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Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s the time of year when you just can’t wait to be with family and eat lots of turkey. Yeah. That.

A week later and my fridge is still full of turkey leftovers. I like to make a turkey every year because I’m particularly attached to having turkey leftovers. Thanksgiving has always been my husband’s family’s holiday and since we don’t hold the meal at our house, we wouldn’t get any leftovers if I didn’t make my own.

Right about now I’m thinking I should have gotten a turkey breast instead of a 16- pound bird. There are only so many recipes that call for turkey and Olivia has had enough of turkey sandwiches. As I was packing her lunch this morning, she said “Oh, mom, please don’t pack me a chicken sandwich again”. Is it too late to freeze it?

It’s been nice to get back to our routine this week (aka have the kids back in school). It was nice to see the familiar faces at drop-off and pick-up. It was a relief in so many ways. Basically, Thanksgiving this year was a bit rough for us.

A friend of mine, who has a daughter in Georgia’s class, saw Georgia on Monday and told me that when she asked Georgia how her Thanksgiving was, Georgia said, “It wasn’t that good” “Why, not?” asked my friend. “I was naughty,” replied Georgia. Yeah. That.

What do you get when you take four small children over to Grandpa’s house and forget to bring games, toys, or supplies to entertain them? Parental fail. Our result was our kid literally climbing the wall.

Georgia repeatedly climbed the outside of the staircase, sat on the coffee table, and tried on Grandpa’s glasses despite being asked not to. We were getting frustrated with her and it was obvious that everyone else was too. After numerous time-outs, we left immediately after dinner.

It was probably the most uncomfortable of Thanksgiving dinners our family has had. But it wasn’t as uncomfortable as the phone call that came in the next day from “concerned” family members. Seems as though a few of them had been talking, including one who doesn’t have children yet, about how we need to get professional parenting help. Sigh.

At first, I was a little mad that these family members had been talking about us. They don’t get to see the million things that our kids do right and the great job we have been doing as parents. I felt judged and inadequate. But because I know myself pretty well, I knew that I was feeling defensive because they were right. Over the past several weeks we have been experiencing a shift in our household climate.  My husband and I knew better than to cast aside the concern and instead use this as an opportunity to take a long hard look at everything.

What transpired was a call out to our village.  It included asking for parent-teacher conferences, calling a couple of close friends who know us well and who have a lot of knowledge in the parenting department, and arranging a meeting with a parenting coach, a man I had heard speak at one of the workshops for my mothers’ club.

After one brief session with the coach, he was able to provide us with so much insight into our parenting struggle ultimately helping us see that we are failing to take good care of ourselves and our children are on to us.

We unplugged the television so we could focus more on the kids and have less background noise in the house. Until we find a good way to talk to the kids about our desire to put limits on media, we told them that the television was “not working”. I struggled with essentially lying to them about that but I partially wanted to see if eliminating the television was going to improve our relationships at home. By going cold-turkey, not only did we get to see that we could exist without a television, but we have seen that spending more time with each other doing other things has been way better than watching Yo Gabba Gabba over and over.

Sure turning off the tube was just one tactic we have taken. It has put more pressure on us to show up to the kids when previously we could just put on a show to let them zone out. Initially it seemed counterintuitive when what I was diagnosed as needing more time for myself. But we are seeing the benefits already. Our kids are talking to us more, fighting less, and I am feeling less frustrated.

Our parenting road is going to be a long one, it has been illuminated to me that I must make more time for the things that fill my heart so that when I show up to my family I am not running on empty. I have seen this time and time again, when I do get out to spend some time with other moms for girls night, go to book club, write this blog, or take a class of some sort, I come home energized and ready to tackle anything the kids throw at me. I am more patient, tolerant, and kind.

Being a mother is by far the toughest job I have ever had. I want to take time for myself but there has always been this guilt that comes from doing so. I feel like there is a societal judgment for moms too. Like as if we aren’t meant to do things to fill our cups, our role is simply just take care of the children and get fulfillment from that alone. Anything above and beyond that is just selfish. I’m sure my Women’s Studies Professors are going to have a long refresher talk with me for believing that crap.

Thanksgiving has come and gone but the gratitude I feel for being part of an amazing little family will last me longer than the turkey leftovers ever will. And I don’t think I will ever get sick of a gratitude sandwich.

 

 

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