Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess

“Mom?”

“Mmmm?”

“They’re voting for student officers at school and I want to run. I can spend $40 in materials and can give out gum and mints and need to make some posters.”

I eyed my oldest from my peripheral vision, so as to not crash into anything whilst driving. Trying not to panic him nor myself, I thought before phrasing a question. “Okay. And …when do you need to have them done?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe Friday.”

It was Wednesday. Given his usual record, that was a pretty long time to prepare.

“Okay. Well, I can’t buy you supplies right now. We need to get home and clean for your brother’s baptism this weekend.”

“That’s okay. I’ll have time.”

I wasn’t sure. He had a history of not only springing things on me the half hour before they were due, but also of completely breaking down over the inevitable failure from not being prepared. Fortunately for me (and him), whoever was in charge of the campaigning sent all parents of interested students an informative e-mail.

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Did I say “fortunately?” More like “indispensably.” For one thing, she said the materials were due Monday instead of Friday. For another, there were size requirements on posters and ….a campaign video.

Which is what he we have been working on since church this morning.

After a meltdown yesterday in which he yelled about not needing us to suggest campaign ideas but that he really just needed us to suggest campaign ideas, he came up with a Minecraft theme. Actually all on his own; he crafted a zombie, squid, villager, and slime poster with pun-laced slogans like, “Don’t be a Zombie, Vote For Me.”

He took my suggestion to use some of our thousands of Lego Minecraft sets to do a stop-motion video. His father is helping making the whole thing on the computer.

I am very proud of my son, but try to avoid special projects like this. When he (or his brothers) get the look and start discussing supplies and cost and what I need to do; I foresee the stress, yelling, meltdown, extra store trips, last-minute failures, and special project hangover when it’s all over.

I am frequently left -not only holding the bag; but buying the bag, filling it with expensive things we can’t reuse when most don’t get used, driving the bag to school when they accidentally leave it at home, and then cleaning up all the bag scraps left over the next day.

Yet… this is childhood. This is learning. This is trying and mistakes and all that important stuff I want my kids to learn.

Not that remembering those things makes the mess and the stress go away. What really makes it worth it is the other look: pride. It’s that look that lights up my kid’s face, even subtly, when he surveys what he has done. It’s when he smiles with a sense of accomplishment.

Having him clean up afterwards is a nice perk, too. We’ll do that as well. Probably Tuesday.

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Sunday, May 12: Shared a previously-written bit on Mother’s Day: “Happy Mother’s Day?

Monday, May 13: Trotted out a short poem titled, “Just a Little Housework.”

Tuesday, May 14: Shared a quote I found online.

Wednesday, May 15: A toast! -to toast with “Breakfast Tip 3.

Thursday, May 16: “Time Out!,” a snippet setting the ‘punishment’ record straight.

Friday, May 17: Reminisced on Pregnant Times and how we ought to lay off ourselves in “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself.

Saturday, May 18: Shared WTFDAD‘s tweet about scary(?) stories.

Sunday, May 19: That’s today!

Photo Credits:
Annie Spratt
Samuel Zeller

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Short Mom Rap

My life’s a chore
An’ a bore
Go to the store some more
Then encore.

Next I goes
Home to clothes
Nerf gun throws
Runny nose
Kids won’t doze.

Why’d I birth these boys
These toys
This NOISE annoys
“Kids are joys,”

Said what fool?
I’m not cool
Just a tool at a school
In carpool.

Word to my kids’ mother.

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Photo Credit:
Image by Sklorg from Pixabay

 

Raise Strong, Independent Daughters AND Mothers

I am the product of many strong, brave women throughout history. Women no one ever knew toiled day in and out at the most mundane of tasks to get their daughters just that much ahead in life, only to have the pattern repeat for a few centuries more.

Women with names we now laud stepped from the shoulders of those mothers to stand for rights, demand votes, insist on admission to colleges and professions, and to study and alter laws once named ‘fair.’

Although ignorant of the nameless women of history, I am not without appreciation for the starting position they gave me. I only ever felt encouraged to do whatever I set my mind to as a child; encouraged to be myself; encouraged to do anything or dress any way or play any games I wanted to.

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And, for a while, I could do whatever a boy could do. I wanted to, since I have never been much into dress up or celebrity gossip. I determined to live for myself, alone and independent. I wasn’t afraid of snakes and could open jars; I could do anything.

I thought that teaching girls to have limitless goals was a great idea… until I became a mother.

It’s no secret that I didn’t want to be a mother. If it is, then you’ve missed the name of this blog and a few, key blog posts. To clarify: I’m not mad that I’m a mother. I don’t feel the desire to leave my children in a basket on a porch. Not really. I simply did not ever plan to be just a mother and looked/look down on the profession.

I’ve not quite pinned down the reasons for my dissatisfaction yet; otherwise, I’d probably not keep writing. Recently, however, I have resonated with the idea that motherhood disappointed me because of that ‘girl power’ upbringing.

-I was told I could be a doctor and had the intellect for it.

-When I said I wanted to be President of the United States of America, teachers and school counselors cheered.

-At college meetings, no one batted an eye when I registered for engineering and science programs.

-I remember conversations with professors, guidance counselors, neighbors, friends, and family where, when asked about my future, they never mentioned motherhood.

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HOWEVER, life changed. All my goals and plans went out the window. The determined spinster that was me fell in love in high school, married after a semester at college, and started producing babies within a few years after that. No matter, right?

-With what was left of my brain, I told myself I could still do medical school.

-I didn’t actually want to be POTUS; politics were more complicated than people told children.

-I could take a break from engineering courses and finish them up after the kids grew a little.

-Motherhood wasn’t that bad. (Female) people did it all the time.

Suffice to say, I was a teensy bit unprepared for the emotional and mental car crash of stay-at-home motherhood after a young marriage and fairly young pregnancy. I was unprepared for a fairly young servitude of diapers, schedules, and (above all) the whims of my offspring.

I think I’d set aside motherhood as a contingency plan, or maybe as an idea that it would “probably happen.” I had not realized how much of a lifetime commitment the profession was, particularly if one has difficult children. Maybe, like my ultimate life goal of never doing chores, I was simply ignorant.

Or, maybe, we’ve shifted too far away from encouraging what every woman used to aspire to.

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I know the future is brighter for females. I am so happy that we can gain entry and employment to nearly everywhere. I definitely appreciate not being talked down to when I converse with a doctor or a mechanic. As I said earlier, I loved feeling free to do anything.

But I’m afraid that we’ve killed motherhood.

I don’t think I would have minded more sewing lessons in school. What about cooking and cleaning courses? Scheduling? Budgeting? Basic interpersonal marriage counseling? -All good. Overall, though, what we’re really missing is the expectation of families and the support needed to make them work.

Where once there were mother’s coffee groups and communal play areas of apartments, there is social media and day care. Church classes and community events have been replaced with atheism, apathy, and selfishness. People lock their doors, install security systems, and watch any visitors -even their own next-door neighbors- through door cameras.

When I ask my neighbors with daughters about their children’s futures, they do not list family production. It is always college, discovering themselves, and changing the world. Talking to the girls themselves produces a similar answer.

Can’t we have strong females and good mothers? Well-adjusted parents who feel they have societal support? Good children who are raised by responsible and loving parents? Mom groups? Community events that want children around?

Being a mom sucks. I know. But, the only way to change the world is the same way our female progenitors did: raising children for the future.

 

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Weekly Round-up:

Sunday, April 14: “Religion in the Home,” a post about religion in the home.

Monday, April 15: Really proud of my poem, “A House(work) at War.”

Tuesday, April 16: Shared a quote by Ray Romano.

Wednesday, April 17: Offered a Food Tip.

Thursday, April 18: “Reasoning with a Toddler,” a quick thought about unreasonable toddlers.

Friday, April 19: Felt inspired to share some vacation tips with “10 Tips for When You’re Crazy Enough to Vacation with Kids.”

Saturday, April 20: Shared Feeling‘s encouraging tweet.

Sunday, April 21: Happy Easter!

 

Photo Credits:
Kenny Krosky
Eye for Ebony
Zac Durant

Food Tip 2

My children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s their standard fare for school lunches and snacks.

They are also in charge of making said lunches each morning. In order to help the process run smoothly, I keep all the materials they need within easy reach. In order to help me not have a lot of mess to clean up afterwards, I opt for plastics.

Use plastics!

I’m not referring to BPA-free, recycled, overpriced sandwich and snack containers, either -though we do happen to have those. I refer to the jars of jam and peanut butter.

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I recall a time in my childhood when my mother was bringing the groceries in from the car. I wanted to help. I grabbed a brown paper sack and began the long walk across our cement garage… only to have the edge of the bag rip in my hands. *CRASH!* It turned out that my bag had our newly-purchased jar of peanut butter in the bottom. Yes, it was good that the mess was contained. Yes, it was a waste of money and groceries because glass permeated the contents of the bag.

So stick with plastics! Save the world and your sanity and enjoy delicious sandwiches in the process.