Hey Lady, How ‘Bout You Bitch Slap Your Kid On Your Own Time?

9 Mar

So, I’ve just dropped my kids off at school, treated myself to a Chai Tea Latte from Coffee Bean and have sat down in the waiting room of my local Jiffy Lube for my regular oil change (by regular I mean yearly). I can’t lie, I feel a slight bit of pride as I sit there, finally taking care of something that is not only well overdue, but screams responsible adult, which shockingly, is something I still grapple with as a…uh…mature, mother of two. I mean, when will I pay my cable bill BEFORE they send me the voicemail informing me my service could experience interruption?

Anyway, I knew I would have an hour to kill and I had a new book downloaded onto my phone and I settled in to a surprisingly comfortable black chair in the Jiffy Lube waiting room. I was alone, the food network was on their television and it was quiet. For me at that moment, it was the equivalent of a beach chair over looking the water on a sweet vacay. Wow. That sounds pathetic but whatever. I gotta take these moments when I can.

So I’m sitting there and the various characters start to trickle in. And then the mom with the toddler. Okay. Here’s the deal. I’m about to sound like a total asshole, but bare with me; I don’t like other peoples kids. There. I said it. There are moments when I don’t even like my own kids, but that’s always fleeting (and I’m joking. Kind of.), but other peoples kids. Stranger’s kids to be exact are usually annoying and always smell a little. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if I don’t like the kids or the parents that seem to think their kids are the cutest things on this planet and as they interract with them, it always seems they’re talking with their kids a little louder than necessary, Like they’re wanting the people arround them to take notice of them and how cute she thinks they are. I think that’s what annoys me.

It reminds me of something my husband said to me back when I was pregnant with our first child. A late night panic hit me and I turned to him in bed beside me and said, “What if our baby is ugly?” and he looks at me, calmly and assures me, “well, we will never know”. And that statement was probably the most truthful right-on sentence he had ever said. Then he reminded me of the pumpkin head baby we saw once at babies-r-us. We were wandering through the aisles, trying to find a crib and saw this lady bent over into her stroller, speaking to her baby is such a warm, kind, loving tone that we both stopped and watched for a minute. She was so in love with her baby at that moment and in my head that baby was clearly magical and I just HAD to take a peek. Like baby Jesus was in there and I would somehow be changed forever. So, my husband and I make our way to look, the mom looks up, she beams at us, steps aside and we peek in, fully prepared to drop our best baby coo, but it wasn’t a baby in there. I mean it had a baby body, but it’s head? Was a pumpkin. A pumpkin head with giant brown eyes that were not babyish at all, they were Damien from the Omen movie and it literally scared the shit out me. Like, I jumped backwards. Thankfully, my husband was able to handle it more tactfully, but me… being 8 months pregnant, I didn’t have the energy to fake it.. I can’t be sure, but I THINK an “Oh good GOD, Run!” escaped my mouth, but the mother didn’t seem to notice. So, case in point. To that mother, her weird, devil eyed, old man in a pumpkin headed baby was beautiful. She will never know that it was truly hideous.

Anyway. So, I’m sitting there in the Jiffy Lube Day Spa and the toddler is having a moment that toddlers do. He wants to climb the chairs, pull the styrofoam coffee cups down, tear down all the magazines from the rack and his mother is following him and saying the expected, “no”. And he’s making grunting sounds while reaching for things and she’s saying, “Use your words.”  But toddler baby doesn’t care what she’s saying. I’m trying to not really pay that much attention, I knew if I looked over and we made any sort of eye contact, she would engage me immediately in conversation about her child that I didn’t want to have. But I could feel her look over to me. She changes tactics and lures him over to a chair across from me and loudly offers him a snack. Loudly.  “Num nums?” (Really?) “You want num nums?” This is ridiculous. I get it. I have kids, I had them as babies, we all come up with stupid words that no one over a year should mumble, but I’m sorry, this toddler needed the word. It’s a fucking cheerio. Take the cheerio little boy. But he doesn’t want to, he wants to throw them on the ground and this irritates his mother. So, she does what any good disciplinarian should do (insert sarcasm font) and hands him another, which ends up on the floor and I look up a little, more or less a subtle way to let her know that I don’t care and give a weak smile as to not engage. Then she looks to him, says “NO!” then slaps his hand. Hard. What the fuck? I ignore it. He throws another num num. She smacks his hand again. This time it’s harder and the sound in itself ruins my day. I sort of glance up and she’s looking at me, like she’s saying, Right? And I can’t hide my disapproval and I’m like, no. Not right lady. Pick on someone your own size.

Look, I don’t hide that I’m anti-spanking, but what happens in your home is none of my business. But to hall out and smack your kid, freely, without hesitation or warning in front of strangers, to me is a form of humiliation and bullying, and quite frankly, makes me beyond uncomfortable and mad. And her looking at me, like she could tell I was a mother and we were kindred spirits somehow and that I would be like, “Yeah fellow Matriarch, smack him! Smack the shit out of that 2 year old!” made me sick inside. And I knew if I said anything, we would find ourselves in a screaming match, white trash style and that wasn’t going to help that little boy. What I wanted to do was bring out street Jessica, go Alabama back woods on her and slap the crap out of her with my acid wash jean jog bra. But I am a lady. (I know, I know… Stop laughing.)

My name was called and my car was ready and I tried not to look at either of them on my way up to the counter, but found myself feeling sorry for the little boy. He was just doing what he’s supposed to do by doing what he’s not supposed to be doing. I’m not going to get all organic, Montessori/Waldorf school on you and be like, “Hey man, let him be.” Kids need hard rules and they need to know when you’re serious. But, please, that kid will start school soon and whatever ego and confidence he has will start to be slowly stripped away by other kids in any elementary school, anywhere. So, for now, Leave him a little bit of dignity and smack him at home. On your own time. Or, I don’t know. How ‘bout not smacking him at all? And using your words.

Kids are Driving Me Nuts And I’m Seriously About To Lose My Shit.

11 Feb

I wish I could blame it on the fact that I’m a full time single mom, but I’m pretty sure this goes for everyone.

I don’t like my kids right now. I don’t like them so much right now, that there was a moment of hate that I felt towards them. Granted it was fleeting and totally internalized, only those that could see the invisible smoke coming out of my ears and hear the old school cartoon red train whistle blowing, would know. But I felt it. Normally I would make self-deprecating jokes about it and say things under my breath to them like, “Where’s mommies drink helmut?” Or, “What’s a little kahlua in a 6 a.m. coffee on a Thursday?” But, I wasn’t feeling jokey. The humor I am usually able to find in these types of situations was no where to be found. A barren ground of funny where the air is so tight and thick, I couldn’t even throw something or slam something shut. I was immobilized.

They had thrown the annoying dart at my last nerve. And I wanted to lose it, but couldn’t.

It’s all the better. I’ve never been able to successfully throw an adult tantrum. The few times I’ve lost it and I mean totally lost it (not raised my voice and slammed the car door lost it), I mean top of the lungs yelling, throwing backpacks into their places, tossing dishes into the sink and roughly returning toys to their appropriate boxes; all the while rambling about all the things that I do for them, how ungrateful they are, loudly reminding them that they have been exhausting ALL day and then ending with a red faced, wild haired, “Why are you HERE?”!!!!

The three times in seven years that I have TOTALLY lost it, has never gone well. I once tossed the remote back into it’s box on the table and it bounced off and shattered into pieces, simultaneously denting the table. Then, one time, while making a point, I slammed the fridge closed so hard, that as soon as it shut, I hear the clunk and crash of the door barriers coming unhinged and all the condiments now spilled and broken. (Could I get a better metaphor for that moment?) Or when I was aggressively putting the furniture back into it’s place after “fort time” was SO over and the cushy sofa square landed on my toe, showing me my anger and reminding me of it for days after.

So, I’ve learned, that the only person that truly is punished by me losing it, is me. The kids grow quiet, yes but not because they are ashamed of their behavior and plan to change it but because they are stunned and probably a little weirded out by this sudden crazy person that has clearly taken over their mother’s body.

So, today when I get to that point, I know better and this only infuriates me more. I had no… release. No out. No end product. No ultimate warning to my kids that seriously, you guys. Shit is going down.  

I don’t hit or spank my kids. I never have and I never will. (Here is where I would say that I don’t judge anyone who does, but that’s untrue. I totally judge people that spank their kids. For one, it’s doesn’t work. When have you ever said to someone, “wow. your kids are so well behaved, what’s your secret?” and they return with a “Oh, we spank them”. I’m guessing never. In fact the parents I know that do spank their kids are the ones with the kids that are usually the most out of control. But that’s a different article and a comment section I’m not willing to endure today.)

So, today. It was safe to say, I was losing my shit and the thing was;  they weren’t doing anything really out of character. I mean, they were acting exactly how two happy, excitable, post sugar intake, long day inside because of the rain siblings should act. But never the less, they were bugging the shit out of me. I was close to losing it after my son held his sister down and farted into her eye, but it wasn’t until the smell hit me, where I had HAD it. “DUDE!” I said as they both rolled into fits of giggles, which prompted more gas to be passed and normally I would roll my eyes, stifle a laugh (or gag reflex) and leave the room, but for some reason, the smell made me angry.

But then they were laughing hysterically. Together. Every second or two looking at my face, to see if my obvious disdain was passing. It’s like they were in cahoots together. They were a team. A team of pure antagonistic annoying’ness, but a team.

And most of the days go by with them bugging each other, and so in the middle of my pure anger towards them, I settled down and like some creepy Lifetime Movie mom, smiled at them instead and let them have their moment of grossing their mom out, together, as partners. The buddy system. And I was just glad that they were getting along so well.

I played it off, “You guuuuyyyyssss…gross!!” all the while, secretly, flipping them off in my mind. And it felt good. Felt even better to not have to sweep anything up after a total mom meltdown.

Ecch. My Kids Are Sick. Like Gaross Sick.

8 Feb

MjAxMi05ZWIyYzlkZmYwYTRjZTVmOkay, so you know you’re up early when you’re having a grilled Salmon caesar at 9:27 in the morning. This might have been lovely, had I been on vacation. In Hawaii. But, I’m not in Hawaii. And by saying, “not in Hawaii”, I mean, I’m home, with two sick children under the age of 8, who have alternated hours of waking up throughout the night to not only let me know how miserable they were, but to simultaneously, literally, cough INTO my mouth while telling me. Who knows what went on when I actually dozed off for an hour after I finally succumbed and let both of them crawl into bed with me. Curled up on each of my sides, nuzzling into me with their hot, snotty, breath. Seriously. I could smell the sick.

Needless to say at 4:42 a.m. I was so over trying to get any rest, I loosened myself from their grips, super stealth like, hoping that they don’t wake up, cause I needed an hour to just be alone and have a cup of coffee and a muffin, alone. Did I mention I needed to be alone? Just for a minute. And now that I think about it, it’s not even so much that I needed to be “alone”, because I’m alone when they go to school, I just mean, I needed some time where I wasn’t being clung to, asked for something, sneezed on, coughed over, kicked, kneed, elbowed, breathed on, clawed at and then mediating between the two who are angry at the other for coughing on each other, over me. I needed a minute.

And now I sit on the couch with them both, watching a movie. We’ve had breakfast, played Uno, Club Penguin, Sorry, painted and made homemade play dough. And it’s not even NOON yet and my body has that tired feeling, like someone slipped me too much nighttime cold medicine; and I would give a TOE if I could just nap. Alone. For like an hour. But, I have 8 more hours until they go back to bed. 8. EIGHT hours. 8.

I was okay with it all until I logged into Facebook and see the posts of all of my “friends” hiking, going to baseball games, snowboarding, having mimosa’s at brunch. Or when I turned on the Winter X games? Dude. I can’t form a sentence and these women are doing flips on a board. I want to do that.  Can I rewind back to when I was 15 and chose a sport to play during High school. I want to be at a blackjack table in vegas with a giant Bloody Mary, stack of chips and super hot dealer flirting with me and I don’t care that he’s super gay cause he likes my shoes and we are going to be besties forever.

But I’m so NOT in Vegas right now. I will try to be still. Mentally I mean, because I can’t actually physically move with the hot, sick breath coming at me from both sides of the couch and I will just try to be grateful that we are able to just… well, just be. Because honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How To Date A Single Mom…

3 Feb

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Dating a single woman can be daunting. Dating a single mom, can be downright terrifying. But, albeit all your other intentions, you’ve met one and you like her. Really like her.

So, let’s assume for the sake of this article that you’ve moved past the novelty of nailing a “milf” (a stupid yet totally relevant word), and have begun to wrap your brain around and perhaps even embraced that this great girl comes with some, er… stuff. (I think “baggage”, no matter the negative connotations it brings, is the term), and you’re okay with the kids, minimal time to herself, baby daddy and most likely an ex that will be in her life forever, part of it all.

Before you proceed, there are some things you need to know,  both to preserve your sanity and ego as well as hers. And also, help you both to build a relationship in which this works. Like, really works.

If you’re questioning my qualifications to be speaking about this. Just so you know, I have been on BOTH sides of this challenging, yet shiny coin. I have been the girlfriend to a man with a baby (and all that goes with THAT). We made it through to the other side, had a couple of children of our own, then decided we were not meant to be together after all and now, 5 years later, I’m a single mother with two kids under the age of 8. Not only that, but I have a circle of single mom friends AND a few really good male friends who are dating, still looking for the one and are finding that a LOT of the best girls they’re meeting out there, have belonged to someone else before and has a kid or two (or three. (I know one with four) Yikes.) to prove it.

Okay, so you may have dated a lot of women, you may have grown up with sisters or pride yourself in being a gentleman that knows his game. But, I warn you; your usual plan of attack may not work here. What other girls have found themselves swooning over, a single mother may find herself weary of. I implore you to drop all previous learned dating ingenuity and approach her authentically and with unadulterated intentions.

Let’s do this.

1. Don’t call her after 10. Granted, she’s probably awake desperately trying to suck out whatever alone time she can salvage from the day, but probably too tired to talk, much less flirt. Unless she’s a drunk, in which case, I would now encourage you to re assess.

However, texting is okay in fact it is encouraged. I know I know…men don’t like to text. But it not only lets her know that she’s on your mind, but let’s her be relaxed and playful in her response. it doesn’t have to be a poem or an emotional vomit. it doesn’t even have to promote a back n’ forth about your day. A simple, “Hope you had a great day! Sleep well!” speaks volumes, keeps you manly yet thoughtful and is just a nice thing to do.

This said, never underestimate the power of a good text. Women are easy prey at night (Don’t yell at me ladies, I don’t mean it like that), but you get the text right and at the right moment, you could find yourself in a surprising, pretty intense round of sexting. Win, win.

I know that texting is not ideal and most men don’t see it as women do, which is a conversational platform. I know that texting has it’s downfalls; misread words, auto text, misinterpreted tone, but it’s important you understand that texting will most likely be a significant part of your relationship with a single mom. Time with her may be scattered and unpredictable, babysitters are expensive, your schedules may leave you unable to see each other for much more than a coffee for weeks at a time. is it ideal? No, but get over it and embrace this new relationship via your fingertips and to avoid any miscommunication, remember “K.I.S.S.” (Keep it Simple Stupid.)

2. Do not complain about how busy or stressed you are. I don’t doubt that you ARE busy and stressed. Life is hard. But, unless you have an unusual circumstance; like a big job changing presentation due, your mother passed away or the world has literally fallen onto your shoulders, your busy is nothing compared to her busy. Chances are, she’s got everything going on that you have going on, yet when you’re day ends, her second (maybe third) job begins. Please understand that this is not just a physically draining activity (drop-offs, pick-ups, sports, music, playdates, snack shopping, doctors appointments, lunch packing, dinner making, homework monitoring, bath time and a bedtime routine) that she does in addition to working full time, bettering herself, keeping friendships, keeping in contact with family, working out, putting gas in the car, laundry, dishes and now maintaining you, but is also a total emotional cluster fuck of worries, concerns, guilt, sensitivity and doubt (to name a few), all the while trying to raise human beings to not be total assholes (hopefully). At the risk of playing the martyr, nothing is more annoying then hearing, “Ecch! I’m SO stressed out, I didn’t get to the gym today for a swim and now I’m late to meet my buddies for a drink after work”. We don’t judge you for it. We get it. Your life is different than hours. We’ve made our choices. But, you sound like a pussy.

However, a good single mother will nurture the shit out of you while you’re stressed.

3. Show interest in her kids. This can be a fine line; showing too much interest is a red flag. So, when you ask about the kids, make it in relation to her. Ask questions about their personality or who has her eyes. If she tells you a story about one of them, maybe something they said or did at school, listen to her and try to see it through her eyes. No one wants to hear stories about other peoples kids. It’s boring and obnoxious and usually most kids are only cute to their parents, but if you care about this girl, you may find yourself caring about the things that are important to her. Maybe she’s trying to save the Dolphins as well and now you look for information on the slaughter in Taiji. It’s kinda like that. Take interest in the things she loves.

Meeting the kids is another level totally. For me, no one was allowed to meet them unless I felt that this person was here to stay, at least for a long while anyway. Allowing someone to not only enter my children’s lives is huge, but mostly it was about allowing someone to see that part of me, which is as vulnerable as I could get. Meeting the kids can be one of those awkward times. She may feel concerned about what to do with all of you. Do you come over for pizza night and board games? Do you take them mini-golfing or to Chuck E. Cheese? How do you stay who you are to your kids WHILE including someone else? I think that guy should make the move here. Show you care about her by saying, “Id love to meet your kids”, or better yet, “Can I take you and the kids to the arcade and pizza?” I would imagine as a guy, you will wait for her to ask you, but there’s an insecurity there that maybe you don’t want to. If you initiate the meet and greet, it gives her confidence and tells her that you really care and also gives her the opportunity to plan something, talk about it or tell you it’s too soon.

4. Change your game. Whatever skill set you have and have used in the first three months of dating a girl I’m sure has worked beautifully in the past. And at first, a single mother will seem vulnerable and privy to your ways. But beware, this will grow old quickly. She has been to your planet and knows your kind. I think it’s fair to say, that a woman with children has some experience with men. I don’t mean in the sack, I mean emotionally. Her time is precious. How much of it she gives to you, is up to her. But, if she finds herself feeling insecure or played or is questioning your intentions, I’m willing to bet, she will walk. Her life is full. She doesn’t have time to evaluate every little thing you say or every text you send and if she does, it will take away from her being present with her kids and she will walk.

On the flip side, for you this may be a breath of fresh air. She may surprise you with how cool she is, how understanding she is knowing how things can come up and plans change. She will be forthright with her intentions, expecting the same from you. Any shadiness or unreliability though puts her in an uncomfortable place and you will lose her. This is not a threat. This is self-preservation and ultimately a mom protecting her cubs.

5. Beware the Scare tactic. A single mother may feel inclined to divulge all of her ugly to you right outta the gate. This is not meant to scare you away, its more or less a way to gauge how easily you scare. How into her you are. It’s also a way of putting all her cards out on the table and hoping to find that you hold no poker face, but can handle it all. Can handle her.

Look, no one wants to date someone whose ex is still in the picture. But he is and there may be a time when you meet him. No need to puff out your chest and mark your territory, I can almost guarantee that no matter how great they seem to get along, it is SO over. But, he’s there in her life. Forever. it will be awkward at first and it does get easier, but be sure that this is something you can handle. Because if you were to ever give he the ultimatum of him or you. You will lose. Not because she chose him, but because she chooses her kids. Any good mother should want a decent dad around for their kids.

It’s important you show your strength here. Show her that you are not going to disappear. Show her you love her not in spite of everything she comes with, but because of everything she comes with. Let her know that one of the things you like about her the most is that she IS a mother, I don’t know, lay it on thick. But be careful, you don’t want her to think you harbor some weird mommy issues.

Dating a single mother comes with some challenges for sure. You have to be an incredibly strong person to make it happen. It may be difficult at times, but I promise you; if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself with a single mom and you love her? The respect and love you will receive in return will be one of devotion, kindness, passion and caring. The love you will receive in return, will be like no other love you have ever known.

And There You Have It. Loving Your Kids In The Midst Of Their (Brutal) Honesty.

1 Feb

The other day my daughter was so kind to point out a pimple. On my lip.

I was in the middle of a very touching moment. She had impressed me with her kindness when speaking about a girl that no one liked in her kindergarten class and I bent down in front of her, so that she could see the sincerity and pride in my eyes. I was telling her how wonderful she is and what a kind heart she has and I’m noticing that she’s stopped beaming at me and has focused her attention to my mouth, her smile fading, her brow slowly furrowing, as she slightly leans in to get a closer look. It’s like she’s looking at a smooshed snail; slightly intrigued, slightly totally grossed out… I realize I’ve lost her attention, so I wrap it up with a “You make me so proud…” and as I lean in to give her a smooch, she stops me in my tracks, a single finger up to ensure no contact is made, “You have a pimple on your lip mom”, she says, disgusted.

Now, anyone who has kids knows that their raw, truthfulness, though innocent and naive, can CUT you like a knife. Nothing takes you out of a snuggly, sweet moment, cuddling with your kids like a “Mommy you have a chubby belly, blub, blub”, as they grab it and jiggle it around. Or when you give them a big, happy hug during after school pick-up and they look right into your eyes and say, “you’re wrinkly”. My hand immediately went to my cheek, where a kiss should have been planted and I say light-heartedly, “Well, mommy is old…” and I quickly, playfully grab her in for the bear hug. She giggles but manages to get out a muffled  “You ARE old mama.”  Then she shrugs, smiles big and skips ahead of me, looking for sticks and dandelions. And I love her so much, my bones ache.

Nobody can prepare you for the love that you feel for your child. No one can explain to you how much you can still love your child even in the midst of their sometimes harsh and truthful criticism. It’s pure observational honesty. They’ve yet to learn a filter for this.

And though, I’m relatively unaffected by her observations, they do hit you in a place that reminds you; that they are the child and you are… not.

Once we are in the car, I pull down the visor mirror to see just how bad it has gotten in the bright afternoon light. It’s not good, so I apply some lip gloss and move on. As my kids settle into their seats and buckle themselves in, my son sees the stuffed piggy he’s had since he was a baby, in the laundry basket, waiting to be washed. He picks it up and hugs it close like he used to and says, “Mom, it smells like you!” (Uh-Oh)  “Oh yeah? What’s that smell like?” I take a breath and brace myself, he says, “home.”

And there you have it.

Choose Your Battles (When You Can’t Choose Your Kids Clothes)

29 Jan

My five year-old little girl does NOT want my help to dress herself anymore. I mean like, none. Any suggestions I tactfully make to her, trying to steer her in any coordinated combo decision are starkly refuted with an “I GOT it mahm!!!”

Fine! Choose your battles. Fucking fine.

Here is what my daughter was wearing today.

Red pants. Let me rephrase. Orangey, red pants that were actually in the Goodwill pile on top of her closet, which I didn’t think she could see, much less reach. Orangey, red pants that were gift from a relative somewhere from her last birthday, which apparently THEY thought, was her 3rd birthday because they were never her size, which was a blessing in disguise, because well, they are orangey red. But she’s found them and forced her body into them, where the zipper is only halfway up and they are tight to a point where they look painful. And they are way too short. Not short enough to pass as Capri pants, but, just short enough for her socks to show well, which are a light mint green. Her socks are the same color, but of different styles. One is an ankle sock, the other a mid-calf sock. Both are worn according to their styles. You feelin’ me?

Her shirt. Is purple. And a terry-cloth pool cover-up from summer. It actually wouldn’t be awful it was paired with super cute skinny jeans and a pair of flats, but that’s not what’s happening here. It’s an eyesore in contrast to the orangey red granny pants and mint green socks and when she raises her arms to the side a little to show off her ensemble to me, I see Stevie Nicks’ Bella Donna and I’m worried that a breeze will pass through our hallway and lift her away as a craving for a “special” cookie passes over her.

Her hair. It has a Halloween themed headband and a messy, knotted side pony cirque de Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical”, with a butterfly clip just sort of stuck into it. In all honesty, it could be glued in there. Could be there from yesterday. I don’t know, but it’s there and it’s rainbow painted.

Her shoes. Silver Mary Jane’s. They have a teeny tiny heel that I got for her to wear with her light pink and silver-sashed totally adorable Christmas dress, but that she never wore because they hurt her toes and “made her not walk”. (But her Hello Kitty rain boots, with a piece of the rubber boot part missing, really made the dress pop).

Her purse. Apparently she carries a purse now. It’s a Lala loopsy clutch. And at almost six, she has realized there are five basic needs of a woman that you cannot leave the house without.

1. Skittles Chapstick (flavor to be determined by mood of the day).

2. Money: fake and real. (She still thinks that five single dollars is more than one $20 and I’m going to let that one slide a bit longer).

3. A super ball (A girls gotta have some balls… I know, I know, sorry.)

4. Gum. (Totally)

5. A tampon (at first I was concerned because a while back she asked me what they were and at a loss, I quickly answered “vagina candy”, so when I see it in her purse, you can understand I was thrown for a minute, but then realized she was just mimicking my purse, sans the small home office and first-aid station I carry.

So, there she is. Standing proudly before me, arms a little out to the side, swaying her hips a bit and I take a breath and smile widely, beaming and like Elf say, “Look at You!!!”

It’s then I notice her make-up. For Christmas she got the 100-color shadow palette from CVS. And though her aim is better than a few months ago and her shadow choices are not horrible, it’s clear that she’s used 78 of the 100 shadows for not just her eyes, but her lips, cheeks and brows and as she stands before me, I get the full view from head to toe and she looks… okay, she looks like a cheap Vegas Dwarf hooker (in DRAG) jonesing for her next hit of meth as she walks home from the bachelor party, where she was hired to do quarter tricks the night before. I’m just sayin’.

And I don’t know what to do. She’s beaming with pride and I love her more at that moment than I have in a while because she’s got it Just. SO. Wrong.

And I have to go out with her like this. Shit.

Choose your battles. I look at her, hug her and then gently remind her that she’s not allowed to wear make-up out of the house until she’s 14 and before the pleading begins, I tell her she can wear some lip light pink lip gloss and promise that as soon as we get home she can go right back to Amsterdam Runaway.

I have to let the outfit go. I always knew I would be the mom with the kid at the grocery store in cowboy boots and a cape, shooting cobwebs from his wrist at strangers, but THIS, this was unexpected.

And wouldn’t last forever.

So, I took a deep breath, grabbed the keys and as we are walking to the car, I hear her brother ask with genuine interest, “Hey. What happened to your face?”

The One Upper Mom…

23 Jan

We’ve all been there. Standing in formation at the park or outside the gates to pick up our children and a mom with a new baby appears. General, sometimes feigned interest ensues with the usual questions: how old, how big, how long, etc. And she will inevitably have a story. That’s great. We all have our story, but something happens with women in groups when they talk about the birth of their children. As we all listen to the summed up birthing experience that everyone begins to share, an unspoken tension arises, a flurry begins of fragmented sentences; C-Sections, tearing, epidural, weight, postpartum, shingles, migraines, bed-ridden, giant baby and then the one-upper…the one woman, who has clearly had it the worst. She was not only bed-ridden for most of her pregnancy, riddled with debilitating migraines while caring for her three older children while her husband was over seas fighting for our country, but the baby was stuck after 17 hours of labor when an emergency C-Section was done to remove her 11 pound super baby and ALL of this was done NATURALLY.

Trumped. We are all quieted after a polite, resounding, “wow”.

We casually show we care, make the appropriate acknowledgment of her tribulation and are quiet to think about our own stories.

Why do we do that? Why as women, do we feel we need to share the difficult part of our births? Even the women that are like, “yeah, I sneezed and there she was! (giggle, snort, what?)” is requiring SOMETHING, right? I consider myself a normally confident woman. I don’t seek out attention or play Martyr too often ( I AM a mother after all), but I do need a normal, healthy dose of affirmation from my peers, I mean, I’m not a total asshole.

But, WHY do we need them to be heard?

Women, as matriarchs, since the beginning of time are not only keepers of the home, but are known as the quiet force behind the strength of the family. Whether the home be a five-bedroom, two story track house or a cave, our jobs were to manage the family and support the provider. And even though, times are very different, there is still an underlining theme (not for all, but for most, don’t yell at me) of women, staying behind to care for the children as the men go out and fight for our survival.

Then there’s giving birth. I understand there is a handful of women that think birth is magical, beautiful experience and I don’t totally disagree, but C’mon! Giving birth is a plight of survival. An internal ball of fire is lit in even the most complacent of women and a fighter emerges and we want everyone to know about it. We want everyone to go, “Wow. That’s amazing!” Because that means, WE are amazing. And even though, we are supposed to know that and there’s all these women going around, saying it, because it’s liberating, like when you’re friend tells you not to go out with someone who doesn’t think you’re amazing, you do anyway, because, no matter how many times, we say it to ourselves, we are just not. so. sure.

And giving birth, even if you cry the whole time, beg for it to stop and would smoke peyote if someone offered it to you, is amazing. You ARE amazing.

And NOW there are levels of amazing. I mean, is the mom that had the 11 pound baby MORE amazing than you and your 7 pound baby or did she eat more dairy or just have a bigger vagina?

I do it too. I’m not exempt from this. My story is fairly harrowing and I WANT to tell it and I WANT it to be heard, but why? Does it make me better? Stronger? More interesting? Or do I just want to tell MY story?

Strength is relative. And instead of worrying about it so much, I just listen to everyone else and try to just show kindness and give to them, what I think we are all seeking in any form and in any way we can find it; To be respected and admired as mothers and as women. Because we all know that as moms, those things can be taken for granted and some days, be lost all together.

So, we need to turn to the other women in our lives and show them this, so that we can receive it as well.

But I still think that the woman that delivered her own baby in the snow is a Goddess.

THAT Couple.. (Yeah. THAT One.)

16 Jan

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I see you. Yes. I do. I see you, perfect couple cruising the Grove (The celebrity frequented upscale mall, also home of E! interviews) mid-day on a Sunday. I see you with your orbitz stroller, ironed clothes, handing your toddler a whole Foods snack as you both chit chat back n’ forth as though you actually care about what the other is saying. Yes. I see you.

I see you, in your Banana Republic casual best, showing your edge by sporting your white, lace less converse, without a scuff or spec of dirt on them. And your husband, with his news cap and light army green cargo shorts, showing that he’s a man of golf and x-box. I see you both as you hover over your toddler at the bookstore, flanking his sides at the kiddies table, eyes intent on a book, sharing one of your many favorite common interests, your prodigal son, as he points his finger at a picture of a cat and says “mow, mow”, you both nod joyously in approval.  Who cares, if that’s not what a fucking cat says. He’s adorable! Am I right?

I see you. I see you as you dab a tissue with your tongue to try and get a spot of something off of your white linen blouse (really? White? With a toddler?) As your male part of the perfect coupling masterfully places the bright orange Alien looking stroller into the trunk of your Lexus SUV. I see you. I see the other stroller in your trunk too, the bugaboo, the creepy Rosemary’s baby one. Good choice going with the pastel Orbitz on family day. Props.

I see you. And I’m glad. You were becoming an Urban Myth. I was growing concerned that you were to truly exist only in my imagination or rather my misperception of perfection.  I know now, that you only exist to make me feel like a total asshole.  To feel frumpy in my Old Navy skinny jeans (which in all honesty, is questionable that I should even be wearing them in the first place) and my 2 year old black converse (con laces). To make me rethink my earlier choice to not accessorize with a loose neck scarf for just a splash of color.  To make me feel disconnected and disenchanted with my own children at the bookstore’s kiddie’s table as they read and I completely ignore them and facebook. I know your game. I see you. I see your dinner parties and event list. I see how you have the sign above your bed that reads, “Always kiss me Goodnight.”

I see you. Barf.

But, here’s the deal, weird, perfect couple. I would be lying if there weren’t a part of me that wanted to be you. You both are locked so perfectly into a stereotype and all that goes with it, like being supremely happy and in love, bills paid, never on your last roll of TP, sans stress.

I mean, do you even exist? Am I thirsty and seeing a mirage? Am I high? Did someone slip me a Mickey at Umame burger?

Did I walk into a Nora Ephron movie? Is Jen Gardner my bestie? My once a year splurge to the Grove with my kids is now just a part of your weekly routine. Is me staring at you ruining your day?

Cause, I’m lost in you and I can’t. Not. Look. Stop. Staring.

Then, Wham. Some kid on a leash slams into me. As I steady myself, grab my kid’s hands and watch the two year old with the teddy bear backpack, it’s “tail” (leash) dragging behind him as he books it down towards the escalator. The look on his face is of pure freedom, the wind in his hair, his laugh, which is joyful and slightly terrified as his mom barrels after him, her screaming his name, rocks me; my kids cover their ears and start to laugh hysterically. I think to myself, with a single tear in my eye,  “run little man. Run.”

I feel reality again. I look back to you perfect couple. Did we just share a moment? But you are gone.  Where did you go?

And everything is back to exactly as it should be.

When To Come Clean About Santa…

16 Jan

Here’s the scene. 7:32 a.m., we have finally made it into the car and are making our way to school. We wake up, every morning with plenty of time to get there before the bell, but as usual, we are inevitably running late and I no longer have my sweet morning voice, I’m now in the Army Sergeant voice, with a “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” All the way to the car as they doddle behind, oblivious to time.

We sit in the mini-van and we pass the Christmas tree farm and it begins.

My 8-year-old son, from the third row, wonders out loud, “Mom…? Does Santa really watch us, like when we are sleeping? Like… watch us, watch us?”

I’m hesitant. I see where this is going. I had been fielding these types of questions from him for a couple of weeks now. Long gone is my naïve son who was satisfied with my ridiculously fairytale like answers that have worked for many others and me for so many blissful years.

“Well,..” I say carefully, “What do you think?”

He pauses and decides, “Well, if he watches us, like ALL the time…like when we’re sleeping, that’s pretty creepy.”  He laughs at this, then silence. I think quickly. He’s not going to be quieted with my past approach, I must modify. “Well, something you don’t know is that I’m the one, watching. I then report back to Santa regularly”. I hate lying.

He eyes me carefully, a mix of intrigue, disbelief and subtle betrayal. He’s about to say something again, but the traffic this morning is on my side and I start to give the 2 minute drop off warning with the various reminders of homework, permission slips, where I’ll meet him today after I get his sister from her kindergarten class and then we are there at the curb for drop off. Phew.

But, I’m stumped. I feel my time is limited.

I will miss the time when all of the stories made sense to him. This stranger, a fat man that we trust immensely while we sleep to not steal our things or take our children and how he fits into our chimney or his ability to get in to our home with a giant magic key that we hang on our front door because we don’t have a chimney, the elves, a flying sled, and how one man can reach the world in one night flown by reindeer. Not to mention the diet of cookies and how he must be immune to diabetes or death simply because well, he’s Santa.

But, now that my son is 8 and the usual tale is starting to seem implausible even to him, the questions are more specific. He is becoming skeptical and it needs to be addressed. He is no longer satisfied with a wistfully spoken “it’s magic” as I wave my arms in the air in random soft loops. He wants answers. I’ve found myself coming up with these awful, totally unbelievable out right lies.

Three weeks ago, he gave me his Christmas list. It consisted of various electronic items. Only one was under $50. The big one? The new Wii U. For those of you that don’t know, the Wii U is AWESOME! It’s also $349. Before tax. I told him after reading his list that it was really expensive and with having the usual holiday expenses and having to purchase gifts for his sister as well, that it might have to wait.

Then, after his heartfelt plea to give his sister away to another family and how that would eliminate the problem and then me explaining to him, though he made a good point, we would NOT be giving his sister away, I promised that I would help him save and we would get the Wii U when we had enough together and he said, “Don’t worry Mom, I’m asking Santa.”

Shit.

How convenient for him that his skepticism disappears the moment he wants something. Thanks 8.

Then, more lies. I begin waveringly, … “Well, you know… Santa will give gifts to families based on their financial means.” He stares at me. I continue, “I mean, he’s not going to bring me a brand new Mercedes, right?” More blank stares. “As I wouldn’t be able to afford the PARTS to, uh… to keep it up regularly. And the Wii U games are like $60, so he may want you to be able to have more games, so…” I take a sip of vodka;  “Maybe he can get you a system where you could have more games…more often”.

What?

I look to him hopefully… Please oh please, oh please…. And he walks away for a moment. I see it on his face, the realization that Santa has limits. His face grimaces, what the f*** Kind of Santa comes to our house? Never before has there been an issue with what Santa brings. But before, it’s been a new army truck, Lego set, scooter, but now that he’s older, he requires systems and games and things that cost more than my monthly heating bill.

I’m sad. I’m sad for me and I’m sad for him. This was the time I most dreaded. For me, as a child, Santa was the shiz. I loved Christmas and all that went with it. And yes, the spirit and being together was all part of it, but that excitement I felt on Christmas Eve was just so good and perfectly painful and thrilling and…MAGICAL. I used to stare out my bedroom window, looking for a red light of Rudolph’s nose, I placed cookies and milk in the perfect spot, with a napkin for him to dab his rosy red lips, I hung my stocking with immense care and at a perfect right degree angle so that it remained decorative as well as sturdy, and I stayed up as long as I possible could.

And then the morning would come and it would be GLORIOUS! Just the IDEA of it all was just too much for me to grasp and I loved it! I loved the whole thing. Loved it. I loved how everyone was in a good mood, how everyone was excited, because of Santa!!!

I was 7 when I found out. (I even tear up as I write this) The neighbor girls who were just a year older told me and I fought them tooth and nail, pulled a good clump of hair out of the littler one and ran home crying, telling my mom what they said and begged my mom to tell me the truth, or rather tell me that THEY were lying. I see now that she was in the same place that I am now. If she continued the story, it’s an out right lie, if she tells me the truth, heartbreak. I mean, I was the kid that thought the Chipmunks were actual Chipmunks. Okay, maybe I wasn’t the smartest kid in the world, but I wanted them to be real.

And she looked at me with that mom face with the mix of sad and love, and I knew and she said, “No darlin’, there’s no Santa. Your daddy and I do it”.

Record screech, still air, my heartbeat thumping loudly, I yelled at her “I hate you” and I cried for hours and hours in my room alone. Devastated.  And Christmas has never been the same since. Even as an adult. Never the same. I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t even about presents or anything like that. But, the magic was gone. Exposed. And I felt disheartened. Jaded. Damaged goods at 7.
Then I had kids and I got to feel it again through them.

I do not want my son to feel that way. Maybe he won’t, he’s already proven to be a better person than I am. His understanding and kindness and maturity astound me daily. Third grade has already started to chip away at some of his innocence but at home I will protect it. Vehemently. So, I won’t risk it. Not this year. But I know it will come.

Maybe next year I won’t answer his questions with lies and let him figure it out on his own but never out right acknowledge it. Maybe when he’s 9 as a right of passage, I’ll “pass the torch” and let him do a little secret Santa stuff with me, to help his sister believe as long as she can.

I don’t know. I wasn’t prepared for this. This wasn’t in “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”

For now, I will look the other way and pretend I don’t know what he’s talking about. Tell him my hearing must be going or he needs to annunciate better. I don’t know.

The good news, is between my family and myself we have come up with the money for the Wii U, but I will not let Santa get the credit for this one, Santa will bring some great things, but this is the year where he can open a gift that he so desperately wants and see the names of the people on the tag who its from and know that we all made it happen for him. That the magic this year did not come from Santa, but from his family and the people that love him so much, we all pitched in to get him what he really wanted, because he’s a really great kid and deserves it. 

So, THIS year I will begin that way. I will begin by teaching him that you CAN have the things that you want, if you look among the people that love you the most. The ones that are not magic, but can create a magical moment. Ah hell, I can wait a few more months for my iPad. As a mom and as cheesy as it sounds, my gift will be the look on his face when he opens it (after he thinks Santa duped him).

Merry Christmas to me! 

 

When Your Friends Kid Is a Total A-Hole.

16 Jan

It’s a lovely morning for a playdate. You sit at the breakfast table cradling a perfect cup of coffee made especially for you by your tea drinking newest bestie. You cherish this moment, not only for the re-introduction of your toosh to a chair, after going hours at a time some days without actually ever sitting. (kneeling, bending, squatting and tebowing doesn’t count), and you cherish this moment with a friend. She’s not just a play date mom, not just a person that you force casual conversation with or share kid milestone stories with, but and honest to goodness friend. This person, you actually like. A lot. As in you would be friends even if your kids didn’t exist. You would be road trip buddies in college. Laugh hysterically going through a drive-thru to get some soft serve. And you cherish this friend deeply because you know how difficult it can be, to not only make this kind of connection as an adult, but to make this kind of connection as an adult with kids and you feel like you’ve been girlfriend’s for years. This friend finds the same things amusing, she makes you funnier and she makes you laugh. Not ONLY that, but you share the usual light-hearted gripes of child rearing, husband training, house cleaning and you both totally agree that after a long day managing the “other kind” of moms at the park, school or play yard, a glass of wine big enough to make Jesus weep at the end of the day is not only well deserved, but necessary.

Yes. That kind of friend.

When out of nowhere, your Nescafe commercial moment is interrupted with a high pitched shrill, followed by silence (breath) and then the full fledged throaty cry. 

You recognize it immediately. You’ve been well versed in the many styles of your child’s cry. You could pick it out amongst thousands while enjoying a one-hundred piece orchestra.

You look at each other with the familiar, “Uh-Oh” look, as your child rounds the corner, holding his hand to the side of his head, trying to, but unsuccessfully covering what can only be described as a large, red, EGG.

You both rush to his aide, you kneel to his side to inspect the damage, when the tear riddle monologue begins. You catch the necessary words.

   “dhrytrtbbvaisojwot kaaosgiugtk  dhaoufe o WITH THE PIANO…ahdioiytoiahc cjaosuhfoa IT. WAS. MY. TURN. Ahiaoiwfhjbcjashiahaish cahf asucabjsa, GRABBED IT FROM ME. Ahfguoawiuhoiahcoaihs afiuae ac AND, I SAID, IT WAS afhiaof fhafuioefh oac acuoefa MY TURN ahuaow adgiaoaiyeoaho wfhoashcohasaoh agcua agfofauw aiuwrogfa 

AND THEN HE. Jfiaohfe… HIT MEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!!!!!!!”You both look to each other. You take your son and go for ice and she disappears to find the perp.

Now, I’m not overly protective of my kids in situations like this, I’m well aware that “kids will be kids”. But, this isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s not even the second. This is now a pattern. A familiar scenario between these two and let’s just say, it ain’t my kid hiding in the bedroom awaiting punishment.This sucks. For this new favorite friend of yours who you know to be so lovely, funny and kind?

Her kid is a total asshole and I don’t get it. I’ve seen her parent, I’ve seen her discipline, I’ve seen her demand appropriate manners. I’ve met her husband who is equally warm, nice and approachable. I’ve seen his son run to him at the door when he gets’ home from work. 

All signs say this kids should be great.

But, he’s not. And your friend knows it too, chalking it up with excuses like, “he came out wrestling”, or “he just get’s so excited.” Or my personal favorite, which if I didn’t know better, would be a jab at my son’s masculinity, “He’s ALL boy.”

My son is “all boy” too (whatever that actually means) but he’s not clocking his friends in the skull with hard plastic toys.

So, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what to do. 

Do we cease play dates? Do I end the friendship or keep it as a “mom’s night out” friendship only? I would normally have a conversation about it with the parent, but she already knows. I know she knows. I can see it on her face when she dutifully re appears 5 minutes later, holding her son’s hand as she walks him over to my son, to say the dutiful, “Sorry.” And, I believe him. He IS sorry. Maybe that’s why we keep coming back. 

The good news is that ten minutes later, the boys are off again, laughing and playing legos and we have reconvened at our table with our now lukewarm mugs and I realize there’s really nothing I CAN do. I cannot control her son and she seems to be doing exactly what she’s “supposed” to be doing.

All I can do is arm my son with the understanding that there are different types of kids out there. Some cry all the time. Some don’t share. Some whine. Some are shy. Some are really sweet and some are mean and some hit. I can tell him that this really doesn’t ever go away. That even as an adult he will meet people that are bullies or are too aggressive, or are just really mean. But, that there are really great people too and we have to learn how to handle ourselves and treat ourselves fairly when we come across the others. We can’t control people, we can only control ourselves and how we respond. 

So, instead of ending a friendship, which by the way, I would do if I thought my son was in real danger or the mom was totally oblivious., I will use this as an opportunity to learn how to handle all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.

(And also teach him how to throw a sweet right hook. Just in case.)

 

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