Category Archives: children

It’s called Tough Love for a reason–it’s not easy: Saying NO to being a maid.

So, I found something…..My 8 year old son, Gino, had been drawing and left several papers laying on the floor with miscellaneous pictures and writings….and then there was this.

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Ugh. I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel bad. But sometimes teaching our kids right from wrong hurts us as much as it does them. You see,  I knew why he wrote those words. He and I have been going through a bit of a rough patch in terms of him preferring that I….how shall I put this…..BE HIS MAID? Yes, yes, I believe that pretty much sums it up in three simple words. He’d like me to be his maid. I, on the other hand, would like him to do things for himself (within reason, of course.).

He’d prefer to scream my name in such a way that I come running from the other end of the house, prepared to find him covered in blood or in some other horrific predicament….only to find that he would like the channel changed on the TV, but the remote is on the end table, not within his reach.  He will yell to me in the kitchen, telling me that he needs a drink, rather than walking to the kitchen to get it. And the list goes on and on….YEAH. I KNOW. IT’S RIDICULOUS, ISN’T IT? It’s embarrassing and completely outrageous. And this little man and his demands have been shut down, by his big mean mom.

And the power struggle begins.

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** This is where I feel the need to say that the LAST thing I want is to get anyone all riled up about what is appropriate or not appropriate in terms of parenting or disciplining children. I have my own beliefs and stand firmly in them. What works for me and my family may not necessarily work for yours, and vice versa. Rather than judge, I’m hoping we can all just agree that each of us need to find something that works for our own families, so that we can send some good, respectful, hardworking kids out into the world. Are you with me on that?

Let me first say that every parent has their own parenting style. I’m not saying mine is better than yours (in fact I’m fairly sure you may think mine is crazy lol). But I do have 3 older children who have survived childhood with me as their mother, and have turned out pretty damn good, if I say so myself. And with 8 years in on my fourth child, with a pretty good track record from the older three — it’s highly unlikely that I will be changing my ways LOL.

Here’s the thing….the world we live in is geared toward teaching our children to expect instant gratification; and that has the potential to derail our kids when they get out into the real world. If we don’t teach our children that they can’t and shouldn’t expect instant gratification, we are all, as a nation, in one big heap of trouble. Same goes for accountability, taking responsibility for their actions, even if it means losing privileges, and facing consequences. Tough love, people. Learn it, and live it.  And don’t even get me started on showing respect…..it’s frightening, the lack of respect I’ve witnessed on many occasions, and I’m sure you all have as well.

I’m not one to put up with a lot of crap. I’m just not. Don’t get me wrong—-I’m as loving of a mother as you’re going to find. I would move mountains for my children, go the extra mile, go to the ends of the earth to give them what they need. But I have no time for back-talking, disrespect, and these shenanigans that Gino is pulling right now.

That is the reason for the words “Get It Yourself” on the paper….he’s been hearing those words a good bit from me lately. And he hasn’t always liked it. Sometimes he realizes that yeah, he is being pretty ridiculous, and just kind of laughs and does whatever for himself. Win.

BUT other times he’s upset that I’m not giving him his own way, or he just gives me a look, as in “oooooh you are a mean, mean mother….”, sometimes he does the poor, poor Gino routine, he’s tired, or his leg hurts, blah blah blah and tries to make me feel sorry for him. And sometimes, during these little episodes that we have, I would rather just give in and get him the stupid remote, because it’s easier….but the entire lesson would be lost then, right?

I’ve been a parent for 26 years, a daycare provider for almost 17 years, I’m educated, and I’ve read lots of parenting books in my time. Let me just say this:

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Oh for crying out loud, relax people. I’m joking.  I’m not going to beat my child with the book. Maybe just a love tap. Just enough to get his attention, okay? Yes, yes, like I said, I’ve read the books. I know all about getting down on eye level with the child and speaking in a soft and calm voice, and yes, it even works….sometimes. Other times, not so much.

I know that this may not be a popular opinion I’m about to share but I have to be honest, as an “older and more mature student” when in college, as I listened to lectures from professors about children and read the fancy books, etc….I often wondered if they’ve ever really met a child. Like, a real child, in the real world. I read stories and heard tales of children that respond just as the textbooks say they will, simply by doing that “child whispering”, but I’ve never personally witnessed it or met them. I’m pretty sure they live in the same zip code as the unicorns, leprechauns and maybe Bigfoot. I keep my eyes open for them though, always on the lookout for those elusive creatures…..

Listen, I want my kids to be happy, just like everyone else. I wish I could give them every single thing they wanted without turning them into spoiled human beings, but it’s just not possible. I truly worry about the shift in the way a lot of our children are thinking and are being raised. Am I the only one that sees a large number of children (and adults) with an overly large sense of entitlement?

I refuse to sit back and let my kids take that false impression out into the world with them, because it is setting them up for failure. (Hello? Do we really need to give every child a ribbon for participation in an activity? Shouldn’t verbal praise for their effort, and learning to have a sense of personal pride in their effort be enough? Are we sending a message that everyone should receive a prize ALL the time, regardless of the outcome of a project or activity? Does anyone besides me worry that our children won’t be emotionally prepared to handle college professors and supervisors in the workplace who don’t coddle them as they have been used to? If they don’t get a promotion or get chosen to participate on a key project at work, will they be equipped to deal with that?…)

By learning the skills to adjust to less than ideal circumstances, finding coping strategies to deal with disappointment or adversity….these are the things that will help our kids succeed…without those skills, they will have much trouble being happy in life.

Too often I see parents allowing their children to call the shots because it’s easier than dealing with the consequences of telling the child “no”, enforcing boundaries, or following through on a disciplinary action that needs to be put in place. Sometimes we have to risk upsetting our kids, in order to teach them that life isn’t always going to go their way. They cannot always be handed everything they want without working for it, earning it, or winning it fair and square. That’s the reality of life that they need to know.

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Now, to get back to that pesky paper I found that said “Do It Yourself”…when I first saw it, I imagined Gino writing that as an outlet of his frustration with me, the mean, horrible mother, that makes him “do it himself” rather than being his maid. And even though I wouldn’t change the way I’m parenting him, because I know the lesson will stick and he will become responsible, independent and accountable– I did feel bad, that he was upset with me. No parent likes that. I let that doubt creep in…am I too hard on him? Do I expect too much? Does he understand that I love him even when I’m enforcing these lessons? Tough love is hard.

But then I noticed something. I had been focusing on the words, not paying attention to the picture he had drawn…..that simple little picture, that changes the entire “feel” of those three words. It was a smiley face, people, a smiley face. I wasn’t being depicted as an ugly monster, spewing fire from my mouth as I spit out the words “DO IT YOURSELF!!”. It was a simple smiley face. And then I knew.

Yeah, we are going to be just fine. Tough love IS hard, but it can be done right. 🙂

I can’t end this without saying that we have ALL experienced times when we thought we had just committed the ultimate parenting fail. If you’ve ever done something and were beating yourself up about it, you HAVE to go to Jen Hatmaker’s Facebook page and check out this Post by Jen Hatmaker, where she encouraged her followers to share their most hilarious mom meltdown fail. Be warned that you will laugh until you cry. Or pee your pants. Either way, it’s a must read, and you will go away feeling not so alone in the crazy journey of raising these children up right. Enjoy!

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<<<<<Believe it! It’s true! They love us ALL the time 🙂

Cheers and smiley faces,

Jill ❤

One of those less than stellar mom moments….

Well it’s lunchtime and I can’t help but wonder what Gino thought about his lunch that I packed for him today….

Twenty years. I’ve been packing school lunches for my children for twenty long years. I can best describe this task as…MISERY. If I had known how much I would loathe it, I would’ve chosen to have my four children in the span of four years rather than eighteen years, just to get past the misery of packing these wretched lunches everyday as quickly as possible.

When my first child started school and could take a lunch, it was FUN for me. Going to the grocery store was like a treasure hunt to find the coolest foods and snacks to pack in his cute little lunch box. All the first grade kids (and their newbie moms like me) were so excited. It’s like a right of passage into first grade–you get to go to the cafeteria and sit at the lunch tables as a big kid.  And all the kids check out what the other kids bring in their lunch–an unofficial first grade lunch packer contest to see who brings the coolest stuff.  And you know where that pressure falls, right? Yep, right here onto Mom. Moms are in a secret competition to one up each other and give their kid “best packer” status. And that part of it doesn’t end at first grade….as they get older there’s still that whole–“hey what did YOU bring today?” thing that goes on between the kids at lunch. My firstborn very well may have earned that status of “best packer”. Gino, however, as kid number four….not a snowball’s chance in hell.

I have tried to bribe child number four to buy the school lunch. Begged, pleaded, offered trips to Toys R Us, even. Anything to get out of packing that lunch.  In my own defense, IT’S HARD–I’m totally burnt out as the Packer of the Lunch. Today I think I hit rock bottom. Because I forgot to do a mental inventory of the fridge last night to make sure I had enough “lunch stuff”  (or maybe I just blocked it out). And after standing in front of the kid this morning, reading the lunch menu and giving an Oscar worthy performance as I made the Penne Pasta with Meatsauce sound like the most fabulous and delectable dish on earth, I got the two thumbs down sign and knew I was in big trouble. I literally had NO IDEA what I was going to put in that lunch box because I had already checked out the fridge. When I scanned the contents I had broken out into a nervous sweat and cursed myself for not having thought to stop at the grocery store last night. It was the packing mother’s worst nightmare. No lunchmeat. No string cheese. No yogurt. None of the staples that I’d typically send. Not even a freaking Slim Jim that I could try to mentally justify as a “meat”. The kid won’t eat a peanut butter sandwich to save his life. I actually considered setting the alarm on my phone as a reminder to call Fox’s Pizza at 11am and have them deliver a personal size Stromboli to the elementary school for him (but thought that might be frowned upon….)….

Today when Gino opens his lunch he will get a baggie of microwave popcorn, a rice krispie treat, an apple that I intended to throw out yesterday because it was getting to look just a tad bit shriveled, a handful of grapes that I salvaged as edible, a Nutrigrain bar in a flavor he doesnt like, a few almonds, a bottle of water, and milk money.

I know, I know, I just blew my chance at Mother of the Year. For all of you over achieving, extremely organized and 1000% organic and healthy moms, I’m sorry that you had to read this. The struggle is real. I promise I will have a multi-course, healthy, hot dinner waiting for him when he gets home from school. No need to call the authorities. AND I will restock the fridge….And undoubtedly hide some Slim Jims in the cupboard for future emergencies such as this 🙂

Cheers to tonight’s refrigerator restocking party!

Jill

2015, We barely know each other but I already love you.

10906139_4919087831061_224543120854867953_nI have to admit, I love the idea of a fresh start. A do-over. A chance to wipe the slate clean and begin, again. To hopefully take the lessons the past year has taught me, and use the knowledge I’ve gathered to help guide me through a new year.  Do you all feel like that as well? It’s more, WAY more, than just the “New Year’s resolution”….it’s a true feeling that you get in your gut. Sort of like a mixture of hope, determination, and spunk.

Maybe I’m a slow learner, but finally, I think I’m getting a few things right, and this year, 2015, will mark some significant changes for me, and the way I’m hoping to live, love, and enjoy life.. Here are a few thoughts and ideas that I’m taking with me into 2015:

1. Living large can, ironically, mean living with much LESS.

I’ve been doing some MAJOR downsizing. Clearing out clutter, selling off or giving away items that take up too much space, organizing, streamlining my career, even, in the hopes of leading a more stress free life. I feel that society, as a whole, has gotten so caught up in the “keeping up with the Jones'”, so to speak, that we accumulate so much “stuff” to the point where it overwhelms us not only financially but also physically and mentally. Listen, I’m not pointing fingers. I am a guilty party to it as well. Thankfully I have seen the light and have been taking the steps to live lighter and with less baggage, literally. Let me tell you how refreshing it is, once you finally loosen your grip on all of those “things” that you thought you had to have. Take it from me—-let them go. It’s an enlightening experience and my only regret is not having done it sooner.

2. I’m over caring what people think.

There you have it. I don’t care what you think. It almost makes me giggle, because I can’t believe that I’m saying this and actually MEAN it. But it’s true. I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong….I WANT you to like me, I WANT you to approve of me. But I’ve let go of worrying about getting everyone’s approval, or having anxiety over wondering how someone might react to a decision I’ve made. In the end, the decisions I make and actions I live by are between God and I. It’s so easy for us to forget that. As long as we know what’s in our heart and what motivates us, that’s all that’s important.

3.  Saving money is a monthly priority.

One of the positive results of the downsizing of material things is the opportunity to be able to save some money. I’ve gone from a huge home and daycare to two average size homes, to finally, just this month, ONE average size home. I’ve slashed utility expenses, living expenses, and liquidated some junk I had sitting around just taking up space. All of that equals a step in the right direction toward financial security and getting my ducks in a row, as I like to put it.  I sat down, made a budget, and right at the top was a line for savings. I’ve made it a priority and I have a yearly goal that I not only intend to meet but hope to exceed.

4. Living life to the fullest extent while maintaining responsibility for my family and business.

Let’s face it, I can’t just jet set away to exotic lands, jump off of cliffs into oceans of blue water or go on incredible excursions at the drop of a hat, but I WILL be traveling more, enjoying time with those that I love on a more consistent basis, and experiencing more of what life has to offer. Being in a long distance relationship was a bit daunting for me for a while, until I realized that it’s actually a GIFT. I’ve embraced it, and no longer see it as an obstacle; instead it’s a chance to show support to my partner and share in his journey with him. Spectacular adventures, meeting new people and making new friends, going places and seeing things I’ve never seen before—I’m a lucky girl to be given this opportunity called “living”. I intend to make the most of it. You should too.

5. Most importantly, I’m sharing all of these changes with my children in the hopes that they will incorporate them into their own lives, and benefit from them as well.

I’ve learned that the best gift I can give my children is allowing them to see me truly happy. I haven’t always been successful at that, so I get a tremendous amount of joy in finally getting to a point where the positive changes, although viewed as radical by some, have brought about a peace and happiness in me that is easily seen and felt by my children. There’s nothing better than that.

Have you made changes for 2015? I’d love to hear about them!

Cheers to 2015!

Jill