Tag Archives: raising boys

Have Kids, Will…Make a Fort (No Boys Allowed)

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Having a space of my own became an urgent priority a few years ago.  As the only female in my household for the past 20 years, I’ve desperately yearned for a place to call my own.  Our sweet little, old farmhouse only has one bathroom upstairs that we ALL share (go ahead, ladies, gasp!).  So while I’ve semi-patiently tolerated all sorts of bathroom issues that come with five males peeing all over the one toilet that I, too, have to use, I hit a breaking point when I was trying to work/write from home.  Having a home-based business has many upsides, but too many distractions for this lady to function well.

Much too long after man-caves became a “thing,” women have now been allowed the same accommodation… a little escape from the shared household spaces.  It never did seem fair that the fun, casual drinking spaces were reserved for the guys–a space that didn’t need to be cleaned very well or used to entertain guests other than more guys who also sought refuge from those damned feminized rooms within the home.  I like drinking and relaxing as much as the next guy (or gal) but I needed a space that didn’t require me to look around and think, “Oh, so-and-so didn’t put his laundry away.  I’ll just do that before I get to this article.”  Or, “Gosh, those dirty dishes in the sink are going to stink if I don’t load the dishwasher before I work on this floor plan.  Better take care of that.”

Obviously, if we’re only working with one upstairs bath we also don’t have a spare room to use as an office.  Eventually, I was able to wrestle this space above my garage into my own private fort.  Or, as one of the boys calls it, my tree house.  We painted the whole thing glossy white to maximize the light that comes through the fabulous round window that a client couldn’t use.  Then, I found these great light fixtures from Cedar and Moss, a lighting company in Oregon.  They’re way cool and great quality!

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Even though the furniture is all upcycled, repurposed, and second-hand, it came together nicely to provide a very comfy mom-cave work space that I absolutely love.  And it has a bathroom!

 

 

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Have Kids, Will…Nurse My Ego

Having boys has opened my eyes to a special kind of flattery:  the kind that only a Mommy can get from her little boy.   In his eyes you’re a princess…beautiful, nice smelling, kind, and infallible.  He wants to snuggle, hold your hand, and marry you because you’re the most wonderful woman in his world.  Your heart absolutely melts when he looks into your eyes and tells you how beautiful you are.  And you are.  I’ve no doubt about that.

But then, he gets bigger.  Older.  Wiser.  Maybe a little cynical.  Suddenly you’re being picked apart like last week’s garbage.  Your breath stinks (somehow that coffee breath previously went unnoticed), you’re mean and unfair, your butt is big, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.

My big nose and big teeth were recently subjects of scrutiny and raillery.  The boys were being very funny, cracking each other up as I stood there, a witness to my fall from familial eminence.  And this was on the heels of having my youngest draw a picture of me on the back of a restaurant menu…as a green witch.

Despite the slight bruising to my ego, I do find a sense of relief when my kids hit this point.  There’s a lot of pressure involved in being the most awesome person in the world.  When your children finally realize you are, in fact, a flawed human being and not the smartest person in the world, you’re off the hook.  I’m totally comfortable admitting to my mistakes and physical shortcomings because I have nothing to prove except that this ugly witch loves them unconditionally.

Have Kids, Will…Parent an Adult

Unbelievably to me, my oldest son just turned 18.  This is a huge milestone, mostly because he’s now legally an adult.  An adult!  He can join the military, buy tobacco products, get arrested and put in regular, adult jail (scary!).  He can vote, make a will, sign contracts, get sued, and is eligible for jury duty.  Basically, he now has the legal right to do everything (within the law) except purchase and consume alcohol.  Amazing.  Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital, in that little infant car seat with the teddy bear print?  Wasn’t it yesterday that I held his chubby little hand as he enthusiastically ran through the doors of his preschool and learned how to count?  And I swear, it was just last night that he cried out from his crib because he had gotten hold of the Vaseline jar from the changing table and smeared it all over his face, the walls, and into his soft, auburn hair.

Having a baby at 22 was the single scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I wasn’t ready.  I knew I wasn’t ready, but…well…these things happen.  And for that, I will be eternally grateful!  He unwittingly introduced me to the art of parenting and, through the ups and downs of being my guinea pig, has been a beacon of light and the source of some of my greatest joy, frustration, and pride.  He is, and always will be, my baby: my sweet, raspy-voiced, precocious, nature-loving, little boy.

As we’re looking at colleges and talking about the next chapter in his life, I can’t help but to become a little wistful.  All those times I felt completely spent after long, exhausting days cleaning up after an active toddler who refused to sleep past 5 a.m., and some older person would see me, haggard and drooping, with my little firecracker in tow, and say, “Enjoy him now.  It goes by quickly,” I would think Yeah, right.  You just forgot how hard this is.  Well, I’m here to tell you, it does indeed go by quickly.  The days are often long, but the years just fly.

I love all my boys more than I ever imagined was possible, and Eli continues to be the guinea pig for my parenting, but what I’ve come to learn and really appreciate is just how fast time does go and how finite our time is to do the best job we can in raising our children.  Being a mom still scares me sometimes, but the love that causes my heart to swell for these wonderfully sweet, funny boys of mine, is so worth that occasional discomfort.  And now that my oldest is an “adult,” I catch myself admiring the young man he has become and think, I did okay.

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Have Kids, Will…Get Back on Track

“Get back on track!”  That’s what I told myself.  That’s my intention.  The problem?  I don’t know what track I’m on or where it’s going.  That’s kind of a big problem.  However…I’m convinced that for every big problem, there is a simple solution.

After trying multiple combinations of working/parenting, and always being available to my children, I think it’s time for me to leave my nest.  That well-feathered, marginally clean, come-and-go-as-you-please nest is not a good work environment.  I need structure.  And high speed internet.  It’s incredibly frustrating that my neighborhood is without an internet infrastructure.  No cable, no DSL, no whatever else people use.  We have a satellite, which delivers normal speed service for the first 10 days of the month.  After that, we’re back to 1995 until we spend another four million dollars to add data to our already maxed out data plan.  Ridiculous.  And I’ve been trying to work from home for the last 10 years!

When I made the decision to stay home with my very first son (after taking him to work with me and attempting to breastfeed during the day amidst my all-male colleagues), I never thought it would be another 17 years before I went somewhere to work.  But three more boys later, and that’s where I am.  I’ve worked at their school, have floated in and out of my husband’s company, written freelance restaurant reviews, and made myself useful in all sorts of volunteer positions.

Now, with my oldest starting his senior year of high school and my “baby” in third grade, I think it’s time for gainful employment.  That’s my new track.  So, technically speaking, I need to get ON a track rather than to get BACK on track.  Anyone hiring?

Have Kids, Will…Marvel at the Treasures Within a Dirty Car

Minivans are cool.  No, really, I mean it.  Ever since “having” to purchase one because our family could no longer fit in a normal size vehicle, I have offered mighty praise for this under appreciated set of wheels.  I like that all six of us can travel comfortably in it, along with all the gear, entertainment devices, and bags of snacks that usually travel with us.  We even have room for a couple of friends.  But, it’s all that “stuff” that tends to get left behind.

Anytime we’ve gotten a new (used, but new to us) car, I always consider it a fresh start: a chance to have a nice, clean car, and to keep it that way.  No food or drinks.  Muddy shoes in a plastic bag.  Wipe your nose on your sleeve.  That lasts about a month if I’m extra mean.  Otherwise, it’s about two weeks.

Now that we’ve had our current minivan for several years, it’s looking just as shabby as the last one did when we traded it in with a peppermint still stuck in one of the cup holders.  That thing just would not budge.  Recently, though, out of complete disgust, I cleaned that baby out, ready to take it to the car wash where they would vacuum it, clean the windows on the inside, and wipe away the inch of dust that was forming peaks on my dashboard.  Hopefully the funky smell would go away, too.

As I was sorting through the items that needed to be taken inside from the trash that needed to be tossed, I came across all sorts of treasures.  (You know it’s been awhile since you’ve cleaned out your car if you’re dividing things into piles!)  There was last week’s homework that was never turned in, a field trip permission slip that was also overdue, a library book that I had to pay for because it was thought to be forever lost, candy wrappers, cracker crumbs, juice bags: all the normal kid trash.  Then, lots of pens, pencils, and markers that are never around when we need them, rogue socks (but not a pair, naturally), a jacket, tiny rubber bands from one kid’s braces, and most surprising of all, a tooth.  A DNA crime lab could have a field day with all the hair and bitten off finger nails that were left behind, but a tooth?  Who lost a tooth and just left it in the car?

At least the tooth fairy has some money to leave whichever kid has a fresh gap in his smile with all the loose change I just found.

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Have Kids, Will…Pretend To Be a Barber!

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I’m certain that the men and women who cut hair for a living have gone through some sort of training and licensing program.  Whether or not that program was of high quality is a mystery.  I used to think that the pricier the cut, the better the results.  Generally, that seems to be the case but it isn’t always.  I’ve gotten really great haircuts at one particular salon only to go back, have someone else at the same place cut my hair, and leave with a disastrous haircut and $80 less in my wallet.

Now, with four boys who attend a school that requires them to maintain a short haircut, we spend a lot in salon and barber visits.  I’m using both terms–salon and barber–because we’ve tried both and in the nine years we’ve lived in this town, I have yet to find a place that provides consistently good haircuts.  In fact, it’s more often than not that we’re leaving one of these establishments with the boys looking like either Lego characters or Amish kids, and we’ve spent a small fortune.

Then there’s the issue of the boys cutting their own hair.  My youngest two have been especially bad at self-grooming, and I often find globs of blondish hair littering the bathroom sink along with a pair of blunt-tip school scissors somewhere in the mess.  It doesn’t take long to find the culprit, as he’ll inevitably have bald spots scattered randomly around his head, sort of like a dog with mange.  Or, he will have just worked on the bangs, taking them up to the scalp and leaving the rest in a jagged edge, creating a weird kind of moon-face effect.  Some of these instances have led us to full-on buzz cuts, which really don’t suit any of my boys. Their hair is too fair, making them look like neglected urchins.

Recently, I decided I would take the matter into my own hands–literally.  I bought a nice set of clippers, reasonably sharp hair cutting scissors, and a sleek black comb: just like the barber uses.  After carefully observing the process during our last trip to either the barber or the salon, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do any worse than they, but if I did we’d just go back to the buzz cuts.  I’m happy to report that after a lot of fearful looks, itchy necks, and “Sit still or I might cut off your ears,” the boys’ hair looks great!

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Have Kids, Will…Write!

This is the launch of a new blog for me; it will focus on all the things I’m struggling to do outside of my duties as MOM.  Most of these can and should coincide with motherhood, as many women function as wives, mothers, and employees (or members of the self-employed).  I’m currently maintaining a blog and doing some marketing for my husband’s general contracting business, of which I am technically a partner.  However, I have other interests and activities unrelated to home building for which I scrape together snippets of time.  I hope you’ll join me on my journey to explore some of  life’s offerings,  while I also work to shape my four sons into kind, compassionate, self-sufficient men.

A little background information: my husband and I have known each other since high school, but didn’t start dating until we were in college.  We have four sons, whose ages currently range from 6 to 16.  I think we are good parents, but our boys might think otherwise.  We are strict about working hard in school, doing chores, and being kind.  We are not-so-strict about using curse words, listening to loud music, or getting dirty.  Welcome to our chaos!

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