Tag Archive | mothering

Two Kids. Two Different Spring Breaks.

The best part of spring break so far: This.  Fucking this.

The best part of spring break so far: This. Fucking this. And for the record, this is not Switzerland or Park City.  It’s the park by my house in Chicago.  It was our spring break destination.

 

Let’s play a game.

Okay.  Sit up.  Put on your thinking cap, your listening ears and your big girl pants.  Think long and hard before you answer this question because valuable prizes await you.  Deep breaths.  Do a few push ups to really get your blood flowing.  Beat your chest.  Brush your hair.  Toss back a breath mint.

Ready?

Okay.

Question: What is the best part of having two kids with two different spring breaks?

If you guessed abso-fucking-lutely nothing, then you win.  Pat yourself on the back and tune in to QVC right now– whatever they are selling, buy it.  You deserve it.  Give them my credit card number.  My password is FckSprgBrk

Because spring break, can so suck it.  And I’m not even mad at the weather, though I have every stinking right to be.

Here’s how spring break is going down in my house.  Sadie went first.  Of course her spring break was really a winter break since it snowed every other day, but I digress.  (What the world needs now is a few more bloggers complaining about the weather.  Amiright?)  Anyway, each morning I had to drag her out of bed and explain that no, she wasn’t going to school, but Simon was and she had to get in the car with us.  Then, both of them would burst into spasms of devastation: Sadie because she wasn’t going to school; Simon because he was.

It made our normal, both-kids-going-school routine seem like a morning at my favorite spa, the one where Enya plays nonstop and some hot Cuban guy hands me fresh strawberries and cucumber water.

Oh the keening of my children for the other’s experience.

To survive the break, I planned wonderful activities for me and Sadie to do while Simon was in school.  As I explained those to Sadie, Simon choked on his own grief.

It was terrible.  All of it.

The good news is that we can relieve all of those special moments in two weeks when Simon’s spring break starts.  Extra bonus for all: Simon’s spring break lasts for two weeks.  Whatkindofschoolbreaksfortwoweeks?  When I think of ten more days of the uninterrupted strife I will endure as I try to parent two people who seem more like soap opera stars than little children, my mind goes blank.  Like that blue screen that shows up when your computer is trying to tell you to go fuck yourself  in its mute, computer-y way.

There must be a way to do this better.  But I can’t think of it.  All I can do is see that blank screen in my mind and feel my body shaking with dread so strong I think I might give myself shingles.

Someone please help me.

 

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Forget the First Tooth: These Are the New Milestones

peanuts-celebrate-the-little-things

As a parent, I love milestones.  First tooth.  First steps.  First day without diapers.  Marking those life moments is just part of what parents do.  Isn’t that what those baby books are all about?

Here’s my question: why do the big milestones stop after the first year? Have you ever tried to find a commemorative book to celebrate the major life moments after the first year?  Sure, it’s fun when your baby stops doing that awkward army crawl thing to actually take a few steps, but what about that moment when your kid learns a word you don’t know? Or when you understand that your kid has more social skills than you’ll ever have?

I live for those moments, and even if the makers of baby books don’t memorialize them, I’ma celebrate them here.  (Confidential to Hallmark: Call me. Let’s work up a business plan for baby books for toddlers and school-aged kids.)

Here are my top 5 milestones that no one else has ever mentioned:

  1. Siblings playing together.  The date was June 8, 2013.  The sun was gleaming through our kitchen window highlighting the crumbs on the floor, and Sadie and Simon started playing some game involving an empty water bottle, a skillet, and a Big Bird “action” figure.  I watched the clock — 5 and then 10 and then 15 minutes went by and they were still playing in their own little world.  They didn’t involve me or ask me to referee any squabbles. It’s as if I wasn’t there, and it was total bliss– like zero calorie free range chocolate covered Doritos bliss.  It lasted for 37 minutes.  To celebrate, I chopped an onion uninterrupted and then went pee pee solo.  It was a perfect milestone.
  2. First joke.  Any of us could be raising the next Seinfeld (without the horrible taste in clothes; see black jeans and white sneakers), so why not celebrate what might be the birth of your child’s comedic genius?  This milestone was one of my favorite: Sadie made a joke, and she knew it. And it was actually funny.  It was more shocking than that day I looked at her little belly and saw that her umbilical cord had fallen off.  The joke? I can’t remember, but trust me, she’s the next Tina Fey.
  3. Sartorial mastery.  What about the day your daughter learns that wearing a skirt with a dress is not the best use of clothing?  What about the day she looks at you and says, “Maybe I won’t change my clothes seven times before dinner? Maybe just three times.”  What about the first time your son lets you dress him in any old shirt and doesn’t clamor for something with Spiderman on it?  There are so many milestones around clothing that I need a whole separate book for this category.  But my all-time favorite milestone around clothing was when Sadie recognized Ann Taylor Loft from the highway.
  4. Music to my ears. I’ll admit it, I cried real tears during these two special moments.  In the span of one week, both of my kids hit musical milestones that are still hard to talk about without choking up.  On Monday, October 7, 2012 Sadie yelled, “I see Willie Nelson!” as we drove by a bus stop.  Was it really the Red Headed Stranger from Abbott, Texas? No, but it was his doppelgänger– a man with two gray braids and a red bandana was waiting for the bus.  It’s super hard not to brag about this.  Then, three days later, we were listening to my new Johnny Cash-Willie Nelson album and Simon proved he knew the difference between Johnny and Willie.  He summed up his opinion thusly: “Johnny is boring. I only like Willie.”  I pulled the car over and gave him a hug and a lollipop.
  5. Gratitude: Lots of parents, including myself, chafe at the lack of gratitude for the hours we put in to the hard work of raising kids.  Sure, I’ve taught my kids to say “please” and “thank you,” and roughly 15% of the time they actually do, but the evening that Sadie sat down at the dinner table and said, “Mom, thank you for this delicious dinner,” I almost fainted in my nachos.  I mean, you hope you raise a child that understands the value of a dinner consisting of grated cheese over tortilla chips, but it may take years to know if you have.  Again, I hate to brag, but I’m totally raising a little foodie who is not afraid to express praise and gratitude for my hard work (I mean, that cheese doesn’t melt itself and those chips don’t magically appear in a beautiful pinwheel pattern on a microwave-safe plate.)

What milestones are you celebrating?

Why My Lazy “Go Ask Your Dad” Answers Suck

I like to tell myself that some of my lazy habits have only minor consequences.  Like if I am too lazy to rinse the dish that held my nightly ice cream treat after the kids go to bed, then I will have to stare at it in the morning and then explain to my children why there’s evidence of someone eating ice cream in the house while they are sleeping.

Lazy Mommy.

Sometimes I am with the kids and they are asking me a zillion questions.  Can we hang a Spiderman curtain on the stairs? Can I eat double A batteries for snack? Why is that old woman walking down the street with a lizard on a leash?

Image credit: whorange.net

Image credit: whorange.net

Because I hate to hear myself say “I don’t know,” a billion times a day and I hate saying “no” even more than that, I take the easy route.  Ask Daddy I say.  Sometimes it’s passive aggressive, which isn’t cool, but I sic the kids on him, hoping he’ll offer a lengthy explanation that will give me a chance to drink a glass of lemonade alone.  Mostly, I am just lazy.  Lazier than Jeff about getting on my knee, looking deep into the kids’ eyes and saying, “Well, the reason why we can’t eat batteries is primarily because they aren’t food, which  means they will hurt your teeth and your tummy.” From there, Jeff will explain what alkaline is and how it might hurt to have a battery travel through your GI tract. 

Me? Lazy.  So I send my kids to their version of Wikipedia: their dad.

But here’s the thing: Every time I defer an explanation to my husband, I am undercutting my own authority.  Because I actually do know why we can’t eat batteries or why it will be over my dead body before we hang a Spiderman curtain anywhere in our house.  But because I have punted so many times, the kids think Dad has the answers.  I’ve communicated that he’s in charge of science and our house and the old lady with the lizard on a leash.

So the laziness may seem expedient when I am toast from a long day, but it’s created a 1950’s vibe in my house where Daddy has the answers and Mom…. well, Mom knows where the snacks are.

It’s the top of my priority list to put an end to this dynamic.  While there are times when it makes most sense for Jeff to handle the explanations (see when the kids ask about Excel spreadsheets or the Laws of Abraham), but I know plenty.  Now I just need to start acting like it.

Click here for my latest on Mom.Me about this go ask Dad thing I do.

Yes, I’m Squelching My Kids’ Passion

“Passion is energy.” — Oprah Winfrey

For years I searched for a passion– that singular thing that would compel me to stay up late, eschew nourishment, and deny myself other simple pleasures because I was swept up into the monsoon of passion.  I eventually found my way to my passion, but I was a good three decades into life.

My kids, however, they’ve stumbled upon a passion very young.  A deep and abiding fire burns inside both of them, and in pursuit of that passion, they would forsake everything– ice cream, popsicles, trips to the park, a chance to ruin stuff in my purse. 

Their passion? Band-Aids.  While they love the character Band-Aids, they will not reject a plain old brown one.  They are all over my house, my children, and my ass, which was awesome when I found one there (outside of my clothes) after a discussion with my boss.

Such good times. 

I want to foster their passions, but this one needs some squelching.  Maybe it makes me a bad parent but I plan to prune the branches of their passion tree because I can’t take it anymore.

Read more about the Great Band-Aid Epidemic here.

Can’t Tumble In A Princess Costume? A Lesson In Consequences

Once you’ve tried to get a pistachio out of your son’s nose after you’ve spent a good five minutes explaining why food doesn’t go in your nostril, you start to think to yourself: I suck at explaining.  (You don’t go all the way to I suck at parenting because for God’s sake, you aren’t morbid or overly-dramatic. You know how to rein it in.)

When it got too irritating to have offered such cogent explanations only to have my children proceed with their chosen courses of action, I decided to do an experiment. I’ma teach my kids about consequences. 

Consequences became my silent battle cry. 

I started keeping my explanations short– it might be messy if you poop in the tub or eating Mommy’s lipstick means you would have any to use next time you want to look “fancy.”  I resolved to let them learn lessons they apparently needed to learn the hard way.

Then, I heard my name called over the loudspeaker at gymnastics.

At first, I was sure that Sadie had crushed her clavicle trying to do a head stand or that Simon had taken a bite out of one of the instructors, since that’s his new thing.  I spotted one of the instructors holding Sadie’s hand as they headed towards me.

“Do you have other clothes for Sadie?”

“I don’t,” I said, remembering that the only things in the stroller were Goldfish crumbs and squeezy applesauce packets.

“Well, she can’t do gymnastics in her princess costume. It’s dangerous because she keeps tripping on the skirt.”

Can't get your Mary Lou Retton on in this get up? Image credit: www.costumecraze.com

Can’t get your Mary Lou Retton on in this get up? Image credit: http://www.costumecraze.com

I looked at Sadie who was trying to hide behind the teacher’s leg.  I had mentioned to Sadie that trying to tumble in a princess costume would be a problem, but she insisted.  I’d eschewed the power struggle and told her as long as she wears some leggings or shorts under the dress I’d let her prove me wrong. 

Consequences.

The teacher kept apologizing to me as if I was the one who had my heart set on my daughter wearing a princess costume to her gymnastics class.  “Believe me, I think this is all turning out perfectly,” I assured her.

A mother sitting nearby offered Sadie an outfit from the inventory in her stroller, which included whole grain bagels, almond vegan cheese, and a leotard!  I helped Sadie get into her borrowed duds and stuffed the princess dress on top of the snack crumbs.   I watched her do her thing out on the mats, wearing a stranger’s clothes and waving at me after every “cartwheel.”

I wondered if my approach to consequences was right.  Thing is, I won’t know until Friday when it’s time to suit up again for gymnastics.  I’m not sure what I’ll do if she insists on wearing something impractical, like a miniature ball gown made of cheap tulle.  I think I’ll offer her a friendly reminder about last week’s “situation” and then pack a spare leotard next to the snacks.

I still suck at explaining, but I’m getting good at consequences.

 

There Will Be No “N” Word In My House. Period.

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Holy biscuit batter with bacon bits, y’all, my precious Sadie gave me the scare of my life.  You know, one second you’re watching your kid eat your lip gloss, while she plans her next four birthday parties, and then next second BOOM! she announces she learned a bad word.

At first I was amused. I can’t pretend I was shocked since my own mouth is about as ladylike as a urinal at the end of a three-day music festival.

But then she told me that it started with an “N.”  There’s no room for amusement when that comes up.  I thought, “I’m going to go Tanya Harding on the Paula Dean who taught my kid the ugliest word I know.”

This time we got lucky.  It wasn’t that N-word. 

Wanna know what the word was? Check out my latest at Mom.me here.

An Airport Goodbye

How come they sleep in when you have to go the airport?

How come they sleep in when you have to go the airport?

When you go out of town for a conference, there are certain things you have to do before you leave.  One of them is saying goodbye to your children.  Your sweet, sleepy-eyed children who are standing on the edge of your mini van as you wheel your luggage towards the automatic airport doors, where O’Hare will swallow you up and send you far, far away from them.

If you’re like me, maybe you will stand in the long ticketing line watching your kids pile back into your mini van and you will see your husband strapping them into their car seats.  Your eyes will fill with tears that you beat back, but when you realize that you can’t you will grab your wheelie suitcase and rush back out through the doors. “Mommy wants one more kiss! Mommy wants one more kiss!” You scream to your children who had forgotten all about you, but now you’ve riled them up.

Your two-year old starts whimpering, “I don’t want you to go.”  So you start crying. For real.  Your three-year old is less depressed, but that makes you cry too.  These smushy perfect little people, they better be just the same when you get back.

Don’t change.  Don’t get hurt.  Don’t forget me.

“It’s time you go,” your husband says.

Shit, he’s right.  You grab the one more hug and one more kiss from each and go back through the door, this time, you’re ready.  Ready to stand in the security line and bawl because you’ve never done this before and you’re scared something will happen to them. To you. Something bad.

If you’re lucky, you can dial up your early rising friends and tell them how sad you are that your minivan full of your heart is pulling away and you are going off in the other direction.  Without them.

How can this be right?

Your friend Mary might tell you wonderful things you don’t believe, but you wish you did.  Stuff like “when you walk directly toward your vision everyone benefits.  Especially your children.”  She will say that and you will let those fucking tears fall because no one in the U.S. Airways security line is paying any attention to you.  They want their coffee and they want their own kids to behave on their upcoming flight to Philly.

When you finally get in your seat, you will hold your book in your hands and you will close your eyes and say to yourself:

What the hell am I doing? Damn, I’m brave.