Question everything and then make rice crispy treats

I am not sure where it came from, but my parenting style is basically an obsessive quest to question everything.

My mother wasn’t that way. Her parenting was pretty instinctual. She spanked us when she thought we needed it, gave us plenty of kisses, encouraged us to play outside and rejected the abusive way she was raised.

My dad was very hands-off. He did try to teach us to be civil, not use profanity, and to have an appreciation for art and theater. However, I don’t think he gave parenting much thought.

So although I can’t trace the origin, I have been on an information quest from almost the second of conception of my boy. It started with pregnancy nutrition and growing a healthy baby. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually played classical musical through headphones on my stomach, just in case that actually would help my baby be smarter.

I even created a website in which I updated WEEKLY, sometimes DAILY, my pregnancy symptoms and the growth of my boy. How obnoxious. Wow.

I then moved onto researching labor and delivery. I read everything I could. I was like a crazed maniac trying to solve some complicated mystery. I don’t know how many books, articles, websites I read, but it was too many. Far too many.

After he was born it didn’t stop. I subscribed to a newsletter that told me every milestone my baby should be on, and then flatly rejected it. I read book after book to try to establish what felt right to me. I questioned EVERYTHING. I took nothing for granted.

Why did I do all this you ask? It’s not because I love my children more than anyone else. Nope. It’s not that I wanted to “one-up” my mom or anyone else. No way. It was because I wanted to be good at something. Really good at it. I wanted to rock this motherhood thing. I wanted to be perfect.

Perfection is a tall order. It will come as no surprise that I was constantly disappointing myself.

I remember when my little girl was just a few days old I got sick. Nursing had been a nightmare. I was confused because I’d had this beautiful home birth and now things were awful. I remember crying, shaking from a high fever, digging my toes into the carpet in immense pain and still feeling guilt that my 2-year-old was watching a cartoon.

What the hell was wrong with me?

When I finally got help the lactation consultant actually yelled at me. It was just what I needed.

“You have nothing to prove,” she said. “We all need help.”

I accepted that because I had no choice. I did not like it. Not one bit.

Over the last six years I have had to learn that lesson over and over. Needing help does not make you weak, it makes you human.

I am still learning to trust my instincts and do what feels right, even when others look at me like I am crazy. I wish I could get there quicker and that I could just relax and stop questioning so much.

This leads me to rice crispy treats.

I have so many food issues that I could write 50 blogs about those and not even scratch the surface. So let’s just say, I’m crazy when it comes to food.

I have consciously tried not to pass those issues onto my kids. I nursed both kiddos until almost 3. I made homemade baby food and didn’t let them taste sugar for as long as I could.

I try, REALLY I DO, to not use food as reward. My kids know what GMOs are and about organic food. They know why I’m picky about the animals we eat and have seen images of what commercial chicken farms look like.

I want my kids to be informed consumers in every aspect, particularly about food. However, I do think that sometimes I am robbing them of simple pleasures that other kids have.

That brings us back to rice crispy treats.

My kids have seen them and tasted them at a friend’s house. I have casually called them “chemically laden poison.” Yep.

That’s not giving them food issues at all. Sigh.

So this week, as I’m busy healing and digging myself out of depression, I decided to just do something crazy. What if we just made rice crispy treats? No reason. No questions.

My first instinct was to buy organic everything and modify the recipe (which is what I normally do.) But I fought that urge. Not this time.

I bought the Kellogg brand cereal and the Kraft marshmallows. We tied on our aprons and prepared to follow the recipe on the box.

one

Look at those happy faces. They were very excited, but they had some questions for me:

“But don’t these have GMOs?”

“You said they are bad.”

“Are you sure about this mom?”

“It’s OK to have them once in a while, ” I said. “We don’t eat them all the time and I thought it would be fun.”

I was proud that they questioned it, but also sad. Maybe they should not know about such things as small kids. Maybe I’m wrong in teaching them about our polluted food supply.

No. Stop analyzing and questioning. It’s just rice crispy treats. Move on.

two

We added the butter and marshmallows. The kids took turns stirring them on the stove top and watching it all melt into goo.

“That’s cool,” my boy said.

three

I honestly can’t remember ever making these and was shocked at how easy they are to make. In just a few minutes we were done.

They decided to use the pumpkin cookie cutter to make them more seasonal. We all wished we had some M&Ms to make a face on them. Maybe next time.

We ate all four for dessert that night and they were unquestionably delicious.

Stupid, bad mommy

Holding her hands back as she attempts to punch me, I forget about her feet and one connects with my side. Hard. All of her limbs are in motion with the intent on doing damage. She is still small and I can handle her blows.

It’s what is coming out of her mouth that feels like I’m being repeatedly stabbed with a rusty knife blade soaked in poison.

“I hate you!”

“Your a bad mommy!”

“I wish I’d never been born because your so bad!”

“Your a stupid, ugly mommy!”

Each hurtful phrase is followed by a scream that comes from deep inside. It shakes her whole body and seems painful. I hold back my tears and try to remember…she is only 6. She is in pain.

But it hurts.

It feels like I’ve failed at the most important job in the world, being her mother. I’ve failed to give her the tools to handle things.

My poor sweet, sensitive girl.

From the time she started talking it was clear she has strong feelings and emotions. She thinks about things little ones should not and comes up with phrases that often leave me speechless. She is always concerned with how people feel and is often brought to tears when hearing a story about someone sad.

For those reasons, and many others, I have to be careful of what she is exposed to. We limit media and she attends a Waldorf school. But I can’t shield her from every hurt and, truthfully, I don’t want to.

This “I hate you” stuff is new. This is the first full week of school and 3 out of the 4 evenings have ended with an outburst (each getting progressively longer and meaner). After the rage comes the real tears and we get to the hurt and pain. Then, most horribly, it ends with guilt.

“I’m a bad kid.”

“Your a good mommy and I’m just awful to you.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Those words twist the knife and I want to run out of the room sobbing.

The truth behind all this pain is that my girl wants a best friend. She is obsessed with the idea of having someone she can count on. Someone she can trust. I’ve explained that it takes time to build friendships and that she just needs to play with everyone right now.

“Time is all you need.”

“Just keep being yourself and people will line up to be your friend.”

“You are awesome. You are amazing. Give people time to see that.”

I even brought out the old Girl Scout song:

“Make new friends

But keep the old

One is silver

And the others gold”

She wants it so bad that every interaction becomes “is she my best friend or not?” Then she decides the answer is no and is as heartbroken as she will be when her first boyfriend dumps her.

I’m not stupid and can see the correlation between her pain and my own. I know that even at age 6 she can feel her mothers depression. I am not whole right now. I’m broken and I can’t help but feel that she senses it.

How can I expect her to be strong, resilient and confident when I am not?

I hate this.

I want to give her skills that help her find meaning and love.

I want her to feel whole and confident.

I want her to stop freaking out and saying mean things, because this mom can’t take much more. Words freaking hurt.

How can I do all that? I have no clue.

I know some of the answers can be found by seeking Gods help. It keeps coming back to that. We read her book about guardian angels last night and she found some comfort in that. I’m talking to her more about prayer and we are going to start praying together.

My daughter is amazing. I am certain she is destined to do something great with her life.

I only wish I could fast forward through this hard stuff. But, of course, this is the stuff parenting is made of. The hard stuff.

I just hope I survive.

My boy

The events in Boston are still on my mind. As I wrote this post about my boy, the significance of the 8-year-old that was killed was present with me. I had a hard parenting day and needed to write about it, but I realize that I’m very lucky to have this problem. Damn lucky.

I’m losing it. I’m losing him.

He just won’t listen to me.

Although he is now getting out of bed in the morning, thanks to an alarm clock, he is still not getting dressed or coming down to breakfast without repeated pleas that end in yelling and me threatening to send him to school without food.

No carpool this week because he has created a story of Teddy and Mousey, two of his stuffed animals, that has taken on a life of its own. It involves lots of exploding cakes and moldy cheese. Its been going on since September, but we’ve all had enough. Really. ENOUGH.

In class today I witnessed him ignoring his handwork teacher. Then he was making sounds during the quiet moment she asked for. Cat sounds. Loudly. Followed by giggles.

His karate teacher had to tell him repeatedly to stop daydreaming and to pay attention. When he comes out of class he says, “I had the best chamber kick recoil.”

He was supposed to be brushing his teeth, but instead I find him banging two toothbrushes on the counter, shaking his butt, singing to himself and watching all this in the mirror.

Annoyance.
Anger.
Fear.
Embarrassment.
Disappointment.

I’m not supposed to feel that way. His behavior is not supposed to reflect on me. I try to stop the tirade against myself that I know is coming, but I can’t.

Am I failing him? What could I have done differently? I wasn’t present enough. He didn’t get enough protein. I should have been more patient. Did he get enough sleep? I should laugh more. Give more hugs. He is only 8. Lighten up! He is just a kid. But is he turning into a brat? Is he becoming that kid you don’t want your kid around? Am I that mom? I don’t know what I’m doing. Panic.

Then it’s bedtime. We read two chapters of book eight in the Lemony Snicket series. He begs for one more, but I say it’s late. I’m tired.

He pulls my face toward him. He gives me my kisses. Forehead, both eyes, cheeks and chin. Nose rubs followed by eight kisses on the nose and one big smooch on the lips. I return them in the exact order. He looks at me with his glasses off. His eyes red and tired.

“I love you mommy.”
“I love you too.”
“Did you hear me?”
“Yes.”
He grabs my face.
“I love you mommy,” he says again.

Melted. Renewed. Reassured. Everything is going to be OK. We have another day together and it’s everything.