It’s Keepin’ It Real Day Today

I just tripped over shoes in my kitchen, and I swore out loud because OH MY WORD, WHO KEEPS LEAVING THEIR SHOES ALL OVER THIS HOUSE?

FYI, it was me.

My shoes.

On the kitchen floor.

So that was rad.

….

Yesterday was a cry-fest before school. NOT ME that time, so there’s that. But it was a cry-fest for a good reason. I am crying for a GOOD REASON, MOM! he said, with Indignant Face and a stomp for good measure. He’s normally an easy one, this 2nd grade kid of mine. I mean, he’s an easy one relatively speaking because he’s still made out of Human and made out of Kid, so not easy-easy, you know. But he’s normally an easier one, so I was confused at his utter meltdown… over a sweatshirt. 

In his defense, the oceans of tears were over an absent sweatshirt, which he’d accidentally left in our church gym the night before. He wanted me to drop everything — and, by everything, I mean my regularly scheduled cup of celebratory I Got the Children to School Semi-On-Time Again! GO, ME! coffee, and my alarm reminding me to take my medication, and my plans to find and don underwear because jeans chafe, man — drive to the church gym, find the sweatshirt, drive to the school and, sans panties, bra and socks, and drop off said sweatshirt so that he might have the sweatshirt he neeeeeeeeds.

Well.

WELL.

I said no.

I said no because NATURAL CONSEQUENCES, right? And LEARNING OPPORTUNITY!

And also coffee and undies.

OK, mostly it was just because of the coffee and undies, because, I’ll be honest, I ADORE Natural Consequences when they match what I prefer to do or not to do, but most of the time I think I’d rather have my kids learn that life is a mixture of natural consequences and people who will give you a hand when you screw something up. We’re all going to suck from time to time, after all, and, since I don’t really like this trend that has us teaching our kids that their screw-ups should leave them picking up the pieces alone, I ditched consistency in favor of teaching both responsibility and compassion which I think is the much more complicated, difficult lesson to teach and also the better life skill. 

Except when I need coffee and panties. 

Then, it’s NATURAL CONSEQUENCES, kid. 

Commence more crying, because MOOOooooOOOOOM! 

Now, just to be clear, this kid o’ mine has a twin brother. A twin brother who has a nearly identical sweatshirt. A twin brother who has a nearly identical sweatshirt and offered to let him wear it because he’s kind and thoughtful and agreed with me on oh my gosh, STOP CRYING.

But was the fraternal twin sweatshirt acceptable?

No.

No, of course not.

But I remainded strong! I said I was very sorry for him. I hugged him. And I said I’d pick up the sweatshirt last night so he’d have it to wear again this morning.

He cried some more and went to school.

And asked me for his sweatshirt this morning.

The one I OF COURSE forgot to pick up last night. 

Gaaaaaahhh!

Oh, the betrayal.

And the wailing!

And the gnashing of teeth!

Except this time it was on me. ‘Cause I did not do what I said I’d do.

And this time *I* had to deal with the natural consequences. :/ 

Which is why I showed up in the school office this morning. After school started. Kid’s grubby sweatshirt in hand. In my jeans and t-shirt and tennis shoes. Sans mascara. Sans groomed hair. Sans coffee. Sans all the things that hold the other things in place.

Stupid natural consequences.

….

And my house looks like this.

House2

Practically spotless! PRISTINE! With shiny floors! You know… in the front room where no one lives.

And also like this.

House1

Which is my bathroom.

And like this.

House5

Which is where I work every day.

Just thought you’d want to know. 

Keepin’ it real,
Signature

 

 

P.S. Your turn. What’ve you got for Keepin’ It Real Day today?

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
20 comments
  1. A little late in adding my “Keepin’ it Real” thoughts of the day, but I am also a mother of five. All of which are under the age of 10 (none are multiples) and are naturally full of piss and vinegar. Last night I sent my three daughters to bed while I was very patiently tending to my cranky-never-wants-to-go-to-bed-when-I’d-like-him-to 10 month old son. I hear the familiar sounds of arguing coming from their bedroom, so since I was currently attached (quite literally as he is a very healthy nurser) I decided to send my oldest son upstairs to check on the commotion. He comes down to let me know Aubrie (our middle daughter, age 5) is bawling because Penelope her three year old little sister insists on sleeping with her and will not keep her little feet to herself. Normally, I’m the type of mom that will let them figure this kind of stuff out on their own. As long as no one is broken, bleeding, or not breathing, I try not to intervene. Yesterday was a stressful day though and all I wanted.. all day long.. was to enjoy a few MINUTES of peace and quiet, so I lugged my 25 pound monster upstairs (still attached) in the hopes of nipping this fighting crap that they insist on doing in the bud. I open the door to find ALL THREE of the girls in ONE bed. Come on. Seriously? You each have your own WHY must you all sleep together? So I ask Aubrie why she is crying.. well bawling really.. and she says “Because I’m going to fall on the floor.” I had to take a second to breathe because I literally almost laughed at this. “Honey, if you fall off of your bed it isn’t going to be because Penelope is in between you and your sissy. It’s going to be because you didn’t get up and move. You’re sleepy. Scoot into your sissy’s bed and go to sleep.”

    Problem solved. Until today of course, when we will deal with the five million arguments that will undoubtedly drive me to within inch of losing my shit. I’d say pray for my sanity, but it’d probably be smarter to say please pray that my kids make it through the day. HA!

    BTW Beth… absolutely LOVE reading your blog. Thank you for being so open and honest in everything you write. Thank you for reminding mothers like us that we aren’t alone. Some days are a real struggle for me and you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve caught myself finding my first smile of the day while reading one of your posts. You truly are one of a kind and such an inspiration to so many mothers.

  2. The other week when we were talking about ironing & the fact that we hate it? And I bragged about having an ironing lady?

    2 weeks ago the real world bit back with a vengeance:
    Ironing Lady’s lupus flared up & I had to do my own ironing. I had a bit of a “keeping it real” moment, the iron standing on the board fell over & landed on the back of my hand = huge 2nd degree burn.

    Thanks to my beloved sister in law who is an ICU nurse & was visiting that week, I had great treatment & the burn is gone, but OUCH! And to add insult to injury: the adhesive of the dressings made my skin blister (I have stupidly sensitive skin) so I had to wear a huge bandage which made me look like a total drama queen.

    Boo Hiss to keeping it real. I like my fantasy life just fine thanks.

  3. Too funny! My son yelled “DAMMIT!” at the airport last week because he couldn’t get his own backpack on (he’s 3).

  4. Well, I told the three year old at bath time that if she positioned her body & head Just So, that I would NOT get water in her eyes. Guess what? I (accidentally) very carefully poured water directly into her eyeball. 🙁 Surprisingly, I didn’t get screamed at like normal, so that was good.

  5. For me, this week is all about hormones. Two girls. 11 months apart in age. Hitting 12 and 13 within the next 6 weeks. Not sure if they are going to make it in all honesty.

    The younger one is threatening to move out because I asked her to clean her bedroom. The older one is threatening to move out because for 4 weeks the two of them are the same age.

    I offered to to call one truck to move all their stuff out at the one time, but they didn’t see the funny side of the offer. 14 year old son did. At the moment his humour is what is pulling me through the darkness.

    On the upside, I managed to finish my uni assignment, my work project, my husband still loves his new job and we still have three living children, so all in all a winning week.

    It gets easier with girls doesn’t it?? Anybody??

  6. There is a pile of dirty dishes on my kitchen counter. Three times this week I started washing dishes. Each time I did NOT get all the way through the pile before getting distracted or just too bored to continue. And of course, each day more dishes get added. I think that there are fewer dirty dishes today than there were on Monday, but still. Ew.

  7. Thank you for the third picture, the first two were starting to make me feel bad. I didn’t know that hallways were supposed to have a floor or bathrooms a counter top. But that last one, that feels more like my place, especially since the eight of just got home after a week at my Dad’s. Everything just explodes and stays in place.

  8. We have had a really tough week this week in newly-three-year-old land. Spitting and hitting and pushing friends, depsite her fantastic vocabulary. Then she added biting to her resume.

    And in a fit of exasperated frustration, despite my beliefs, I bit my daughter to show her how it feels. And I have proceeded to feel horrible and awful and ashamed about it ever since. Not the mama I want to be. So I dont’ know if she learned anything except mama can be mean, but I learned that I can cope with a daughter who bites sometimes a lot easier than I can cope with being a mama who bites to teach a lesson.

    Also she took a nap from 3-5pm today and is having a cupcake as we speak for “snack”.

    I figure the next knock on my door is either my Mother Of The Year award or child services.

    Ugh. Someone tell me next week is better?

    1. I’ve been there, Stacy. Someday I’ll write the story of the day I pinched my daughter. On purpose. She was more than likely too little to remember it, but I, too, was so ashamed. Since then, I’ve had to do the hard work of forgiving myself. And this is one of my very favorite essays of all time, by Brian Doyle, titled A Sin. http://www.up.edu/portlandmag/2005_fall/asin_txt.html It makes me cry every time, because I could have written it myself.

      1. Thank you for sharing that, Beth. Such a brave piece.

        “Only the injured can summon that extraordinary grace” of forgiveness.

        And our children’s ability to do it wholeheartedly in the event we “injure” them, almost makes forgiving ourselves even harder.

        Thanks for waving in the afternoon. =)

    2. I had to laugh at your story! Such memories it brings back, or rather reported memories. Apparently when I was just a little younger than your daughter, I would crawl up and bite my mother’s toe while she was on the phone. The first time, she just screamed. But when I did this another time, she reportedly very calmly told the person on the other end of the line “excuse me a moment, I need to bite my daughter’s toe.” Which she did, and I never bit her again. It worked and didn’t leave any scars (emotional or physical)because I don’t remember any of it, just the story I have heard my whole life. Hopefully you will have the same results.

      1. Thanks for sharing your sweet story. =) I truly hope so, at least no scars on her.

  9. I was insane to schedule a training meeting at 8:30 am. But I was brilliant to plan said meeting at the local diner where I can get both coffee and Bacon.

    My husband was insane to trust the kids when they told him that I do not mind if they use the glue anytime they want, right on top of the table where I had been working on a project all morning, for a big event I am in charge of for tonight.

    I was insane to think I could have an hours nap and not put away my projects.

    My kids are sneaky little kids who are frustrating the snot out of me today but also basically did what kids do and we will all be insane forever and ever. Amen.

  10. This morning my 11yr old got out of the car to walk into school, on the wet ground, with only socks on. Where are your shoes I ask. Son: well, my tennis shoes are in my gym locker and I forgot the combination. And my school shoes are in my school locker. So not only am I confused by how this happened, I’m confused about how I didn’t notice all day yesterday that my kid had no shoes. Wasn’t sure if his shoes really were at school, but just let him keep going, figured it would all work itself out. But now said kid says tennis shoes were indeed not in locked locker, but stolen – he forgot to tell me this I guess. So, now mom, I REALLY do need that new pair of shoes that I have been asking for, in order to play at soccer games this weekend. Still not sure if I let the natural consequence play out and he doesn’t play since he is shoeless, and I’m pretty sure those perfectly good shoes are in a trash can somewhere, or get the kid new shoes. Sigh…

  11. I remember when that bedroom was clean. In the spring? 🙂

    Love that you can have the mess AND the clean, sometimes even at the same time.

    Also, I have a round of good news, bad news for you.
    Bad news: I’m on my fourth round of antibiotics in five weeks. (Antibiotic resistant strep followed by a UTI. Boo!)
    Good news: Since I’ve been to the Dr so much, they weighed me every time and I’ve lost 8 lbs.
    Bad news: I have a lot more to go.
    Good news: Being sick made me change some bad habits so there is some hope.
    Bad news: There is a new social worker coming on Monday and our weekend is jam packed.
    Good news: The cleaning lady is coming before the social worker.

    Love your honesty.

  12. FYI to the 4th grade teacher: if I send a check to my electric company and forget to sign it, they don’t cut off my electricity. They send it back with a polite “you are an idiot” note and give me an extra week or so. So, if she is teaching him about the real world…she gets an “F”.

  13. Well, 8yo’s homework from Monday is still in his backpack undone because I did not check said backpack for three days in a row and I didn’t get off work until 8PM last night so when I did get home and check it, I was not about to get him back out of bed to do multiplication facts. Now, said 8yo should have known he had homework, so okay it is partly his fault if he gets scolded at school, but as his mom I know that he is a) 8 and b) a boy, with the memory of a gnat.

    As in, Tuesday, my mother went to pick him up early. The secretary went into the classroom to tell him he was leaving, then came out to chat with my mother while he got his things together. They chatted. And chatted. And chatted. Finally, she went in to see what was taking so long, and: he forgot. Some time in between her telling him he was leaving and him actually picking up his backpack, he FORGOT he was leaving, and went on with his school day.

    So, realizing that this is a child who still needs an external brain, I should be checking his backpack each night. Except, I seem to need an external brain, too, and when you are an adult those are called personal assistants, and they cost money.

    1. Ami MY daughter needs an external brain too! I wonder if we’re dealing with the same thing? Anyway nice to feel not alone in this whole thing! (and yes I realize I’m replying to this almost a year later) 🙂

  14. Oh…how I love your line about “natural consequences and giving a break when we need one.” My 4th grade son turned in a social studies project two days late. Probably my fault in some way cause I can’t keep track of all the shifts my sails make every day, let alone his. But I insisted he do it and turn it in even though it was late. I thought he’d at least get partial credit – after all, it’s just 4th grade. But, no. He got an “F”. Not because it was late, but because he forgot to put his name on it. This poor kid needed a break. Hell, I needed a break – that took time out of my weekend too – making salt dough, buying craft supplies, etc. And the kid gets an F for no name. How did she know who to assign the “F” too?? I’m all for supporting teachers and natural consequences, but I’ll really be keeping it real as soon as she returns my phone call!

    1. Do it! Keep it real! Sometimes we teachers need a reminder that these precious children exist outside of our classrooms. This week at our teachers’ meeting we were talking about our demerits system and assigned consequences and how we need to take into consideration more than just this isolated incident. Also, keeping it real – teaching is a hard job and we need parents’ help to do it better. Keep it real, mama. And from this teacher, your son does not deserve an F.

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