My Worries as a “Teacher Mom”

My biggest kid is starting school next year.  (Here in Mexico kids start around age three in preschool.)   I have been a little concerned about something, and tonight I decided to write about it:

What if my kid is worse than I think?  What if she isn’t always the person I see her be, and she morphs into a school monster?  (Some kids are totally different in the privacy of their own home…) What if I can’t see how she really is through my mom-blindness?

This is seriously worries me.

I think mom-blindness is a real thing.  It doesn’t matter how big your kid gets; once they engage in an altercation with someone, the mama bear emerges with claws blazing.  Sometimes we think bears only attack when provoked.  That’s where the expression comes from, right?  It’s the don’t-pick-on-my-baby response that every mom has.  

That’s all fine and dandy, but guess what?  This morning I read about a guy who was attacked in his tent while he was asleep.  When they recovered his possessions, everything was chewed to bits.  With no true cause, the bear attacked a man and all the inanimate objects in his tent.

What if I am a mama bear when I shouldn’t be?  Like, maybe MY kid is at fault and not the other person sometimes.  

I have tried to explain to daycare some of Ale’s “quirks.”  She doesn’t talk until she’s comfortable.  She is fully potty-trained, so I can’t explain why she doesn’t tell you she needs to go.  She didn’t have a sibling until three months past, so maybe that is why she doesn’t share.  But what if all of these are just excuses, and my kid is just that kid with a crazy teacher mom.

What if I make too many excuses for my child’s behavior because of mom-blindness?

I am making it my purpose to be less subjective.  I will try to take a step back and consider my kid’s potential for misbehavior when analyzing what other people say.  I will try to see the situation through their eyes.  I will try to see past my innate love for my child, to see the real her (faults and all).  Then, I will love her anyway.

An ex’s mom told me that once: “We don’t always like what our kids do, but we still love them.”  I understand that better now than ever before.

So, I will love her.  But I don’t want my love to ever enable her misbehavior to continue.  I want to be able to correct my child and love her at the same time.  And I want eyes that see clearly through it all.


Someday in Tennessee

This week a crew from school will be heading to Tennessee to complete in the DI (Destination Imagination) Global competition.  I’ve been trying to think of fun things for them to do, and it has made me long for the day that I get to share East Tennessee with my family.

Someday, I am going to take my girls to the Knoxville Zoo.  I can’t wait to pay for those overpriced day tickets.  I will watch with delight as they squeal with glee over the gorillas and the bears.  I will shiver as they discover snakes through the windows of the reptile observatory.  And I will shell out the big bucks for zoo treats and souvenirs that will I will one day regret buying when I pick it up off the floor.

Someday, I am going to wake my husband up early and stop for coffee at an all-night Pilot service station as we drive up to the Smokies to watch the sun rise.  I won’t know where we are going, but my “map” will be the road.  Up will always be the choice–until we reach the perfect place to park the car and see the sun peek out over the trees as the hills come to life.  (I will probably end up singing some cheesy song from a musical or recite “Tennessee Sunrise” much to his dismay.)

Someday, we are going to be tourists in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.  We are going to play mini-golf, and ride all the rides at Dollywood.  We are going to spend way too much money on those tickets, unless some niece or nephew happens to be working there at the time… (hint hint)  We are going to eat funnel cakes and sing along to all my favorite Dolly songs.  I am going to tell my family all about Dolly, and how she is my hero for never forgetting where she came from after she left (but more importantly, for all her work with the Imagination Library… #literacystartsyoung, afterall…)

Someday, we are going to drive down to Cardins and eat hotdogs, cheeseburgers, and drink milkshakes.  I am going to tell stories about my Mamaw, and how we would buy hotdogs on the way home from Wednesday night bible study.  We will fill up on fries AND onion rings, because if you are going to “do Cardins,” you might as well live it up.

Someday, we will go watch a drive-in double feature.  We will stock up on treats at the gas station, then back in to a spot so that we can sit in the back of the truck together on piles of blankets.  We will let the girls go to sleep late that night, and will surely regret it the next day.

Someday in Tennessee, we will get together with our friends on Fourth of July, eat tacos, and shoot fireworks.  We will swat hands that sneak black olives, and will tease each other over how much eating has happened, and we will watch the new generation of kids catch fireflies before dark.

Someday, we will sit on the porch in a summer thunderstorm and watch the waterfall created by the warm rain.  We will read aloud something appropriate for summer storms–something that will make us giggle with delight.

Someday, we will pack up a cooler, and take off for the lake.  We will slather on sunscreen and squish our toes into some Tennessee mud.  Then we will drink sweet tea with our friends as we reminisce about when we were young while enjoying all the babies playing together.

Someday in Tennessee, my sisters and I will stay up late and snuggle together on the couches.  We will laugh and tickle each other like we did when we were young.  We will inevitably ruin that fun time by fighting over something stupid.  Then, we will make up by singing old hymns together at the piano while mama cries because her “babies” are together in harmony.

Someday, we will load up the kids and the bikes and head up to Cades Cove.  We will take lots of water and a picnic lunch to share.  After 11 miles of hilly countryside and kids complaining, we will head back down the mountain to sleepy snores in the backseat.

Some Saturday morning, Mama and I will get up earlier than everyone else and make biscuits and gravy.  We will work together to fry up enough sausage and bologna to feed a small army.  She will make the lightest biscuits ever tasted, and I will stir together some gravy–thinking about Mamaw and her methods.  We will slice some Grainger County tomatoes, and fill up glasses with sweet tea.  After calling everyone to breakfast, we will bully someone else into doing the dishes (but will probably end up doing them ourselves later…)

Some summer day, we will drive up to the farm stands and buy bushels of tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn.  We will wash and sterilize mason jars that will later be filled with chow-chow, stewed tomatoes, and maybe some strawberry jam.  We will listen to the “pops” of success while warning everyone around to leave them alone.

Someday, we will pack up, and drive 20 minutes down the road to convention.  We will wake up early and help with breakfast.  We will stay up late and drink hot cocoa while eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  We will soak in the heavenly rain and fill up on spiritual food–and we will relish in the fellowship with sweet forever friends.  We will leave that oasis with new purpose for the next year, and promises to keep in touch that will go forgotten until the next spring.

Someday in Tennessee, we will wake up and check to see if school is out because of the flurries that were predicted.  We might get lucky enough to make snow cream and build a snowman.  We will regret having not bought a sled, but we will improvise with garbage bags and clothes-baskets.  We will eat too much, sleep too much, and play until we are frozen solid.  Then we will sit in front of the fire, and thaw out with soggy socks and gloves all around us.

Someday, my family and I will enjoy all that I miss about Tennessee.  But that day isn’t today, this summer, or this year.  So until then, I will make my plans for someday…


A Letter to My Three-nager on Mother’s Day

Dear Three-Year Old,

Today is Mexican Mother’s Day.  My day.  So I’ve decided to come clean:  You aren’t always fun.

This occurred to me today as you jumped back and forth on the bed, routinely pinching my cheeks as if I were a cute little kid who caught your fancy.  When I scolded you gently for hurting me, you laughed, dancing away out of my reach.  Once you found the eyebrow brush, you were back: sweeping my hair into my eyes with that vicious little comb giggling as I fought back the urge to scream.

When did we get to this place, you little shit sugar plum?  Aren’t you supposed to wait another 10 years before you get on my nerves?

While I am at it, what is so fun about drawing on the walls??  I mean, I get you coloring books.  I get you giant white paper.  We bought you an easel.  We bought chalk and fun crayons.  So why did you sneak out of the room with the black sharpie hidden in your skirt-tails, then quickly uncap it and write on the walls before I could get to you?  What’s the deal?  (And on walls made of concrete and flat paint, no less.  There will be no magic eraser magic enough to remove your masterpiece.)

You know what else?  It’s “Mudder’s Day” today.  What I really wanted was to go to Starbucks and eat a piadini with spinach and egg whites.  Those sandwiches are what my food dreams are made of these days.  But where did we end up for “Mudder’s Day” supper?  Happy Chicken.  YOUR favorite place.  And then, you little booger, you didn’t eat three bites.  Full disclosure:  next “Mudder’s Day” you are going to eat a muffin for supper so that I can have what I want.

Little girl, you better count your lucky stars that these “no fun” moments are out-weighed by the super-fun moments.

You made us giggle behind our hands today as you scolded that poor little boy at Pollo Feliz.  “No gritas a tu papa y tu mama!” you told him, with a tone of firmness hidden in your sweetness.  Really, my love?  No yelling?  That’s the message you are going to send to another kid when our days, of late, are filled with your shrillness?  And what’s the deal with the Spanish?  Don’t you know I have been worried sick that you will be another Mexican kid who speaks no Spanish?  Now you decide it is the moment to unleash the skills of your linguistic-ness?

 It’s a good thing that “No” means the same thing in English and Spanish, because that is the most common word you are probably hearing right now.  No, you can’t take your sister down the slide.  She’s only three months.  No, you can’t put the balls from the ball pit in your mouth.  No, you have supper on the table, you can’t have ice cream instead.  No, that’s your third cup of juice, drink some water.  No, you can’t wear your tutu to meeting.  No, you can’t pour the shampoo in the bath to make bubbles for Barbie.  No, Sissy can’t be pulled on like that–she doesn’t like it.  No, you can’t stay up with Daddy, we have to sleep.

Sigh.  Mama’s tired, Ale.

We didn’t even bother to hide our amusement as you became the server at the coffee shop.  I have no idea how you dreamed up a “peanut butter surprise,” but it could be from the three times in three days I’ve caught you eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon. You might have your Papi fooled, but I see through you, Punkin’.  Today Daddy kept saying, “Ale is really beautiful, Jania.”  Ummm hmmm…  Back and forth you marched, Sassy Britches, in and out of the room asking questions about how we wanted our peanut butter surprise.  Those eyes were twinkling with all the mischief in the world.  (BTW, watch out, World…)

Daddy’s right, Love, you are beautiful.  Even in those moments when I wish you would just go away and let me wipe my tush in peace.  Or take a bath without you.  Or make bread without giving you jobs to keep busy.  See, even in those moments, I want you there.  It’s like you are the best and the worst part of my days all wrapped up in a ball of constant chatter and energy.  And if you weren’t there, it wouldn’t be the same.  It wouldn’t be “Mudder’s Day.”

No, you aren’t always fun.  But, just when I think I can’t take it anymore you do something adorable.

Thanks for making my day, Dear Child.

Your “mudder”