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jannica merrit

humor. honesty. sometimes both.

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Working Mom

They Are My Sunshine

There is a song from the 1940s by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell that has been covered by numerous artists and part of the lyrics are:

“You are my sunshine,

My only sunshine

You make me happy

When skies are grey

You’ll never know dear,

How much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

It was likely written regarding a romantic love interest, but it reminds me of my love for my beautiful children.

A hard day? I can bring a smile to my eyes thinking about hugging my daughter.

Tired? I perk up after work when I arrive at daycare and hear jubilant screams of, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” as my two and a half year old runs to me for a hug.

Tonight, when I arrived at my sitter’s, my son ran out singing his own version of “Mommy’s here!  Mommy’s here!  She’s here!  My Mommy’s here!” and running back and forth between her door and my parking space.  It showed not only his ever-lasting love but revealed the possibility he had conned her out of quite a bit of sugar.

My daughter has the cutest angry/pouty face when she has been sent to her room,  and stomps out in indignation.  It is all I can do not to smile where she can see it as she stomps away.  And, a few moments later, it is hard not to cave when she holds up a toy enticingly, and says, ” ‘Prise, Mommy!” (her copy of her older brother’s way of “buying” himself out of a time out by putting together a cute collection of his toys as a “surprise” for me.

My heart swells each morning to look at their cherubic faces as they sleep,  before I slip off to get a few chores done before they wake up and want to help.  Before long, my five-year-old will be able to really help me on some of them.  He is getting so big, but unfortunately  it takes almost as long to explain what I want him to do and ask him enough times that he gets started on it,  as it would to do it myself.

They are my sunshine!  They make me happy when life is grey!

They will never know fully how much I love them.

Please never take my sunshine away…(except, of course, when they are 21 and then I will be okay with them getting their own places).

Five Year Old Musings

Here are a few cute and sweet random conversations from my son this week.  Five years is such a prescious time, on the cusp of being a little boy, but with an imagination that doesn’t stop.  This post was sparked by the following conversation:

“What are you doing, Mommy?”

“I am going to write my blog.”

“Oh, good!  Can I help?”

“Sure.”

“What is it going to be about?”

“How much I love you!”

“Aw, Mommy, I love you, too!”

“Look, I am going to write ‘Mommy’!”

So, I showed him how to type: Mommy

And he carefully considered what I have shown him, and typed: abb3322114455

Nailed it!

 

“I like you in my sight!” is my favorite new compliment.

“I like you in my sight, too!”

“Aw, thanks, Mom!” he answered.

 

I picked him up from daycare the other day, and informed me he had a girlfriend now.

“Tell me about her.”

“She wore pants.”

“What is her name?”

“I really don’t know that.”

Ah, true love!

 

“Mom, before I can go to bed, I have to feed my kittens.”

“Your kittens?”

“Yes, my kittens. There are five of them and they are invisible.”

“Okay, go feed your invisible kittens.”

“Thanks, Mom.” He comes back, “Uh, Mom…”

“Yes, baby?”

“One of them threw up.”

“Is it invisible?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Okay, I will clean it up after you go to bed.”

 

After screams had subsided from the backseat while I was driving is home in heavy traffic: “Mom, sister isn’t my friend anymore. Maybe she can be some day, but not now!”

 

“Mom, I have something important to tell you.”

“Yes, baby?” I stopped what I was doing due to the seriousness of his tone.

“When Poppy asked Branch to share his food with everyone, he didn’t want to.”

“I know. Sharing is nice, but he was worried they would eat all his food.  What would you do?”

“I would make a magic wand so everyone could have food.”

I love this age, as I have loved him since he first kicked from inside.  Every day raising him is a true blessing to me, even when I am tired and he is on fully charged internal batteries. I hope we can always have such great conversations.

 

 

Momming, On The Cheap

Parenting, as anyone who has children can attest, is not inexpensive. Food, insurance, clothes, entertainment, education, and the endless requests for every new toy. Even though my son doesn’t get everything he wants, he appeals for every fun-looking new toy that advertisers manage to place on his radar.

I am astounded at the ticket price just to get in our local amusement parks and zoos, much less do anything once I pay for parking and admission.  The pricey “fast pass” addition is almost mandatory if we want to actually get on any rides; and I would need a second job if we wanted to eat at any of the local zoos and children’s museums.

So, I, like many other parents, I suspect, have found some ways to save money and still keep my kiddos entertained. I call it “Momming, On the Cheap.”

Here are a few ways we save:

Goodwill, the new museum. Just browse the easily accessible aisles full of toys from today and years past. Many will have been helpfully pre-played with, so my children can experience what their use and function was. I don’t have to stress if they break anything, since it won’t cost all that much to buy it. Their clothing racks are full of styles from past eras. Their aisles are walked by colorful people of all walks and stations of life.

Halloween store, the new amusement park. We spent a happy hour wandering around the recently opened Halloween store. All throughout the store, there were colorful masks and costumes, and buzzers my kids could step on to activate ghosts, radioactive zombies, and ominously singing creepy children.

Petsmart, the new zoo.  Aisles and aisles of temperature-controlled comfort, and animals from rescue cats and dogs, to fish, parrots, lizards, mice, and guinea pigs. Parking is usually convenient, and entrance is free. Sometimes there are moving attractions, such as a pre-teen with her lab on a leash, willing to stop and introduce her and let my son pet her dog. Sometimes there are pens out by the front, with rescue puppies waiting to wag their tails.  The Doggy Daycare area has tons of doggies interacting, playing, and sometimes even pooping (always good for a laugh!).

Costco, the new restaurant.  I don’t mean lunch at the food court, though it’s hard to beat taking home a pizza and feeding us for a day or two on it, I mean going to Costco on a typically busy day and wandering around once, or twice, or three times and grabbing a sample of food each time. During their peak hours, this can be enough to fill those little tummies—and my not-as-little-as-I-wish-it-was tummy.

So, save those dollars and Mom, On the Cheap!

Advantages of Being Young

There are many disadvantages of being young (like not being able to set your own bedtime), but there are some distinct advantages.  Things that adults just can’t comfortably get away with.  Many of these are things which, once gone, cannot be recovered and still be deemed a socially acceptable person.

For example, when you are young, peeing your pants is encouraged.  No pesky “holding it” searching for a bathroom or having to stop what you are doing to poop or pee.  You can keep doing what you’re doing without stopping to take care of business.

Along those lines, farting loudly is not only okay, it is handled as a big joke. Instead of hidden, and hoped no one heard or smelled, it is celebrated and brought to everyone’s attention, “Look, baby tooted!”  People laugh either way, but when you’re young, it isn’t mocking, uncomfortable laughter.

Over eating is cute!  When was the last time as an adult that someone texted a relative to state in a happy, celebratory way that you ate five bowls of Cheerios?  As an adult, that would be hidden unless you are a Professional NFL Player.

You can sleep whenever and wherever you want.  If you are out and about, someone will carry you to the car or home, and try not to wake you up.  As an adult, sleeping in the wrong place or at the wrong time, can get you kicked out or fired…and if it’s alcohol-related, possibly arrested.

When you are done with your drink or food or toy, it isn’t a huge deal to simply throw it on the floor and walk away; you never have to look back.  As an adult, you are expected to clean up after yourself.

You can decorate your body and your whole world with pretty stickers and wear them proudly, even if they came from the grocery store checkout line and say, “Not Returnable”, just enjoy the pretty hot pink colors.  Even if Mom doesn’t appreciate the beautiful stickering job you did on her end table, relax, you know it’s a beautiful improvement!

You can meet someone and immediately ask them for candy without it being awkward.  It isn’t even socially unacceptable to just go up and take what you want, if there is an open candy bowl anywhere.

You can also go up to a complete stranger, say hello, and proceed to tell them about all the toys you want, while they listen patiently and encourage you.  Doing this as an adult, you will not be met with as generous a response.  You could even be told to shut up or get a job.

I hope my children enjoy this wonderful range of benefits while they are young, because they definitely won’t last forever.

#firstworldKIDproblems

 

There is a wonderful thread on Twitter where one can share some of the troubling things in life, that just possibly are tied to us being spoiled and privileged called #firstworldproblems.  I love to share some of my many struggles on there, and sympathize with others doing the same as  we all trudge long in  this life.  It’s kind of like an online support group!

But at #firstworldKIDproblems there is a similar thread where my kids could share some of their most troubling problems as well—if only they knew how to type.  I imagine they would go something like this…

  1. Mom didn’t believe me when I said “My sister want ice cream” so I don’t have any.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #helpforhungrychildren.
  2. Mom won’t let me watch Power Rangers on her phone and I have to use my tablet. #firstworldKIDproblems #crummytabletresolution.
  3. Mom is making me wear pants today.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #soOCD.
  4. Mom yelled at me for clamping down on her nipple to catch myself with my teeth when I fell off the couch.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #whosenursinghereanyway.
  5. My individual pizza with my favorite toppings was cut wrong and she expected me to eat it anyway.  No way! #firstworldKIDproblems  #Ijustcantdoit.
  6. Mom made me get down from the top perch on the cat tree.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #slowingmyroll.
  7. Mom brushes both of our teeth. every. single. day.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #itsjusttoomuch.
  8. A box came from Amazon Prime and there was no Rescue Bot Action Figure in it.  What? #firstworldKIDproblems  #wherescustomerserviceAmazon.
  9. We have strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and pineapple.  But I want blueberries now.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #IcanteatTHAT.
  10. Going to my Godmom’s house to get spoiled, but I want Grandma to spoil me.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #nobodycareswhatIwant.
  11. The TV show Mom wants me to watch is educational. No robots. #firstworldKIDproblems #boring.
  12. Two kids.  One tablet. You do the math.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #Iwasherefirst  #itsmyturnnow.
  13. My toothbrush isn’t any type of Power Ranger or Rescue Bot. #firstworldKIDproblems #endchildhoodsuffering
  14. Mom won’t let me drink her Diet Coke.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #ifitisntgoodforyouwhydoYOUdrinkit.
  15. Despite the decorations, it isn’t Christmas today.  Decorations, but no presents.  What?  #firstworldKIDproblems  #OhcomeonitsChristmas.
  16. I sang “Happy Birthday” to Mom, and she seemed happy but wouldn’t cough up any cake.  Come on, it’s your birthday!  #firstworldKIDproblems.  #itisnttoday.
  17. The cat won’t give me horseyback rides.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #kidwhatdoyouweighanyway.
  18. Mom still won’t let me drive.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #IcanreachthepedalsifIslidewaydown.
  19. We have to leave the playground when Mom says, NOT when we are ready.  #firstworldKIDproblems. #hecknowewontgo
  20. Mom wants to sing with me and I want to sing solo.  #firstworldKIDproblems  #myturnnowandalways.

And so on and so on goes the list of trials and tribulations my children face on a daily basis.  It’s a wonder, a testament to their resiliency that they even can continue on in life.

The Mean Mom

I just did it again…

I just yelled and screamed like a maniac at my preschooler while he stood looking up at me, so small, a little scared, and finally understanding that Mommy meant what she said five times.  Or was it six?

But, dammit!  Dammit.

I won’t say my sweet son, because he wasn’t being sweet at that moment.  I love nobody in this world except his sister as much as I love him.  Nobody in this world can push my buttons as hard and as quickly as he can.

He is an angel for everyone else who watches him.  Does he push limits for them?  Yes, sometimes…that’s part of growing up.  But, when they ask him to stop; he does.  Does he push limits with me?  Yes, sometimes…that’s part of growing up.  But, when I ask him to stop, he then mocks me, ignores me, or goes harder at whatever it was.

When he spends the night with his Godmother or his Grandmother, and they say, “Honey, it’s time for bed.”  He goes to bed.  HE GOES TO BED!  Every night with me, I say, “Honey, it’s time for bed.”  He then mocks me, ignores me, or keeps doing whatever he was doing harder.

When he is playing at his sitter’s house and she says, “Share your toys with your sister”, he does.  He actually shares his toys with his sister.  When he is playing at home with me in charge and I say, “Share your toys with your sister”, he then mocks me, ignores me, or hoards his toys even more.

With me, he knows the boundaries and charges over them constantly.  When he knows he is caught, he turns on his charm.  He smiles sheepishly and says a quick, if likely insincere, “Sorry.”  Or changes the bad word he just said to “Silly!” and smiles.  Or the time out is acknowledged, but he needs a hug or a cuddle first.  “Mom, I just want to cuddle you!”  Or he “can’t” stay in his room because of the crocodile.  (And what mother would send her son back into a crocodile-infested bedroom?)

He is charming and he knows it.  He is manipulative and he uses it.  He is strong-willed and smart and he works it.  Most of the time, I am more than a match for him.  (He is, after all, only four).

But then, some nights I am stressed or tired from the adult things in my life.  Frankly, some nights, I am exhausted.  And, it is those nights that I am sometimes not the Mom I pictured myself being.

I am that Mom.  I am the Mom yelling and screaming at my children.  Again.  Dammit.

Grateful for the Strangest Things

This is the season to think about all we are grateful for.  Of course, I am grateful for the kids, having a roof over our heads, our good health, having a career, our pets—all the basics.  *Yawn*

But there are some things I am grateful for that fall outside of the usual realm of gratitude lists.  I would like to share those here:

Most days I can still run faster than my four year old.  That is good because occasionally he still decides to explore “over there” and goes for it at top speed, ears “off”.

I am strangely proud that my son is smart enough to be manipulative.  Talking in his version of his sister’s high pitched voice, telling me that she wants ice cream…and, well, okay, he would take a little, too.

I am continually impressed with the heights my daughter ascends to and that she is strong enough to be a little monkey.   I will turn my back for two seconds and find her sitting on top of something like the toy box I set on the coffee table where I put my son’s Power Ranger action figures to keep them safe from her.

My house is big enough for all of us, but not so big it takes more than one day to clean.  We will never get lost in it, and we spend more togetherness time than we might in an appropriately-sized house.

That my son’s car seat not only protects him from many injuries in the event of a crash, but keeps him out of the driver’s seat.  As long as he is four years old, I am adamant that I, not he, will be the driver.

That chasing kids around burns calories, as that is my main form of exercise since having kids and I will take all the cardio I can get.

That my friends are as quirky as I am.  It’s no fun standing alone letting my freak flag fly, and I am glad we can all be unique in our own, individual ways.

I am grateful that there are people who share in my off-beat humor, and will laugh at my jokes.

That I can stay awake at my day job most days on little-to-no sleep (and someone invented energy drinks for the days that are too challenging).

Finally, I am grateful that I can legally drink all the caffeine I want and still legally drive, go to work, and care for my children, for without it, I would likely collapse.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

My Life: Pre Vs. Post Kids

Besides the little people running around making my house safe from monsters nightly, there have been some definite changes in my life since I became a Mom.  So many aspects of my life today would be unrecognizable to my former self.  Here are some big ones:

My workouts. Before kids, I went to the gym at least four, usually five or six times a week.  I had memberships in three different gyms, for the different convenient locations and variety.  I kept an “emergency” gym bag ready to go in my trunk in case I had an unexpected chunk of time and could fit in an extra work out.  I had such “emergencies” frequently. 

Post kids, I try to take a walk if I get a chance at lunch at work.  I have one gym membership and I went last month.  Once.  Or was it the month before?  There is a new location I mean to check out, but I am not exactly sure where it is.

My house.  My mediocre housekeeping skills are no match for these two little people!  Pre kid, I had the luxury of remote controls being where I left them, and my living room floor had a vast emptiness about it.  My cleaning lady came every week, though I no longer remember exactly what there was for her to clean. 

Post kids, I enjoy frequent remote control scavenger hunts, with the Lego strewn foot avoidance techniques.  My cleaning lady, when I can get one to come back, visits monthly, and seems a bit overwhelmed.  I get it, trust me, I get it. And, in between—well, have you seen the new Swiffer?

My hair.  I used to have an appointment with my stylist every four weeks for cut, color, and style advice.  I booked two months ahead so I wouldn’t miss a week and have a root show.  I spent actual time in the mornings before work styling my hair to show off my latest cut.  I used a hair dryer, curling irons (small and large), crimpers, mouse, barrettes, and hair spray just to mention a few things.

Post kids, I tape a note on the inside of my medicine cabinet so I can remember when I last touched up my roots.  I have my own scissors from the beauty supply store so I can trim my own bangs (a task that is so much harder than it seems on paper), and every three or four months I will remember to book an appointment for a trim, the caveat being that it has to pull easily into a ponytail or look good just brushed in the mornings because that is all I have time for. My current styling tools are a brush and hair rubber bands.

Huge differences! Those are just three areas my life is almost unrecognizable post kids.  But, when I look in their beautiful eyes or watch their sweet sleeping forms, would I change a thing?  Absolutely not!

On Being Happy and Miserable at the Same Time…

I have a day job I don’t hate, where I make almost enough money to pay our bills, and I work hard but not overly hard.  I enjoy what I do for a living, and before I was a Mom, I really didn’t mind going to work—it felt good to be productive, to earn money to play and support myself (in that order), and I appreciated the social aspects of it.  Plus, it got me out of bed so I could be up and awake for all my after-work activities.  It was a pretty good deal all-around! 

Now some days I am crawling out of my skin to leave and be with my kids. 

Since I have had my children, work has taken on a new wonderful and evil dimension.  It allows me to support us, talk to adults, pay for my children’s needs and some of their wants, but it is also the thing that rips me away from them day after day.  Each morning, I wake my daughter to nurse and cuddle before I take them to daycare and go to work.  She snuggles in, nurses and drifts off, nurses and drifts off, nurses and drifts off.  Until the clock inevitably tells me I have to get up or I will be late.   Then she latches on like a shark with a sea lion using every ounce of suction power her little mouth has, her small body protesting with all it has our long upcoming separation.  I shift and shimmy until I eventually break free, and take her to get a fresh diaper and ready for the day.  Oftentimes, she drifts back into sleep land before I can get her in her car seat. 

My son is almost never awake and I will gently stroke his too-beautiful-for-a-boy hair and try to bring him back to consciousness.  It almost never works and I try to brush his hair and teeth before he wakes up enough to start struggling against the brushes he hates.  He is often grumpy and asks me his favorite word, “Why?” 

I try to explain, Mommy needs to fulfill her commitment to her job and people are depending on me, Mommy needs to make money, etc.  It never lands as a good enough reason to drag him up  and out when he wants to spend the day with me.

I wish I could say that my job is the best ever and I love and am inspired by what I do.  I wish the time trade-off felt a little more even.  I wish—I wish I felt like I had enough time with my most precious children.

I have kids I love beyond words, and I spend my days at work missing them, aching to hold them, eagerly talking about them to anyone who shows the slightest interest.  I am glad I have a good job, glad I can earn money, but if I thought I could get away with it, I would rob a bank to be a SAHM.

 

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