20 Signs You’re Winning At Parenting

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As a parent, I sometimes have those days when I wonder, “Am I doing this wrong?!” Why do some parents seem to have their act together while I am sporting greasy hair because I didn’t have time to shower and the kitchen sink is still filled with last night’s dishes?

I get that funky ring of discontent around my collar while I sulk in my apparent failures. But then it occurred to me that I was looking at the flops of my parenthood all wrong! It turns out that there are all of these shiny little victories in my peripheral vision just waiting to be noticed because they are all small proofs that I am winning at parenting, baby.

And…chances are, you are nailing it too, if you can call any one of these 20 victories yours:

1. You ate the last of the chocolate when no one was looking so that your poor kids wouldn’t have to.

2. You stole the batteries out of that obnoxious talking bear so that it wouldn’t upset your kids with that annoying automated voice demanding that they “Clap because you’re happy and you know it!”

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3. You left PBS on all afternoon. Because, Viewers Like You.

4. Unlimited texting, coffee, Facebook, and complaining to your spouse are cheap forms of therapy to keep you sane, happy, and fun during the day with the kids.

5. Sweat-Yoga-Mom Pants make you PRODUCTIVE. I’m not sure how, but damn if I don’t feel faster doing the dishes and vacuuming while wearing them.

6. Your kid surprised everyone by loudly announcing his fart in the middle of the grocery store. But then said, “Ess-k-ewws Me, Momma!” #winning

7. Your kid is still alive and kicking…and lodging fewer than 20 complaints…by bedtime.

8. You packed a lunch. It was none of this bento bullshit. It was a paper bag of what-to-expect-when-you-got-10-damn-minutes-left-before-it’s-time-to-go.

9. You brushed your hair. And got dressed. And ate food that wasn’t bright orange. All before 8:00 AM. Congratulations!

10. During a toddler meltdown (!!!MELTDOWN!!!) you held strong and refused to give in to demands for only chocolate pudding for dinner. Besides, that shit is for late night snacking aka cheap therapy.

11. You paid the bills on time, ordered those crazy looking rocket sneakers, and returned the library books before they were overdue.

12. While talking on the phone to your MIL, you ask your kid if he wants to say hi and he doesn’t roll his eyes or run into the next room hiding from the phone. #winning

13. You said yes when the kids begged to make a mud pit in the backyard. YOLO, right?

14. While your kid was arching his back, screaming, and kicking to NOT be put in his car seat, you remained calm and serene like Mother effing Teresa.

15. Meh, so your kid threw his dinner on the floor and the dog ate it and then your kid complained that he was hungry. You just roll with it.

16. Although you may not have time to join a gym, you DO have time to chase your kids, do the laundry, wash the dishes, vacuum 177 times, walk the dog, pick up the toys 43 times, yell, stomp, huff and puff, and threaten to give up under your breath 1,927 times all before dinner. That is called a calorie SHRED!

17. You sat through 8 minutes of your child explaining why dinosaurs are cool and therefore he must roar and use his claws (fork) to dig at his dinner (plate) at the table.

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18. You always wanted this. Even though no one told you how crazy or hard or challenging or bite your tongue frustrating it would be. You always wanted this. So you are doing this. The best you can. That’s what counts.

19. You make up a zillion lies about what Big Kids do all the live long day to convince your kid to do basic shit like get dressed by himself, brush his teeth by himself, put his toys away by himself, and go to bed by himself. Ugh…

20. No mater what kind of ridiculous encounters your kids present you with each day you put them first, you figure it out, you find a way. Even if it isn’t perfect. #winning

Besides, we can all pat our selves on the back with the congratulatory relief that there isn’t any such thing as a Parent Of The Year Award. Now, pass me those chocolate pudding cups.

Related post: Shout Out to the World’s Okayest Moms

I Can’t Complain

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When people ask me how I am, I try to respond with, “I can’t complain.” Because really, I can’t. There’s a roof over our heads, food on the table, I have a husband who loves me and children who are healthy. I don’t want to complain. I want to be grateful as much as possible.

Lately I’ve been noticing that complaining has become almost a mode of conversation, a way of commiserating with and relating to each other. We complain about the rain, or the lack of rain, or the heat, or the slow lady at the grocery store, or the terrible service at a restaurant, or the carpool line that is agonizingly long, or the amount of homework our kids get, or the butt loads of laundry that pile up. I am guilty of this complaining conversation just as much as the next person. I complain about how hot and humid it was today, or how I could lose a few pounds but it’s just so hard (especially because I don’t want to give up wine or carbs), or that I am really tired of schlepping everyone around, and did I mention that I have to drive freaking forty-five minutes during rush hour to take my son to ice hockey practice tonight?

I guess everyone has a pity party every now and then, but lately I’ve been trying to catch myself and quit all my complaining. Before another complaint escapes my mouth, I try and remember our friend Kate.

I met Kate in the 7th grade. She was exceedingly bright, especially when it came to English and History. She was kind to all, soft spoken, funny and friendly. After high school graduation, she went on to Trinity College. She became an English teacher at our middle and high school Alma Mater, engaging middle school students in young adult literature. She had three boys of her own. She was the alumni liaison for our graduating class, and we kept in touch at reunions and through other friends. During her third pregnancy she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. A couple years later, she died at the age of 39. Her youngest son was only two years old when she passed away.

The last time I saw Kate alive was at our friend Jo-Anne’s house. It was June and Jo-Anne was having a birthday party for one her kids. Kate was there with her boys. Her cancer was in remission, and she was as vibrant as ever, engaged with her kids, always with a smile on her face. She had a quiet resiliency about her. She really listened when you talked with her. She was never rushed. In October her cancer came back everywhere. By Thanksgiving, she was gone.

Whenever I am having a particularly bad day, the kind where I am annoyed by everything and everyone, and all I really want to do is complain, I think of Kate. If I am standing at our kitchen sink doing the dishes, I remind myself that she would give anything to be here, scrubbing the freaking pots and pans. When my alarm goes off on a school day at 6:00 am and I am tired, so tired, and I feel like complaining about the early hour, I think of Kate and how she would happily trade places with me in a second to go wake up her kids. Whenever I am carpooling kids around to various activities and I am tempted to complain about the traffic, I think of Kate, and how lucky I am to be here in this mundane moment.

So I am trying to be more mindful of what I am saying, and practice positive conversation by commenting on all the good things instead of pointing out the endless crap. It’s not easy to change the conversation and not complain, but it’s a choice, and I’m working on it.

It reminds me of a dad I see at my son’s hockey practices. I typically say hi and ask him how he’s doing, and his response every single time is, “Living the dream!” He says it in a joking way, but you know what? He’s right. We are living the life that Kate and so many others could only dream about. So ask me how I’m doing today, and hopefully I’ll respond, “Living the dream! I can’t complain at all.”

Related post: 28 Reasons Kids Are Awesome – Scary Mommy

It’s a Groundhog Thanksgiving

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This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 6AM. Getting up wasn’t too difficult, I’m used it. I never even use an alarm. My crazy brain is alarming enough. Anyway, I hobbled to the bathroom, my back feeling like a metal bar bent by the Hulk. That’s the way it generally feels every morning, slightly twisted and broken, but there’s no time for my problems, there’s work to be done.

Over the next 16 hours I will…

Be freaked out when my feather of a child quietly and spookily stands behind me in the kitchen while I make lunches and the rest of the house is still asleep.

Fight because he wants to the play the iPad.

Go upstairs three times to wake my oldest son out of ridiculously deep slumber, before he finally drags himself down the stairs, looks at me and says, “Why did you wake me so late?”

Scurry like a ferret on crack, trying to find said child’s homework assignment that has gone missing.

Negotiate M&M’s or fruit roll up as snacks with youngest son to keep him going to school happy. Lose, and give him both. He cries anyway.

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Listen to mom tell me about a serious hair problem.

Fly to the gym for my hour of stress-free time. I will think the entire hour about what I have to do and plan how to fit it all in.

Pick up dry cleaning. Go supermarket.

Call father to check in on how he is doing. He is doing crappy, as usual.

Pull up trash bins. Flip a load of laundry. Find lost toy that I spent years of my life searching for in kid’s pocket.

Wait for bus to drop off first and fourth grader.

Get call from 7th grader that he doesn’t want to walk and needs to be picked up.

Fight with them to do homework.

Fight with them to do it again, when they do it too fast and sloppy.

Hit my head on the table as I’m coming up from picking up the pencil 4th grader dropped on the floor.

Have multiple play-dates over, kids running up and down the stairs, begging for snacks, pulling out every toy on my shelves, whining, complaining, fighting, and finally, thank God, playing Wii.

Hang up on mom still anxious over hair drama.

Make dinner, which kids refuse to eat.

Make another dinner. One kid will eat. One will drop plate on floor. One will cry he wants something else.

Bang head again on table while picking up food from floor.

Sing the tune to Dolly Parton’s 9-5, while children tease each other mercilessly leaving each one them crying at 5 minute intervals.

Say, Bath Time!

Be ignored.

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Say, Bath Time!

Be ignored.

Give up for moment and get laundry.

Scream, Bath Time!!!!!!

Be ignored.

Go up close in each of their faces, rip video device from hand and say in menacing voice, “if you ever want to see this thing again, you will get stinky butt upstairs now.”

Watch them run, amused.

Fight with them to get in.

Fight with them to get out.

Watch three naked boys with underwear on head run in circles.

Hubby home.

Watch Hubby eat my first dinner.

Watch Hubby eat left over second dinner.

Say, “Time to read in bed!”

Hear husband say, “Time to wrestle!”

Open wine.

Say again, a half hour later, Time to read!!

Watch, fighting down mounting anxiety, as they jump on top of one another.

Go to freezer for ice cream.

Give very dirty look to husband.

Tuck all children in bed.

Start reading a book.

Be interrupted by children complaining they are hungry.

Try to ignore them and keep reading.

Listen to extremely skinny child loudly moan in hunger.

Cave and go to cut up apples with scoops of peanut butter.

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Shut lights.

Say hello to husband.

Pass out on the couch while trying to watch show.

Know I’m going to do it all again tomorrow.

But then remember, it’s Thanksgiving.

Want to cry happy tears.

Thankful that I get to do this every day.

Except tomorrow; We’ll be at my mother’s.

Whew.

Related post: 10 Excuses For Kids’ Poor Holiday Behavior