Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Guilty One...

I think all parents feel at least a little bit of guilt at least some of the time. It sort of comes with parenting. You get a cute baby, sleepless nights, lots of hugs and kisses, diaper duty, first words, first bad words, first steps, potty training, going off to school, going off on first dates, going off to college, etc. etc.

I know I skipped a lot of "firsts" in there but you get the get the good with the bad. Guilt is one of the "bad things" that comes with parenting.

All parents wish they had more time to spend with their children, more money to give their children nicer things, and so forth and so on.

Working parents feel guilty about working. Parents who stay at home feel guilty about not having as much money as they would have if they worked. Even those who make millions and billions of dollars and have all the free time in the world probably still feel guilty about something.

As a divorced parent I think the guilt is stronger...or maybe I feel that way because that is the only life I know. I feel guilty that Dotty has to split her time with me and Tony. I feel guilty that I miss out on things when she is with Tony and I feel guilty that Tony misses out on things when she is with me.

I feel guilty that Dotty will not grow up in a house with her biological parents. And because of that guilt I probably do some things differently than I might have done them if the situation was different.

But on the other hand...all parents are simply doing the best they can. I know my parents did. I grew up with both my parents home every night. I grew up with my parents going to almost everything I school and out of school. To some people looking from the outside would have seemed I had the perfect childhood.

But nothing is perfect. My parents were not always happy but they made certain sacrifices for me and my brother that I will always appreciate. They did the best they knew how to and they gave me a great childhood.

No person is perfect. No situation is perfect. Nothing is perfect...even if it seems that can bet it really isn't perfect.

What I hope Dotty will someday know is that Tony and I are not perfect people and we are not perfect parents...but we try...we try really hard.

I am lucky that my divorce was non-confrontational. Tony and I fought over nothing. We were civil. We were caring. We were committed to still being the best parents to Dotty that we could be. We put Dotty first.

So often I hear and see people going through divorces where children are involved and I am appalled at how some people behave. They use children as weapons. They use children as pawns in their sick games to hurt each other.

I am lucky that Tony and I have not and will not ever do that to Dotty. We might not live in the same house but we are the same parents she has always had...will always have. Our lives will change and things will change but the one constant is that Tony and I will love much...until the day we die.

One thing I don't feel guilty about is that I think I value my time with Dotty much more than I did before the divorce. That is one of the silver linings I know came from our divorce. I know my time with Dotty is not unlimited. I know there are days I will not have her. And for those reasons I try to value my time with her.

I am not saying that other parents don't value their time with their children...but until you have experienced what it is like to know that your time is limited I don't think you can understand where I am coming from.

I have said time and time again that Tony is a great dad...and he would always have been a great dad...but I think he became a better dad when he moved out. I hope I too became a better mom through all of this.

And if that is the case...then there is no guilt about that.

Friday, July 29, 2011

First Sleepover...

Dotty had her very first sleepover Tuesday...well sort of.

Presley invited Dotty to spend the night with her and I went...just in case.

The night had its ups and downs but the girls didn't kill each other and there was only 3 rounds of bandaid...and about a million "stop fighting with each other" statements.

By 10pm the girls had tried sleeping in Presley's bed...then Presley's floor...then Jake and Keri's bed...and the final outcome was Presley in bed with Jake and Keri and Dotty in bed with me in the guest room.

I don't know if you would call it a successful sleepover...but the girls did sleep.

I call it a toss up...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lessons 10pm

Last night Dotty and I both learned another "life lesson". We learned our lessons at 10pm (or sometime after that) and after a couple of hours of Dotty being...well just cranky.

Dotty seemed tired to me yesterday. Blame it on the heat. Blame it on a short nap. Whatever...but she seemed non-too-happy.

At 7:30 I made her take a bath and...gasp...wash her hair! According to Dotty, that made me the worst mother ever!

Then I let her watch tv in bed until 9pm when I made her...gasp...turn it off! Again, worst mother ever according to my child.

After an hour of me telling Dotty to...
Stop playing
Stop kicking me
Stop demanding I turn on the tv again
Stop getting out of bed
Stop making excuses
The final straw was when Dotty pulled my hair...I was done.

I got out of her bed and got in my bed. Normally I lay with Dotty until she goes to sleep and then I go sleep in my bed the rest of the night but tonight I was done.

I told Dotty she would have to go to sleep on her own, by herself, in her bed.
Let the wailing begin.

Dotty cried loudly and at first begged me to come sleep with her (pleases included) ...then she demanded that I come sleep with her...then she said she never wanted me to sleep with her again!

I remained calmly in my bed and with each burst of tears and yelling of words I would simply say "Dotty go to sleep."
After about 10 times of that and a good minute...maybe minute and a half...Dotty was out.

See, I told you she was tired.

While it was a very short time that I listened to her cry, it felt like an eternity to me. I prayed asking God to give me the strength to not give in. I knew I had warned Dotty over and over again and I needed to stand firm (because as the old country song goes...You have got to stand for something or you will fall for anything...).

I knew if I caved then Dotty would try to make me cave again and again and again. But if I stood firm then maybe the next time Dotty would listen to me because she knew I wasn't making a threat...I was giving her a promise. And the next time might not be about going to might be about running into the street, talking to strangers...or later on...taking drugs, drinking and driving, missing curfew, etc.

I don't know what lays ahead for me and Dotty but I know I am trying to get my bluff in now when she is 3 because if I wait until she is 13 it will be too late.

So another lesson learned for Dotty...a million or so to go.

The lesson I learned last night is one I already knew but I seem to be reminded of just how true it is every time I am faced with it. When I was young and got in trouble my parents would always say the old saying "this hurts me more than it hurts you". Back then I did not see how in the world it could. Now I see that while they were punishing me, it was breaking their hearts.

As a parent you never want to see your child sad or mad or hurt or crying
...especially if you are the one who brought on such things...but there is a time and a place where such things are needed.

Dotty was asleep in less than 90 seconds...I was up for well over an hour worried that she would hate me in the morning...or when she is 16. I love Dotty so much and I never want her to be upset with me but I also know that the right choice is usually the hardest one to make...and that is what I try to show Dotty every day of her life.

This morning Dotty woke up and her first words to me were...Can I watch Peppa Pig on the living room tv?

But her second words to me were...I love you Momma!

At that is the end of our lesson today.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Kick Off to Soccer...

Today I registered Dotty for her first ever organized She has been wanting to play ever since she watched Presley's first game.

Due to her birthday, she is in the Under 4 division (although she will turn 4 shortly after her 1st game). The entire "enrollment process" was a little hectic and there were hundreds of people trying to sign up boys and girls in all divisions. I briefly met the coach and basically got the "I will call you" statement from her so I guess I will find out more later on...when things are not so loud and confusing.

I am sure today was the first of many sports signups for Dotty. Tony and I are both big sports fans and we love to play many sports ourselves. Dotty is always kicking balls, dribbling them, running and jumping...this girl loves to be active. I am really looking forward to watching Dotty grow to love sports. I can't wait to cheer her on and also try to not coach from the stands.

In fact, I don't want to ever coach her period. I simply want to enjoy my child enjoying sports.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Visit from Lena

Howard and Ruth Ann have had several foreign exchange students live with them.

The first girl was Thaty from Brazil. She was here when I found out I was pregnant.
Next was Tara from Germany. She was here when Dotty was born.
Next was Lena from Germany. She was here when Dotty was 1.
The last was Bara from the Czech Republic. She was here when Dotty was 2.

All the girls have been really amazing young women. We have all grown to love and adore them and have kept in contact with them even when they have returned home. Dotty has especially adored Lena and Bara...mainly because she was old enough to play with them and to remember them. (She also remembers the fact that those girls did pretty much whatever Dotty wanted them to do.)

Lena has been in Texas visiting for several weeks now and Dotty and I had her over last night for a visit. It is always good for a "mother's heart" to see how much her child loves someone, but when you see that love returned it really does a heart good.

I have always been able to see on all the exchange students' faces just how much Dotty means to them. They all truly care for her just like family and that is the best gift they could ever give me.

I don't know if I could ever let Dotty go live for 10 months in a foreign country with people I know nothing about...but I am sure glad the parents of those four girls did so. I feel truly blessed for having known each of them.

Maybe some day Dotty and I can go visit Brazil, Germany, or the Czech Republic...or maybe all three!!! And if Dotty does want to go study abroad I hope she can live with one of those girls by that time...although there will be driving, no drinking, no drugs...and no dating!!!

Side Note: That last part is sort of an inside joke :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wardrobe Choices...

I have a very relaxed policy when it comes to Dotty's wardrobe choices...especially when we are needing to be out the door in less than 2 minutes and Dotty is no where near being dressed.

Today Dotty picked out her dress and shoes but I told her she needed to dress herself so I could make her lunch. We had exactly 30 seconds to get out the door in order to be on time for school.

After a good 5 minutes of me asking Dotty if she was dressed while I was gathering up the 100 bags Dotty and I take every morning...Dotty came into the kitchen wearing the clothes that were laid out for well as a gold crown.

Now I had two choices...

1. Tell Dotty to take off the crown which would hurt her feelings and cause an argument.

2. Tell Dotty she looked as pretty as a princess and get her in the car.

I chose #2.

With that choice we were still late for school (but only by about 5 minutes), we both got a few looks when we walked into school (the kids were looking in awe...the parents...not so much as "awe" as "awww"...the pitying kind of awww too), and Dotty was super happy.

The only thing I cared about was the very last thing I just mentioned...Dotty being super happy.

Now a lot of parents might not support their children's wardrobe choices. They might insist their kids do things like match or dress weather appropriate or even not allow them to wear their Halloween customes past October. I am not one of those parents.

My philosophy is that when you are almost 32 wearing a crown is not acceptable. When you are almost 4 it is still borderline cute.

Dotty only has a few years left where she can wear a crown out in public without it being Oct. 31st, her birthday, or the Queen of England's birthday. Thus, I want Dotty to wear her crown(s) as often as possible.

After all she is my princess. And she always will or no crown.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Dotty's school is at a church in town and this week that church is hosting Vacation Bible School so Dotty is going to that in the mornings with her class. I was telling Dotty this news as we were getting ready. I told her she was going to learn about Jesus and God and about why being a good person is the right thing to do.

I told her she would probably get to draw and color, learn new songs, make things...she might even get to dress up or see other kids perform a play. I was trying to really hype VBS up for her.

She stopped me and asked, "Is God a girl?"
My response, "No..."
"I wish God was a girl." - Dotty
"Why?" - Me
"Because if God was a girl then she would probably wear a crown and lots of jewelry and beautiful makeup..." - Dotty (said in great awe and wonder)
"Well...okay..." - Me (said with great confusion and awkwardness)
"Do you think that even if God isn't a girl we might still get to put on makeup at vacation bible school?" - Dotty asked (full of hope)
"Doubt it" - Me (pretty sure on that one)

On the way to school Dotty sent up a small prayer...can you guess what she was praying for??? Here is a hint...if CoverGirl was sponsoring VBS Dotty would be thrilled!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Dotty is a smart girl. I know I can be an overly proud mom at times but Dotty is a pretty smart little girl.

The other day we were driving home when Dotty asked me if there were any dinosaurs left on Earth (and yes she used the word Earth). I told her that all the dinosaurs had died and are now extinct. I even explained to her what extinction was (or at least in terms a three year old can comprehend).

Dotty sat and pondered it all for a minute then she said..."God created the dinosaurs right?"

"Yes He did" I said.

"And God could create them again if He wanted to right?"

"Yes...God can do anything."

"But God won't create dinosaurs again because they are so big and have sharp teeth and would eat us right?"

"Those are probably the exact reasons God will not create dinosaurs again."

"I am sure glad God made dinosaurs and then decided to make people."

"Me too."

While she may learn about Darwinism and evolution in school some day, I am glad to know that in her heart Dotty believes 100% that God created all things...the heavens, the earth, and the dinosaurs.

(Side Note: Later that night Dotty prayed to God to send rain, to make her a "real" princess, and to not make anymore dinosaurs.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Little Help Here...

For those of you who have raised children I need some advice.

Dotty was filling me in on her weekend with her new baby sister Dylann. She was telling me about changing her diapers and singing to her and Dotty even gave Dylann a bottle.

Then Dotty said to me, "Brittany feeds Dylann with her boobies. What is up with that Mommy?"

After I almost choked on my diet coke I told her that Brittany was breast feeding Dylann. When Dotty still did not seem to understand I pulled up the "La Leche League" website. Bad idea on my part. That just made both Dotty AND me more confused!

(Side Note: I am just kidding about the La Leche League website. My actual response to Dotty when she had more questions for me was "ask your daddy"...I sure hope she brings up the topic while I am in the room. Tony is uncomfortable with a great many issues dealing with women. I can't wait to see how he would handle such a topic with Dotty!)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Store Owners Beware!

Dotty has recently been known to have some "sticky fingers". The last few times I have had her in a store she has picked up something and put it in her pocket. Luckily I have caught her and reminded her we have to pay for things before we can keep them or take them home with us.

I am not sure if it is just Dotty's age...the fact that she doesn't really comprehend shoplifting. Or if it is the fact that she is used to simply getting whatever she wants (spoiled does not even begin to describe this child). Perhaps it is because I rarely take her into a store so she does not understand the proper procedures. Or maybe it is because she can take whatever she wants to take at my store and I usually don't bat an eye about it (the benefits of a family owned business and also being spoiled). I am not sure.

No matter the reason if you know Dotty and you see her "shoplifting" please laugh for a few minutes but make sure you tell me or Nana or Tony or whoever she is with so we can pay for merchandise.

However, Nana draws the line at buying $25 gift cards...just so you know! Beware...a fit may follow.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dotty's Thoughts...

Over the last few weeks Dotty has said some pretty cute stuff and I just have not had time to write them down. Here are a few...

You are Perfect...

One night Dotty and I were sitting in a chair watching "Peppa Pig". On this show many of the characters refer to Daddy Pig's tummy as being too big.
Dotty looked at me and said, "Daddy Pig has a fat tummy."
I said, "It is not nice to say that about someone."
Dotty replied, "Your tummy looks a little fat Mommy."
I responded, "You should not tell people they have fat tummies. It will hurt their feelings. Just say they have a perfect tummy."
Dotty thought for a moment then said to me with a bright grin, "Mommy you have a perfectly fat tummy."
I stopped trying at that point

5 O'clock Somewhere...
Last Wednesday Nana and Papaw were going to pick Dotty up at 5pm to take her to see her daddy. Dotty was very excited and was having a hard time waiting for the time to pass. When she asked me for the hundredth time if it was time for Nana and Papaw to be here I told her it was not 5 o'clock yet.
She then said to me "It must be 5 o'clock somewhere."
Jimmy Buffett would be so proud!

Better with Memaw...
A week or so ago I took Dotty to the Great Wolf Lodge. We spent all morning there playing and having a big time with Jeri and her boys. Then Dotty and I went to see my grandparents and play at their pool. By the end of the day I was worn out and exhausted but had loved every minute of being with Dotty. When I asked her if she had enjoyed the day she said, "Yep. But it would have been better if Memaw was here too."
I can't win for losing.

"C" is for Chick-fil-a...
I am a little concerned about my child's education. The other day she saw the capital letter "C" and said, "That means Chick-fil-a".
Of course my bigger concern might need to be her eating habits. Although she is a girl after my own heart...I LOVE Chick-fil-a!

That is Spanish for...
There are certain words and phrases I do not like Dotty to say. I don't like her to say...hate, stupid, dumb, butt, crap, etc. I know these words can be used in generic ways but Dotty tends to use them with their negative connotation. I really don't like Dotty to say...I hate you...You are stupid...etc.
When Dotty says these words or phrases she gets a stern look, gets reminded of why we don't use them, and sometimes gets put in timeout (depending on the situation).
Now Dotty has found a loophole. Whenever she says something she knows she is not supposed to she tells me, "It is Spanish for..."
For example, the other day Dotty said, "I hate this show."
When I started to get on to her she said, "That is Spanish for I want to watch another show."
Later she told me I was stupid. The minute I opened my mouth to scold her she said, "Mommy, that is Spanish for I love you."
While my Spanish is not so muy bueno...I think for a Fall class we might need to enroll Dotty in Spanish 101.