Wednesday, May 30, 2007

By The Time I Get This Parenting Thing Right, I Won't Have Any Kids Left

I'm beginning to wonder if the middle of the road is getting any traffic from parents these days. Is everything in extremes, or is it just me?To be fair, I think if I thought hard enough I could come up with a lot of parents who take a moderate and balanced approach to parenting, but they aren't the ones who pop out at me, or show up at playgroups or school events or my home and make me want to write about them on my blog. So to the Barack Obamas of parenting, hats off, but I'm not going there today.The other day another mom and I were giving the "five minute warning" to our kids to stop playing and wrap things up. One of the kids wanted to keep the bug they had found, and my son was in a tizzy because he wanted that bug. I looked at him and told him, "For goodness sake, Jacob, there are thousands of these bugs in our back field. Just let him take the bug." I looked back at my friend to resume talking, when I felt something sharp and stinging against my leg. Jacob had just slapped me in anger.Without even really thinking about it, I grabbed his hand, got down on his level and slapped the top of his hand. Hard. Should I have a moment of silence for those of you who have passed out on the floor to collect yourselves and get the number to CPS? After I had beaten my son's hand with the flat of my own, I held on and looked him in the eye and in my meanest voice told him to never, ever hit anyone, most especially the woman who put him on this earth. While this all played out, my friend gasped. In horror. She was clearly pretty upset that I had done that, and looked away from my little discussion with Jacob, obviously wanting the whole thing to be done.But you see, I just want my kids to grow up to be considerate people. I do not want to send four assholes into the world who think the planet revolves around them and that the rules just don't apply to them, or that mommy and daddy will fix things for them if they do happen to apply. And believe me, I have days where I wonder if I'm going to succeed. I'm scarily inconsistent, but I do have an end-game in mind that stays the same.It got me thinking about all the kids I know who interrupt their parents, who get to run around the house as late as they please on a school night (and the parents "just can't get them down, so what do you do?"), the kids who eat food at your house and spit it out and tell you it's horrible. The kids who rip open gifts at birthday parties and either toss them aside for the next one, or, and I've seen this one a few times, announce they either have that particular gift or don't like it and then toss it.I've noticed this a lot more since leaving the Air Force. There are no rich kids on an Air Base (well, maybe, but their house looks like everybody elses), or over-privileged kids who just aren't appreciating the fact that mommy or daddy maxed out their credit card to get them everything on their list. I've encountered parents who "don't say no" to their kids, or who have "no rules" because childhood should be happy.Why? What is going on? This isn't rhetorical. Am I just hyper-sensitive to this lately? Am I a total bitch who should relax with my own kids? Have any of you noticed things like this? What do you think? Is spanking (or swatting the hand) ever okay anymore? Can you really reason with a preschooler? Should you?It's driving me nuts.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Birthday Party Crazies And Mini Skirts

It is going to be one interesting day. Today my oldest son turns five (whaaa!) and we decided a few days ago that we would have an impromptu BBQ tonight with "just a few friends" to celebrate. Last year's carnivale was a little over the top, so we thought we'd keep it simple this year so the kids don't expect a huge bash every birthday. We wrote no invitations, rented no bouncy houses or face painters, and when my husband I sat down yesterday to calculate who is coming tonight, we counted....44 people. Yikes. Between Jacob inviting his pre-k, our casual mentioning of it to friends, etc., and everyone saying they could make it (which never happens), we've got ourselves a rager on our hands. I'll take pictures and write about it tomorrow, I'm sure there will be something worth posting.On another note, I was talking to my awesome friend, Alice, yesterday. She had sent me a hilarious e-mail detailing her battle with one of her teenage daughters over skirt length. In sum, if you asked Alice's daughter, she would tell you that Alice is the only mother in the Boston area that doesn't allow her daughter to wear crotch-baring mini skirts. All the other girls in her junior high are allowed to wear cutoff skirts so short, the pockets hang below the hem. Alice is probably going to be carted away by Child Protection Services any minute because what she is doing constitutes child endangerment, abuse, and neglect (of the teen girl's soul). We were brainstorming as to how we could deal with things like this in the future, when I recalled how lately, reverse psychology (used sparingly) has been working on my 'tween. I was ready to nag Maddie to get her vocabulary done correctly the other day, as opposed to just done. I just didn't have it in me to engage, so I looked at her and told her to just go outside and play, that it was no big deal if she turned her work in wrong, because who cares about school, right?"Mo-om. Whatever. I'm not done." And she proceeded to finish her vocab and correct it without argument.So Alice, here's what you do. Start acting really excited about all the trashy clothes that are out there right now. Walk around in your own little version of a Britney re-hab ensemble, and cut a pair of her old jeans into the shortest skirt you can manage. Then you hand it to her in the morning and say, "Lucia, wear this one! Look how short it is! You can see everything, isn't that cool?! I hear that labia is the new black."And watch her come downstairs in an ankle-length skirt.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Simon and Jenfunkel

Today I spent the better part of the morning cleaning (broken record, we have a house on the market, blah blah blah). But today was different! And horrible! Because I deep cleaned all the bathrooms and that puts me in such a bad place with every member of this family that is not in diapers.Why, why is it so hard for these people to use a toilet neatly? And if they use it, and things are obviously not neat, why is it okay to leave the bathroom in that state? Can you imagine using a friend's bathroom, and not flushing? Or leaving evidence of your bladder and/or bowels on your friend's toilet seat? Or *shudder* walls?

Because mom cleans it. So that was an annoying feather in my cap. I know this is what kids do, but sometimes it pushes me to the edge. Best way to alleviate homicidal feelings and not run off to my shrimp shack in paradise? Why, a song, of course!

(to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's Feeling Groovy)

Slow down, you pee too fast, you've got to to wait for everything to pass.
Just stay on the seat, 'til you are done,you're lookin' for fun when you're goin' potty.
Goin' potty.
Hello children, are ya goin'? 'Cause Mama has her ways of knowin'.
Like poop in the john you didn't flush, do-it-do doo, goin' potty
Goin' potty.
You've got the deed to do and promises to keeplike wiping your bottom and keeping it neat.
Let the urine stop please before you unbend your knees.
God knows how I love you, when I clean your pottyyyyyyyy.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mom Jeans: Because I'm Not a Woman, I'm a Mom

Oh. My. God.

I just watched the funniest SNL sketch ever. Of course, I haven't watched SNL on an actual Saturday night since 1991, so can I just hear it for the folks at YouTube? Because they so totally rock!

If you would harken back with me to a recent post on low-rise jeans, you'll note my request for a more accomodating denim for us moms. This is NOT what I had in mind, but Oh My God do you know about a dozen women who really look like this? Because I do. Especially from my days as an Air Force Wife, but that's another post.

Enjoy, and pass this one on because it is so true!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged for the "Eight Things" meme by the fabulous Robin. I feel like I'm no longer the new kid in the blogsophere because now I'm getting to know all these great mom bloggers and it is wonderful, this community (gush, gush). Here's how it goes. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.So. Eight things about me (oh, the self-absorption)....1. I look for subliminal advertising in print ads. ALL the time. I remember learning in junior high health class about how the cigarette and alcohol companies used embedded images in, say, the swirling smoke of a Camel, to lure us to their product. So when I see an ad with a glass of whiskey on the rocks? I'm looking for the naked person in the ice cube. Because if I drink whiskey, maybe I'll get me a naked person.2. I enjoy popping zits. Not that I have any.3. My best friends haven't lived within 500 miles of me for almost three years (almost ten years in one case) and we still talk almost every day.4. I think my dead cat is haunting us by making our car smell like cat pee. One day it smells, the next day, no smell. The transient cat pee smell has to be coming from the other side.5. I would choose reading over sleeping on almost any occasion.6. I have so many ideas in my head for different book ideas that I'm afraid I will never get them all down.7. I worry to the point of wondering if I have an anxiety disorder.8. When I read about the "pencil test" in a woman's magazine, I failed miserably. The pencil test determines if you need underwire for your bra. If you can hold a pencil under your boob, you need underwire, right? I held that pencil so easily, it made me wonder what else I could hold. So. I asked Bob for his wallet. A big, thick, number, crammed full of receipts. And I held it in place with no hands. And that was only after I had two children.Here's who I'm tagging (if you've already done this meme, no worries, just ignore).Headless ChickenRonyMatthewA Blonde BloggerMr. Fabulous and his Wife, as a Guest BloggerHer Bad Mother

Site Under Construction!

Site Under Construction!

Hey guys, I am working with an awesome designer and she's helping me get my site it will be under construction today. Stay with me! I'll link everyone up to her when all is said and done, and please....let me know if you like the new look and how things are arranged, etc....In the meantime, here is a Mother's Day card designed for me by my eleven year-old. Notice how, er, mature, she made her and her nine year-old sister look. You may have to click on the picture to see this.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Join me in posting about What Makes You a Mother today. All posts (just email your link here) will be rounded-up and entered to win a prize thanks to Light Iris and Parent Bloggers Network. "I knew I was a mother when..." I don't know that I've ever had an a-ha moment, where I've felt that by something I've done, or experienced, it was the pivotal moment that made me feel quintessentially a mom.I think I'm more defined by the things I don't do that make me a mom. At least, that was the case with my first born, and she is the one who broke the seal, so to speak. I remember after Maddie was born, I felt kind of like when you're first married and you look at your boyfriend and then call him "husband" out loud and you can't do it without snickering, because it just seems so absurd. So grown-up. That was how it was with Maddie. I was so young and excited, yet filled with a silent terror that I would screw it all up. Mom? I hadn't yet mastered adult. I was screwed. I had no map to guide me as a parent, no inner voice to tell me where to go and no experiences to draw upon that would satisfy my daughter's needs as a person. I had no idea how I was going to mother her.The first night she came home, I sat on our blue family room sofa (something that now, twelve years later, makes me cringe for countless aesthetic reasons but oh, Jesus, filled me with such pride at the time) and held her until morning. I sat in the quiet, wondering how I got from dorms, apartments, and the single life to a mortgage, marriage, and holding someone who might hate me or love me, depending on how I did my job. I had never been so frightened.I didn't stop nursing even though it hurt like a mother fucker. It was like needles clamping down on my breast, and I cracked so badly that I later ended up with a pretty scary (yet predictable; experienced women would have been able to avoid it) case of mastitis that landed me in the hospital.I didn't roll over and go back to sleep when she needed me. In fact, in my ignorance, I didn't wake my husband to get her for me. Not once. I believed the road ahead of me as a stay at home mom was going to be easy, that I would be constantly justifying my decision to play at home with our children. I believed it would have been wrong to wake him up, since he had to "work" in the morning and I didn't (this causes me almost physical pain to write that).I stopped buying things for myself. Period. We had overbought in a nice neighborhood, and while I never regret living there, it was a huge financial mistake. I wore my husband's shirts, old leggings, and clothes from my old life. When relatives gave me money, I would run to Nordstrom and buy ridiculously extravagant outfits for my little girl. I have pictures of Maddie and Chloe wearing, please hold the vomit, Baby Christian Dior. I was an idiot. Even now, with everything so different, I buy at Target, and I try to buy things that are slightly too big.I stopped setting boundaries for myself. I became an extension of my daughter; never saying no or yelling, or letting her be unhappy for more than a few moments. By doing that, I was convinced I would be dooming her for a destiny of therapy bills, teen pregnancy, and community college. I stopped working out, going out, and carving time for myself. I thought this was what good mommies did. I have this memory of my neighbor, Debbie, coming over on a Saturday afternoon to see if I wanted to go with her to the movies (dating myself here to say it was The First Wives Club). I swear to Jesus I went in the house and asked my husband if that was okay. He hemmed and hawed, but then I got to go (you know, don't think he was an ass for this. I was the one who relinquished my power).I stopped worrying about myself and instead watched my heart tear out of my body and go walking around in my little girl. I now have four hearts that exist outside of myself, but the first time it's astounding to realize you care about someone else more than you.I've changed so much over the years, and over the course of four kids. But my first experiences with motherhood, good, bad, and stupid are what makes me a mom today. It's always a bit of uncharted territory with your oldest, no matter how many kids you have. But that's why they get extra allowance.Have a fantastic Mother's Day, and now I'm off to the gym for a workout while my boys languish in the nursery, in their cheap t-shirts (hey, mommy needs some Kate Spade).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Real Moms Nurse While Blogging

(Enter the Real Mom Truths contest! The winner will receive this amazing 4G iPod Nano and Chocolate gift set, plus a link to their post on True Mom Confessions on Mother's Day.)Actually, real moms nurse while paying the bills, making phone calls, helping with homework, cooking dinner, watering the garden, and yes, answering the door. Real moms don't hide in public restrooms to nurse their baby, and they call bullshit on the people in this country who try to equate feeding our children with an obscene act.
I'll tell you what I think is obscene. Feeding your baby or toddler soda in a bottle. Especially in front of the television. Or wearing clothes that are so tight they show the outline of your labia, the folds of your love handles, and your backfat, and then choking on your righteous indignation when my nipple makes a brief appearance after feeding my baby (by the way, for the indignant chokers, you can spot a slice of my breast in the above pic, and it is magnificent).
Real moms know what is best for a growing baby's body, and I am a real mom.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Why Grandma is Going to Triple Knot Her Already Knotted Fallopian Tubes

(Enter the Real Mom Truths contest! The winner will receive this amazing 4G iPod Nano and Chocolate gift set, plus a link to their post on True Mom Confessions on Mother's Day.)Actually, real moms nurse while paying the bills, making phone calls, helping with homework, cooking dinner, watering the garden, and yes, answering the door. Real moms don't hide in public restrooms to nurse their baby, and they call bullshit on the people in this country who try to equate feeding our children with an obscene act.
I'll tell you what I think is obscene. Feeding your baby or toddler soda in a bottle. Especially in front of the television. Or wearing clothes that are so tight they show the outline of your labia, the folds of your love handles, and your backfat, and then choking on your righteous indignation when my nipple makes a brief appearance after feeding my baby (by the way, for the indignant chokers, you can spot a slice of my breast in the above pic, and it is magnificent).
Real moms know what is best for a growing baby's body, and I am a real mom.

Monday, May 07, 2007

When Your Mother is a Quilter

Things I never thought would be discussed in my family room:The merits of thread. Oh, there are merits, people. And the thread in my house? Micro-fibers sticking up everywhere. I am not worthy of thread, nor should I continue pretending to be. My mother's thread? Kept in a lacquered case. It is also apparently black market thread, as it has not yet hit the stores. But I know this: it is hand-dyed by blind monks and could only be found at this year's quilting symposium, where the hotshot quilters were able to just buy as much as they wanted.The imminent threat of the Japanese taking over the quilting industry as we know it. This is not idle talk. You think it's just math skills and economical cars? Think again. And remember three words: economy of scale. Have we learned nothing from Deming's Total Quality Management fiasco? Because the Japanese were listening. And by the way, if you're an American quilter and you're reading this? Get off the computer and stop calling yourself a quilter until those stippling stitches are at least 26 per inch. Did you hear me, bitch?I am sew scared.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maddie's Homecoming and Other Notables

Well. It's certainly been an eventful day. Maddie just got back tonight from her five day river trip. She is happy, dirty, sunburned, and seems about a decade older. So do Bob and I.She chattered all the way home about her trip, just so happy and tired and spent. It does sound like they had an amazing time, although my daughter, she's a smart one. She knew exactly what to say to ensure I would never be tempted to go rough it with her class as a parent chaperone."Hey mom. We had to poop in boxes. Only poop, though. We got to pee in the river. The boxes were so we wouldn't attract wild animals to our campsite with our poop smell."Clearly I will be chaperoning when they decide to explore uncharted areas of Manhattan, or the Left Bank.Other weekend news is that my mom is out from Ory-gun to visit the family for a few days. Lucky woman gets to come along for the ride on a week that features dance rehearsals every night for the upcoming recital, gymnastics, doctor appointments, PTA activities and carpool. She has exacted her revenge in advance, as she and my youngest daughter are plotting to find every fabric/quilting store in the area and make me take them. My mom was a fabric store owner, and I spent an inordinate amount of my childhood among bolts of fabric, Simplicity pattern books, and something those in the know call "notions." I still don't know what the fuck those are. The sound of Gingher scissors whisking through fabric? It's like chopper blades for 'Nam vets. I just black out. Biggest way to make me hate you? Have a needlepoint on your wall that says something, anything, is "sew" wonderful. Ah, the puns of the industry.It is going to be a great week, my friends. I can't wait to keep you posted.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Could I Have a Side of Foot With That?

Yesterday I had some "time to myself" which usually means a gynecological appointment or a haircut. As it turns out, my obgyn and I go to the same hair salon, and when she saw me there last time she commented that she didn't know I highlighted my hair.Um. Okay."Beth. You have seen my vagina like, what? A dozen times? You pulled a kid out of there for Christ's sake. And you never noticed the slightest discrepancy in the shades of hair on my body?"Fantastic way to render a beauty salon completely silent. So you needed that background to know that my stylist already thinks I'm slightly daft. Yesterday, she was cutting my hair, and she was a lot quieter than usual. Then she mentioned that her wedding is a week from today."Are you excited?"Pause. "Yes.""Oh. Are you nervous?""Yes. Is that normal?"This is where I maybe messed up.Normal? Of course it's normal, sweetie. In fact, that entire first year can be a real crapfest for a lot of couples getting used to the new dynamic. But don't worry, it gets better. I think on average, women struggle hardest in the first five years. And if you can make it to year seven? You have a great chance of getting to year eleven, and if you can eek it out until then, you're in for life. And usually, by then, especially if you've had kids, the thought of another man seeing your naked body is enough to keep you happily married until you die. Completely normal, honey. Can I get some layers?Why can't I shut up sometimes? Why?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Morning Cup of Humor

I found this link over at Sweetney last week. Oh dear God. Do you have about forty minutes to kill? Because that's how long I took, obsessively reading this guy's e-bay comments.Made my day brighter


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Coping, Part II

Before I leave this morning to go and teach a gaggle of Girl Scouts how to make soap (because I don't think anything spells F-U-N so much as hot bubbling lye, a baby on one's hip and a bunch of third and fourth grade girls jacked up on after school snacks, do you?) I thought I would share a Maddie story. Partly, because if I don't eventually write it down, it will be gone, gone I tell you. And partly because I am beyond pathetic and missing her already. Four hours into her trip. On the river.Last year Maddie started working on her science fair project three months before it was due. This tiny little girl would get up in the winter mornings, in the dark, and hide socks with our scent on them all over our property for the dog to find. Then she would take notes and tell us how Ella was going to be the best search and rescue dog ever. Understandably, the concept of Ella becoming a star search and rescue dog excites my husband beyond measure, but that's a different post.For months she did this, five days a week, and by the night of the science fair exhibit, we had watched her pour her heart and soul into the project. We couldn't have been prouder. Especially in light of the fact that last year Maddie didn't like school so much (again, another post). At the last minute, she added the requisite part to her three-fold board where she had to explain why she chose the project she did."I Chose This Project Because I Really Like Dogs And My Dog Is The Best."I have referred to myself before as a helicopter parent, and I guess in some ways I am, if you count ubiquitous micromanaging, suffocating protection, and excessive involvement as "helicopter-esque." Whatever. But one thing I find both deplorable and puzzling is the phenomenon of doing the kids' school work for them. I even stopped checking Chloe's math homework this year, because I figure if she doesn't get something right, she'll figure it out pretty quickly when the bad grade comes back. I do answer questions. I do help my kids figure answers out for themselves when they ask me for help, and I don't let them leave the kitchen each day until their homework is done. I may even say something like, "Wow. I guess your teacher really likes receiving papers with no name at the top. Huh." And then stand there annoyingly until they take the hint.So Bob and I were understandably puzzled by the science fair exhibits we saw that evening. Take, for example, the little twelve year old girl whose father owns a company that manufactures heart stents. Amazing to see that this pre-teen was so preoccupied with the current materials used in heart stents, that she stayed up nights figuring out which polycarbon-based alloy would make a better heart stent. I couldn't figure out her graphs, but I did see an amazing rendition of the new improved heart stent. And the blue ribbon for her age group.Or the other little girl, ten years old, daughter of a landscaper and carpenter. This little girl was also an insomniac who couldn't rest over the insufficiencies of current pine needle baling methods, and so not only came up with a better method, she masterfully crafted one out of wood. Joseph himself couldn't have done better tongue in groove woodwork with cedar planking. It was a Catholic school, after all. She, too, won for her group.I think other parents out there will understand when I say this made us think our daughter was even that much more of a superstar. No ribbon, no honorable mention. But we felt like we had won the whole damn thing and free ice-cream, too. Maddie didn't even seem fazed, she was happy because she could run around the gym with her friends and eat cake. And who isn't happy when there's cake?I think this is the norm. Parents who complain of sleeplessness, because they were up all night working "with" their kids on projects or homework. Parents who ask me, "What are you and Chloe/Maddie doing for your book report this month?" I don't know. Ask them. They better get it in on time.It's even extended into the universities, with stories of parents calling in and asking for time extensions on work. For their college-aged children.I don't get it. Do I win a prize if I jump on this bandwagon? Will I get to join the other parents who seem irrationally, snarkily proud of their kids' accomplishments, as if it were their own (yeah, well, I guess it is theirs), and get to place themselves in the pecking order of parents based on how their kid does in school? What happens when we're not there for them and they have to come up with that work presentation on their own? Or even get up on time to get to work in the first place?Maddie and her science project taught me a valuable lesson. I am not the sum of my children's accomplishments, I can only do my best to give them the skills they need. I make a lot of mistakes, but I'm pretty sure when the time comes, some day in the future, they will know how to get to the office on time. In their jet-packs, courtesy of the eleven year-old who invented them.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Secret Lives of Children, Part One

Secret Lives Of Children, Part One

Saturday night Bob and I went to a dinner/auction for my daughter's school. Old Hollywood was the theme, and dressing up was strongly encouraged.
I decided to go as Marilyn Monroe, and Bob went as JFK (great conversation piece at a conservative Catholic benefit). I was getting ready, and realized that I had no red lipstick. Or eyeshadow that was anything but a pale brown. How could I go as Marilyn without the shiny apple lips and blue shadowed eyes? In a panic, I threw on some jeans and announced that I was going to race over to the mall and waste a bunch of money on makeup I'd wear once.
In walks Chloe.
"What colors are you looking for, exactly?"
"Sweetie, mama's in a hurry, I'll talk to you when I get back."
"Okay, but if you tell me what colors you need, you won't have to go to the mall."
I know, she's nine. Obviously, she doesn't wear makeup at all, ever, unless she's playing dress up. But then I remembered the time when I ran out of mascara and was in the same quandary. Chloe had quietly gone into her room and came out with two different mascaras, brown and black, both Estee Lauder. She was like the street guy with the trench coat and the fake designer watches inside. You need waterproof or non clumping? There's more where this came from. I'm just saying.
So I looked at Chloe and told her what I needed.
"Go back upstairs, mom. I'll bring you what you need."
If you'd be so kind as to direct your attention to the photo in the upper right corner, that is what she brought me. My child is the black market supplier of all things cosmetic, but I'm telling you, I had three shades of red to choose from.
So we had a great time, Bob kept antagonizing the pius with comments like "JFK was a Catholic!" or "Marilyn was the ultimate patriot" and running off the youth leaders and priests, who were decidedly more comfortable chatting up Lucille Ball and Desi. Besides, we don't think they knew us, since we're never in church.
We left at a decent hour, as I hummed "happy birthday, Mr. President" to my husband, and I vowed to check Chloe's birthday presents a little more carefully at the next party. You never know what slips by.