Why Coffee Makes me a Better Parent

So these are my digs. It’s where I come every week to get my creative juices flowing. I sit here……

20161126_091843

 

No really, sometimes I just sit here. I often write. Sometimes I read the bible, sometimes I read self help books that I will follow religiously for tens of days. Sometimes I lose myself in a novel. Sometimes I go to my Facebook or Instagram account and scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll. You get the picture. It’s a home away from home, sort of. Big comfy chair? Check. Warm fire? check. Coffee, a.k.a. lifeblood? Check. Computer? Check. The only thing I’m missing is the husband rubbing my shoulders, and the “MOM, I NEED YOU TO WIPE MY BUTT!!!!” Actually, I don’t really miss my 5 kids or any form of butt wiping. I know. You’re surprised. The husband would be nice, but I will settle for my barista as long as she doesn’t start rubbing my shoulders. That would be weird.  

I know you care so I will tell you. Rhonda, the manager, knows me by name.  I’m so habitual that Rhonda notices when I don’t have my tumbler, I change tumblers, or even once, when I had a new dent in my tumbler!?! I know… right!?! She’s that good, people.

20161126_100139

In my early caffeine days, I drank ⅓ cup cream and ⅔ coffee, but the longer I drank and the more kids I had, the less I wanted extras and the darker I wanted the coffee. I can’t afford to watch my 5 kids and waste space and time swallowing cream!?! I often think it would be more effective for me to just insert caffeine with IV, but then I wouldn’t get all the lovely coffee benefits. “Coffee benefits?” you say. Please share! Oh, I’m gonna share. In fact, I might overshare, but what’s new. Oversharing is my gift, and I will wear it like a badge!

4 Reasons Coffee Makes me a Better Parent

1 Wakeful parents don’t forget as much!  

It gives me energy! Of course,  this is the most common and popular reason people state for drinking coffee. It keeps me from making potentially dangerous, sleepy parenting decisions, like mistaking diaper rash cream for toothpaste (not me, but a20161126_092058 guy I know). Nothing is worse for me, or potentially more dangerous for my family, than me leaving the house without coffee. I have been known to chug an entire cold cup of joe in speedy desperation. Have you ever tried to chug from a coffee mug? The rim is a little thick and it’s not as graceful as a water bottle or a can of soda. Inevitably, while I’m trying to full-on chug said coffee from said thick rimmed stoneware, someone pulls at my right leg, a few teaspoons worth end up missing my mouth and dripping down my neck, which I usually absorb with my shirt. I don’t wear white. Never wear white if you have children under the age of 10. If the shirt doesn’t work, I just rub it into my skin. A perfume of sorts. It probably absorbs into my skin and has the same benefit as drinking it. Like an essential oil.

2 It fights morning breath!

I use coffee to literally burn the plaque, morning breath, and left over bits of chocolate I downed in my bed after kids were asleep, out of my mouth. Yes, I’ve skipped brushing a time or two…or three. I haven’t asked my dentist if this is a good practice, but I’m pretty sure he would say it’s better than doing nothing at all, if not just so people don’t have to smell my dookie breath. Nuf said.

3 Delicious things make me happy!

I would eat pretty much anything if it said coffee on it: Ice cream? My favorite! Chocolate? Ummm…yes! Cake? Bring it on! You could make coffee flavored chips, crackers, maybe even ham!!! I’m pretty sure I would eat it. My favorite coffee things are those chocolate covered espresso beans.  What prodigy came up with this!?! Essentially you are eating coffee beans, which I would do. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would just eat coffee grounds. It would be messier, and I might choke, and it might be stuck all over my teeth for the rest of the day, but other than that, I think I would enjoy it equally. I think I will talk to Barista Rhonda about serving bowls of coffee grounds. Can’t you see the black-teethed happy smiles around the place now!?! People spooning in their coffee joy for the day!?! “Would you like whip cream with that?”  “Why yes… yes I would!”  

4 Poop!

That’s right…poop. By far the best coffee drinking benefit of all time. Anyone who drinks coffee regularly knows large quantities of dark coffee can really get things headed in the right direction. How do you think I got my bowels moving again after I birthed 5 poop-backer-upper, hemorrhoid causing children? Am I right or am I right? I’m so comfortable in my coffee haven, that I take a poo every time I come. I habitually use the same stall. It’s mine! I’m thinking of asking Rhonda for a plaque!

A Poo Poo Story

The other day I was headed in the direction of said poop place and I discovered someone had been there before me!?! How did I know? I’m there early, 5:30 am a.k.a guilt-free-time (when the kids are still asleep), so I usually take delight in the upright seat and blue water, knowing it has been cleaned just for me. Honestly, this is even better than home. My toilets are NOT this clean. There isn’t even a black line around the top edge of the water, dried pee around the rim, or a stray, questionable hair sitting where my back side’s about to go. On this particular day, not only did this alleged potty robber pilfer my blue water, but  this commode caper had the audacity to take a number 2!!!! And leave it!!!! (Now that really felt like home, but that’s a story for another day.) Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this stinky ordeal? My coffee home potty has automatic flush.  I’m just saying, if I took a poop that big in public, when I went to walk away I would be sure I heard a the rocket blast.

Seriously though, why do public toilets have to flush so loud?!? They boom and splatter like they are trying to wash down 5lbs of little smokies. It’s unnecessary. My children are afraid of them. They sit there trying to relax and do their business all the while clenched and afraid, yelling, “DON’T LET IT FLUSH!!! I wanna go out before you FLUSH IT!!!” They probably think their little bodies will go down with their business! Poor kids. No wonder there are so many small children riddled with constipation!  

Bringing it Full Circle

Constipation. That’s where this blog comes full circle. Coffee shouldn’t just be for parents. We should just start giving our kids coffee in the morning. That would solve it! Works for me. Never mind the lack of common sense and medical data to back up this claim. Forget milk and OJ! Coffee needs to be a part of a balanced healthy diet. Cause I’m telling you, once you have two warm cups in your system, no fear of the flush noise is gonna hold back that tootsie roll!

Here’s hoping this brought you some belly chuckles, a little joy and some seriously good “scientific information.” Until next time, don’t be afraid to SHARE chaos, CREATE confidence, and INSPIRE some grace of your own!  

Advertisements

That Time I Forgot My Kids’ First Day of School

So it took me a while to write about this, and in total honesty, I’ve been putting it off. I’m actually still a bit ashamed about this one, but my pledge has always been to share even my most humiliating moments with you, so cherish it and share it with those who will benefit from its equaling power.

(Deep breath.  Here we go.) 

August 23, 2016, 8:01 am

It is a beautiful summer morning, and I’m snuggling comfortably in my bed. In fact, this is the last day of summer vacation. The last day of constant bickering, the last day of sleeping in, the last day of having my 5 kiddos all to myself! I quietly admit to myself that I will miss them when they start school again.

Emotions, which bring both sorrow and glee together in one big hormone pot pie, swirl around in my one-step-beyond-comatose body. I’m also relishing in the simple fact that I don’t have to get up if I don’t want to. In fact, I might not. I will probably just tell the kids to grab some bowls and dry cereal and eat on the living room floor while they watch some mindless cartoons. I can vacuum the floor in a couple weeks. Heck, they can get the baby up too! She’s old enough to eat cereal. She might spill it all over, but she can just eat it off the (relatively) clean floor.  

I haven’t heard from even the youngest three this morning. They are usually the first ones up yelling for “ceweal” or saying they are “hungwy.” This must be God’s gift to me for all my hard work this summer. One last day to sleep in. I have really perfected my sleeping-in craft over the summer. Even my kids are well accustomed to dawdling in the morning.   

Tonight, we are scheduled to go to the school’s orientation. The supplies for each of the older kiddos has been packed in their backpacks waiting by the door for over a week. I am really on top of it this year! I feel relaxed and somewhat euphoric thinking about how I have survived the summer. I managed them all over these past 3 months: I tutored 3 of them, I baseballed one of them, I family vacationed with all of them, and I even managed to sunscreen and bathe most of them! Between all this and my ingenious dry cereal in the living room idea, I probably deserve an award! I psychologically pat myself on the back and look forward to afternoons of one or two young napping children and quiet. This is gonna be great!

8:06 am

My phone’s text message notification goes off.

I note the time and think about how tomorrow, I will have been up for an hour and a half already. I figure it’s my mom or sister. I grab my phone, hopeful to look at some pics of my adorable nieces and nephews, or maybe a shot of mom and dad enjoying breakfast on the beach. Nope, it’s my good friend Michelle.  

Michelle has always been a bit of a mentor for me and a very generous person.   She is texting to see if she can meet me, as she has some clothes from her youngest son to pass along to my eldest. It’s a group text to both me and my husband, who is in the garage getting ready to leave for work.  

It reads, “I’m swinging by the school now. Can one of you meet me?” Before I can answer, my husband responds and I watch as the following plays out on my messaging app:

Husband: St. Pats starts tomorrow. Sorry.

Michelle: Hahaha! Your poor children! Have another!!

Husband: I can stop by the house tonight after orientation if you like.

Michelle: Ha! I am here….

     Where are you parked?…..

     I am in front of Methodist church….

Husband: Confused. We are at home. Kids start school on Wednesday.

Michelle: No they don’t.  Seriously- I have to get to work.

End thread…..

(20 second pause….)

8:14 am

Cue husband arriving in the bedroom where I left my euphoric, self praising, slumber somewhere around, “Where are you parked,” to search the school’s webpage. Bart walks in somewhere around, “Ooooooh… sugar loving donkey!!!!!!!!!!!! TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY!!!!!!!!” At least that’s what I think I said.

I immediately start yelling, repeatedly, “Today’s the first day!!!! Today’s the first day!!!! Today’s the first day!!!! How can this happen? Today’s the first day!!” like some kind of crazed broken record. Meanwhile, my husband does his infamous finger run/pull through his hair with both hands, and says things like, “I don’t know, I don’t KNOW!!!!” and other locutions I can’t retype here.

I start to cry. Bart walks out to the living room to call Michelle and shamefully explain why we weren’t joking, but we really aren’t at the school. I manage to pull myself together enough to wake up my second oldest, Evelyn, and explain that mommy messed up and today is the first day. I need her to jump up and put some school clothes on because school started about 10 minutes ago.  

It is at this confusing, awkward, mortifying mommy moment, that I  go to get my eldest up and when I don’t find him in his bed, I realize something even worse!!! HE ISN’T EVEN HOME!!! He spent the night at his cousin’s house last night!!!  You know an-end-of-summer hoorah! Super fun idea if it wasn’t on the eve of THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!  I forgot because I always forget when one of my kids sleeps somewhere else. I’m even known for looking for them in their bed in the morning and having a moment of panic when I don’t see them. Now I’m guilty of forgetting the first day AND where my child is.  

I start to seriously wonder if parts of my brain have been oozing out of my ear while I sleep. I stick my fingers in to check and notice no crust or fluid. Curious. Maybe it’s those creepy earwig bugs. You know why they call them earwigs, don’t you? Creepy little devil bugs made me forget stuff! I knew I couldn’t trust them from the first time I saw those pincers and heard they had the word “ear” in their name.   

8:16am

I pick up the phone, while I pull on some clothes that I hope will look something like I didn’t just roll out of bed. My sister-in-law answers, and I explain my mommy fail as I try to sound like I haven’t been sobbing my brains out.

(Ahh haa… that’s where my brains went! I really need to stop crying so much.)  

Because my SIL is awesome, and also a mother of five, she saves her laughing for the next time I will see her. She sounds sympathetic and understanding while she hands the phone to my eldest, Martin.  

“Martin, mom messed up. The first day of school is today, not tomorrow. I’m so sorry.”

“WHAT? REALLY? Oh no. What are we gonna do!?!?”

Before answering, I silently think to myself, the exact opposite of what I was thinking in my bed this morning during my euphoric self tribute: I don’t know… I’m dumb. I’m worse than dumb. I’m a laughable, senseless, air headed, loser who is too incompetent to be your mother! People talk to me all the time. I see their mouths moving, I nod, but I don’t know what they are saying! I drive to your school often, and when I get there I realize I was headed to the grocery store, or I go to the grocery store when I’m supposed to be at the doctor! I have lost my car in almost every parking lot in this town! When I’m late getting you from school it’s usually because I forgot about you, but I don’t want you to feel unloved so I blame it on your baby sister and say she pooped her pants right before I had to leave. I went to look for you in your bed this morning because I forgot you weren’t here!?! Did you know there are bugs eating my brain?!? You should probably replace me with someone more qualified and with less brain oozing going on.

(hard swallow)

Instead, I try to sound like I’m not sniveling and snotting all over myself, and I say “Well, I can come and get you, but by the time I drive out there and back, get you ready, and get you to school, it will be almost lunch time and today is an early out. Or you can stay, and miss the first day. I’m so sorry buddy. I know you have been nervous about starting 5th grade.”

“Don’t cry, Mom.  It’s okay. I will stay here. It’s not a big deal. I can just go tomorrow. We never do anything on the first day anyway.”

My sob-cloaking trickery is obviously out of practice. Ashamed of my mistake and my lack of emotional self control, I surrender and let my kid comfort me. “Okay buddy.  Have a good day. I love you!”

“Love you too, Mom. It’s okay. Bye.”

“Bye, Martin.”

There’s something about my kids trying to comfort me that pulls at the string that connects my stomach, heart and tear reflex. You know the one. If my kids comfort me, or I have to watch them try to be brave, I’m a salty puddle before I can finish telling them I love them. I’m also crying because I’m realizing how big my 10 year old has gotten while I had my back turned.  

8:19 am

By the time I compose myself and walk from the bedroom to the car, my stellar 7 year old is smiling and ready for her first day. I try to clear the bloodshot from my eyes as I drive her to school, but I sob and blow my nose on the way in and out of the front office and up to her room. 

8:30 am

Her classmates all cheer, “Evelyn’s here!” when she arrives at her room. I silently tell myself, “Well no other kid got that kind of welcome on their first day, so there’s that, and she’s really only 25 minutes late!  Never mind the child you didn’t bring in at all!!”

The Icing on the Cake?

There is one thing I have failed to mention yet about this whole ordeal. The part that puts the shame in my shameful. The reason I slinked my way past the principal’s office, so as not to make eye contact and affirm my humiliation. A couple months prior to this mishap, I was appointed President of our School Board. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, have a chuckle at my expense! I am not only the mom who forgot the first day of school, I’m the School Board President who forgot the first day of school! You know, the lady who has heard the date for the first day of school in every meeting for the last six months!?!

In my defense, there was a misdated flyer for school orientation in our registration packet. Add that to the lackadaisical “who cares what day/date it is” attitude of summer, and the fact that I completely ignored the CAPITAL LETTER SUBJECT of the email the office sent notifying parents of the mistake on the flyer, and you get the embarrassed blubbering snotty mess that left the school defeated that day!

20160824_074322
Since there was no time for a picture on the ACTUAL first day, we caught it the day after. Evelyn, 2nd Day of 2nd Grade — Martin, 1st Day of 5th Grade (on the 2nd Day)

Lessons Learned

Now that the dust has settled on what is sure to go down as an epic folktale in this family, I not only mustered the courage to share my story and laugh at myself, I’ve learned a few things: You shouldn’t change your calendar based on one flyer, earwigs don’t actually eat your brain, and my husband should never rely on me for dates. (All my friends know this, I know this, it’s always been this way, but now we are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt, Bart is the only reliable date keeper in this relationship.) I’m okay with this. It’s safer that way.

I’ve also realized something even more important: there is so much beauty to be found in our mistakes!

The most rewarding thing I’ve learned from all of this, is that when we make mistakes as parents, and we admit those mistakes to our children, we offer them the opportunity to show us their best selves!

My son comforted me…I’m raising a stand up young man.

My daughter got ready in record speed…I’m raising an efficient young women.

Both my children easily forgave me for my mistake…I’m raising loving, empathetic people.

What more affirmation could a mother possibly need!?! This kind of beauty in the darkness is the reason I started this blog.

But that’s what God intended for us to do with our trials. To find the joy in them! This quote from the first chapter of James, verses 2-4 spells it out for us.

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

JOY? Oh, I’ve found the joy all right! As I told my story, my friends hemmed an hawed and as they laughed I started to chuckle too.  

ENDURANCE?  I got that too, sister. When you make a big doozy like this to start off the year, all the other mistakes pale in comparison. I’m feeling pretty good about where the rest of the year can go now. Nowhere but up, baby!

MATURE? Yup, I’m totally mature! Just ask my husband.

In all seriousness, sharing this has grown, or  rather, “matured” me into someone I can only be with God by my side…

a mother who is “lacking in nothing.”

I mean it! I’m not tooting my own horn!

I’m just saying that with Jesus I can forget the first day of school, yell at my kids, say a curse word in front of them, miss a game, forget a concert, or worse, and it won’t matter!

He will fill in my gaps and I WILL LACK NOTHING!

YOU lack nothing!

Jesus has given us a beautiful gift. Take it!

It doesn’t matter how big or small your mistake, Jesus loves you like you love those beautiful kids, and He doesn’t filter whom He forgives, nor does He run out of grace to show you the beauty that can come from your mistakes. So share your story of chaos, create confidence, and inspire some grace among your people. You never know when your ugly story will spread some unexpected joy of it’s own!

Lice… Gah!

Soooo… lice. Admit it. Just reading the word made you cringe. And it’s not just because I put it in italics. I can make you do it again…  bedbugs, chiggers, hand foot and mouth, mice, bologna cake (no? Google it. You’ll wince a little). I could go on all day, causing you to make awkward, squirmy, wincing faces at your computing device until your neighbor moves away a few feet. Oh yes.  I’m that good!

First off, let me just say lice are not a sign of a dirty household, in fact, neither are bedbugs or any other abominable pest that enters your home. In fact, lice prefer clean hair and any of these annoying menaces can get into even the cleanest of homes. I’m not saying my home is clean. I’m just saying, “NO ONE IS SAFE!” See, now you can sleep easy. Right?

If you have never had lice in your home, let me give you the 411 right quick. Small bug, even smaller eggs, so small you almost need a microscope to see them. They usually, but not always, make your head itch, they are contracted by head to head contact. So really better than some pests, because most of your kids aren’t going around rubbing their heads together on a daily basis. However, there are still precautions you need to take, and if you have a germaphobe for a spouse, then their are more precautions you “need” to take.

All in all, my house has never been so clean. Thank you lice. I learned that I have a sanitizing setting on my dryer.  Thank you lice. Those little nuisances can’t last 30 minutes in there, and your belongings will be so hot when you take them out you will need hot pads. Thank you lice. Having just about all my child’s belongings in bags for 10 plus days made both of us realize how little we really “need.” Thank you lice.

20161014_161253

I had lice a couple times as a child. Although I remember the shampooing and tedious combing my poor mother endured, I was too young and carefree to trouble myself with what else was involved in eradicating this menace.  I spoke to my mother, the day that all of this occurred, and do you know what she said?  She said, “You know, this sort of feels like payback.” My mother, my sweet, all-around good natured, never spiteful mother.  Although, I can’t say I blame her cause there was the lice vacation disaster of ‘86.  Oh yea… me, my sister, my grandmother (who was vacationing with us) head lice.  Away from home.  Needless to say, I now truly appreciate all that nightmare entailed for my dear mom.

Let’s be honest though, for a mother, slowly and meticulously picking through your kids hair looking for eggs and bugs, not horrible. Not my idea of a good time, but I can think of worse things I’ve endured during my mothership. Hey monkeys do it. I didn’t eat the lice though. Just to clarify. On the other hand, getting my husband to pick and comb through my hair, well that was a horse of a different color.  It was something close to asking a monkey to do it with mittens on.  Not to mention my hair is the longest it’s been in 10 years. He did it though, and after checking the 10th or so time, he gained gracefulness and I began to trust that he was really looking. Now if that’s not love I don’t know what is.  

Okay, one final public service announcement about lice and we can move on.  Let me just warn you. I checked my kids head like 5 times before I found anything and the little things that I found I could remove with my finger. Everything that I read said that you wouldn’t be able to pull that off, but I could definitely pull them off (I couldn’t flick them off mind you) but I wasn’t sure of what they were until I finally found a live lie (what is singular for lice?). Let me tell you, when I saw that little bugger, I’m pretty sure my heart and breathing stopped for about 5 seconds, and I know I heard that repetitive, high-pitched, ringing note, that always plays on horror movies when something creepy shows up on the screen. Oh and BTW you are supposed to repeat treatment 7-10 days after the first treatment.  I learned this the hard way and I want to keep all of the lice virgins out there from suffering the same fate. Just about the time I was going to remove aforementioned items from the large garbage bags.  About 13 days after the first infestation, I saw a couple movements in my kids hair, while standing at the church book sale. Not my idea of Sunday Funday. Ya know?

If you do find yourself in a lice story, know this. You aren’t alone, you aren’t dirty (lice actually like clean hair), it will pass, and your house will be cleaner as a bonus! Until next time, share chaos, create confidence, and inspire some grace of your own!