The Thin Line Between Love And Hate

They say there is a thin line between love and hate.  I guess what they mean is that both emotions are extremely Thin Line Between Love and Hatepowerful and extremely passionate.  You can passionately love someone and you can passionately hate someone.   By definition passionate means:  capable of  having, or dominated by powerful emotions; showing or expressing strong emotion; ardent; etc.  By that definition, I could say that I have a passionate, love/hate relationship with my husband.

That was the case this weekend.  How someone you love so much can bring out the strongest of “hatred” emotions is beyond me, and honestly kind of scary.  I truly love my husband.  He is a caring man, a great father, a hard worker, an honest person, a very intelligent human being, and a humorous guy who can bring me to laugh with his wit (these are just some of his attributes).  This same wonderful man I describe can also be the most stubborn, contrary, have-to-be-right man that evokes such a “rise” out of me that I say the meanest things just to retaliate against his snide comments and over-confident demeanor.  I must preface this by saying that I’m not above being aware of my own short-comings.  I know I am not easy to live with.  I do get irrational at times (most women are known to – but hey, we think with our emotions, whereas men think with….well, let’s just stop there).  Anyway, I am strong-willed and yes at times…bitchy, especially when I know what I want.

This weekend things just snow-balled, and I willingly admit that it started with me.  We were rushing to get out the door and my husband put something in the diaper bag that I didn’t want in there, when he was only trying to help (this is a time I expected him to read my mind) and I irrationally (yes, I admit it) flew off the handle.  Now I realize my behavior was totally ridiculous and my husband had every right to say something to me but for some reason it just kept escalating and finally I said, “I hate you”.  And honestly at that moment I felt that way.  How is it possible that you can have such deep loving feelings for the father of your children and turn around a few hours later ready to pounce on him like a rabid animal attacking its prey?

I’m not proud of this rush of emotions I had.  In fact I am embarrased that I, a mother, who tries to teach her children to control themselves and not hit or say mean things when they are angry acted like a child herself — a spoiled one at that.  The only way I can describe it best is that it’s like a tea kettle and the hotter it gets the more it’s going to blow.  And let me tell you, that whistle could have awakened the dead.

I certainly have to say that there truly is a thin line between love and hate.  What makes us cross the line?  I imagine it’s the intensity of the feelings.  Love/hate are both intense feelings that arouse a deep emotion that at times act the same passionate way, except….one is good for a relationship and the other one is not.  I’m hoping, as I’m sure my husband is, that the passion in our relationship doesn’t send either one of us to the hospital. 😉

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To Home School or Not To Home School…That Is The Question

As we come to this time of the year I am once again torn as to whether or not to home school my boys next year.    It’s a very difficult decision.  I’m not unfamiliar to the home school experience as I took the plunge when my oldest son was entering Kindergarten.  It’s extremely time consuming and effects the entire household.  Here are the pros and cons to my home schooling experience.

First, you may be wondering why I home schooled.  Believe me, it was something I thought I would never do (but you know what they say – never say never).   My husband and I purchased our first house when my oldest son was 2 1/2 years old.  It was a house in a very nice part of our town, however it was just on the cusp of being in the “bad” school district….just our luck!  We had heard that the elementary school was rated very good, although it was being compared to the worst.   But we thought the house would just be a starter home.  We figured he may have two years tops in the elementary school and that didn’t seem too terrible.  — I mean how bad could an elementary school be, right?

Well, we signed my son up and when we went to meet the teachers and see the school it was evident to me that I couldn’t send him there.  Call it mother’s intuition or just common sense, but I didn’t see how he was going to be able to learn when most of the students there that day didn’t know the English language.   I remember walking out in tears with the thought of, “where is the emphasis going to be if the majority of the students didn’t understand what was being said.” My son, very bright and well aware of the English language, would surely fall through the cracks or end up helping to teach the non-English speaking students the language.  A burden no child needs in Kindergarten.

I had heard about a virtual charter school from a few parents that I knew and decided to give it a try.  Now, I must premise this with the fact that I love my children very much and I love playing with them and teaching them but I am not going to win awards as far as patience is concerned.  I knew it would be a huge undertaking, especially with my overly active, impulsive, newly-turned-five-year-old boy.  I remember saying “how hard can it be to teach Kindergarten” just to give me the push I needed to enroll him.

I didn’t home school to hide my child from the world so I kept him in the Pre-K program at his preschool.  The plan was for him to get some socialization and play time in the mornings, come home and have lunch, then start with the Kindergarten program.  Factor into this an 18-month-old toddling around the house, needing a nap and wanting to play with Mom and brother every time I started teaching………….Good Times!!

The virtual charter school I worked with used the “K-12” curriculum, loaned you a computer and printer with internet access (they paid for), and assigned us a teacher that we checked in with every other week.  There were also socials organized by the teacher for the children in our area being home schooled.  All the materials needed (art materials, geography maps, science experiment tools, books, and workbooks, etc.) were shipped directly to my house a week prior to school starting.  I have to say that the curriculum was great.  It was a bit advanced; for example art, was not just cutting and pasting but the discussion of paintings by Renoir; Geography was learning the seven continents through song; and Science was knowing the differences between solid, liquids, and gas.  A lot for a Kindergartener to take in, but my son seemed to like it and absorb much of it.

The Kindergarten program was approximately 5 hours of schooling a day…basically full-day Kindergarten.  It was difficult trying to juggle everything a mother has to do:  laundry, cleaning, playing with children, picking my son up from school, making dinner, etc. and then adding Kindergarten in.  I remember feeling so stressed everyday, until it got to the point where I was ready to rip my hair out.  I’m the kind of person that if you put an assignment in front of me I feel as though I have to finish it….there’s no coming back to it later, it has to be done when it has to be done.   Finally I had to tell myself for my own sanity, and my husband’s, that I could only do what my son and I could do that day.  I couldn’t push to finish it.  I had to be patient (there’s that word again).

The program itself was easy to follow.  Each day I would login on the school-loaned computer.  Everything that needed to be studied and completed that day was listed.  I would go into each individual category we needed to for the particular day and follow the computer guided instructions.  There was always an assessment at the end of each assignment to make sure your child understood what they read/learned.  Sometimes there was workbook assignments, journals, handwriting practice, etc.  added to the computer work.  The difficult part about using the curriculum with a Kindergartener is that it all had to be read to him.  At the second grade level I’m sure it becomes a little easier.

We took home schooling day-by-day and finally before we knew it (alright, that sounds a little too quick)….finally the end of the year came.  We made it and I have to say I remember feeling so much relief….like a heavy weight was off my shoulders.  Then I thought….what am I going to do about first grade?  My husband emphatically said that I wasn’t going to home school again.  I guess it was rougher on him than I thought.  Ultimately, we ended up sending my son to a private Lutheran school (1st – 3rd so far), which we have been happy with.

My son is going to enter fourth grade next year and my younger son will be going to Kindergarten.  We really like the private school my older son attends but there was a combining of grades this past year that we didn’t know was occuring until a week before school started (the combined grade levels 3rd and 4th is not to our liking – not to mention he will have had the same teacher three years in a row), and quite honestly, having two children in private school really puts a strain on the pockets.  So, once again, I struggle with the question of home schooling or not home schooling, and once again, add in another toddler (20 month old).  I still have time, but this will now haunt me until next school year.

PROS

* You call the shots – you decide how much your child has to do to prove he/she has learned the information, rather than doing 35 redundant problems in math that mentally drain your child.

*You get to know your child and the way they learn better.

*You know exactly what your child is learning.

*You know exactly what your child has problems learning.

*You get to see the sense of accomplishment your child has when he finally understands something you’ve been teaching him.

*You feel a sense of accomplishment in that you taught your child.

*You don’t have to worry about the bad influences your child may be exposed to in a school setting.

*The curriculum is very challenging and fun.

*You are guided every step of the way.

*You can decide what you consider a learning experience; maybe it’s through a family “field trip”, or a social gathering.

*The older the child, the easier it is (depending on the child, of course).

*Depending on your child, it may be less stressful than being in school.

CONS

*TIME!

*TIME!

*TIME!

*Depending on the parent, it may be more stressful for the child than being in school.

*Juggling everything a mother has to juggle and adding teacher to the list.

*The lack of exposure to other kids his own age in a learning environment (some kids learn better with other kids around, others are too distracted).

*The stress.

*The time needed to balance among other children in the house.

*The patience needed – it can be difficult to teach your own child.

*You have to be willing to spend just about every day at home.

*TIME – it can be very time consuming, I don’t know how to stress this enough (I’m sure as they get older this lessens).

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Read My Mind

Surely after fourteen years of marriage and three kids, my husband should know when I need his help without having to say something ——- right?  I mean, we have lived together long enough and know enough about one another to figure out when the other is going to get annoyed if one of us is lounging on the couch while the other is carrying a basket of laundry in one hand, racing to the kitchen to check on dinner.  I get so frustrated when it is so blatantly obvious that help would be appreciated while he’s off in his “own world.”

If an old woman were struggling to reach for an item on the shelf at the grocery store my husband would help her.  Me?….the woman who carried three of his children, the person who takes care of everyone else…..me, he is totally oblivious to.   To hear his side, he would say, “I can’t read your mind, I don’t know when you need my help unless you ask for it.”  Okay, here’s where that argument is weak.  Yes, he cannot read my mind but he knows me well enough and we’ve had the same argument often enough to know when I need help.  It’s pretty simple, if he’s sitting down on the couch or leisurely surfing the net and I’m doing work of some sort around the house……..guess what?—- I NEED HIS HELP!!  I’m not that much of a mystery.

When he has brought home a lot of work and looks stressed out about it I offer to help him.  I don’t need him to ask me…I offer, without having to read his mind.  Now, mind you, he never takes me up on it but I am willing if he did.   If one of our boys were trying to put together a Lego kit my husband would undoubtedly ask him how it was going……….meaning “do you need help?”  This he would do without reading minds but just by knowing his kids.  Why then is he “unable” to do the same thing for his wife?  Let’s look at that……….hhhhmmmm, could it be that putting together a Lego kit is fun to him, while getting his butt off the couch to help with laundry and dinner is NOT fun to him?  Is it really about not knowing when I need help or is it more about what he would rather be doing at the time?…………I wonder.

I don’t want it to sound like I don’t appreciate my husband.  That’s not the case at all.  I know he helps out much more than the average guy.   He is willing to help out wherever he is needed, but…… I HAVE TO ASK.  It’s the times that I have to ask (when it’s pretty obvious) and the times  he totally misses the boat that infuriate me because we are a team and we are supposed to be working together…………and frankly, by now, we are supposed to be able to read each others mind.

*DISCLAIMER*  This article is based on opinions from the author and doesn’t necessarily represent facts (as per my husband).

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Monkey In The Middle

I was blessed with three beautiful and healthy children.  I love each of them very much, obviously—- and I love them all equally.  I know, I know, all mothers say that, but I do love them all equally…just differently.  I do have to admit, though, that my middle child, my youngest son, holds an especially unique spot in my heart.

I come from a family of four.  It was just my older brother and I, and quite honestly I learned that I didn’t like being compared to him all the time.  I didn’t like that he spoke for me at a young age and I didn’t like that he usually was heard over me.  My place in the family had a profound effect on my personality (as it does everyone).  Now, I’m not having a pity party for myself…it’s simply the breaks of being the second child and the less dominant one.  But my place in the birth order had a significant impact on how many children I would later choose to have.

When I decided to have children I always wanted a baby girl, preferably first.  As it turned out I had a big (9 lbs. 14 oz.), beautiful, blue eyed boy.  I was overjoyed.  My years with my first boy were wonderful.  He was such a fun, easy child…except around 3 years old (he skipped the terrible twos).  I was the proudest and happiest I had ever been.   I enjoyed my days one-on-one with him and it was nice to be able to give him my undivided attention.  I thought nothing could be better.

When I got pregnant the second time I was certain that I would get “my girl”.  When we went to the sonogram and found out we were having another boy I remember feeling let down.  I know that may sound awful and I struggled hard not to feel that way, but I had it so set in my mind that he would be a she.  I needed a few days to get my mind readjusted to the thought of another boy.  In hindsight, I know that it was a master plan and the fact that he was another boy was truly, truly a gift.  Sometimes the things we think may not fit into “our” master plans are really what we need all along.

Welcome my second boy (8 lbs. 10 oz.)… three and a half years after my first.   I could tell the minute I held him in my arms there was something so special and so different about him.  We had the usual first few day struggles and it was difficult for both of us to learn how to nurse (it never worked out for my first son, I ultimately pumped for 10 months with him).  I had been so blessed with my older son being such an easy going baby that I was sure our luck wouldn’t be that good the second time around, but much to my surprise it was.  My second son was a bit more demanding (or maybe it was that I wasn’t able to jump instantly like I did with my first and only) but just as easy.   I could lay him in his crib and he would just put himself to sleep.  As he got older he would wake up in the mornings and play nicely in his crib, giving Mom and Dad another 45 minutes of sleep.  When he would play on the floor he would stop what he was doing just to teeter over to me to give me a great big hug and then continue on with his play.  He was and still is a pure joy……most days.

He is now five years old and I have watched him blossom into a unique, creative, and imaginative little boy that can always get a laugh out of me and most others.  I’ve watched him try to find his place in the family as he constantly competes with his brother to be heard.  I’ve watched as his older brother, acting his part, teases him with a toy.  I’ve watched him struggle with his own issues.  And I’ve felt a comraderie with him that I’ve not yet experienced with my other two children.  I often wonder if watching him, I see a little of myself.  I know what it’s like to be the second child, but it must be even a little more challenging when you’re the second boy.

I can’t help but have a piece of my heart tugged on when I see how each day he has challenges that my first never did and never will have.  I see how difficult it is for him to be heard at the dinner table when our older son is talking about his day.  I see the disappointment on his face when his older brother blows off something he has shown him.   I see how frustrating it is for him when he tries to do the things his older brother does only to find that his developmental skills just aren’t there yet.  I see how he struggles to find where “he fits” sandwiched between two others.

He truly is “my Monkey in the middle”……but rather than see him miss the ball and being left out I hope we have helped to make him feel like he is “in the game” — not just watching the ball pass him by.  And I hope he will always know what a special place in my heart and in our family he holds.

P.S…..We just celebrated the one year birthday of my third………I got “my girl”.

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Mommyhood Begins In Diapers

Momology begins for a woman at a very young age.  I’m not talking 20’s young, I’m talking toddlerhood young.  We prepare for our role as a Mom (if we chose to take the Mommyhood lifepath) through play.  Yes I said play.  Now that’s certainly not to say that our lives as mothers is “child’s play” (I wish), but the foundation of our essence is conceived in child’s play.

Let’s take a look at our husbands.  From the time they are old enough to play they play to entertain themselves.   They play with cars, they play with blocks, they play with action figures, they play with super heroes, they play video games….you get the point———all for their childhood entertainment.  While we Moms-to-be, not yet out of our own diapers, are diapering, feeding, and bathing baby dolls; playing with tea sets, kitchen sets,  vacuum cleaners, Barbies, and the like all to instill in us, subconsciously, a sense of “Momhood” or at the very least, domestication.  Now I’m not saying that playing with those items was not entertaining for us but surely you will agree that it doesn’t quite seem fair that our role was being ingrained in us before we even knew our alphabet, while our guys, the Daddies-to-be,  were simply enjoying their entertainment.

Is this the reason why so many of the Dads out there can be sitting in a mile high pile of laundry needing to be folded, playing Bakugan with the boys while Mom is in the kitchen cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher and checking the homework her son just hastily finished so he could play with Dad?  I have a wonderful husband who is a great father, but gosh darnit — it infuriates me when HE IS THE FOURTH CHILD.   I don’t say that to demean him, although it sounds that way.  I say it because he gets to play….he gets to be that child that hurled the matchbox car across the floor to meet head-on with the 18 wheeler and not blow up into smithereens while I get to be the child “playing” with her kitchen set…..oooops the spaghetti just boiled over—wait, THIS IS REAL LIFE.  Seems like I’ve been doing this forever, somebody pinch me!

Do you see my point?  I’m sure the Moms reading this can.  When do we Moms feel like we really get to “play?” We’ve been living our role since we were old enough to sit up.  Now I’m not trying to sound like I don’t enjoy my role.  I love being a Mom and all that it entails, alright most of all it entails.  I guess my issue lies in the societal imbalance that is evident in the way my husband grew up and the way I grew up and how that impacts our roles as parents as well as our husband/wife relationship.  Believe me, it has been the underlying monster beneath many of arguments.

I created this blog, even though just the thought of writing about my life for everyone and anyone to read seemed utterly ridiculous, to give me an opportunity to vent about the differences between Moms and Dads, the role responsibilities we each have – whether fair or unfair, and also to write about all the wonderful experiences about being a parent.  I hope you visit often.

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