Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Only child raising 2 kids

Only Child Raising 2 Children - Feel like this should be a Dear Abby letter title;

Dear Abby;

I am an only child.  If you believe the stereotype then I know nothing about sharing, am totally self-absorbed and pretty much believe that the sun not only revolves around me but basically that it is but a mere star compared to how important I am.  If you know the reality it is nothing like this.  I am sure there are only children like that, much like there are children from multiple families like that, but that is defined by the mental health profession as Narcissistic Personality Disorder - difficult to treat and hell to have one in your family.  I know from personal experience ... if it is not somehow about them you will pay, when it is about them you will pay - it is not fun.

Only children that I know are usually burdened with this stereotype and have to defend it - part of me has long ago realized that some of it is pure drivel and other parts I embrace.  Yes I had a lot of attention - the good is that my parents were focused on me and as you grow up into a teenager oh yeah the bad is my parents were focused on me.  They, along with almost all parents of only children, took many opportunities to tell you how you were lucky to be only one, how you had to share and a basically having a weird conversation dance between confirming that they believed the stereotype and telling you not to be it.  Most only children I know, and I have been lucky enough to have many of them as best friends, tend to be loyal and pretty cognizant that while we may have asked for a sibling it would be the sibling we would build - kind of like the 6 Million Dollar Sibling.  Some wanted an older one, some a younger.  Some a same sex one others the opposite.  They were to be the best buddy, confidant, built in sleep-over buddy, play mate, party person, secret keeper and sharer and ally with parents and all others.  This is the sibling we wanted - so yeah maybe we are a little self-focused because all of those things would make an only child happy to have a sibling not resentful of one.

When I decided I did want children, this was not the "oh I have always wanted them" girl, I also had some long discussions on how many.  My husband is one of 3 he assumed it was a given that we would have multiples.  Me - well like I said the commitment to have one seemed like a lot.  I mean what if I was all those things that people say about only children.  What if I couldn't be good to them in the way the child needed????  So I had my first son and well he was awesome, still is, if a terrible sleeper.  I did not choose to marry young, I chose to be young and crazy when I was in my twenties and wouldn't change a thing, so you know the Big Ben ovary clock was ticking if we were to have more.  We decided to have one more two years after the first one - after all having only one while I saw it as something that I would give all to one child could also seem like a selfish choice on my part. So we had another boy and before any one asks - NO I have no regrets or ever wanted to have girls or wished I had a girl; stupid ass question that gets asked too much.

Raising two children is quite a challenge - I mean they are close and then all of sudden a fun "wrestling" moment turns into some sort of held in crying or worse.  There is a constant " he got an millimeter more of milk in his glass" than me.  They are NSA worthy of noting what the other got or is getting from food to apps to you name it.  They are similar but their own people.  So how is an only child supposed to raise 2??? I am sure I screw this up as much as I nail it.  I do not ascribe to older one has to give in just because of birth order, I do not ever forget to tell them equally how proud/love/kiss them.  Yet when they start to argue or bicker or wrestle it takes everything I have not to interfere or know when to interfere.  The other day they were about to escalate and I said " My brother and I never fought" - got this from my good friend who says that about her sister and her to her boys.  This stopped them "Umm you don't have a brother" my youngest said - "It's my imaginary brother".  This has led to some very funny talks in our house (yes my designed sibling would have been an older brother) and has recently helped me try and remind them that they should focus on the good things they do together instead of the "he pushed me first".  I want them to be the siblings that we only children all pined away for - not necessarily the way all sibling relationships are in real life - but the ones where they are best friends in the end.  I think my boys have that and I hope that I am balancing well with my experience as a singleton in a multiple child world.  My husband did want 3 or 4 and as I have told him many a time - may he and his next wife have as many as they want :).

So Abby or anyone else - is there any one thing you would like to tell me to do besides love and treat my two equally?  Besides making sure I provide them both with opportunities to be the best people they can be?  Besides the occasional "I will give you both something to be upset about if you can't work it out?"

All About Me but not really -  more like All About Them

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Time for me

Time for me .. I hear this lament so often from fellow moms.  Moms who work outside the home, moms who work from home and moms whose work is now their family.  Time for me - we don't have it and we feel guilty when we take it, rushed and crunched between things we do for our families.   

Recently I read an article about a wide reaching study, think of all the money we spend on all these surveys to tell us exactly how we should be as mothers/the impact our choices have as mothers/ the "we want it all" ...blah blah blah all basically just adding to the pressure we put on ourselves, that concluded that we too often have created our own worst enemy.  We all try, based on those other surveys/social media/media/"they", to be these have it all women and also these mothers that never existed.  That's right a model that never existed, not for mothers and not for fathers either.  This ever present, child entertainer, constant need filler who works out, looks sharp, can cook a gourmet meal or at least order one and put it out and who has a successful career.  If you are like this well good for you .. I have to work hard and give up something at every turn. 

She never existed and she shouldn't have to.  The article about the study described that in their findings mothers in the 50s, 60s, 70s and even early 80s at home or working outside let their kids make independent choices, did not constantly worry if they attended every game, nor did they organize every activity.  These mothers loved their children but spent almost no time compared to today wondering about her skills at motherhood.  If she did not work she did housekeeping, cooking and while she loved her family she did not hover as much and missed plenty of events often with no guilt.  Of course am sure there were exceptions to this generalizations but it is the memory I and most people have of our time growing up from my generation to even my mother's one.  The mother we are trying to be mostly exists as fiction in movies, books and articles.  Is this to make women feel like their sole purpose is motherhood?  What happens to women who choose not have children then?  Or enjoy their careers? 

Time for me ... I just had to hold it in to write this blog, which takes me about 15 -20 minutes, as my children somehow now need to talk to me.  I had to hold it in to not say "go away" because I feel since I got home from work, cleaned up dinner, checked homework (husband did feed them) that I should not want this 15-30 min for myself.  I do need this time.  I need time to miss a baseball game or a few because I do not like watching and their dad is there.  I need time to paint and do whatever I want to do without feeling like I have to explain it to someone or even to myself. I make time for them - I am present when I am with them - and most of my free time is spent with them unless they have other plans.  

Time for me because sooner or later I needed to take a page from a friend of mine and write some goals that are just for me - goals for this year and for a few years forward that need me to focus some time on me.  I feel a little twinge of guilt when I go watch a tv show in another room - and I shouldn't.   I am this very independent person and one of the things I want my kids to be is same.  I love them and being a mom but at some point we all need time for ourselves to do that - not in a crunch, not with looking at the watch, not with multitasking but just because we feel like it.   

We should be the best for our kids but that means also leading lives that show them that taking care of your needs, that you are your own person and that your needs are as important as anyone else's in your life is something they too should aspire to have.  Yes while writing this my husband had to know what I was doing, one son had a question and the other suddenly needed to kiss me.  I love the kiss but my response was "thank you sweets but can I have a few minutes? " Maybe I should just have said ... "kiss me now, ask your question and then I need some time for me". 

Time, time, time, see what's become of me.
While I looked around for my possibilities,
I was so hard to please.....Simon & Garfunkel (or the Bangles)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spin the Bottle

You read that title right .. Spin the Bottle, eventually replaced or followed by 7 minutes in heaven.  I was  recently was looking at some old pics from 8th grade, gotta love Facebook just when you thought your awkward outfit that you had absolutely had to have "please mom every one has Gunny Sack dress puhhhhleeeze", yes that one, and which you hope is not going to leave the pages of the sticky clear page family album is on the internet.

The outfit, 1981, lilac,  lace at the top - did I sport a cameo at the neck? Yeah you bet, Gunny Sack (love my friend who called it at first sight), is the epitome of the late 70s early 80s, before hair got big, skirts got little and everything went from muted tones to neon.  It looks like any moment I could break out into "You've got a Friend".  My friend in the picture fares no better on the fashion front.  She is wearing an off the shoulders (remember this is before one shoulder down Flashdance made that the style - when we all went and bought sweatshirts just to cut the necks off them so they could hang off... just ... so) white number - she too could break out in a folk song.

All of this led to a discussion about that era and somehow the spin the bottle topic was there.  Spin the bottle ... for many it was their first foray into a kiss. You remember you prayed and held your breath and tensed every muscle, hands balled into fists cutting off circulation and getting a little clammy, hoping... yes... it's stopping... aww crud it stopped right next to the boy you wanted to kiss, right next to him, would anyone see you slightly pushing fate and tilting it toward him in the darkened basement on the floor where you all gathered???? Maybe you didn't push but instead kissed what may have been a perfectly nice other boy -- who looked much more thrilled than you or not, maybe he too wanted the bottle to match him to someone else.  There were giggles, nervous laughter, as you both leaned across said bottle, awkward at best and if it was the boy of choice stomach was getting 10s in Olympic worthy gymnastic tumbles, hoping your breath was ok.  You made it to the middle, balancing on knees and you could feel his breath on yours .. did you part your lips slightly maybe? A kiss is a magnificent thing.  There is no in between, to quote my dear friend "it's like coffee or sex - it's either great or awful there is no in between" she is brilliant along with being pretty.  A good kiss is transporting, takes you away, makes you feel places that deliver all over your body, you do not want it to end, it gets deeper and you anticipate it happening again.   The other kind of kiss - which sadly at 7th and 8th grade is the more likely scenario was at best rushed, smack lips, pull away, blush, sit.   The other kind is such a let down from the anticipation of the kiss .. it almost makes you angry. It is sloppy and it sounds almost like you are in a Get Smart ending in your body.. slam, crash, doors, gates closing on anything other than "eww".

They were exciting times this spin the bottle - and then the more awkward 7 minutes in Heaven, where many times you spent the first 6 1/2 giggling at each other, girl always walked out slightly mauled, boy always walked out slightly taller.   They were innocent though.  I mean really - as wonderful as some of those kisses were they ended there. There may have been some touching but there was an audience and that actually held you back.

In laughing and remember the spin the bottle stories it made me think of my kids today. I hoped that they too would find this a good entry way into the wonderful world of early dating, long make-out sessions to come later (now those with a bad kisser should be down right illegal... surprised that I did not drown from some of them, or suffer severe tongue damage from others).  I hope that they find the anticipation of watching that bottle and being slightly awkward and in awe of just a kiss still exists for them at that age.  Today so often, boy you know you are getting older when you start a sentence with that, you hear of the too many kids who are having various acts of sex at that age - and worse they are taking pics.  Pictures that unlike my "ooh yeah but that was the fashion" comments could actually be detrimental to the people in them and downright haunt them.

I wish that my boys enjoy the rush of what the dimming of the lights in a room means, the sheer excitement that you may get caught by adults, of sitting in a circle with a bottle in the middle and knowing that while you may get a kiss that is it... it will leave you wondering what else is there and looking forward to it.  It is ok to tell our children that as they get to certain ages they will find themselves dreaming about the other person and wondering.. all sorts of stuff.  They do need to answer the wonder before they are emotionally ready for it.  They should be ready to responsible and use protection against pregnancy, diseases and the consequences that these acts come with emotionally.  If they are not well then they need to rinse out the bottle and give it a spin in middle school because that kiss .... well sometimes it is more amazing than what you could handle at that age anyway.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Have a magical day

I have two amazing sons who for the longest time did not ask to go to Disney.  Two years ago they finally brought it up,  some of their friends were going for repeat visits and there was the allure of some new rides they heard of.  The rides they were talking about were not even at Disney but the conversation started.

Along with millions of other parents, I do not exaggerate as they have millions of visitors a year, I looked into it.  I looked like one of their cartoons ... mouth agape, small birds flying above my head when I priced it.  I have spent time at Disney, as a child and as an adult (business meetings are commonly held at the resort).  It is a bit cultish for me .. the whole "have a magical day" and have to say the idea that adults go there without children, especially for their honeymoon, is just so not me.  I also have about a 3 -  5 day maximum tolerance for Florida.  I know as a New Yorker it should have a retirement, spring break, break from winter appeal for me right ?  After all there are many, many New Yorkers (and tristate) folks who are known as winter birds there.  Not I - literally at day 3 I start checking my flight schedule and counting down the time to go back.  It could be the New York City girl in me, the idea of these mass highways and inability to walk places makes me bristle.  It could be the humidity.  Maybe it is that as nice as it is I find it dull.  I have friends who have made this state their chosen home .. good for you am glad it worked out. 

A couple of years have passed and the questions still came on occasion so this year we bit the bullet and with a really good opportunity decided to go to Disney.  I made the trip for more than the usual few days because in my mind I am thinking this is a one and done so they will see it all.  I had a fabulous discount and I still marvel at the cost. I wonder how do families do it ??? My boys are great at not asking for a lot of souvenirs, or almost any when we travel, so that is a not an issue but I looked and the prices are like I am shopping at Saks for stuff I normally wouldn't glance at in Target.  I do not see as an adult me wearing any sort of Mickey paraphernalia.  

It has been a brutal long January to date winter in New York.  The cold has been non-stop, the snow has come pretty much every Sunday it seemed for weeks and even as we were leaving for our trip there was March snow predicted.  Enough!!  Maybe this was the year I got the why people move there - after all the weather reports said low of 60s and high of 80s.  A quick plane ride and the doors opened to sunshine .. ahhh... warmth... take off the sweaters ... close eyes, soak up sun.  Ahhhhh - had I been too harsh, too New York cynical on Florida????  The weather was awesome, even the humidity was not so much that my hair needed it's own room (though it was curly girl all vacay). 

We stayed on premise - I recommend this to anyone.  The parking is expensive and in the end you get a better deal.  To Disney's credit - they are such a well organized machine.  They have a great internal transportation system, the parks and resort are immaculate and the fast pass set up is quite simply marvelous.  Yet on day 3 there was the twinge .. the am I really still in an amusement park twinge.  By day 4 the eye roll had begun - the food is what I expected but the food set up at Disney fails.  I mean seriously it's like I am trying to get into a Michelin star restaurant so why do I need to do reservations months in advance ?  Why do you have no reservations available to be made by a concierge?  Why is there is no standby option at some of these places?  The food is meh .. what I expected but it is also frustrating which just adds to my glances at plane ticket emails to ensure there was an escape coming.

Was it worth it ?? Yes over and over again.  My own issues aside my boys' faces and the happy smiles, never ending thank yous and the hugs were amazing but the sense of wonder as they kept going to new parks and rides was priceless.  I am not a good parent because I took them to Disney but I am good parent for spending time with them that is all about them.  Parenting has changed - the mythical "mother" that we all strive to be is about as real as the Disney characters I saw walking around.  You know the one that spent all day cooking, sewing, looking perfect and spent time with her kids at every moment .. yeah she did not exist then nor should we expect her to come out now. All the parents there were there because they wanted to be with their kids and enjoyed the smiles they saw on their kids' faces.  Parenting is more than Disney it is the vacation you take to a place you may not love because you love them that much.

I still only have a 3 day tolerance for Florida, trust me there are other states that get only a 3 hour tolerance and others that get multiple day but New York none of them are - that's not good or bad it is just me am sure others have a 3 second tolerance for New York.  I will probably wind up back there with my kids because there is this thing called Universal that seems to lure them.  There are other parts of Florida that they may enjoy when the bitter winds are biting in NY.  Much like I want them to explore the world outside of the US I want them to explore the 50 states and see what they like.  I want them to have a sense of wanderlust and most of all I want them to keep enjoying the magic.  It all goes by so fast .. may it always be a magical day.