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Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

Self-Deprecating or Self-Conscious?

Anyone who’s met me knows that my humor has a tendency to be quite self-deprecating. It’s partly because I don’t take myself very seriously, and partly because I know that if I make fun of myself, it won’t bother me when other people do. I was never “cool” in school, so maybe it stems back to those years of my life, who knows. I’m not a therapist nor do I believe I have some deep-rooted issue that causes me to laugh at myself for being 13 feet tall. I try to find humor in everything, myself included. That being said, I’ve decided I need to make sure my daughters see it as humor and not as low self-esteem. Where do I find the line between not taking myself too seriously and putting myself down?

No matter what I may be thinking or how I’m feeling, I make a point to never “shame” myself in front of my daughters. Especially not about my shape or looks. Β I don’t want them ever thinking that’s where their value comes from. Are they stunningly beautiful girls? Absolutely. (I’m not a biased mother at all). But they are SO much more than that. Adelina has the most amazing courage sometimes. If she thinks someone is being bullied (whether it’s on TV or in person) she starts roaring like a lion at the offender to scare them away. Of course on the other hand she’s afraid of fuzzies, but maybe she knows something about them that we don’t. Perhaps one day she’ll win the Nobel Prize for discovering that all of the fuzzies on the ground have been slowly killing us all.

And Vileya, my God that girl. She is by far the most persistent human being I’ve ever met. If you tell her no, she doesn’t whine or cry. She simply does not accept no as an answer. If I tell her to stop playing with the curtains and carry her over the baby gate and into a different room, she’ll simply walk to the gate, find a way to climb over it and get right back to those curtains.

THOSE are the things they will be defined by. Their courage, perseverance, strength, kindness, intelligence and faith. Their beauty will go beyond their looks. And they, too, will laugh at themselves and not take life too seriously. If someone pokes fun of Lina’s mullet, I want her to nickname herself “Billy Ray” and be able to laugh with them at how silly it is. If someone laughs at how Leya walks like a cowboy, I want her to throw on some spurs and laugh along.

I want them to know that their bodies are built a certain way to make them great at specific things, and that everyone’s abilities differ. Same with their minds. They may understand things or think differently than everyone, but that’s because God gives everyone a different purpose. We spend so much time these days (mainly thanks to social media) comparing every aspect of our lives to others. I may see a picture of a 5’4″, 115 pound girl on Facebook and wish that I was petite, but guess what? I would never be able to do the things I can do now with that stature…and she’s capable of things that I could never do! I can reach the top of the kitchen cabinets and she can have a ton of legroom during a flight.

Yes, my personality can be self-deprecating at times, and maybe I was made with thick skin to help me with my career in law enforcement. Other people are wonderful, positive rays of sunshine because that’s what helps them with their career or life in general. I mean, can you imagine me as a kindergarten teacher? “Little Joey, if you get that snotty nose near me again, I’m going to punt you through the window,” probably wouldn’t go over very well during a parent-teacher conference.

My point is that we are all created for our very own, specific purpose, and that is what I will raise my children to believe. No matter how you’re built or how you think, be thankful for the things that you’re capable of. And keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to laugh at yourself for not being capable of everything.

Lina and Leya will know that they were put here for their own unique purpose. Maybe they’re in the 98th percentile for height because they’re going to accomplish amazing tall-girl things! Like perhaps designing an Amazonian clothing line so all of our pants can stop fitting like capris. A tall mom can dream.


I love you, beautiful wife.Β 

“Goodnight Lina, I love you,” I said, kissing her on the cheek.

“Goodnight, mommy. I love you, beautiful wife,” she replied.

My first reaction was to laugh, simply because my daughter calling me her wife is a funny concept. After thinking about it though, my response was to cry. Don’t worry, it wasn’t an ugly Kim Kardashian cry, it was just a tear or two.

I’m always aware that I have to be careful of what I say in front of our children; not only will they repeat it, but they’re also learning from it. They’re learning how to react if something inconveniences them, like when our DirecTv remote seems to need new batteries every 13 minutes. As badly as I may want to damn it to the pits of hell, I try to take a deep breath and place it calmly on the coffee table. Is that how I react every time? Please. (Insert eye-roll emoji here). But I do try. Aaron is WAY better at controlling his reactions than I am. Kids are far more perceptive than we give them credit for; they feel what we feel when we say something is good or bad and they burn it into their little memory. And most of all, they’re learning how to treat others and how to expect to be treated.

In our household, Lina repeats just about everything her daddy says. Whether it’s a curse word (like when she screams “SH*T” in the grocery store), or life lessons such as, “be patient”. He’s her hero and favorite “octopus” aka officer. Luckily, she doesn’t repeat mommy that much, aside from the occasional, “No, mommy. Don’t talk back.”

Out of the two of us, I am by far the more volatile spouse. I often lack a filter and realize after I’ve already spoken that some things are probably better left unsaid (which is why we’re lucky that Lina doesn’t always repeat me). Sometimes when Aaron asks me a question, I’ll answer, “nice or honest?” and he knows I’m either about to give a polite lie or drop a painful truth bomb. Even so, after 7 years of waking up beside the same, sometimes insensitive, woman–except for the nights that our kids take over our bed…ok I’m done lying, that’s every night–he still says “I love you, beautiful wife”. Enough times for a toddler to catch on to the entire phrase. Our girls will look at their father as a standard against which they will judge all men, and in case you haven’t caught on yet, the bar is set high, future boyfriends.

There are a lot of ways we wish we could be better for our kids, but they will always know how much their parents love each other. We may give them ice cream at ten o’clock at night, call them ‘dude’, watch The Walking Dead when they’re not distracted enough and throw out the occasional curse word in front of them, but we also read to them everyday, teach them about God’s love, chase them around the playground and love them and each other fiercely.

Sometimes when I feel like we could be doing so much better as parents, Lina says, “I love you, beautiful wife” and I’m reminded that we could be doing a heck of a lot worse.

And then other times she says, “JUST GIVE ME A DAMN MINUTE, MOMMY” and I’m also reminded that we can always be better…

When to Fight Back

A cool breeze, a beautiful view of the water, children laughing and playing…a Saturday at the park sounds pretty delightful, right? Wrong. Any parent knows that going to the park only sounds good in theory. “I’ll let them run around and wear themselves out, then they’ll nap for 14 hours straight and I can remember what silence sounds like.” Then you get there and see that every other parent in town had the same idea.

We pulled up around noon, I had Vileya strapped to my chest in the Baby Bjorn (God knows if I put her down, she’ll eat 6 rocks, 32 bugs, 17 pounds of grass, dirt and sand and probably a cigarette butt or four), and Adelina is doing her best to release her hand from my grip so she can run full-tilt toward the playground. As we approach, I see very few children Lina’s age. “No big deal,” I tell myself. “She needs to learn to play with kids of all ages.”…Except kids of all ages have no idea how to play with kids of all ages…very few understand “hey, they’re younger than me, I’ll play accordingly” (LINA INCLUDED). I’ll be the first to admit that my toddler can be an egomaniacal monster who’s out for blood. Especially when dealing with her baby sister. Because we recognize this, we are doing our best to teach her to be kind. I don’t necessarily believe that she HAS to share with everyone, however I do believe she needs to be kind.

So, we finally make the trek from the parking lot to the playground–I’m sweating profusely already, just so you know–and Lina immediately runs for the sandbox. I call out to her to be polite and she gives me a “why are you even still here” nod as she runs along. There’s a young boy playing in there, roughly five years old, and I immediately notice there is only one shovel. Lina reaches to snatch it out of his hand but makes eye contact with me first. My raised eyebrows and pursed lips stop her in her tracks and she politely asks him, “can I have it please?” The boy says no and keeps playing. That is absolutely and perfectly fine. It belongs to him and he has every right to tell her no, he owes her nothing. Luckily Lina moves on and amuses herself by carrying handfuls of sand to place underneath a nearby bench. Because why build sand castles and dig for treasure when you can be a human bulldozer.

Sandbox boy’s mom is sitting near me and is playing on her phone. No biggy. It’s a fenced in playground and we need to take our free moments as we get them. A few times now, sandbox boy has flung sand in Lina’s direction and I instructed her to brush it off and continue playing. I know sandbox boy’s mama has heard me at this point because she’s 3 feet from me and my voice is one of those startlingly loud ones that kind of makes you feel uncomfortable. At this point, sandbox boy scoops up a big shovel-full of sand and straight up chucks it at Lina. I lean forward but stay seated…I want to give her a chance to handle the situation on her own. She loudly says, “please stop!” But he doesn’t. He scoops another shovel-full and tosses it at her. Again, “Stop!” This happens one final time before Lina takes matters into her own hands. She pulls her little fist back and decks him in the chest. Proper form and all. Sandbox boy falls on his tush and starts crying. I walk over and pick up Lina and ask if she’s ok. She says, “sorry, mommy”, and I explain that no apology is necessary. I help sandbox boy up and make sure he’s alright. He’s going on and on about how Lina hit him and is quite taken aback when I tell him that I know and that he had it coming. I explained to him that what he was doing wasn’t nice and that she asked him repeatedly to stop.

Let it be known, his mom is still mentally MIA.

I asked him his name and asked how he would feel if someone was throwing sand at him. He apologized, they hugged it out and split a pack of fruit snacks. Hopefully he’s not allergic, seeing as how his mom won’t notice in time to bring over an EpiPen. They said their goodbyes, I grabbed our things and we walked over to the fountain so Lina could throw coins in, aka toss them all in at once and then start crying when there aren’t any left. No, you may not climb in and retrieve the coins for round two.

Bottom line, I do not condone hitting people for no reason. And no, violence is not always the answer. We may have taught Lina proper hitting techniques but have always reiterated that you never hit people without just cause. YOU DO NOT BULLY PEOPLE. There are few things I despise more than a bully.

That being said, you DO defend yourself and others. Don’t start a fight but end it. Don’t hit first but hit the hardest. You know, all of those sayings that normal people teach their almost three-year olds. Could she have run away and tattled to me? Sure. As an adult, I very much appreciate when someone approaches me directly if they have an issue with me. Tattling isn’t always the answer either. I say try to solve the problem on your own and if that doesn’t work, then it’s time to go over their head.

Even though he wasn’t going about it the right way, all sandbox boy wanted was some attention. I’m pretty sure Lina fell in love with his bad-boy ways and mohawk haircut. That issue will be revisited in future posts, I’m sure.

We’re all misunderstood in our own ways, am I right?

Needless to say, my mom-mobile now has more sand in it than the damn Sahara.