I do not come from an apologizing family. We reconcile, but we do not apologize. We sweep under the rug, but we don’t say the words.
The only time I ever remember apologizing to my mother for something I had done was because she forbade me to join my friends in our regular Friday night outing to the neighborhood skating rink. Holed up in my room, I crafted a saccharine sweet letter, and in that letter I apologized for my wicked teenage behavior. I decorated the edges with flowers and made lavish promises of extra chores, if only she would let me go out. I folded it into thirds, carefully printed her name on the front – MOM – and delivered it to her in the living room, where she sat watching TV. Then I scurried back to my bedroom so I wouldn’t have to watch her read it.
A few minutes later she opened my door. We weren’t a knocking family either. I knew she was calling my bluff. I wasn’t sorry for what I had done or the way I had acted. I was sorry I was being punished, sorry I was going to miss out on a fun night, and sorry I wasn’t going to get to see – not talk to, mind you, but see – the boy I had a crush on. I mean, the fate of my romantic future could have very well rested on this trip to the skating rink.
She relented, and I rushed off to join my friends, but the argument, and my pseudo attempt at a genuine apology letter, put a damper on the evening that no amount of laughter and gossiping could lift. I had cheated and won, but my winnings were bitter and left a bad taste in my mouth. The boy I so desperately wanted to see wasn’t even there that night. Perhaps he too was being punished for his own terrible teenage behavior. In the end, it was a waste of a good apology letter, and I was still stuck doing the extra chores.
Not long into our relationship, my husband let me know that my habit of not apologizing wasn’t going to fly.
“You can’t act like this this,” he would say, as I huffed and gave him the silent treatment if he so much as disagreed with which CD to play on a road trip. Sometimes I would walk away in my anger. One time I actually hopped in my car and drove off, only to return, because I didn’t really have anywhere to go.
With his help, and more often with his example, I learned to swallow my bitter-tasting pride and say those two, gut-wrenching words: “I’m sorry.” And I had to mean it. With time it got easier, and I learned that bucking up and acknowledging my fault felt much better than fuming and going to bed angry, the excruciating act of lying mere inches apart from one another, trying so hard not to touch. After almost twelve years of marriage, it’s almost second nature for one of us to relent and say “I’m sorry,” if only for the sake of agreeing to disagree.
Apologizing comes a little more naturally now, which is good, because as your typical flawed mother, I’ve been apologizing to my children pretty much since the day they were born.
I’m sorry my body wasn’t fit to carry you full term.
I’m sorry, I don’t know why you’re crying.
I’m sorry your sister inexplicably kneed you in the forehead. Maybe you shouldn’t keep your head so close to her knee next time.
It rolls off my tongue now, effortlessly. Maybe I really do say it that often. Sorry. Oops! There I go again.
Back when I was a perfect mother – you know, before I had kids – I swore that I wanted my children to be able to talk to me, to approach me. Confront me, apologize to me, and I to them. I didn’t want to raise a family of sweepers, those who don’t know how to admit their wrongs, or at least assuage a situation. I wanted no awkwardness, no pretending it didn’t happen.
Now that I do actually have children, I’m sadly no longer that perfect mother. I get the chance to apologize to my children a lot. Not just for things beyond my control, like my failing pregnancy health or the inconsolable wails of an infant or two. Now I have the chance to use my apologizing skills for a whole new set of fuck ups.
I’m sorry I yelled at you. I shouldn’t have reacted that way.
I’m sorry, but no I don’t know where you put your [insert favorite, minuscule little toy of the day here].
I’m sorry I forgot to pick you up from early release that time….and that other time.
I’m sorry. I’m not perfect. I’m trying my best.
My twins are six now and full of drama that I wasn’t prepared for at such an early age. One of them in particular often declares vast injustices in her life and takes to her bed. No amount of reconciling or reasoning with her will do. Voices are raised, and I often find myself staring after her in disbelief as she runs from the room, then checking my watch to make sure I have not fast forwarded 10 years. If you are the praying type, please pray for me in the upcoming teen years.
Her mood swings usually indicate that she’s tired or hungry. I know this, but she doesn’t. I know to give her some space, because we both need it. After some time has passed, one of us will relent. I’ll go curl up next to her in her bed, or she’ll seek me out in the kitchen. She’ll lean her head into my belly, stick her left thumb in her mouth, and grab my shirt with her remaining fingers, a stronghold to anchor her to me.
“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she’ll say. And she’ll mean it.
“I’m sorry too,” I reply. And I do too.
Disclaimer: Members of the Run or Dye blogging promotional team will receive compensation and admission to this event in exchange for this promotional post.
I’m just going to come right out and say it – I miss running.
Since I’ve been laid up with sciatica due to a herniated disc, I’ve been resigned to long walks around the neighborhood, which aren’t terrible, but when you’re used to running, going for a walk can be agonizing. But I plug in my earbuds, dial up a little This American Life podcast on my phone, and traverse the neighboring streets, hoping to catch a glimpse or two into a house that hasn’t closed up their blinds for the evening. Don’t mind me! Just checking out your paint color.
If I can’t run, the next best thing is trying to get other people to run. With so many different races these days, it’s super easy and fun to get involved in running. That’s why I teamed up with Run or Dye, the world’s most colorful 5k, to help promote their Austin race. Just a 5k! That’s only 3 miles. You can do that in your sleep. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Run or Dye is headed to the Travis County Expo Center on August 30, 2014. Everyone is invited to run this color-blasted 5k, where participants get showered in safe, eco-friendly, plant-based cornstarch dye every kilometer. Afterwards you and your friends can enjoy the world-famous Dye Festival in an ultimate celebration of life, friendship, fitness, and fun. And color. There will be color.
Register for Run or Dye Austin through THIS LINK and use the code BLOGAUSTIN to save $10 off registration. (The code expires August 23rd!)
If you join a team, you can save another $5.
I JUST GAVE YOU $15, PEOPLE.
Also, see below because I’m giving away TWO codes for free admission!
But Leigh Ann, you say. I can’t run! you say.
Look. Last year when I trained for a half marathon, I had tons of people tell me they couldn’t run. And that’s okay. Participants in Run or Dye are welcome to run OR walk. Or dance. Or skip. You can even bring the kids! Ages 6 and under get to participate for FREE! Maybe they can even pull you in a wagon.
Or maybe a giveaway will help?
Enter below for your chance to win two codes for free admission to Run or Dye in Austin, TX on August 30th, 2014. Giveaway ends 8/9/2014 at 11:59pm. Winner will be send the codes via email within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway.
The city has been repaving the roads in our neighborhood. Cheaply. They lay down some tar, then a layer of little black pebbles, and the pressure of the cars driving on the road is supposed to press the pebbles into the tar. I guess regular old cement is so 20th century.
The thing is, there are parts of the road, like corners and edges, where the cars weren’t able to do their job of pressing the pebbles into the road. Sidewalks and driveways end up littered with these little black pebbles, just waiting for a kid to wipe out on a bike or scooter. So on a walk, when we came to one of these corners that was littered with little black pebbles, Christian called a halt.
“Time to turn around!” he called, gesturing to lead his pack the other direction.
So I was like, “What? Why?”
And he said, “There’s rocks all over the sidewalk!”
And of course the kids had no shoes on, because we never really meant to go on a walk, but sometimes you’re just eating popsicles in your driveway and the next thing you know, you’re trekking across the neighborhood.
So I said, “Oh come on. It’s just a few harmless pebbles. You never walked around barefoot as a kid? Back in our day, we only put shoes on to go to church!” If even that! Okay, I lie. I grew up in Dallas, where we practically wore heels to bed.
And he was all, “Things are different now! More dangerous!”
And I kinda looked at him like he was kinda maybe getting a little irrational, “…Like the rocks are sharper?”
In the end, the kids traversed the perilous rock garden of 2014 with only minimal fanfare, and we all made it back home with our feet in tact. Sometimes Christian actually does have me partially convinced that he never a) went anywhere barefoot, b) played with dirt, or c) did anything gross or boyish or wretch-inducing.
Although he does have mighty soft feet.
Last summer we added up the cost of putting all three girls into a week-long summer camp, and then quietly closed our laptops and acted as if was perfectly normal for a sane, loving family to pay that much money for a week’s worth of activities.
Long story short, there was no camp last year.
It’s not that I want to get rid of my kids for a week. It’s just that we don’t often get to place them all in activities because the cost gets so high with three kids. And since summer gives us a break from paying for preschool, I figured it would be fun to give them SOMETHING to do besides hanging out with me all day. Every day.
Did I mention all day? And every day?
This summer, I was looking through the YMCA catalog and declared how inexpensive the camps were for members, which we are, because the pool is awesome and sometimes you just have to have somewhere to take your children for two hours while you exercise or read a book or do whatever it is you do with your spare time. I can’t judge because I’ve been known to look at the clock after my workout and say “Hey! I’ve still got 30 minutes!” and then sneak around to the vending machines for some important post-gym social media time. Luckily the kids love it in the daycare, where they take part in activities that they never get to do at home, like color and play with brightly colored plastic toys.
Anyway, I scoured the YMCA online catalog for camp weeks that a) had 2 spots available for the twins in Theme Camps, and had a spot available for Zoe in Kinder Camp, b) were held at schools in our area, and c) weren’t completely lame. Since the Theme Camp and Kinder Camp were in no way aligned with similar themes in the same weeks, I had Rachel and Claire heading to Art Camp! while Zoe would be attending Camp Snooze. Or Zoe could go to Swim Camp! while the twins went to Camp I Want to Go Home.
Honestly, they would have had fun no matter which theme we picked, so I bit the bullet and chose something that I thought they all would like, and I started the registration process, where I quickly learned that there would be a $30 registration fee. Per kid.
Why they don’t just tack on $30 to the camp fee, well that is one of life’s great mysteries. What does it all mean? $30 to print my kids’ name on a list? $30 to pay for your internet connection for the instantaneous delivery of my online forms? The registration process itself was just short of traumatizing, with all the invasive questions like “What is your child’s middle name?” and “What is your child’s birthday?” and so on and so forth. So I’d like to think that *I* should get $30 back in my pocket.
Once I got everyone’s camps and registration fees into the online cart and looked at the total, I figured I should just kind of give a little heads up of sorts to Christian that I was about to blow our monthly grocery budget so I could have a little alone time. I mean, you can’t exactly put a price on sanity, but it seemed like the right thing to do.
And he immediately nixed that idea, because well, we would rather spend that money on some weekend trips we have planned, and I supposed we do need groceries more than I need alone time.
So if you need me on any given day, I’ll be “on the treadmill,” which is code for hiding in the YMCA bathroom with my book.
It took me a whole month, and I’ll be the first to admit that I struggled in the beginning, but I think we’ve finally hit our summer stride. The fighting has lessened, and I no longer get the shakes when I think about taking the kids anywhere. Next time I blink, school will be starting, and I’ll be crying the tears of missing my girls and having first graders and practically being an empty nester. But then, you know, quiet house for a few hours and all.
Here’s an extremely photo-heavy rewind into our June, if you’re the type who likes to live vicariously through other people’s somewhat average lives.
Some friends and I went to see Mortified ATX, and it was amazing. Basically, people get up on stage and read from their adolescent and teenage journals. It was moving and hilarious, and really made me lament the fact that I didn’t keep consistent journals growing up. In fact, one of my goals this year was to journal more. Right under that, BUY JOURNAL. Seriously.
If you can’t catch a show in your area (they sell out!), then you MUST watch the documentary Mortified Nation on Netflix. Such an experience.
Great Wolf Lodge 2.0. In our second year of what we hope to be an annual tradition around my niece’s birthday, we learned a few tricks about visiting this place. Like skip the dinner buffet, unless you enjoy being out $100 on mediocre food. And take a tip from the lady I saw in the arcade who was carrying a plastic cup around, and every so often would remove a can of beer from her bag and pour herself a cold one.
I didn’t think much of it growing up, but my parents pretty much live in a perfect neighborhood. Huge trees, lush, green lawns, lots of newer families and 1970s tract houses that are now worth an amount that made me choke on my Starbucks.
Oh don’t worry. That ridiculously clean house isn’t mine.
We had the chance to visit SeaWorld San Antonio as a family while I attended the AdventureCon Conference. It was a fantastic opportunity to get away, take part in some really fun activities, and learn a little. I didn’t meet nearly enough people there – always my weakness – but we all had a great time and got to see some cool behind the scenes stuff.
Waiting for the Shamu “One Ocean” show. Splash zone ain’t no joke. And yes, that IS a white shirt I’m wearing.
Snapped this one and quickly put the phone away, because I swear we were the second most heavily soaked section in the arena. Those poor souls in the most-soaked section, who floated by me on our way out of the place.
So one of the many perks of this event was that while we were conferencing on Sunday morning, the families got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium and get front row spots at Dolphin Cove. Kinda bummed I missed that!
After the conference was done, we spent the rest of Sunday at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park. Among all the pools and slides, the best part by far was the stingray pool. Feeding them was so weird, as they sucked the fish out of your hand like a creepy little vacuum cleaner. Next time we’re going for the full on interaction, where you can actually get in the water with them.
And of course when we got home, the kids were still so fascinated about the stingrays, we had to research them on the internet and be all nerdy and stuff. Anything that encourages my kids to learn is fine with me.
We checked out a museum on the UT campus, then paid a visit to the little turtle pond. I tried to explain that this was where mommy went to school, but not like kindergarten, but it’s called UNI-VER-SITY.
“Oh, just like Monsters University!”
Yes. Just like that.
And, yeah. This is pretty much how I end every day. BEAT.
Hope your June treated equally well.
So I was formulating this post in my head, all about how summer is killing me, my house is a mess, and I have absolutely no free time, but I was like, Hey, wait. I’m going to sound like a whiny little snot, because I just wrote about summer the other day and how much it was exhausting me. And then I realized that that post I “just wrote” was THREE WEEKS AGO.
So yeah. Summer! *jazz hands*
I don’t know how to explain all of the complicated thoughts and feelings that go along with having my three children home with me all day, every day. I mean, I’ve done this before. But they’re all so loud, and need all of the things, all of the time. So mainly I think “HOW IN THE HEAVENS DID I DO THIS FOR 5 YEARS?”
About 2 weeks into summer, the girls finally learned to sleep past 6:12 am. They usually play in their room for a while, which lets me doze a bit. Sometimes they’ll come tell me they’re hungry and want breakfast (every day with the breakfast!), but if we have bananas, I can stretch that doze out another half hour or so. Basically I’m setting myself up for a very rude awakening once late August rolls around. Look, schools, if we can put “make your own breakfast without dumping Cheerios all over the floor and then crunching each and every one of them, and please don’t spill the milk, thank you very much,” on the curriculum, I would totally sign off on that shit.
Anyway, since this post seems to have a serious lack of direction, I’ll talk about my own serious lack of direction. AKA I can’t figure out how the hell to arrange my days so that I a) get all children fed, clothed, and maintain the appropriate balance of educational stimulation and brain rot, b) keep the house from imploding in a heap of haphazardly strewn couch pillows and mildewy beach towels, and c) get at least 5 minutes in which no one is touching me, calling for me, or even thinking about touching or calling for me in any form or fashion. Writing is at a minimum (it’s 11:24pm and I have an early doctor’s appointment tomorrow, so I hope you are enjoying this ridiculous post). By the end of the day it’s all I can do to stare blankly at Facebook or say, “Sure, honey. Let’s watch three episodes in a row of Breaking Bad.” And then I hit the sack and read a book or play Two Dots on my phone until the book or the phone hits me in the face, and then I turn the light out and fall asleep within 3 minutes.
So, I don’t know, if you have any fool proof methods for, you know, getting shit done when you can’t focus on anything for more than 23 seconds, well, I hope you can tell me in under 23 seconds. Otherwise, I may just see you in September.
So it seems I may have forgotten what it’s like to have three very loud, very rambunctious, and very activity-switchy children in the house all day? Maybe? A little? I’m not really sure what happened, but by bedtime I thought I was going to die, and then I looked at the clock, and it wasn’t bedtime at all, but a mere 12:47 pm.
Because by 12:47 I had already:
Consoled a crying child about a toy that she mysteriously misplaced while she was sleeping (6:03 am)
Attempted to coerce three children back to their beds because really? I have to drag you out of bed at 6:45 during the school year, but now you just pop right up like a summer-crazed jack-in-the-box (6:14 am)?
Thanked the Lord for my husband, who got up and fed them breakfast while “I slept in” (7:42 am)
“No, you can’t play in the sprinkler yet.” (8:21 am)
“No, it’s too early for the sprinkler.” (8:33 am)
“NOPE.” (8:40 am)
Said yes to tablet time (8:41 am)
Showered (9:01 am) (and you’re welcome)
Repeated “get dressed,” “can you get dressed?” “seriously, get dressed,” about 7.5 times. We won’t talk about the shoes.
Arrived at the library (10:02 am)
Wrenched Claire away from a poor woman and her 1 year old (10:11 am)(10:14 am)(10:19 am)(10:23 am)(okay, pretty much the entire time we were there)
Listened to Rachel read an entire Gerald & Piggy book to me (10:38 am)(also…reading!!!!!)
Checked out approximately 37 books (10:56 am)
“Shoes and toys don’t belong in the middle of the floor!” (11:13 am)
“Yes, please, go outside.” (11:17 am)
“Close the door.” (11:18 am)
“Close the door.” (11:19 am)
“CLOSE THE MOTHER@&$^ING DOOR!” (11:20 am)(expletives optional)
Made lunch for 3 cranky children (11:31 am)
You need snacks? Didn’t you just eat like 10 minutes ago? (11:41 am)
Wrenched a despondent Claire from her bed with promises of the water play I’ve been putting off since 8:21 am (11:50 am)
Wait, I should be a parent and make them clean up some of their messes before playing outside (11:52 am)
“Yeah, there’s still a lot of crap laying around…there…and there….and there…” (11:56 am)
“Okay fine, GO FORTH AND RUN THROUGH THY SPRINKLERS.” (12:01 pm)
Oh, heavenly, quiet-ish bliss. (12:02 pm)
Oh, look. They’re playing in the mud. That will be fun to clean up later. But still. HEAVENLY QUIET-ISH BLISS. (12:09 pm)
Zoe Of The No Body Fat has declared water play over for herself (12:10 pm)
Yeah, that mud’s getting a little out of control. (12:27 pm)
But I’m gonna sit here and eat my lunch, fully aware that the mud is getting a little out of control. (12:29 pm)
Oh yeah, that’s going to be hard to clean. (12:33 pm)
Showered, dressed, and brushed muddy kids. Soaked self in process. (12:40 pm)
Turned on all the blinky, internetty things because it’s almost over, right??? (HAHAHAHAHA it’s 12:47 pm)
We’ll either never survive this summer with our sanity intact, or we’ll just do what normal people do, and give up on any and all activities and just resign ourselves to some good, old-fashioned brain rotting.
…And then, all of the sudden, they were done with kindergarten, and I was like WHOA. Where did the last 9 months go?
Thursday night I held a crying Claire as she sobbed and blew her nose on my shoulder, sad that she was going to miss her teacher. Nine months ago, I was doing the same, only she was sobbing that she didn’t want to go to school because “kindergarten is sooooooo long for mommies and daddies to come back” and she missed me too much.
Oh, how far we’ve come.
No one told me that the last day of school would be so emotional for me. Everyone conveniently saved that little tidbit for after I got home and was lamenting my graduated children. “Oh, I cry every year!” they said. “Unfortunately it doesn’t any get easier!” they said. “Thanks for the f—ing warning, friends!” I said.
I’ve been conflicted about my kids aging. When they were babies and toddlers, we naively wished their babyhoods away. “It’ll be so much easier when they’re 2, 3, 4…” we would say. Not that we didn’t relish those years and all of the sweetness that comes with it, but having two babies/toddlers/preschoolers is HARD. “At 3 we’ll be able to reason with them better,” or “at 4 they’ll be able to entertain themselves better,” and “at 5 they’ll be big kids…” Ah, first time parents-slash-idiots.
When we started kindergarten I feared that I was losing the child in my girls. I pictured them in school all day, studiously reading, writing, doing serious work. Throughout the year I was ecstatic to learn that they really were still maintaining a lot of their little kid-ness. Claire loved forcing boys to play her husband in the home station. They brought their favorite lovies to school and had a Teddy Bear Picnic. They made Native-American costumes out of paper sacks for Thanksgiving. They brought home drawing after drawing after OMG drawing of their friends.
This afternoon I rushed to meet them at the local park after a morning of grocery shopping and one last lunch with Christian before everyone came home and I was resigned to almost never leaving the house with 3 children. I showed up right as they were packing up to head back to the school. They were glad to see me, but disappointed that I hadn’t gotten there earlier. And I was too. In general, I wish I had given more of my time for class parties or lunches at their school. I did what I felt I could at the time, but I could have done more.
Next year I’ll know better. But next year won’t be kindergarten.
At home I tearfully read the teachers’ comments on their final report cards. I hugged the girls and told them how proud I was of them. We chatted excitedly about what we wanted to do this summer, like go swimming, invite school friends over to play, go swimming, eat ice cream, and go swimming. I’ve looked forward to having my girls home this summer.
And then five minutes later Zoe was screaming that her sisters wouldn’t share the bubble blower, Rachel was digging in the pantry for snack #5 in the past hour, and Claire was beckoning me to come wipe her butt.
This is what it’s all about, folks! Yay summer!