As human beings forging our paths on this planet, we each encounter our share of successes and shortcomings along the way, in every aspect of our lives. Some of these moments shape our destinies, affect our future choices, or change the course of our very existence, as we manage them to the best of our abilities on any given day. Or, in my case, I find that many of them are simply comprised of the random goofiness that comes along with being the mother of two boys. So here's a sampling of what's been shaking up our little corner of the world in recent times:
First, we'll deal with a troubling topic, an ongoing concern for our sniffly, sneezy, stuffy-headed dwarf called Riley. You see, the poor dear seems to have inherited--much to his detriment--my own tendencies toward an allergy-like...yet not technically allergic nose. The medical term is actually "non-allergic vasomotor rhinitis", which is a fancy-schmancy physician way of saying "your nasal passages overreact to the presence of A-N-Y stinkin' allergen, even though you haven't tested positive for it." In practical application, it means that in the Spring and Fall, when polleny, moldy, leafy stuff is swirling throughout the air, we suffer. Additionally, since we're not truly "allergic", medications--prescription or OTC--benefit us very little in terms of either controlling the triggering mechanism or managing the symptoms. All-in-all, it's a freakin' delightful situation, lemme tell ya.
However...I finally stumbled upon a mystical, magical cure a few years ago...one which involves shooting a homeopathic nasal spray...containing the red-pepper compound capsaicin...up my nostrils twice a day. (That's right, the burny-stuff that gives heat to jalapenos and such...I didn't say it made sense, did I? A clear example of desperation leading one to do odd things...) The product brochure claims that with regular use over time, it will decrease your nose's sensitivity to irritants. And whaddya know? After using it for a while, I was able to stop relying on any kind of pharmaceutical product whatsoever, and my sinuses have been much better ever since. Of course, all of this is a prelude to Riley's story. In short, we went through the same process with him, testing every possible kind of steroid, antihistamine, and decongestant we could get into him, in an attempt to make him more comfortable...to no avail. Yet I hesitated--even knowing how effective it had been for me--to squirt my child with pepper spray. Until we'd had absolutely enough, and we felt we had no other options left. I was expecting a huuuuuge argument, but I guess he was as fed up as I was, because he offered nary a protest. And....most miraculous wonder of wonders, it seems to be working! Now all we need is to make commercials for the company...and negotiate our payment in the form of a "Free Lifetime Supply", and we'll be all set!
So, that was what I'd call a "win". But from time to time as a parent, you find that you just can't get everything right...for instance when it comes to appropriately dressing your beloved children. Let me explain: you might recall me mentioning that Derek (bless his little pea pickin' heart) grew about 7 inches last year, and gained over 20 pounds. Terrific, right? Just what a healthy teenage boy should be doing at about this stage. BUT, that meant that he obviously grew out of his long pants by late-Winter. And at the rate he was shooting skyward (I swear it was like Alice in Wonderland after she chugged the wee vial of potion...and swelled to fill up the entire house...yeah, it was like that exactly...) and the fact that we were nearing what the boys consider "mandatory shorts season", I refused to purchase any new pairs. And that was fine--as Spring ensued, then Summer...but here we are merrily racing toward Autumn...and suddenly the overnight temperatures plummeted this week. I suspected Derek was becoming a tad...concerned...when he wandered over to check the calendar, then glanced at the date on my Kohl's coupon, and inquired, "We're going shopping this weekend, right?" (From the boy who detests setting foot in a clothing store, this was a gigantic clue...) Then today he remarked, "It's a good thing we're going to buy pants soon...since it was 43 degrees when I walked to the bus stop this morning!" Okay, okay, I get it! Mom's neglecting your needs...for warm legs...or something. Two more days, buddy, hang in there! (Yeah, I'm not winning Mother of the Week Award anytime soon, am I? Oh well...)
Now, another scenario I like to think of as a positive development. After years of packing the kids' lunches every day--and disliking the chore, but lagging in making the Executive Decision to turn it over to my minions, I mean "children"--I finally cut the cord and delegated the job. Honestly, part of the problem was that I anticipated having to nag them, or supervise them, or in some way make the process more of a pain than it was worth...but it's been a surprisingly smooth and happy transition. I mean, they've watched me do it for EVER, and they seriously take almost the same thing every day anyway, with minor variations, so how difficult could it be? Well, having said that, I haven't actually looked at what they put in...I've just been trusting them to do it properly...and keeping my fingers crossed. But I had a moment of motherly pride the other day when Riley earnestly asked me, "Can I take raisins...and applesauce?" Why yes, yes you can, sweetie. So I suppose I can rest assured that much of the healthy haranguing--I mean "nutritional education" has sunken in sufficiently. Whew! (At least until they go to college and live on root beer and pizza...which will no longer be my problem!)
To finish us out, I present the tale of a semi-battle...that came out all right in the end. I had been noticing since, oh, around June, that Derek had been spending large quantities of time with his earbuds in, and his iPod on. This in itself didn't necessarily denote a problem...until I realized he wasn't listening to music, but rather playing games. What really bugged me about it was that this is the kid who used to have his face buried in a BOOK all the time, and it suddenly struck me he'd entirely replaced reading with virtual diversions. Uh-uh. Over the non-school months, of course, things are a little less structured and rule-driven. He did have to read two books for his Summer Packet, which he completed with no fuss whatsoever. But when the new academic year started, he reverted immediately back to electronic dependency. So I stepped in and gently suggested ("dictated") that he find a good story, instead. The backlash was instant and fierce, "But there's nothing I want to read!" I quickly retorted that we had no fewer than five brand-new novels he hadn't yet touched (most of which were on his own bookshelves, by the way). That shut him up for a moment...and got him to select one to (mildly grumpily) begin perusing. The next day after school, however, he enthusiastically reported that he was enjoying it quite a bit, and proceeded to provide--unprompted--a detailed synopsis for me of what he'd gotten through so far. So, there's hope for him yet...even if I have to go all Mean Mommy on him once in a while!
And there you have it. At the end of the day (or week, or...whatever) you just knock on wood and hope the balance weighs a bit more in favor of "good influence" or "goals met". (Or at the very least "not having gone off the deep end...yet...yay, me!") Then you follow up by celebrating the good stuff, putting the bad firmly behind you, reminding yourself that you're doing the best. you can..and (perhaps most importantly, don't forget this one!) bestowing a well-deserved reward--coffee, chocolate, pumpkin muffin...a nap...(all of the above) whatever it takes to survive challenging experiences like allergy season, the stresses of the school year...and a shopping trip with my sons! (Yeah, better make it espresso...and an extra-large muffin!)