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  1. A Wicked Good Recipe

    May 16, 2014 by admin

    In this household, we are always struggling to find things everyone will eat. Everything’s always “disgusting” or tastes like “rotten butts.” This recipe, however, was awesome. So I thought I’d share it. It’s from Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide by Sally Kuzemchak. The book was one of my Mother’s Day presents, so I suppose that might tell you exactly how I was faring in my domestic responsibilities.

     

    PeanutButterChicken

    My toddler was screaming “more chicken” at dinner tonight. The boys are at hockey practice, so haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hopeful it’s better than the rotten butts my 5-year-old has apparently had in the past.

    If you try the recipe, let me know how you like it. I used Bob’s Red Mill flaked coconut and Teddy’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter and some brand of coconut milk I’m too lazy to get up and open the refrigerator to name.

    Bon appétit!

    (Also, I apologize for the quality of the photo. And wowzers! I just now looked at the calories and fat content and you definitely might not want to have this if you are on a diet! Cooking Light, my arse!)


  2. Can I Get an Amen?

    May 15, 2014 by admin

    I love seeing things like this, especially when I’ve had a day when the reading on the Mom Guilt-O-Meter is pretty high.

    Alive

     

    I mean, seriously, isn’t this sometimes enough? Sometimes, when my husband comes home at the end of the day and sees me, ragged and beat down, I want to point out that we’re all still breathing, that we made it another day.

    Take today, for example. For starters, our toddler is refusing to nap or stay in bed at night. So out of sheer exhaustion and, because we’ve all been up late watching playoff hockey (RIP Boston Bruins, you bastards), we’ve just let her stay up until the girl is acting like a teenager after her first beer: loopy, drooling and babbling nonsensical phrases into a toy microphone.

    So, there’s that. Then today began with a total meltdown – screaming, crying, the whole shebang – in which my 5-year-old was pissed beyond belief at the mere sight of the shirt I had picked out for him to wear to school. After 10 minutes of arguing, and stressing about the fact that we were late for school – again (though I think it’s been quite some time since they’ve expected us at the required hour) – I sent him into his room to put on whatever the heck he wanted. He comes out 10 minutes later in Transformer pajamas. I still heart my little a-hole, but no. So, I manhandle him into a green polo shirt, in which he is squirming and screaming and crying and declaring at the top of his lungs that everyone – EVERYONE! – is going to laugh at him for wearing something that is only green in color.

    WTF.

    I tell him through my teeth that he looks very handsome in his green polo. He yells something unintelligible. His face is red and tears are rolling down his cheeks. Then I look at the clock. School has already started. I am at my boiling point. I tell him I don’t care if everyone laughs at him. He is wearing the green polo.

    I leave the room and come back. Faster than goddamned Clark Kent in a telephone booth, he has changed into the original shirt I had left out for him, the one that started the whole meltdown in the first place. I start to interrogate him about his logic. This, of course, doesn’t go well. I usher everyone into the car and we leave for school. On the drive, I start to calm down and start feeling like mother of the year for not remaining calm and showing my son how to remain calm while simultaneously being frustrated. Basically, I feel like the a-hole.

    “Can we all just calm down a little bit?” he asks me.

    It’s like a wrecking ball to the stomach, because I know what he really means is, “Can YOU calm down, mom?”

    I apologize for flying off the handle, suggest that HE lay out his clothes at night, so that when he wakes up in the morning he can put on what he has picked out and maybe, just maybe, we won’t be late for school. He agrees to this plan. It’s only taken me most of the school year, multiple wardrobe malfunctions and many mornings of stress and anger to figure this out.

    But what can I do now, but move on and learn from the experience?

    For starters, I can boast the fact that the children are all still alive. Hallelujah, the children are still alive and well. Bring on #4!


  3. Breastfeeding – It’s not the be-all, end-all of motherhood

    April 29, 2014 by admin

    Recently, I was speaking to a mother who had just had her second baby.

    She was talking about how she had to wake up every three hours to feed her baby and how, because she’s nursing, was tired beyond belief.

    Pregnant with my fourth child, I explained offhandedly how nursing had never worked for me. I should have kept my mouth shut.

    “Really? You didn’t nurse at all?” She asked this with a hint of incredulity.

    Ummmm. No. That’s NOT what I said.

    “No. Biatch.” (Okay, that last word I only said in my head.) “I tried. I tried really hard for at least 8-12 weeks with each one.”

    I started to tell my story. How each of my babies had a steady decline of weight even well into their second month. How, no matter what I did, I didn’t seem to produce enough to keep my baby fed.

    “Oh, I don’t have to worry about that,” she said. And I can’t be certain she meant it in that way. But I couldn’t help but wonder if she was judging me.

    So I wanted to go on. About how I pumped my body with all kinds of herbs and walked around smelling like a sugar shack in March. How I visited the lactation consultant day after day after day. How I hired my own private – and, as it turned out, very odd – lactation consultant who came to my house and spent 8 hours speaking to me in strange metaphors, handing me Lindt chocolates, telling me stories of nursing her only child until she was five years old, and giving advice to my poor husband, who was rushing around like a chicken with his head cut off to feed two hungry and cranky boys their dinner, advice which essentially amounted to a how-to in milking a cow.

    I wanted to tell her about how my husband helped me rig a nursing trainer to my breast so that my babies could drink formula while nursing simultaneously. How this same man schlepped to Babies R Us one early weekend morning to ask some dopey teenaged salesperson where he could find “My Breast Friend.” How I nursed, then bottle fed, then pumped 8 times a day and barely slept and wouldn’t leave the house because I felt shame that I could not seem to do this thing that almost every other mother I knew was able to do.

    I wanted to tell her that I did not take it lightly, that I’d made a valiant effort despite the disruption it was causing my young family. That I’d sacrificed the first two months of all three of my babies’ lives feeling miserable, ashamed and depressed.

    But then I told myself to back the truck up. Why did I feel the need to explain myself to this woman I barely knew?

    Probably because even though many fellow moms told me it was okay, there were still a lot of other mothers who blatantly judged me. I remember after my second child was born, after I went through hell to try and nurse and then finally made the decision to switch to powdered formula, I posted a question on my local Mother’s Club message board about what kind of water to use. The thread that followed turned into a heated debate about breast versus bottle (as if I didn’t know the facts) and the people I had counted on most to help me through a difficult time only made me feel worse.

    And now here I am just weeks away from having my fourth child and still, I haven’t learned not to let other people’s judgments get to me.

    And here I am just weeks away from having my fourth child, telling myself, once again, that it’ll be okay if breastfeeding doesn’t work out.

    And it will be okay.

    It has been. Every. Time. I have three happy, healthy children, who haven’t felt rejected or less loved or tried to kill me in my sleep because they were bottle fed for the majority of their infanthood.

    This time around, in the thick of post-partum hormones and emotion, I am going to try and remind myself that there is so much more to motherhood than breastfeeding. I should know. I’ve been there three times already. Babyhood passes before your eyes and soon you’re onto finger foods and playgroups and preschool and suddenly you realize that those first months, though important, do not define you as a mother. Soon enough, too soon for most of us, when you’re sitting cross-legged on the floor playing Candyland or walking side-by-side to the park, you’ll wonder what you were so worked up about way back when.

    And even though you don’t think it’ll ever happen, there will come a moment of clarity when you realize that feeding your baby the dreaded “F” word isn’t the end of the world, nor does it make you any less of a mother.

    Sure, I’ll give breastfeeding a go again. But in a few weeks time, if you see me at the playground or at the beach feeding my baby a bottle and enjoying the company of (or yelling at) my three other kids, please. Unless you’ve come to tell me that I look too young to have four kids or that my baby is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, keep your comments to yourself.


  4. When Youth Sports Get Ugly

    March 18, 2014 by admin

    I didn’t grow up around the sport of hockey. Not really.

    But when my oldest son started to play a few years ago, it was hard not to get hooked. The kids are passionate.  The parents are passionate. I guess you have to be, when from August to March, you practically live in one ice-cold rink or another.

    For the most part, the youth hockey ride has been great. For the kids, the lessons are many: sportsmanship, teamwork and the importance of putting in what you want to get out among them. For us, the parents, hockey is a thing around which a nice little community is built. We help cart kids around, travel together to tournaments, laugh and drink beers in hotel hallways and celebrate in the collective achievements of our players.

    Like I said, the Youth Hockey ride has been great. Until a bump in the road hit me – hard – yesterday.

    Fortunately, my son’s coach – who, in full disclosure, is also my husband – and the assistant coaches of his team bust their butts to not only teach the kids the game of hockey, but also to show them what it means to be part of a team – not a star – and to play the game fair, hold their heads high, be competitive but have fun. It’s amazing what they have done with these kids over the course of the season.

    Yesterday I learned that not all coaches are like that. Yesterday, my son’s team came as close as I’ve ever seen to being part of one of those stories you read in the local newspaper. You know. The ones that sometimes give Youth Hockey a bad reputation.

    I guess it doesn’t matter what team it was, really. Though I’d like to publicly shame our opposing team’s coaches, who not only didn’t discourage their kids from checking, slashing, charging and blatantly elbowing our players in their heads, but seemed to actually encourage it by their own behavior. Some of these things are penalty-worthy in the NHL, but all body contact like this is strictly prohibited in Mite hockey, as it greatly endangers the safety of young players. Did I mention my son is 8 years old?

    Come to think of it, it really does matter what team it was, because on several separate occasions, members of this same coaching staff were thrown out of games for misconduct, once when our team played them in January, and three times during other games before that.  Again, we’re talking about 8-year-olds playing hockey. As I write this, I am floored that this coaching staff is still on the bench, teaching kids.

    After a prolonged period of dirty play, our players begin to retaliate, defend themselves. Someone shoves. Another punches. My son is thrown in the penalty box. But through it all, our parents continue to cheer the opposing team’s goalie when he makes a spectacular save. After all, they are kids learning the game, and we all marvel at their abilities, whether they’re our kids or not. Whether they play for our team or not.

    The opposing team’s parents, however, scream angrily at our players. Idiots. Punks. I stand up and shout to no one in particular  “Really? You’re going to talk like that to kids?” At the other end of the ice, I find out once the game is over, a dad has challenged some of our dads to a fight out in the parking lot. Really? Who does that? But in retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised given the seemingly acceptable culture of violence and nastiness surrounding this team. That may sound dramatic, but it really fits.

    The referees (a whole other issue) seem oblivious to what’s going on, penalizing our players when trying to defend themselves, telling my husband pompously they have “missed” the calls against the other team. My husband steps out on the ice to tell the referee that he is close to pulling our kids off the ice because he’s worried about their safety.

    The opposing team’s parents and coaches scream at my husband to sit down. “Get off the ice,” they yell in disgust. The whole scene feels surreal.

    But the real kicker comes a few moments later when one of the coaches for the other team yells and hurls a full water bottle toward the players on the ice. Again, who are these people? Keeping pace with the inappropriateness of the game, the referee yells, “What the f*ck are you doing?” but a second later skates to the bench to hand the coach his water bottle, as if he’s dropped it by accident. Then, the ref blows the whistle to resume play.

    Wait. What?

    This guy hurls a water bottle towards players on the ice and is not being thrown out of the game? What is going on here?

    For the last few minutes of play, we sit in the stands remarking to each other how this game couldn’t end soon enough. When the buzzer finally does sound – our team winning 5-4 – my husband instructs his team to forego the traditional handshake and tells them instead to head straight to the locker room. The other parents boo and hiss. Yell that we have no class.

    When they ask why there was no handshake – as this is usually an integral part of the game, players and coaches coming together to congratulate each other on a game well played – my husband explains to his players in the locker room that he was worried there would be some sort of confrontation between the two teams in the line. He was worried that someone would get hurt. And then we really would end up in one of those newspaper stories.

    YouthHockeyHandshakeHow a youth hockey game is supposed to end. 

    After, as we stood around waiting for our players to emerge from the locker room, we were sort of in shock, laughing nervously about what went down. “What the hell was that?” we all ask each other. But we know we’re not the only parents to see a game go down like this. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Overzealous and unchecked (and perhaps a just a wee bit unstable) coaches, and the parents who love them.

    At home, I ask my son his thoughts about the game.

    He said he couldn’t wait for the game to be over, a sentiment some of his teammates also expressed on the bench. “I was sort of scared. Scared that the refs were going to throw daddy out.”

    And as a mother, this makes me mad. Because as the season winds down, this is not the game I want him to remember, a game where some a-hole coach hurls a water bottle onto the ice and the refs are yelling profanities and players are charging with their elbows up, aiming for the helmet, and you’re worrying about defending yourself against unexpected hits instead of playing the game.

    As a coach, you not only have the responsibility of setting a good example for your team, but for all the kids you stand before. Teaching a blatant disregard for the rules not only endangers players’ safety, it also breeds bad hockey players and not-so-nice people. If you can’t set a good example, you shouldn’t set an example at all. Kids learn exactly what their coaches are teaching them.

    So, to the coach of that opposing team, do your kids – and ours – a favor, please. Hang up your whistle.


  5. I Feel a Little Like Chris Farley

    March 11, 2014 by admin

    Right now I am sitting at my desk, which is located in my dining room. The desk is stuffed in the corner of the room, about an arm’s length away from the dining table, which is covered in papers, school projects, magazines, miscellaneous craft items, wet wipes, matchbox cars and God only knows what else. I can’t move my desk chair without bumping into something: grocery bags, bins of more miscellaneous items and boxes of papers for one of my part-time gigs that I have no where else to put.

    This one room is a small microcosm of the rest of my world. Most of the other rooms in my house are, unfortunately, in much the same state. We are 5 (soon-to-be 6) people stuffed into a 1,134 square-foot, single-level (SINGLE LEVEL!) house. And I am about to go insane. Um. Correction. I am already there.

    Remember that old Chris Farley bit, Fat Guy in a Little Coat? That’s exactly how I feel. Like we’re always on the verge of bursting at the seams.

    Just when I think things are kind of, sort of in order, life happens and everything goes to shit. Crap everywhere and no one can get away from anyone else. I literally feel like the old woman who lived in a shoe. I hesitate to have friends over because most of the time that means piling up a bunch of stuff on my bed and closing the door so the rest of the house looks clean. Then, after the visit, it stays that way the rest of the day and I revel in my new, tidy living space. Until it’s time to go to sleep.  Then all the crap just goes back to its place in our disorganized universe.

    People with bigger homes – and most all of our friends have bigger homes (a whole other issue) – say that life in a house with more space is no different. There is just more crap to contend with. I don’t know if I agree. And I definitely won’t let that sway me from moving into a more spacious home someday, hopefully soon. Like ASAP. Yesterday.

    Because in our house, not only do we not have enough places to put things, but a lack of space just makes all the other little annoyances of life 10 times as worse.

    As I’m writing, my kids are pushing toy shopping carts around and around the dining room table and it sounds like a jack-hammer in the middle of NYC. They are dodging all the crap that’s piled everywhere and bumping into me and knocking things over and I want to stand up and scream my head off but I can’t because they are only children doing what they do. So I record this video, and surprisingly, it makes me laugh.

    OurCrazy  (To get the full effect, turn up your volume. All. The. Way.)

    Not to mention that a little while ago, I nearly lost my shit over a glass of spilled milk because, before I could get to the paper towels, it spread to all of those papers, projects and magazines on the dining room table, soaking them in a sticky, stinky mess.

    Family life in a small house means that every weekend, I am stomping around looking for places to put things and making Target runs to buy plastic bins. I yell to no one in particular (because really no one really wants to hear it anymore), “I’m getting organized!”

    It sort of looks like this:

    543939_10151967754250682_567007707_n

    I can spare you the rest of the gory details of our space-challenged domestic existence, but honestly, I don’t know what we’ll do between June 2014, when our 4th child will be born, and Spring 2015, when we will hopefully (because if we don’t, I may just need to throw all our personal possessions away) sell our house, which contains a lot of good memories, but just can’t harness all of our awesomeness. Yes. That is what I’ll call it. Awesomeness.

    Oh, BTW, did I also mention we have only one bathroom?


  6. 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids

    March 7, 2014 by admin

    10Things

    So, thank the child-rearing gods above that Parents magazine has provided us with this “handy” graphic so that us moms and dads – already overwhelmed with guilt from all the other things we’re screwing up –  can also remind ourselves of the terribly damaging things we are saying to our kids.

    Right at this very moment, parents everywhere are running through the kitchen with a pair of scissors (being children of progressive parents themselves, they were never told to be careful) to cut out this golden piece of wisdom and hang it on the refrigerator next to the (very large) graphic:  30,000 Things You Should Never, Ever, Not Even if They Were Starving, Feed Your Kids.

    In an article titled “10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids,” published in the April 2014 issue of Parents, experts explain how uttering the statements in the above graphic may do more harm than good to our kids.  Never mind the a-holes who call their kids “stupid,” or tell them to “shut up,” but us other a-holes saying things like  “Great Job” are setting our kids up for years of angst and, most likely, therapy well into their adult years.

    My initial reaction was, “This crap is total bullish*t.” Then, of course, because I can be a sucker, a wee bit of guilt set in. Admittedly, I’ve said most of these things to my kids, and for just a split second I was wondering if my children were having nightmares about our finances because I have told them we couldn’t afford something in the past.

    Truth be told, I understand SOME of the points made in the article. But in its entirety, it suggests that, as parents, we should shield our kids from a lot of inevitable truths and that parents should be superhuman, able to walk on eggshells around our kids without cracking them. But I for one am a parent in the real world, where kids test patience and push buttons, a world where parents are human and sometimes react instead of act.

    Let’s dissect some of these statements further.

     

    •  Hurry Up

    Parenting experts say we should NEVER say this to our kids, as it creates additional stress for them. (Never mind the additional stress that being late for an important appointment is causing me.) Instead, they suggest, “Let’s hurry,” which “sends the message that the two of you are on the same team.” Seriously. This is crazy talk. We are definitely NOT on the same team when some of us have busted our asses to get ready on time while one kid is playing air guitar in his underwear, THEN organizing his Pokemon cards while he’s supposed to be getting dressed and THEN complaining incessantly that his pants are touching the top of his feet and refusing to wear a shirt.  (* Please note, your pants are SUPPOSED to touch the top of your feet so you don’t look like you’re waiting for a flood). You better believe that in this situation, I am going to say “Hurry Up.”

    Experts also suggest turning the act of getting ready into a game: “Why don’t we race to see who can get her pants on first?” Um. Just no.

    • We can’t afford that

    We are NEVER supposed to discuss the reality that we aren’t millionaires with our children.  This may cause them great fear and anxiety that we are not in control of our finances. Instead, when faced with the “Can I have that?” question, we are supposed to say, “We’re not going to buy that because we’re saving our money for more important things.” By Parents’ crazy logic, isn’t THIS alternative statement invalidating the desires of our children by suggesting that what they want isn’t important? Come on! I am faced with periodic questions about why we don’t have as big of a house as so-and-so. I tell my kids like it is. That we don’t have the funds for a McMansion. Plain and simple. When asked why, I tell them, “There’s ALWAYS going to be someone who has more than you, and ALWAYS someone who’s going to have less,” which I think is an important lesson.

    • No dessert unless you finish your dinner

    Jesus H. Christ. (Excuse my language.)  Here is what some brainiacs suggest in lieu of the above statement. Get ready for it:  “First we eat our meal and then we have dessert.” Wait. What? Isn’t that what “No dessert unless you finish your dinner” means? I know, the subtle difference sets it up in a slightly more positive tone. But get a grip, Parents magazine. When you’ve labored over dinner for the third day in a row and, for the third day in a row, your kids tell you they don’t like it or that the dinner is disgusting (actually, one of my children once told me that dinner tasted like “rotten butts”), and THEN they ask you for dessert without even taking more than one bite? Where do you thing my priorities will lie?

    Truth is, in a perfect world, we’d all say the perfect things to our kids. All. The. Time. We’d be the ultimate picture of calm and never yell and would use every situation to teach our children valuable life lessons. We’d always act and never react. Hell, in a perfect world, our kids would be perfect. In a perfect world, I guess we’d all be robots, devoid of emotion and nerves that can get frayed. But nothing is perfect. Least of all, parenthood. It’s filled with sacrifices and compromises, hard truths and realities.

    Parents, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Check out the original article in Parents magazine. Is it total BS, or does the article illustrate some valid points? Do you say these things to your kids sometimes? Or are you following the golden rules? 

     


  7. Screw you, Kringle the Elf

    December 5, 2013 by admin

    I am sitting here looking at that stupid elf, curled up in one of my youngest child’s toys that I have somehow suspended from the ceiling with Christmas ribbon. Because, you know, these days you can’t actually just put him on a shelf. He has to be doing something spectacular because all hell will break loose if you have the lamest elf in the neighborhood.

    Kringle has his arms delicately wrapped around his shins and he’s wearing that annoying little grin that’s spread between two pleasantly plump little rosy cheeks. He’s looking at me with those bright blue eyes as if he’s the freakin’ savior of Christmas.

    But the truth is, Kringle, you suck.

    You have been here since Sunday, and I just haven’t seen the intended effect on behavior that I was hoping for this year.

    Dec. 1, Day 1:

    You arrive, wrapped lovingly around our Advent Calendar, bearing gifts of Christmas-colored loom bands for the older kids and a little plastic Mickey Mouse recorder for the youngest. Sweet. The kids are so excited, you might have thought that they just won a trip to Disney. You leave them a note telling them you are excited to be back for the Christmas season and reminding them to be good. And if they are, they might wake up to little surprises every day. Nice move. Holding gifts over their heads. How can that not work? Kringle, you and I are besties right about now.

    Dec. 2, Day 2:

    The older kids have misbehaved a bit since yesterday morning. You leave them a little note saying that Santa was a little sad at the report but…wait for it…he’s decided to give them another chance. If they are good all day, there might be a treat waiting for them when they get home from school. Smooth move, ex-lax. You know I can’t really see them at school, right? I am reliant on them to tell the truth. And not that my kids are big liars or anything, but unless there’s a note in their take-home folders letting me know that they’ve tried to burn down the school or started a fist-fight, I am sort of beholden to their version of the truth. Sure enough, when they get home from school, there’s mini stockings filled with chocolates and other treats hanging by the fireplace. I just want you to know that Papa Elf was disapproving of your methods. Me? I thought it might just work.

    Dec. 3, Day 3:

    The children wake up to find you on top of the refrigerator hanging out of our hot chocolate pot holding a half-eaten chocolate lollipop. Get a grip, Kringle! It’s only Dec. 3. With every passing day you have to top your previous hiding place, otherwise, you’ll be labeled a cotton-headed ninnymuggins. I would have thought the hot chocolate pot would occur  closer to Christmas. But hey, you set your standards high. I like that. You’ll just have to stay up all hours of the night – every night – until Christmas, finding the perfect hiding spots. No biggie.

    Anyway, you come bearing gifts of toothbrushes. The kids are glad they got something, but Colin, my middle child, looks at me quizzically and asks, “A toothbrush?” In your defense, the boys got Star Wars light-up lightsaber toothbrushes (though one of them didn’t work – don’t you know to check before you buy?) and my little baby girl squealed with delight at her new Sesame Street toothbrush.

    But the day went downhill from there. There was lots of bickering. Lots of not listening. And well, I just have to say, you don’t hold nearly the amount of sway I thought you did, Kringle, and I am a little disappointed with your overall performance.

    Papa Elf strongly encourages you not to bring anything for the kids the next day.

    Dec. 4, Day 4:

    You arrive, as I’ve previously stated, curled inside a toddler’s toy and suspended from the ceiling by Christmas ribbon. In the kitchen, you have left this note:

    You’ll find me hanging around somewhere,

    Hanging around without a care.

    But a treat you will not find. 

    Until you try and start to mind,

    Your mom and dad and manners too. 

    Right now Santa’s feeling blue. 

    He wants to surprise you with treats and toys, 

    But those are only things for good boys. 

    So please try harder to behave,

    Or those treats and toys I’ll have to save,

    For some other children who are being good. 

    But I want them for you so be good, if you would. 

    – Kringle

    Brilliant! You must have spent ALL night writing this note. Kringle, you rock. This is sure to whip them back into shape! Outwardly, they seemed relatively unfazed by the lack of a toy or treat. But hey, I’m thinking maybe it’s just a few moments of quiet contemplation on the consequences of their actions.

    The morning went pretty well. The boys were able to perform basic duties like brushing their teeth and putting on their shoes. The day passed with little incident, because they were at school. For all you know, Kringle, they could have been raising hell, but you already set yourself up for that farce. There was no note in either of their folders, so I take this as an affirmation of their good behavior.

    The evening, however, was a different story. I won’t get into details here, Kringle. You were there. Or so you say.  I just have to point out that you really lost control of the situation tonight. There was yelling, things being thrown and a naked time out. Yes, a naked time out. It was ugly.

    I’m beginning to distrust those sparkling blue eyes of yours, Kringle. For all the pomp and circumstance of your do-gooder attitude, our arrangement really isn’t working that well so far. You may just have to stay up at the North Pole tonight. It’s not you. It’s me. Actually, it is you. I think we need a break. Please don’t show up tomorrow morning suspended from the ceiling or recovering from date night with Cinderella. I’m sure I’ll give you another chance, but lay low tonight, little dude. Peace out.


  8. Why Are We So Hard on Ourselves?

    November 6, 2013 by admin

    Mothers have been beating themselves up since the beginning of time. We beat ourselves silly, sometimes until we’re black and blue and questioning our abilities to raise productive members of society. So this video should come as no surprise to me. But it does.

    Take a couple of minutes and watch. Go ahead. Click on it now. I’ll wait…

    Did you watch? Good. And did you see yourself in any of these moms? I bet you did. I sure did.

    I imagined being asked to describe myself as a mother.

    My first thoughts were: too little patience, yell more often than I should, don’t spend enough quality time with the kids, wish I was better at (insert a plethora of things here).

    Why?

    Why do I automatically resort to negative criticism of myself. Why do I overlook all the things – good things – that I do? Why do so many of us do that?

    Probably partly because it is much more socially acceptable (not to mention humorous and relatable) to be self-deprecating. I mean, we all have those Facebook friends who post their mom-of-the-year statuses on a daily basis. Look how great I am. See how much I got accomplished. Look at this fruit platter I made based on a Monet painting that I saw on Pinterest. I so often find myself rolling my eyes at these posts and thinking whoopdee-f”in-do.

    But why? What’s so wrong with it? The truth is: absolutely nothing. Who am I to say that it’s unacceptable for anyone to post the cool things they do as moms? It’s judge-y, and it’s negative and it sets all of us moms up for feeling sheepish and shameful about touting all the positive things we do, when we should be shouting our awesomeness to the heavens. Maybe not all the time. But at least sometimes.

    Another reason we are so critical of ourselves, I think, is that we all have this vision of the ideal mother and she’s someone who floats around out there in the mythical aether being her perfect self. We can’t really define her as a person with precise words, but what we can and will do is to constantly compare ourselves to this Goddess and point out – because we are painfully aware of – when we are NOT her, which is all. the. time. Because she doesn’t exist.

    She’s not your neighbor. She’s not your friend. She’s not the mom who posts all the status updates you roll your eyes at, who, incidentally, is doing just what we should all do – sometimes.

    I’m not sure which came first: being critical of others or being critical of ourselves, but it does seem that one begets the other. So, while we all work on being a little less judgmental of our fellow moms, let’s also work on being kinder to and forgiving of ourselves. (Heck, post one of those mom-of-the-year statuses about your awesomeness. I swear, I’ll think twice before rolling my eyes.) We are damn good mothers. And it’s about time we started admitting it.

    Oh and by the way, did you happen to notice in that little video what the kids said about those same moms who were so critical of themselves? They are our true judges, so let them have the last word. My guess is that they have much nicer things to say about us than we do.

    What do you think? Why are we so critical of ourselves? I’d love to read your thoughts!


  9. Holy Crap, Woman, Calm Down!

    September 30, 2013 by admin

    Have you ever had one of those crappy parenting days when you thought to yourself, Jesus, I’ve finally gone and scarred my children for life? 

    No? Well, hooray for you and your perfectness. You might as well just stop reading now before your virgin eyes are burned by my stories of piss poor parenting.

    For those of you who have experienced your own episodes of PPP, you might know where I’m coming from, and you may know exactly how I’m feeling right now.

    Guilty. Like tomorrow-I’ll-pack-them-cookies-and-donuts-for-lunch-and-buy-them-a-puppy guilty.

    (Dear Mom, please refrain from commenting that I am the best mother in the world and allow me these few minutes of self-loathing.)

    I came home from my 10-mile run feeling great and kinda sorta invincible. The boys were  running around our tiny house like a couple of drunk college students, high off an apparently epic game of knee-hockey with Dad. Cute. I mean personally I don’t get how a game of knee hockey can get people so jazzed, but, hey, to each their own. They were having fun and owning it.

    But then my muscles started to tighten. A wave of nausea turned my stomach. And all the good vibes I ran home with began to disappear. My amusement at their antics slowly morphed into annoyance. And that’s when everything started to go downhill, I think.

    Dinnertime came and the nonsense wouldn’t stop. Potty talk – complete with sound effects – at the dinner table. Boisterous laughter. Playing with their food. A general lack of decorum. I just wanted them to eat. their. dinner. I was looking forward to a calm and peaceful evening and an early bedtime, and I could see my vision was being shattered right before my eyes. Poor husband did what he could to fend off my impending bad mood, but when he left for his weekly pick-up hockey game, the slow slide downhill suddenly turned into more of a supersonic ice luge. And there was no way I was climbing my way back to the top of that.

    When SOMEONE threw a ketchup-covered french-fry against the wall, I lost it.

    I raised my voice (okay, I yelled – loudly) and told the offender to clean up his mess. Then I threw his dinner away and sort of nudged him into the bathroom. No. Nudged sounds sort of sweet and playful. It wasn’t a nudge. But it wasn’t a push either. Something sort of in between, I guess. Let’s just say he knew I wasn’t going to be running him a luxurious bubble bath. I turned the shower on, put him in it, and told him I’d be back in a few minutes.

    To calm down, I decided to start to tackle the huge mound of dishes in the sink, because nothing creates inner peace like scrubbing two-day-old hamburger grease off indoor grill plates.

    Ok, I can come back, I thought. I‘ve got this. French fry against the wall – no big deal. 

    So I make my way to the bathroom and open the door to hear my four-year-old whining that he has soap in his eye. And no wonder! He’s pumped about half the colossal-sized bottle of California Baby Shampoo and Wash all over his head and body. Jesus Christ, the CALIFORNIA BABY SHAMPOO! The crap that costs about $20 a bottle! I am out of my mind that he has done this. Why couldn’t he just crush the cheap bar of Irish Spring right there in the plastic soap dish and fling the pieces at the bathroom ceiling like his brother used to? And I *know* it’s an overreaction, but I can’t stop shouting over his whining. Why did you do this? Why? Why? Why? This stuff costs $20!  I am interrogating him.

    I yell out to my oldest child that he needs to to keep his little sister occupied because I’m going to be a while cleaning up slick rick in the shower. He responds, “Okay, no problem, Mom,” because he is trying to be the “good boy” now since his brother is in a sh*tload of trouble. Five minutes later, I emerge from the “Calm” scented bathroom to find my oldest practicing his recorder in the dining room while my toddler daughter is in her bedroom rubbing my Body Glide stick all over her face. Calm, my arse. This stuff is not meant for babies’ faces. It’s meant to be applied to my body parts that AREN’T supposed to rub together when I run, but do. Or, what my best friend refers to as “Chub rub.”

    Oh. You thought Body Glide was something WAY more exciting, didn’t you? Sorry.

    So I start raising my voice again. I start talking to (okay, yelling at) my son about responsibility and doing his part to help out around the house. But it’s all going over his head because all he really wants to do is play another round of Hot Crossed Buns on his recorder. I can tell because while I’m talking, he’s sneaking looks at the shiny Hohner out of the corner of his eye.

    Everyone’s going to bed, I yell. No books. No snuggling. Bed. My voice sounds strangely German.

    So now I’m on a rant about the potty talk and the french fry and the California Baby Shampoo and the Body Glide and Hot Crossed Buns. I’m so worked up that I’m not thinking straight. I’m so worked up that I’m not looking at my kids’ faces as I’m going on and on about crap that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn’t matter – at all.

    Realization starts to set it.

    Holy crap, woman, calm down. This is what you signed up for. Not just the irresistible, sweet-smelling newborns that once looked up at you with great big eyes like saucers, content to be wrapped in a soft blanket on your lap. But also the 2-year-old who is mimicking everything you do, the 4-year-old who is still so innocent but learning right from wrong, and the 8-year-old who looks to you to model calm and rational behavior.

    I’ve f’d up again, I think.

    Not for the first time, I apologize to them for overracting. I’m tired. And human. And I make mistakes, just like you. I hug them and then put my daughter to bed and ask the boys to pick out one book. They bicker for a bit, but then climb up into my bed with “Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You,” by Nancy Tillman and I can’t help but wonder if they are trying to send me some sort of message.

    We all snuggle in bed and I read them the story about a child who trails a string of stars – his mother’s love – in every picture. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, her love will find him. Maybe it’s an exhaustion-induced sentiment, but my eyes begin to well up while I’m reading. We finish the story and then I close the book and just lie there, the boys starting to get sleepy next to me. And I hope, despite my  shortcomings as a parent, despite my irrationality and periodic flareups and displays of anger, that my kids know that’s their absolute truth too. That wherever they go, whatever they do – throw french fries at the wall or use all the California Baby Shampoo –  my love will find them.


  10. Picking Up Poo is My Cross to Bear

    September 9, 2013 by admin

    God, I wish I had a backbone.

    That’s not a heavenly plea. It’s more of a lament.

    For two weeks, I’ve been in turmoil over the fact that a neighbor’s dog has been pooping in my yard. For two weeks – two weeks! – I have gone out to my yard most every day, and, with great theatrics (i.e., looking around with great disgust, muttering not-so-much under my breath), have picked up steaming piles of fresh, fly-covered dog poo. Sorry. I’m not trying to gross you out. I’m just setting the scene. Do you have a visual now? Yes? Good.

    For two weeks, I have been texting my husband at work: “Hey, how’s your day? I just picked up more poop. WTF.”

    For two weeks, I have been that crazy lady, peeping through her kitchen curtains, knowing full well that catching the suspect dog in the act (I am 90 percent sure of the culprit) will only serve to make my spineless self even more angry.

    For two weeks, I’ve walked around my house, my stomach in knots, trying to psych myself up to talk to my neighbor about this in a non-threatening, friendly way. But how do I do this?

    “Hey there, neighbor. Nice weather we’re having. Well, anyhoo, I’ve been picking up steaming piles of dog poo in my yard. Do you think it could be your dog?”

    I mean, how can someone not take offense to that?

    As you can see, this is really bothering me.

    And yet.

    I do nothing to relieve my angst.

    So, what am I teaching my children then about confrontation?

    Avoid it at all costs. That’s what I am teaching them. To be passive aggressive and hold it all in until you are seething so much you fling the dog poo back into your neighbor’s yard, feeling good for a split second but then living in fear that you may have been caught on some type of surveillance camera and now your neighbor hates you. (That scenario is hypothetical, of course.)

    I’d like to believe that I have many strengths and admirable qualities that I am passing along to my children. But being direct in the face of a possible disagreement is not one of them.

    But here’s the bitch of the whole thing. My neighbor is not an unreasonable person. He’s not going to come after me with a snow shovel or toilet paper my house or go on a crusade to blacklist my kids from trick or treat.

    Our families are actually pretty friendly.

    So what he’s probably going to say is: “Oh, sorry. I’ll take care of it.”

    And yet.

    When I go outside, I can’t bring myself to walk the 20 or 30 feet to his door and start a conversation about it.

    So until I can get a backbone, picking up poo is my cross to bear.