7 Indisputable Facts for Moms of 7 Year-old Boys

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My little guy won’t be 7 much longer but here’s what I have learned in the past year about 7 year old boys.

1) They don’t have an off switch. It’s constant full speed ahead until, of course, they spontaneously combust. For both the hyperactivity and the ensuing meltdowns, I suggest you invest in a good pair of ear plugs and an eye mask. There’s not point in fighting it and these tools will make you better at ignoring it.

2) They have no fear. They will jump off of, charge into, ski down…, just about anything without consideration of the bones, ligaments, or internal organs at risk. The good news is, 7 year old boys are pretty resilient and most wounds at this age will heal without consequence. So enforce basic common sense and personal safety (e.g., helmets, no diving in shallow water, look both ways before charging forward) but let them wear their wounds like badges of honor.

3) They are always hot. They will wear shorts to school until December. In the middle of winter they will be shirt less when everyone else is clad in fleece. It will be -11 out (yes, that’s a minus sign and I don’t live in Antarctica) and they will refuse to wear a jacket. Be grateful for heated throws, Northface, and UGGs and just agree to disagree on the actual ambient temperature.

4) They love all sports. Even if you never encourage athleticism they will beg until they are blue in the face to do gymnastics, and football, and lacrosse, and skiing, and baseball, and karate, and soccer, and golf…. (You will wonder how they even learned about lacrosse.) Before you know it you will have committed all of your weekends for the next decade to your kid’s athletic pursuits so find a good family calendar.

5) They know more about technology than you do. You may think you are savvy at limiting screen time but when your iPhone is on the futz they can fix it. If you want to rally for family movie night, you will have to rely on them to change the input on your AV system to Netflix. Oh well, you suck at IT but you may have future engineer on your hand.

]6) They have fleeting interests (other than sports). Your dog will get a bowel obstruction from all the elastics that no longer are needed in that damn loom. You will realize the deep, searing pain of stepping on legos because all of those elaborate sets never make it back into their original boxes. You wonder is it Pokemon they are obsessed with or Minecraft… and one day you will find him doing Sudoku?! Well at least none of the above involve screen time.

7) They don’t really want to snuggle anymore. They have too much kinetic energy to want to curl up with their mammas. They’d rather be doing something dangerous. They’re too hot to be tucked into your heated throw with you. You won’t be able to overcome the House Hunters vs. SportsCenter divide necessary for the TV watching snuggle. They are mad at you because in your technology errant ways you unintentionally offed one of their favorite tech toys. They are more interested in being big boys than little boys. You miss the old days.

And your heart breaks just a little as that 8th birthday approaches. Sniff.

Will all part-time mothers please stand up?

Hmmm… Don’t see anybody yet… Wait, wait maybe… Oh, nope that was just a cricket I heard chirping in the corner.

Oh, riiiiight, maybe no one is standing up because it doesn’t f’ing exist.  You want to go find a part-time mother?  Try going to find a unicorn instead, you’ll have better luck.  And while you are at it, find a Kardashian that doesn’t take selfies and a toddler that doesn’t become an invertebrate whilst strapping them into a car seat.  Because aaaallll off that mess is going to happen before you find a “part-time” mother.

Unfortunately I just saw the intro to a House Hunters episode where the wife introduced herself as a “full-time mother and part-time advertising consultant”.  Son of a b!t$h, when are we going to stop doing this to ourselves and each other?!  The phrase full-time mother implies that there is another type of mother.  Like, I don’t want to be confused with a non full-time mother so I really need to spell this s&:! out.  But this begs the question, is there really another type of mother?

Sorry peeps, but, no, there isn’t.  I have friends who are divorced and share custody with ex-husbands, friends who stay at home but spend almost 20 hours a week training for marathons and triathlons, friends who work outside the home part-time, full-time, and in my case, crazy-time.  And guess what?  We are never off duty, none of us are ever not mothers.  Even when it is your ex-spouse’s visitation day, who fields the phone calls from the school nurse and settles disputes between siblings?  Plans birthday parties, does infinite loads of laundry filled with socks without mates and grocery shops for the “good” lunchbox snacks?  Yep, that’s you, mom.  Even if you need a “wife”, you are still always a mother.  I have been covered in blood and had a cell phone held up to my ear to tell my nanny, “No, my child can not eat a fifth packet of oatmeal for dinner.” (Yeah, that’s a whole other story…).

Anyways, the point is, regardless of your hobbies, your interests, or your career, whatever takes you out of the house or away from your child for whatever amount of time, you are still a “full-time” mother.  There is no time card to punch in and out of as mothers.  (I mean, if that were the case, then I would gladly clock out next week when we take our 2 year old’s pacifier away, *&%$!@)  But, the bottom line is, we can’t clock out, check out, or hand off to another person this special role that we have.  Let’s drop this full-time, part-time nonsense.  Let’s have enough confidence in ourselves to not feel as if we have to use these terms, and enough confidence to not let anyone make us feel anything less than awesome.

Now, off to find that Kardashian…

10 Reasons To Cure Myself of Not-A-Morning-Personitis and Conquer Morning Workouts

I am decidedly NOT a morning person. I have often thought that this was a key factor in my career choice since trauma and acute care surgeons are often expected to be on their A-game in the middle of the night. I am a pretty amazing middle of the night person and, if that night stretches into chronological morning, I can keep the A-game going. But, if allowed to put head to pillow, dawn will yield a very cranky person.

In college I avoided classes that started before 11am. I am pretty sure I showed up at that one 8:30a Tu/Th class only for exams (physics 1a/b anyone?). Med school started every day at 8am during pre-clinicals and I often struggled with that arrival time choosing to put forward my best effort for labs later in the day (thank you lab mates who were excellent note-takers!). On clinical rotations I figured out how to show up for 4:45a pre-rounds, but I am pretty sure that only worked because it was still technically the middle of the night so my body was okay with that.

Even now, as in every day during residency and fellowship, when there are patients waiting at the other end, I can make early am arrivals happen albeit with a fair bit of crankiness as my poor husband kicks me out the door with coffee in hand. Honestly, it’s a miracle I ever chose a career where 5:30a rounds, 6a meetings, and 7a pre-op times are the norm. And on the days when there are no patients waiting at the other end, I continue to struggle with human functions in the morning. People at work often ask me why I am angry as they pass me in the halls at 6, 7, 8am…. I’m not angry. I’m just a cranky Not-A-Morning-Person.

Unlike my college and early med school days, these days an 8:30a start of anything (signout rounds, soccer games, flights…) would be welcome. Eleven am is shockingly late to me now; so in that regard my Not-A-Morning-Personitis has abated somewhat over the years.

But here I am. It’s the life I have chosen. Most of my work days start well before 8am and last well over twelve hours. Typically, I work 26 such days a month. And the Not-A-Morning-Personitis is still severe enough that I have been unable to incorporate pre-work early morning exercise into my daily regimen. Interestingly, when I travel (both with and without family) I am somehow able to swing pre-dawn jaunts at the hotel gym or outdoor runs. Perhaps this is due to the unfamiliar bed causing less restful sleep or the fact that even most surgery meetings don’t start until 8a or the allure of a new venue to run or the proximity of a Pure Barre studio or the late nights at the bar with colleagues (remember Vegas friends? I still got my money’s worth from the $15 gym fee)…

But, in the past I have not been able to recreate this early morning motivation in my home environment. Until last week, I could count the number of my non-weekend off morning workouts on the fingers of ONE hand.

Last week I was jet lagged; and since the current me is actively trying to dispel excuses to not exercise I channeled my wide awakeness at 3:30a into several morning workouts in a row. The jet lag dissipated eventually, but then I found myself angling for a morning workout anyway. This was, in fact, a miracle.

I could hardly recognize myself. Six morning workouts in a row including a post-call workout on my first week back in the country. They weren’t always hard workouts but I was up and I was moving. And my Fitbit was congratulating me for all the extra steps squeezed into my day. I have now exercised in the morning on 9 of the last 10 days with an evening workout on the off-day.

Here’s why I think I have to make this work and rid myself of my chronic Not-A-Morning-Personitis for good.

1) I don’t spend the rest of my day with my inner voice badgering me about how I have to swing an evening workout only to feel bad when I don’t make it happen.

2) I save my hair and the environment by cutting down to a shower a day since the post workout rinse doubles as the morning rinse.

3) I get to catch up on DVR’d episodes of House Hunters because, let’s face it, the 10p weeknight airings of new episodes are just too late for someone who is as tired and as cranky as I am.

4) I don’t have to have the difficult inner debate between choosing ME and my workout to be healthy vs choosing being available for the kids’ bedtime routines to be a good mom.

5) My morning crankiness dissipates during the workout so fewer people are frightened by me when I finally get to work.

6) Post-workout endorphins, which propel me into a happier rest-of-the-morning after am workouts, tend to result in undesired sleeplessness after pm workouts.

7) However, sometimes I still feel like working out again in the evenings and I like 2-a-day workout me much better than Not-A-Morning-Person me.

8) It propels a cycle of positive self re-enforcement; I find myself more likely to engage in healthy work day behaviors like taking the stairs or skipping the bowl of Twix in the ICU when I already feel good about having conquered a morning workout.

9) Who wouldn’t want to see Fitbit’s crazy happy face before dawn; it is one of the few positive digital messages I ever get these days.

10) I will occasionally catch a pretty sunrise.