The gloriousness of being an unemployed Mom

Most of my adult life I have flip-flopped from being a contributing member of society (i.e. having a job) to being jobless. Admittedly, most of the positions I have held may not actually qualify as anything contributing to anything other than the thickness of my wallet. I typically take a job for a while, live on the cheap, quit said job, live off of the money I made while spending time with my kids.

After having kids, I realized the importance of getting out of the house as a way to avoid going crazy. After a little more than a year of employment at a job I had worked prior to moving to another state, I once again left. My boss understood how stressful the job was for me. It was also a job with absolutely no room for growth and not exactly great pay. It may sound like I am an ungrateful person who should appreciate any job I can get, especially in this economy, but what can I say? I was born in the 80’s this is how we roll.

I will never be wealthy, I understand that. I am, however, not sorry about the fact that I get to spend so much time with my young children. I do work, don’t assume I am able to just float by without a care in the world. Most of my work is freelance which allows me to stay home. It can be a bit complicated when a deadline is looming when I have two little ones screaming in my ear to make them a sandwich or pay LEGOs with them. It’s all fine by me.

I have an extremely judgemental brother who thinks I am raising my children wrong. There will always be someone in your life who thinks you’re raising your children wrong. He thinks working at home is not a viable form of employment, and I he may actually believe I spend too much time with my kids.

Here’s the thing; my kids are only going to be in this beautiful Lego-playing, Dinosaur-pretending, cuddling, phase for a little bit longer but office jobs will always be there.

As the new year approaches, I will be going back out into the harsh world for regular employment. This short hiatus I was able to take allowed me to write a book (will be out the first week of December!) Help my son count to 100 and read, teach my daughter Taylor Swift dance moves, and spend hours pretending to be a horse, dinosaur, princess, and Godzilla. These are the moments people, these are the moments.

 

My kindergartner did Independent Study, rather than traditional school. Here’s why it worked for us.

There are public schools, private schools, charter schools, and there are options such as home schooling, independent study, and distance learning. Today, it seems, there are more than enough options to educate our children, which I am incredibly thankful for. I had a hard time in high school because traditional school was too much for me. The kids at my school were just so cruel and I am a sensitive person. Once I entered college, everything changed. I was social, easygoing and perfectly pleased to be there.

When I began the process of putting my child in school, I was a bit disheartened since the school he needed to attend was the worst school in the area. The administrative staff was rude and ridiculous and it became increasingly clear that the bad attitudes paired with the poor rating on the Great Schools website was enough for me to seek alternatives. When I was in high school, I did independent study for a few months so it was something I was somewhat familiar with. My flexible work schedule gave me the opportunity to do the same for my kindergartner. We met with the teacher once a week. The teacher was a delight and I have to admit to being a bit sad the school year is over. The rest of the week, it was up to me and my son’s dad to help him complete all of his work and develop all of the skills a child should have by the end of the year.

As much as there were days that were a struggle just to get him to focus and finish tasks, the entire experience was fantastic. He can read, write, do basic math, and identify shapes. He is able to measure things, understands basic science principles, and continues to pick up new knowledge everyday. There is nothing more exciting as a parent than to be the one who encouraged and helped him do all of this.

Next year, things will be different and he will be attending traditional school with his sister. Not everyone has the work flexibility to do something like independent study with their child, but for those who can and will, you will not regret it.

 

Schools, and any other Public Place are Not even Safe Anymore!

Living in America is terrifying, hell, living in the world is terrifying. After the shooting that took place in Oregon at a community college, and another shooting by a sixteen year old in South Dakota, It feels as if nowhere is safe anymore. I have to admit that I am not one to venture out into public places often. I have always had a bit of anxiety around people, and when I was in High School, I was a bundle of nerves. I entered by freshman year of high school, the fall after Columbine, so there were definitely rules placed to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen again. Trench coats were banned, and if anyone was even suspected of having something dangerous items in their backpack (this included hole punchers and scissors), said items would be confiscated. Luckily, I never did have to deal with any shootings, bomb threats, or anything more than a few bloody girl fights. I also have not been in high school for more than twelve years, and my college experience was even more pleasant.

It seems that a few times a week,  I read the news to find another tragedy taking place. I am not a fan of guns. That being said, I only hate guns because of the weak and irresponsible people who can so easily obtain firearms to handle problems that could be resolved if they weren’t trying to take the easy way out. Mental health issues is a real problem in America, but rather than spending time with each sufferer to find a proper solution to the problem, the entire health care industry hands over a variety of mind altering drugs. This does not solve the problem, but  further numbs the mind removing all rational thought from troubled individuals. This is especially true for those who are unable to continue taking their medicine due to financial hardships or insurance policy changes.

I do not want to dwell too much because this is not a blog about the downfall of society, but these issues greatly relate to being a mother. I find the idea of letting my children attend school to be a scary concept because we can no longer consider school to be a safe place. I remember being in elementary school and feeling just as safe among my teacher and peers as I did at home. Currently, my son is in an independent study program, which is something I will discuss in another post, and my daughter will be entering school next year. But eventually, I will have to let my children enter the world without my constant supervision, and that makes me nervous. At this point, the only way to feel any semblance of calm is by teaching my children what to do in  the case of violent situation. This is the reality of the modern world.

One thing I do want to mention is that I do realize that terrible things have happened for hundreds of years and that it only seems more prevalent because of the constant media outlets that exist in the world providing every  story in the world, whether it be a catastrophic event like the one at UCC, or someone receiving some massive tip in an Apple-bees in the middle of Iowa. There is just too much sharing going on.

So parents out there, how do you handle sending your kids off to school each day? Does it get easier each year? Or even more difficult after another tragedy has occurred?

Kids and Youtube: Complete Insanity

It is quite convenient that both of my kids are at an age that they can guide themselves from one television show to the other, via Netflix or Amazon Prime. If their dad and I are watching a movie on TV, they are perfectly happy watching their shows on a nearby laptop. Since they are not at the age where they may be searching for porn, we don’t have to be too concerned…most of the time. Now that they are able to guide themselves from one program to another, they have become most intrigued with Youtube. Occasionally, they will find a video that starts out innocently enough, but once the first F-bomb drops, all is not safe with the world and their father and I will scramble to turn it off. What really amazes me is the videos they choose and continue to return to everyday. First, the Gummy Bear music videos. I am sure if you have small children that have ever been on Youtube, you have probably seen at least one of these videos. The discovery of these videos came when I was searching for the Disney show Adventures of the Gummi Bears which ran from 1985-1991, and was a favorite of mine as a child.

The real deal!

The new Gummy Bear is actually kinda creepy and kind-of adorable. After hearing the same songs more times than “Let it Go”, I started hating him/her/it. Just as with any movie, show, video, that my kids play on repeat, I go through stages of emotions. From finding it weird, then cute, then irritating, then catchy, then cute, then back to annoying. Just like everything else, the kids will eventually get sick of it. Really, I can understand the interest in the Gummy Bear songs because they really are catchy and the videos are actually mesmerizing.

Videos that I find even more perplexing are the ones in which adults unwrap toys. He or she will introduce the toy, take it out of its package and begin to play with it. Showing all the bells and whistles in an effort, I would assume, to get your kid to beg for said toy. But why? These people do not seem to be connected to the toy companies, so what is their purpose? When I was a child, I remember watching countless television commercials convincing me to beg my parents for Totally Hair Barbie, Polly-Pocket, and an Easy-Bake Oven. Since we don’t have cable in the house, I thought I would be cheating the system, avoiding any potential brain-molding through advertising. Well, obviously in the streaming generation, Youtube has become even more dangerous and toxic for young minds. What tickles me is that my son always watches the videos of the toys he already owns. The kid is actually watching someone else play with a toy that he could be playing with himself. What the hell is happening?!

I wonder if I used to be obsessed with a similarly puzzling form of entertainment as a child. When I was my son’s age (5) it was 1990, so streaming was not even close to being a thing. I did have an odd fascination with infomercials for products I needed even less than the average adult. What about you? Anyone else have some form of brainwashing they enjoyed as a child, or that your child has today?

Nearing 30 on Social Media

 The first time I explored social media was in 2003. It was a time where the only version of what we are bombarded with daily today could be seen through chat room and MSN/Hotmail profile pages. In early 2005 I created my own profile on Myspace. I found it to be a fun way to share pictures and thoughts with my “friends” and that enjoyment carried over to Facebook in late 2005. We all get sucked in at one point, unfortunately. There was a time when I felt a minor thrill from finding a friend on Facebook that I had not seen since I was a child. There was no need to necessarily “catch-up” because all of the information we would ask each other could be found in our profile. What were they up to? Kids? Married? Dating anyone I know? job? Where did they end up going to college? When I was living in a dorm room, even more could be gained from social media (assuming I never did stupid things because I was obviously going to be tagged in photos) because I was given an abundance of photographs from so many different friends to keep with me as mementos for years to come.

In the last few years, all of the positive things about Facebook have seemed to become less and less and the negative things have weighed me down. I noticed that I read many status updates for the sole purpose of rolling my eyes. People on my friends list began to irritate me more and more. Even the people I would consider to be legitimate friends in life appeared obnoxious in their social media persona. I also noticed there seemed to be a separation of those with children and those without. As a 29 year-old with two children that consume a majority of my day, I often find the urge to post pictures of my children or share cute stories about what one of them may have said. The urge quickly dissipates when I think about some of the mothers on my friends list that insist on posting story after story of their children and appear to have lost opinions or interests beyond parenting. Since I am a mother myself, one that enjoys children in general, I can see why most of my childless friends on Facebook would roll their eyes at my updates if I am doing the same to fellow mothers.

Scrolling through a newsfeed a few times a day has become exhausting and seems to only occur out of habit. I also have noticed that people tend to either share two things; how wonderful their life is or how terrible their life is. It is understandable that people want to gloat or complain to a large group of people and social media makes such things possible. I finally had to quit, This morning I disabled my Facebook account. I am not an Instagram person, nor do I involve myself in the myriad of other social media outlets that I am clueless about. Distancing myself from such things may actually make me remember people fondly rather than despise them because they have a douchey Facebook persona.

Children and teenagers today have it rough because they are growing up in a world where the dumb things they do, say, and think about are permanently displayed and shared all over the internet. When I look at my old journal entries, complaining about whatever triviality a fourteen year-old complains about, I cringe and feel a sense of calm when I realize that I was the only one to ever know about these thoughts.  Young people today must be careful in each movement they make. Orwell was not too far off when he wrote about Big Brother, but is not the government that is destroying our privacy, it is our peers. Anonymity appears to have become an archaic notion and sits among the likes of floppy disks and 8-track players.

Taking a 3,000 mile roadtrip with 2 toddlers, and how I mad it out alive.

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The Griswolds. I love this family.

When I was a kid one of my favorite movies was National Lampoons Vacation. I always thought that Chevy Chase was the perfect dad, and I would be psyched to go on a long vacation to Wally World with my family. It would have been much better than my own family vacations because my own father had a terrible temper, and frankly, I think my mother would have preferred being married to Chevy Chase (he was super hot back then, don’t pretend it’s not true).

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Vegas in the day, not nearly as magical.

I have always envisioned taking my own children on cross country trips every summer, and since they are 2 and 3, I decided to start them off slowly. We made the journey from Washington state to Southern California to visit my mom and grandmother. I grew up in an unbearable small desert town, unbearable in heat and mere existence. It was great to see my mother and grandmother, along with a few family friends, but after two days we were done. Last year, I struggled with my move to Washington, and wanted desperately to return to California, and now I can’t think of a single reason why I would do such a thing. I find California depressing now, and was eager to return to my Evergreen state.

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Salt Lake

After having a two day drive south, and three days of visiting, we jumped in my sedan and started heading to Nevada to visit my best friend, Amber. Amber and I have been friends for eighteen years, so it was a given that we would make a stop in Vegas, no matter how short it had to be. We then headed up through Salt Lake City, up to Idaho, through Eastern Oregon and right back to lush, and thankfully raining, Washington.

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Na na na na na na na na BISON!

The surprising thing about the trip was how well the kids did. My daughter only threw up twice, which is pretty good for a 2-year-old. If I was stuck in the back seat for that long, I would be puking more than a bulimic after a buffet, but my daughter is a champ.

My son urinated in his first Power Aid bottle, which made me very proud, and the kids worked out all their amped-up  up kid energy in hotel rooms. Unfortunately, we didn’t camp anywhere which was a major disappointment. Next time.

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Eastern Oregon. Better than it sounds.That should be part of the state motto.

The relatively short road trip showed me that I do not have to worry about future trips, because I would assume it only gets easier as they get older. I realize that is a ridiculous assumption, but let me have my dreams. Currently, I am attending school in hopes of teaching next fall, which makes future road trips pretty easy to schedule.

Next year, I plan on going to the East Coast; Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, the Carolinas, I just don’t even know. There is so much for the kids to see, and I am eager to be their cruise director.

Sure, I may have delusions of family vacations based on 80s classics from my childhood. I may even buy an RV someday, and if the kids do not want to go on a trip, I can always cook some meth.

Ex-Husbands and Wives, and how they are expected to hate each other.

For as long as I can remember, my parents have hated each other. There was always a mutual distaste that loomed over them, and it was something that never struck me as odd.  If anything, I thought it was uncomfortable when I would see parents of my friends having some sort of genuine love for each other. I am not saying this is normal, but it just was.

After I got married, I was sure that my husband and I would remain affectionate and comfortably, contently, in love in front of the eyes of our children.  This hope was merely a fantasy that was never realized. Before my children were even capable of understanding the world (and before my daughter was even born) my husband and I were no longer an us.

It has taken a few years, but now my ex-husband and I are in a friendly place. Living together means that there are times where we are best friends, and times where we want to claw each others eyes out (although I am usually the feisty one that is hell-bent on destruction).  But the question I always ask myself is; am I supposed to hate my ex-husband, and he, me? Well, apparently according our parent’s generation.  Even after 20 years of being divorced, my mother still relishes the day my father will just be kaput already. My mother is the sweetest human being in the world, but my father really is a shit that seems to create more trouble than anything.  I understand why my mother hates my father, but it makes me wonder why she would have ever marry anyone like that in the first place.

My children only witness the occasional shouting matches between their mother and father, which I would say is an improvement, but we attempt to limit those occasional freakout. I do wonder what my children will think of all of this when they are a little more aware of the situation. Obviously the living arrangement is temporary, and I am sure that the new wife is dying to have a stab at a normal married life, but for now, it is what it is.

A year and a half ago, I was not even sure where I was going to be living, let alone,  think that I would still be living with the father of my children (perish the thought).  There was a time when I actually considered moving to the other side of the country to a place called Greenville, South Carolina.  I thought it would be a nice change for me and the kids. The small town charms almost drew me in, I was so close to being convinced, and then reality set in. I had no one in Greenville, South Carolina.  Actually, I had one friend that I knew who lived there, but he is not the type of person you can depend on being a beam of support. If I had moved there, I would have been a lonely shell of a mess, with no one to help me with two rambunctious toddlers.

Moving with my ex was the best choice for so many reasons; I was able to move to a state I had never lived, which provided me with the need to escape the life I was living.  I have someone who will always help me with the kids, because they are his kids too, and I also found that the state of Washington is just unbeatable in its beauty.

So there are times when I do hate my ex-husband, but there are also times where we can play a four hour game of Monopoly and have a blast. To me, I think children deserve that from their parents, just two people that can play a board game with each other.