The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Quick update – MIL Visit, Son “holding and wetting” October 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 7:15 pm
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Hello friends,

I say “friends” because I feel a certain kinship with you, my readers. So many people come here looking for information about “SAHM Burnout,” “SAHM Depression,” and so on. I really empathize with your struggles, every single one of you. Being a mom brings with it some very tough days, weeks, months, even years! I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I want you to know that you are not alone, and if you are tired of feeling like the “only one” who’s not sailing through this mom/SAHM thing, then you’ve come to the right place.

This week we are approaching my younger son Mark’s second birthday. This is an exciting and happy time for me, and I’m looking forward to having friends and family over for birthday cake on Saturday. However, this is also a stressful time because my MIL, who moved halfway across the country a few months ago, is coming to visit [NOT stay with us].

The last few years of our relationship with her have been volatile and full of change. To make a long story short, over the last 1-2 years, Hubby and I decided that despite all of MIL’s wonderful qualities, we needed to create some more boundaries between her and our family. (We have gotten help from a family therapist in navigating this trickiness, thank God.) MIL interpreted our actions and decisions as hurtful and as “pushing her away,” and she decided to move to a different state.

She told Hubby that her reason for the move was – me! Yours truly. I guess this Honest Mommy was a little too honest for MIL’s liking.

Over the last year, MIL has done some quite hurtful and passive-aggressive things, such as sending a change-of-address card to every member of our family except me. Such as neglecting to send a card for our 10-year wedding anniversary, though she did wish Hubby a happy anniversary on the phone. So classy.

I don’t think I feel too hurt by these sorts of things, BUT…. now that MIL is coming to town for a visit, I feel a little lost about how to interact with her. She will probably see the children’s artwork collecting on our walls and wonder why we (I) haven’t sent her more pieces for her artwork frame that we got her a few Christmases ago. But, why would I bother to do that sort of thing for her very often, when she so clearly dislikes me?

In any case, I have been doing a few things to prepare the house for her eyes. I took down some quotes that I had posted above the kitchen sink; it feels too personal to let her see those. I tucked away my journal so no one is likely to just “come across it.” I edited our framed photos to prevent her from gaining ammunition about how we favor certain parts of the family. And so on.

After she moved away a few months ago, it was a relief to me to let my home be as I wished it to be. I am thankful that I need to MIL-proof my home only a few times per year now. It’s not that she is snoopy (that I know of), but it’s that there are certain expressions of who I am that I do not feel comfortable sharing with her.

Another interesting issue will be the disciplinary process which we are taking Jakob through right now. We have a system where, if he wets his pants at home, preschool, church, etc., then he loses most of his privileges until he keeps himself dry for ten days in a row. The wetting is due to his reluctance (or whatever) to use the toilet when he would rather “hold it,” and we believe that he is very aware of what he is doing and what the result will be.

(For a while, he would secretly [so he thought] “hold it” while he was at home, to the point of wetting himself before he finally darted to the bathroom, then later he would hide his wet underwear under his dresser and put on clean underwear. This kid is smart, and getting more sneaky by the day. I just can’t accept that a kid who can pull of this kind of plan doesn’t “get” that he needs to go potty.)

So anyway, John Rosemond calls this approach “kicking out of the Garden of Eden” and it is designed to a get a child’s attention by removing many of the things that a child enjoys on a daily basis. We remove pretty much everything of interest from Adam’s bedroom so he is left with furniture, bedding, and so on; anything that’s left he is not allowed to play with (for example, the board games that are high up on shelves).

Adam attends preschool, church, errands, and some other necessary activities. He eats meals and snacks with the family. And obviously, he bathes and uses the toilet as usual. Other than that, he is expected to stay in his room and, while he’s there, to conduct himself in a manner that is not overly disruptive to the rest of the family. All the while, whether at home or away, he is expected to take responsibility for going to the toilet in a timely fashion, and we check periodically to make sure he is dry.

At the end of each day, if he has stayed dry, he puts a smiley face on the calendar. Ten smiley faces in a row earns him his privileges back. If he has eight dry days and then slips up, the ten days start over again.

Hubby and I *hate* that we have to do this, but darling Adam is so stubborn and has wet himself so many times (for no good reason) that we see no other options. At this time, we are willing to go through the inconvenience and heartache of kicking Adam “out of the garden” with the hope that he will learn valuable lessons about personal responsibility.

We see this issue not as a potty training issue or even a toileting issue, but rather as an issue of stubbornness and defiance. We have even done a hands-on demonstration using water, cups,bowls, and so on, to try to help him understand that his bladder can only hold so much and that it’s always getting filled up, little by little, by his body, therefore “waiting too long” can only have one result — wet underwear.

So anyway, when MIL comes to our house, she is going to see that Adam’s room is pretty bare, and she will figure out what is going on, either by asking or figuring it out on her own (she is aware that we have used this disciplinary technique). And I am pretty sure that she will flip out, even if she tries to hide that fact. One time, she told Hubby that she thought that Child Services would be “interested” to hear about some of the things we do. Really!

It goes without saying that Hubby and I completely disagree, but that doesn’t change her opinion on the matter. She also has a hard time seeing all aspects of Adam’s personality. Everything that’s wonderful is, well, wonderful, and everything else either doesn’t exist (in her eyes) or has a good excuse behind it, or is simply Mom and Dad’s fault. As a result, I doubt she would ever truly grasp the situation with Adam’s “holding and wetting,” and she certainly wouldn’t understand why we kick Adam out of the garden.

This week looks like it will be interesting. I will keep you updated!


A challenging Thanksgiving visit to my in-laws November 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 1:46 pm
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Just returned from a five-day visit to my in-laws, who live a few states away. There is a lot for me to “process” from this trip. One of the main things on my mind this morning is how profoundly and completely having kids affects my husband’s and my life. Well duh, you might say, of COURSE having kids changes everything.

But, where I’m going with this is, I don’t know if my in-laws realized to what degree our stay at their home, with our 1-year-old and 4-year-old in tow, would be defined by the kids’ needs, schedules, and so on. They weren’t completely clueless by any means. They knew we would need a highchair, and DH talked with them before our trip about the boys’ nap and nighttime schedules. Plus, my FIL raised a child (sort of) and my stepMIL raised a child, partly as a single mom.

That being said, there were aspects of our stay there that drove me up a tree. For example, I didn’t expect them to have a closet full of toys and activities for the kids, but if I had realized that my MIL was going to prepare for our visit by getting a few coloring books and puzzles at the dollar store (my 4yo doesn’t even use coloring books) – and borrowing a few books and Legos from a friend – then I would have brought a heckuva lot more toys and books than I did.

I reached desperation in finding things for the kids — especially my 1yo — to do. As I told my husband, it’s not that kids need an endless stream of toys toys TOYS to keep them “entertained.” BUT, kids do need something to do! Especially when they’re cooped up inside a house that has a lot of “don’t touch” and “don’t go in there” types of things. And especially when no one is helping us out by suggesting that we go to a park (or telling us where a park is located). A few different times, I asked MIL and FIL if there were any empty boxes (cereal boxes, shoe boxes, or anything like that) that the kids could play with. My 4yo likes to make things out of boxes, and my 1yo likes to just explore them.

Since they don’t recycle (AHEM!), there wasn’t much of anything around except for an empty beer case (insert my eye rolling here) that my FIL found in the trash. But the main thing that bothered me about that was that no one seemed very concerned about finding things for the kids to do. At my parents’ house, my mom would have emptied out boxes from the pantry, if that meant that the kids could have something fun and constructive to do….especially in light of the fact that there was very, very little in the whole house that was a toy, kid friendly, and so on. I’m not saying that everyone has to be like my mom, but I am saying that I was disappointed that my MIL and FIL seemed so clueless (and seemed not to care, perhaps?) about the kids’ needs.

I did think about asking if they had any empty Rubbermaid totes, or anything (anything!!!) along those lines, but frankly I bypassed that idea because I was afraid they wouldn’t be keen on hauling things out and making a mess. I did pull out a few kid-friendly and sturdy kitchen items for the kids to play with, but I did limit that because I was afraid 1) something would break, and 2) my MIL wouldn’t like the whole idea.

Oh and the childproofing! I don’t even know where to begin with that topic. It was a very, very, very good thing that we brought along two pressure-mounted child gates, so that at least we could have some measure of sanity (albeit limited) on the main floor. My 1yo is very much an explorer, and I believe he is to young for us to do a lot of “no no no no” with.( I am going by John Rosemond’s “Making the Terrible Twos Terrific” book where he recommends keeping your home in childproof lockdown mode until the child is around 30 months. This makes a lot of sense to me and I am very comfortable following his recommendation here.)

A few downsides with the child gates, however: First, I was afraid of what the gates were going to do to the walls as far as leaving marks or indentations. Second, my MIL has some health and joint problems that made it difficult for her to step over the gates. Third, even with the gates in place, there were a number of childproofing problems to contend with (A VCR, for example, and some lamps that we finally decided to remove entirely).

It is a good thing that our visit was the length it was, and not any longer. I know that my MIL and FIL love the kids dearly, but I also know that there are some issues (cluelessness? selfishness? misplaced priorities?) that get in the way of having a good visit at their house.

On the second morning of our stay, DH and I loaded the kids up in the van and headed over to a discount store (all of this before MIL and FIL got up for the day, but that is another topic entirely) in order to pick up a few necessities and also to buy some toys for the kids. How sad is that!



Initial Thoughts on “Approval Addiction” July 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:44 pm
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Kid_2 is napping at the moment. Kid_1 and Hubby are out of the house for a bit.

The feeling of being able to hear myself think (and pray) without distractions of any kind is amazing. Since I had a good night’s sleep, I feel more “together” than usual and am remembering what it’s like to feel like myself again.

I began reading Joyce Meyer’s Approval Addiction and actually had time to look up Bible verses.

A few things stood out to me during my quiet time

  • For years, but especially since Kid_1 was born, I have looked to my MIL for approval. When I have felt that I have not received approval, it has really thrown me off.
  • I also have a strong need for approval from my own parents.
  • My MIL seems to have a well-honed, subtle way of witholding “something” that I have a hard time putting a name to. I would call it approval, or acknowledgement, perhaps. Sometimes she simply cuts you off in the middle of what you’re saying. Other times she (appears to) listen to what you’re saying, but doesn’t show that she really cares about (or agrees with) what you’re saying. For years, this has thrown me off whenever I’ve run across it. I have responded by feeling hurt and/or trying even harder to gain her approval (sometimes by finding a different way to explain my point).
  • My MIL may have her own “approval addiction” issues, in that whenever I would bring up a concern I had about how she was caring for Kid_1, she would respond with defensiveness and anger.
  • Being a parent has a way of bringing to the forefront my issues with approval addiction. There will always be people who don’t agree with (approve of) the way you’re raising your children. It might be a grandparent, sibling, or stranger at the grocery store who doesn’t agree with your choices, but in any case, these people are everywhere.

Saw MIL for the first time in over a month July 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 9:27 pm
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Well, well, well. Kid_1’s birthday party was today (4 years old). It was indeed interesting to watch things unfold with my MIL, whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a month, due to an argument that we had (that is another post entirely).

Here are some things I noticed:

  • When she arrived – somewhat early, to give Kid_1 his present before the other guests arrived – I was ready to be pretty friendly (chatty). I complimented her choice of gift and mentioned a few things about Kid_2, whom she hadn’t seen for a long time. I noticed right away that she was polite to me but didn’t really engage with me. Nothing I said seemed to be very important to her (not that she would show, anyway).
  • She never really said anything nice about anything — the birthday cake, the decorations, the photo collage I had made of Kid_1’s first four years, or even our choice of gift for Kid_1 (a child-sized guitar).
  • During a conversation with my parents (who she has openly been rude to in the past), she pulled her classic “no one has any valid opinions, feelings, or experiences besides me” trick. The exchange became pretty heated and at one point she said, “Let’s see, what is that N word, I can’t remember what it is.” Meaning, “I want to call you [my dad] a n_____ but I don’t quite have the guts to say it out loud.” Hubby and I can’t figure out what she was trying to say. The only word I can come up with is Narcissist. Dear reader, do you have any ideas?

Anyway, the birthday party went well overall. Kid_1 had a great time. More on this later!


I am one crabby mommy today July 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 3:24 pm
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Today is a rough day.

I ate like a banshee all day yesterday, so today I have that yucky experience of getting back on track. Kid_1 came down with a stomach bug yesterday morning, so that was my “excuse” to comfort myself with food.

Kid_2 fell and hit his head this morning, via pulling a kitchen chair on top of himself and landing on his back on the kitchen tile. He seems to be doing all right, but it gave me quite a scare.

Kid_1’s birthday is tomorrow, and his party is on Saturday. I’m excited for his birthday, of course, but it’s hard to summon up the gumption to do everything that needs to be done. MIL will be coming for his party; that will be INTERESTING since I haven’t seen her or spoken to her in over a month. Thankfully DH and I are very much on the same page about this conflict with his mom.

I haven’t quite gotten enough sleep the last several nights, and as a consequence I feel irritable and easily overwhelmed. I hate waking up in the morning and having that feeling of “How am I going to get through today without being the crabbiest mom ever?”


Lots of silver linings to be found in conflict with MIL July 14, 2009

About a month ago, I had a major blow-out with my MIL. At that point, DH and I decided to discontinue the longstanding babysitting schedule (2 afternoons/week plus 1 overnight/week) until/unless the underlying issues could be resolved.

We have discovered since then that there are many upsides to this otherwise ugly situation.

  1. I don’t need to schedule around the babysitting schedule, therefore, I have a lot more freedom when it comes to scheduling activities, appointments, and so on.
  2. I don’t have to see MIL 3 times per week , which has ratcheted down my stress level several notches. More often than not, after she would stop by to pick up Kid_1, I would feel aggravated or stressed from something she had said or done.
  3. Related to the above point — we don’t need to explain or justify our parenting decisions to her on a regular basis. Case in point — Last week I decided to become very regimented with Kid_1’s nap schedule (inspired by a recent column from John Rosemond), AND I didn’t need to go through the hassle and stress of explaining it to her, AND Kid_1 has been napping very well lately, partly due to him being home every afternoon to nap.
  4. Related to Point 2 – Certain discipline strategies (such as John Rosemond’s ticket system) are more effective when we don’t need to take into account the “Oh yeah, Adam is going to Grandma’s this afternoon, now what?” factor.
  5. We have more time together as a family, because DH doesn’t have to pick up Kid_2 after work from MIL’s place 2 times per week. Any mom or dad knows that getting home at, say, 4:30 is a lot different from getting home at 5:00 or later.
  6. I don’t have to deal with Kid_1’s “re-entry phase” after he gets home from Grandma’s house 3 times per week.
  7. Since MIL lives in town, we have done a lot of holidays and activities together in the past (which has had its pluses, to be sure). But now that we don’t have the option to pick up the phone and invite her over for things like the 4th of July, our family time feels more like family time. We are more relaxed, more spontaneous, and don’t need to worry about what “someone else” will think of our decisions.

Of course, there have been plenty of downsides to this conflict with my MIL, and we certainly don’t want her out of our lives completely. To that end, DH has met with a family therapist to see if we can resolve the ongoing issues that are between us (this process is still in its early stages).

MIL still sees Kid_1 and Kid_2 about once per week, because it is not our intent to “keep her” from seeing the boys. But we are very pleased with our deicision to pull the plug on the former babysitting schedule, not because we want to be mean to her or get back at her. We just have to do what’s best for our family, no matter how angry she becomes as a result.


3yo lost all 3 tickets by 1 p.m. March 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 8:38 pm
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By 1:00 p.m. today, Adam had lost all of his tickets. In each case, he went ahead and did something he was told not to do, or outright did not follow directions. As a result, I had to call my MIL and tell her that Adam could not come over for the afternoon, as we had planned. To her credit, she was very understanding and even supportive. Of course, she may not have been so supportive if she realized what the consequence for losing all tickets actually is (rest of the day in his room with no toys).