Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do we HAVE to celebrate Mother's Day?

I mean really, what mother on earth glories in this day? Can we just skip the festivities, the potted plant from church that dies a week later, and move on to Monday? Is it really the only day of the year that those we care for feel the need to celebrate who we are and what we do?  Don't worry, I don't really feel this way. I feel blessed that my family does not limit their gratitude towards me just on this day only, I've got loads of cards and pictures from all my children made on all the other days of the year, celebrating me, their mom, who, for some reason, they love. But maybe there are some out there who DO feel it's the only day, out of obligation, they are celebrated.  And what a shame it is if that is the case.

One of my favorite books is by Emily Watts, Being The Mom: 10 Things I Learned By Accident, Because I Had Children On Purpose.  Just the mere title of the book put my mothering days into perspective. I knew, as I read through those pages, that the things Mrs. Watts was going to divulge, would be just for me. I've read that book several times over the years, because I am always in need of constant reminding. It was refreshing to read about a mom who was just like me, who had gone through the same things that I was going through. I'm normal?  This isn't just me? It's a relief to know that I'm not the only mom on the planet who thinks those things.  Actually, I think it's about time I find that book again and dust the pages.

I've purchased many books over the years on raising children; how to be a better mom, and some of these books are by women who hold degrees in family relationships, psychology, or something grand like that. I have no degree in those fields, and am kind of glad I don't. I feel enough pressure already as it is without a degree hanging over my head, plastered on some wall.  For the most part, I come away feeling a little better about my current occupation as a domestic engineer and feel like I can take a deep breath, relax, and start fresh again in the morning.

Because I did have children on purpose, (and to anyone who did have children by accident) I owe it to them, and to myself, to do all I can for them, that will help each of my children to grow into loving, responsible people. But it is a constant battle, especially as the world becomes more and more vicious, and the temptations for our children become more prominent everywhere. Yet sometimes I look at other moms and wonder, 'Why can't I be more like her, what am I doing wrong?'.

It is a disservice to myself and my children, to compare my mothering skills with other moms.  Unfortunately, I have to remind myself of that.  It's certainly easy to do, I imagine I'm not the only one out there who has done it, but it's such a waste of energy and thought and very unproductive.   When it comes right down to it, we're all in the same boat, trying to maneuver the waves without getting tossed, and keep our sails high and on course.  But when those waves come crashing, I tend to forget that there are others on the boat with me, and that I don't have to steer it alone.  That is where the other moms come into play. That is where I look to them as examples for me, to help guide me in these treacherous waters.  

We all bring something unique to the table of motherhood.  But do we dare ask for a helping of this-or-that, a slice of advice.  I know I don't often enough.  Finding that "uniqueness" is tricky, and sometimes asking for help is hard to do.  As my children are growing, their needs are changing, and priorities change with it.  It's becoming a more "emotional" part of mothering now.  But I signed up for this, and it has proven to be very rewarding.  When I look at each of my children, and think that maybe another mom would have done things differently, that is not always so bad.  Because what I'm doing for my children is what is needed for them, and may not necessarily work for another child. 

I can look back on my years as a mother of infants and toddlers and wish over and over that I had done things differently.  The only good that comes from that moaning and groaning, is that it makes me focus on the here and now, and pray for no regrets later.  A wonderful example of a mother, to me, is Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who said she tried to say yes to her children more than no, whenever she could.  I think of that often, what a good reminder to not let the happy moments pass us by.  What would jumping in the mud puddles hurt every once in a while? Why CAN'T they stay up 'till 9, instead of going to bed at 8:30?  They beg to go to the store with you....... take 'em.  Is it gonna kill them to get that Happy Meal for them (sure they may not taste that great, but who cares?)  What I've found, more than anything, is that they are longing to just be with me.  Those are the regrets I don't want to have, of not spending enough time with them.

Is being a mom in 2011 hard?  Undoubtedly so.  I am a mother to my children every day, not just on Mother's Day.  If history has shown us anything, it has proven that it will only get tougher to raise our children in these days.  I am thankful to my own mom, and to my many friends, mom or not, that have been stalwart examples to me on raising children, and being fabulous women, examples for  me and our children to look up to.

So, in answer to the question from the title of this blog post, YES, we do have to celebrate Mother's day.  Let your children shower you with love, if they so choose.  Let it be a time to reflect on all the good you have done, and the good you have yet to fulfill.  Use this time to think of all the moms who have had an influence on you and have helped you become the mom you are today. And especially allow this time to be one in which you let God help you raise your children; after all they are His children that He has sent to our care; He knows them, and is trying to help US know them and understand them.

We're all in this together.  Deep down, we want to see each of us succeeding in this role of being mom.  I don't think any of us have it easier than anyone else.  You may be the answer to a mom in need, as we all have known another mom that has been an example to us.  Embrace the day as one to reflect on all your blessings that come with Motherhood. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What (not so little) boys are made of

Frogs and snails, that would be Josh. Puppy dog tails, well, neither Hunter or Josh, since I refuse to have a dog in the house at the current time. But these boys of mine are made up of plenty, that is for sure.

I remember well the baby shower I had when I was pregnant with Hunter.  There were many ladies there that I watched  raise a plethera of  boys.  I observed these boys growing under their mother's wings with compassion, stability, endurance, and a firm belief that they knew their mother's loved them.  Each of the women at my baby shower were given a piece of paper that said, "How To Raise A Boy".  Of course, there was still advice from my friends who did not have boys that were meaningful.  But I have always cherished the words that were given just for me from moms who had already experienced what I was about to.

There was a mom there, that raised 3 boys, and her advice was this.... "When your son becomes a teenager, and even maybe before, you'll be driving him around to many activities, take this time to talk with him, and have those conversations that you may not get a chance to otherwise."  She went on to say that her boys, at the end of a dance or school activity, always wanted to come back to their house to gather, which she said, made her feel good that her sons felt comfortable enough to bring their friends to their home.  I knew then and there, that was how I wanted it in my home.

Other words of the wise I received was from a very dear friend that I've remained close to for years. She told me that the relationship a mother has with her son is like none other.  I've always remembered that, and hoped that I would have the same kind of relationship with my boy(s) too, that she has with her son.  I would have to say that my boys are mamma's boys.  And I love it. I hope it will always remain that way.

When Hunter was very little, toddler age, he would tell me over and over, "I love you mama". That always made my day. I just loved hearing it.  When Josh was born, and up until he was about 2 or 3, whenever I would rock him or be feeding him, he would rub my neck and tell me all the time, "You're wonderful and beautiful." I've tried to get him to tell me those things now, but he won't.

I sing to my boys every night after they are tucked into bed, and have done so since they were born.  Hunter's 11, and Josh is 9, and can't get to sleep until I sing to them. I always tell them I love them before I leave the room, and Hunter will usually reply with an "Okay".  They've not been affectionate boys ever since they were about 3 or so, but just the other night Josh melted my heart.  After I sang to them, and told them I loved them, Josh replied, "I love you too." Now, I could confess and say that he was just so tired he probably didn't realize what he was saying, which is most likely the case, since it sounded pretty drowsy, but I don't care, I'll take it.  I loved hearing it.

So what is Hunter made of: #1 would have to be basketball, he loves to be active, is great in school with his studies, is pretty quiet, does not like the lime light whatsoever. But if you ask him to do something, he will do it. Like most other boys, he loves the Wii and his DS, is diligent in waking up at 6 a.m. every morning, taking his 30 minute shower, keeps me on my toes making sure I've signed all his homework, does his chores consistently, and loves to try new things.  He is also a very sensitive person, and gets upset when others don't follow the rules.

Josh is made up of a different sort: #1 for him would have to be his DS, he's doing great in school, not so interested in sports, pretty slow moving in the mornings, takes about an hour to finish his dinner, loves to draw and is great at it. He is one of the most creative kids I know, coming up with all sorts of contraptions, ideas, inventions, and discovering ways to do the most unusual things, like capturing a fly (in picture above) and attaching it to a string for his pet.  He is one funny guy.  He's always being goofy (which, doesn't always work to his benefit) but he can make you laugh with his silly faces and noises.  He can make so many strange noises with his mouth that no one else in the family can duplicate. He adores his littlest sister, which is so cute to watch. 

As my boys are entering a new phase in life, pre teen, I'm bracing myself with the new temptations that will come their way.  I'm hoping that I am teaching them what they need to know to withstand these temptations, and that they will feel comfortable talking to me about anything.  Over the years I have thought often of how very blessed I am to be a mother of boys.  They are wonderful. Of course I love my girls, and I do not love any one of them any more than another.  But being a mother to boys is a joy, and I am grateful that I'm having the opportunity be their mother.  

So as I look back on all those papers given to me at my baby shower, and remember all the words of advice given by experienced moms of boys, I like to think that maybe I'm becoming some of those moms who I look up to.  And if I had the opportunity to do the same thing for a new mom of a son, I would write all the things that were told to me, for they are coming true, to my delight.  

Because one thing is for sure, there is no relationship quite like that of a mother and son.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Have A Dilemma

It's the same question I ask myself every time election rolls around. Do I want to pay more taxes? Or rather, do I want to pay more taxes if it will help our schools?  In general, I never want to pay higher taxes than I already am; whether it be my property taxes, which are a whopping $4000 a year, (I know, some of you may be wishing that was ALL you paid), or our business taxes, and, being self employed, we are taxed so high.  I won't even go into how much we pay monthly and quarterly, but it's up there, that's for sure.  But, I will say, being self employed was a choice, one that we don't regret (so far), and knew it wouldn't be cheap to run either.  

I thought, years ago, that the lottery was supposed to "save the schools".  And it seems that every year, there is some sort of measure on the ballot to, once again, "save our schools", and of course, this money will be tacked on to our already high property taxes.  Last year it was measure 66 & 67, and all in the name of saving schools. I will freely admit, I voted no on that measure.  Quite frankly, I'm pretty tired of the guilt trip being laid on me if I don't vote for it, as if I'm some sort of school hater. HELLO, I send my children to public schools, I don't hate them. But what I do dislike, immensely, is the gobbledy gook that is being thrown at me that it's all for the children, all for the teacher, and that we somehow don't care about either one of them if we DO vote no.  Has anyone ever bothered to campaign for ME and MY ALREADY HIGH PROPERTY TAXES?  Nope, not that I can tell.  I don't vote based on my emotions, which is exactly what they want, I vote with my brain. 

Now, I understand, that the state measures are controlled by those great folks we put into office in Salem, and that we are supposed to trust them to allocate the money to our schools.  But, it sure seems like they've done a pretty crummy job of doing so.  After all the measures that are passed, WHY ARE WE STILL NEEDING TO PASS MEASURE AFTER MEASURE AFTER MEASURE?  Sometimes I feel like these people think I'm wearing a post it on my forehead that says "stupid".  Well, I'm not.  I'm just plain mad that this problem still exists, and that we folks here at home try to live within budgets, but far be it for me to ever expect our state, let alone our federal government, to live within one. Oh, that's a blog post for another day.

So here we are again.  It's my Sabbath Day, and the phone rings.... it's a phone call from a teacher at the kid's elementary school asking for us to vote yes on the next ballot, in May, for a tax increase to allow 2 weeks of school to stay, instead of having to lose them... and, "can we count on your yes vote?".  Well, to tell you truth, I say, I'm not sure at the moment.  She proceeds to tell me, after I asked her what happened to the supposed money from measure 66&67, that this is strictly a local measure that will go directly to OC schools, and that it would only be $1.09 per $1000 of your assessed value of your house.  Okay, so after I've done the math, that is an added $400+ a year tacked on to my property taxes.  To be quite honest, I'm not sure WHAT to do.  I will either be labeled as someone who doesn't care about the children or the schools, if I vote no, or, I vote yes, and brace myself for even higher taxes.  DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THE ECONOMY WE ARE LIVING IN AT THE MOMENT? Do I think it's fair that only home owners are the one's paying for this? Not at all!! And you SAY this is going directly to the schools, but what about next year? What will the reason be then?  I don't know who to believe anymore.
John and I agree, we'd love to see teachers get paid $100,000 a year.  I love, for the most part, the teachers at our school. They are very hard working and I can tell, again, for the most part, love their job.  We have a great PTA. I'm not crazy about some of the new programs that have been implemented, but I try to fill the gap at home.  What I DON'T like, is the decision I have to make EVERY SINGLE YEAR, about this topic.  Our taxes get higher and higher every year, all in the name schools, and to no avail..... they still need money. How much am I expected to give? How many times am I going to be told the same old story?  The money out of my pocket, does not grow on trees, amazingly enough.  It does not come out of thin air, and it's not stashed away in some office, like Obama's.  

So I'm just looking for advice, comments, anything, what is your opinion? What do I do?