everything I might have ever learned about parenting I learned while potty training

Is that even possible? There is, after all, so much more to raising these humans we call our children so that they will be successful adults…with jobs…responsibilities…the ability to hang their own pictures in their own first apartment. Of course there is so much more that we learn as we grow and these babies of our grow but a social media conversation today struck me that there is much to learn while potty training each of our children…and observing others…observing, comparing, contrasting and maybe judging as we do because, for some, parenting is a competitive sport…maybe an Olympic event worthy competitive sport.

No not really.

Still we often do compare and contrast…and pat ourselves on the back because we are doing a great job…or wallow in self-doubt and lots of mommy-guilt.

One thing I might have learned or appreciated potty training five unique individuals is that they were uniquely five very different individuals…and I was no more an expert in how to potty train a human after the first, second, third, fourth or fifth. I did learn was to appreciate the big picture in that when physically ready, the kids are capably continent and there is much, much, much more that is a better measure of their success years and years later…like when they are parents themselves.

And then I come back to the conversation today. Watching our own children as parents we must recognize and acknowledge our successes (and definitely major fails) as parents. Watching them, as we do in every major event and milestone of their lives, we must trust that we did good…and that they are doing even better because of,  or perhaps in spite of us. Our children will not be the mothers and fathers that we are; and for some of us that is a very good thing. They are not us  even if they came out from our own bodies. They are uniquely their own selves just as their own children, our grandchildren are too.

For me, for my daughter, I recognize that we are so different as mothers…even if I joke that she is raising herself times two because my curses are that good. Lucky for her daughters too. Literally one of the joys of being a grandparent, a Mima, is witnessing and celebrating what a great job my child is doing as a mommy…because of me, or more likely, in spite of me. She might do things differently than I did or would as a mother but she is her own mother making this motherhood gig her own bitch. I could critique, whether privately or for all on Facebook-land to see under the guise of well-meaning advice…or I could just enjoy the adventure…her adventure…her adventure as my grand babies’ Mommy.

And of course I continue to enjoy the sweetness that is my grand babies, her children.

And, in my daughter’s own words, I get to enjoy the truth that she is (today) winning at the mom-game, because she is.

Dear friend, when it comes to crowdsourcing for parenting wisdom and critique to pass on to our grand babies’ parents…don’t, just don’t. They’ll potty train your grand baby when your grand baby is truly ready. Just enjoy your grand baby buying all the big kid underpants and practicing going potty with them when they are at your house because what happens at Mima’s house stays at Mima’s house. And when your adult child picks up THEIR child from your house, tell them how glad that you are that they are your grand baby’s parent.

Yeah, I learned so much of this and more in the adventure that is potty training my five children with all the well-meaning wisdom, observations and advice.

 

one last time

First day of school here under The Big Top, y’all. It’s just Daniel here under The Big Top but it’s still a big deal.

Dude…he grew TWO INCHES over summer vacation!!!

Meanwhile, here we are starting 8th grade and for me, mom of an 8th grader one last time. Lots of emotions and eye rolls under The Big Top this morning as we prepped for first day of school. Family and friends only encourage me to be that insufferable 8th grad mom as I shared the prerequisite First Day of School picture on social media. If I do become that mom, I make little apology because this is 8th grade, one last time.

:::eye roll:::

Mom, it’s time for school.

If you have been following this adventure since his very first day of school, you may join me feeling all the feels right now because here we are, eighth grade life, one last time.

I promise for him to try and restrain myself.

even more quiet uptown

Big happening changes here under The Big Top.

These two, who literally did not want to pause for even one moment to let me get a picture of them because, eww, Mom, it’s too hot and I am literally too gross and sweaty right now! Until I played the Mom-card where you two are literally breaking my heart with your stupid milestones just like you did when you were babies so you will pause and let me get a picture or two or more, god-dammit! So they did because I am their mom and I can get a bit crazed when I am hot in triple digit temps and over the top in emotions right now as they both are leaving this family circus…on the same day.

One is back to her studies and adventures in Arizona at ASU and the other is unlocking yet another adulting badge as she has a little place of her own that she, and her best friend call home.

As their mother, with their father, I am patting myself on the back because, YAY, in spite of us we have managed to do pretty good bringing these two babies up to be functioning adults doing pretty okay all on their own…still with some help from mom and dad. But also as their mom I am feeling pangs in my heart because it was LITERALLY just yesterday when they were babies and toddlers and I could never, ever manage but one moment all to myself with total, complete silence.

Yet here I am…right now.

And, left to my own devices, all alone in this incredibly quiet and empty Big Top, I am making some plans…

Does this make me a bad mom that I have plans for at least one empty bedroom because too soon?

Seriously, my darling third and fourth daughters, I miss your presence here already but I am so, so proud of you both for the remarkable women that you have become in spite of my mothering.

Never make a home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.

~ Tad Williams

 

missing

Daniel has been away this week having his own adventures with one of his most favorite aunts and uncles…and cousin too.

Jealous we are because triple digit heat and smoky, stagnant air thanks to triple digit heat and wild fires here in California. But, hey what a perfect way to complete his summer vacation because school starts next week. Still I am missing him because he is missing here under The Big Top.

And as I am missing my favorite son, I am enjoying seeing his once teeny, tiny feet inked on my body that is shared over at Cool Mom Picks this week. Yes, I know, literally EVERY mom get’s their baby’s feet inked onto their bodies nowadays. But 11 years ago… Those impossibly small feet, which are actually, really HIS footprints, naturally represent just how small he once was; but inked over my heart there is so much more representing our beginnings as mother and son. Moving on I have to tell you there are 11 other tattoo ideas that are so much more kick-ass and more original than mine. I imagine Kristen included mine because, after all, I did send her a picture of my boob…because I do love her. Nevertheless, go. Go now and check out some pretty kick-ass parental tattoo ideas to inspire your own ways to permanently honor your own kids.

from PokemonGo to the Holocaust to living in tents

When it comes to raising our children, we all have goals along with our wishes and hopes and dreams for our children. Mine is very much influenced by my upbringing and past, as well as current relationships with some family members.

To my family who follows my blog, yes, this part might be about you…then again, you might be wrong in assuming so.

As a mother, one of the biggest things I wanted to nurture in my five was to think for themselves…forge their own opinions…express those thoughts and opinions. I wanted them all to know that their thoughts are their own and are definitely okay, in fact, they are perfect because they are theirs. I also wanted them to understand that they are well within their right as a thinking person to express what they are thinking…even if it disagreed with someone else’s…even if it was Mom or Dad’s. Especially if they disagreed with Mom or Dad. Of course there was the proviso that they must be respectful and kind because it’s Mom or Dad, or their friends, or their teachers, or any other thinking human being because I was also trying to instill in them the importance of, well, The Golden Rule. Be kind. Be respectful. Anyone who truly knows me would likely understand why this was important for me to have for my children. Yes, yes, yes, this has made my parenting adventure rather challenging because my five are fierce and very much strong-willed; kind of like their Mom and Dad.

Yes, Hollie, we were cursed as children too.

But, in spite of the years of challenges, I like that my five are fierce and I like that they can think for themselves and can and do, almost all the time, express their thoughts and their opinions.

In the news recently was the request for people to stop playing PokemonGo in The Holocaust Museum. “Playing the game is not appropriate in the museum, which is a memorial to the victims of Nazism,” Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, told The Post. “We are trying to find out if we can get the museum excluded from the game.”

What’s The Holocaust, Mom?

And so began a conversation with my 14 year old about what The Holocaust is and what happened to more than 6 million people just because of their religion or ethnicity or sexual orientation at that time and he interrupts me drawing a comparison to a certain candidate. His thoughts. His thoughts based on what he sees and hears and reads all around him. His thoughts expressed. I shared his thoughts (no names mentioned) with friends and family on Facebook just like that because, wow, that. My son’s thoughts. Thus began commentary and conversation, as we often do on Facebook and other social media platforms; which, in my opinion, is more than okay. Agree, disagree, more than okay. Just be kind…on my personal space because we absolutely, positively can agree to disagree on pretty much anything as long as we are at the very least respectful. Don’t believe me? Ask my darling husband. Well, except that he believes Pepsi to be a superior soft drink over Coke. Oh my darling husband!

Take note here, don’t blast my Facebook wall telling me Coke is not better because it is. Okay, fine, you can. Just be kind. I might not agree with you but that doesn’t mean that I have been decieved or tooled by the media because, I promise you, I am absolutely smarter than that…so are my Fierce Five. We don’t have to agree. We both can look at one another’s opinions on just about anything and think to ourself, what the actual fuck?…I do it literally ALL THE TIME looking at some postings of some family and friends on Facebook and then I move on because BABIES! KITTENS! AMAZING VACATION PHOTOS! FUNNY VIDEOS! And I move on because we don’t HAVE to feel the same way about current events or who we believe will make America great again. And yes, this is a beautiful thing for me and for the beauty of America where we can still think freely!...Isn’t that ironic?