that I could be the fun parent. I get that as parents we really need to be on the same page but I think no matter what, one parent still gets the ‘fun’ label. It has taken a long time but I can honestly say that we have a really great balance in our household…I just don’t wear the hat that proclaims me as the fun one.

As mothers, we have so much on our plates, from scheduling to meal planning, it is just impossible to be fun all the time. If I participated in every single tea party and hide and go seek activity, we’d all be walking around malnourished and with no clean underwear. The reality is, my responsibilities are different than hubby’s, not more or less… just different.

With all that being said, every so often I still feel just a smidge of jealousy or resentment. Why can’t I be the fun one? I love my time with the kids and really cherish the moments of belly laughs and silliness… but this is just a fraction of my time with the kids. Being that my hubby gets less time with the kids, it is really important that he has good fun with them… but sometimes I wonder if they are keeping track. I highly doubt my five and three year old are keeping track with a giant fun meter hidden in their closet, but it does cross my mind now and again.

This past weekend was a perfect example of how much ‘fun’ my husband can be. We went to the park that is just a few blocks away. James took his scooter and Jocelyn insisted on being valeted there in the wagon that’s wheels are so loud you can’t even hear yourself think… that is if you have any brain cells left at the end of the day. Once we were at the park, naturally the kids didn’t want anything to do with me. I didn’t push them on the swing as high as Dad does. I didn’t let them bring the metal detector like Dad does. I didn’t track deer like Dad does. After a full evening of being told how ‘not fun’ I was… it was time to go home. James didn’t want to ride his scooter home, but insisted on going in the wagon. Naturally my husband decided that it would be hilarious if he rode the scooter home.

After about two blocks of the kids thinking it was awesome their Dad was riding a child sized scooter, the fun came to an end. Hubby tried to cruise into the driveway at mach speed and launched himself into the air and onto the concrete. I’m sure it really hurt… and the only reason he got up right away I’m certain was because all the neighbours were probably laughing their asses off. If I was a wonderful wife I would have attentively took care of him and brought him ice and perhaps a few band-aids. But I was much too busy laughing until I cried to attend to anyone but myself and my kiddies. I laughed all night long. The kids giggled until they couldn’t remember what was so funny to begin with. And although it all might have been slightly at the expense of my husband… I’m sure he didn’t mind, after all he gets to be the fun one the rest of the time.

To all you moms out there who sometimes feel like you’re not the ‘fun one’, you’re probably not, and that’s okay. My kids might not remember all the things I do around here that makes our family run like a well oiled machine, but hopefully they’ll remember the times we laughed so hard we cried. Not wearing the ‘fun hat’ doesn’t make you have any less fun with your kids… it just means you’ll never be the one launching yourself off a child’s scooter. For me… I think I’m okay with that.

DINNER complete with yelling, frustration and bargaining

Every so often I make it through the day and feel completely sane with endless amounts of patience. And then dinner time comes. I honestly cannot tell you how ridiculous this event can be in our household. It’s as if aliens come while I’m making dinner, steal my wonderful little munchkins and replace them with red eyed mutants that are fully prepared to unleash unearthly warfare on our mealtime. Tonight was no different than any other dinner in our house, complete with yelling, frustration and bargaining…

‘James sit down. Eat your dinner.’ I am going to win this time. I refuse to back down.

‘I don’t feel good’

‘You are fine. Eat your dinner.’

‘I don’t like any of this. It’s gross.’

‘It’s a hotdog and fries for crying out loud… what is there not to like?!?!’ He sees that I’m annoyed, and the red eyed mutant runs with the fact that he now has my attention.

‘It’s burnt. I don’t want the black stuff.’ He starts picking the skin off the hotdog. You’ve got to be kidding me.

‘I need more ketchup,’ Jocelyn chimes in. Oh my goodness… she is covered in it, and hasn’t eaten anything except condiments.

‘Look at that bird out there!’ James is out of his seat on his way to the back deck.

‘Where? I want to see it!’ Now Jocelyn is up and smearing ketchup all over the place as she ventures out to the back deck.

‘THAT’S IT… SIT IN YOUR SEATS. NOW.’ I am at the yelling stage now. They sit down and James spills his lemonade.

‘You have got to be kidding me. This is why you need to be sitting in your seat.’ I get up to get some paper towel. He starts crying. He must be upset that he made such a mess.

‘There’s no… more… lem… (sniff) o… (sniff) nade left!!!’ He’s only upset there’s no lemonade. Ridiculous.

‘You can have water. Eat your hotdog.’ He is hysterical. Where’s Jocelyn? She’s on the back deck again. Now I’m at the frustration stage.

‘Mommy… It’s sunny, I need sunscreen.’

‘Get inside and sit in your seat otherwise you’re having a timeout and I’m taking your blanket away.’

‘Noooo… I don’t want a timeout… don’t take my blanket.’ The tears start streaming down her face. I’m going to go off the deep end. James is still picking off every grill mark off from the hotdog skin.

‘Have five bites of the hotdog, ten french fries and then you can have a freezie’. I am resorting to the bargaining stage. They manage to fulfill their end of the bargain and I reluctantly give them their freezie. Great, now I reward terrible behaviour. Oh well… there’s always tomorrow.

dinnertimeAt the end of the day I can say one thing… I have yet to perfect this parenting thing. I struggle daily with some tasks and yet other things come easily all the time. Dinnertime is most certainly a task that I struggle with. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The most frustrating part is that they are almost always on their best behaviour when we go out for meals or we are at other people’s dinner tables. To all the moms out there that have yet to perfect their family mealtime routines… you are not alone!!! And maybe, just maybe, one day you will wonder if aliens have abducted your children and replaced them with perfectly well mannered dinner guests. Probably not… but one can dream.