10 Things to Not Give A Crap About This Christmas






1. The perfect family christmas photo. Listen,  we know what you look like. Your kids are adorable.  Your family is gorgeous. If forced photography stresses you all out, then just forget it. Take a big, fabulous family selfie of everybody in their flannel pajamas lounging on the couch, and call it a day.

2. The organic, non-GMO, free range, vegan, kale enhanced holiday feast. Grandma’s 50 year old stuffing recipe from a box,  a store-bought pumpkin pie, and green beans from a can covered in cream of whatever soup will work just fine. Now relax. 

3. Weight gain. Just go ahead and indulge. Eat the cookies AND the peppermint bark. Drink the egg nog. Nobody ever said in the last months of their life, “Man, I really shouldn’t have had that extra gingerbread man in 1993.”

4. The impeccably thought out, super special present for your spouse. Seriously, you know what they really want, and it’s still FREE. Save some dough and just hit the sheets. Mistletoe optional.

5. A tree that is decorated like Martha Stewart stopped by. If it has lights, all the kids’ “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments on it, and an angel or star on the top, you’re good. Now walk away.

6. The neighbor’s amazeballs 50,000 strands of lights on their house that you can no way compete with. Place some candles in your windows with a sign that says, “We support the house next door. And saving the planet. Noel Ya'll!” 

7. Rude shoppers, rude cashiers, rude mall parking lot drivers. Just smile at them, heed Elsa’s advice, and LET IT GO.   Remind yourself you have no idea what they're dealing with this Christmas, and don’t get angry. Instead, say to yourself, “I hope that person’s day gets better” and then move on. 

8. The Elf on the Shelf. Do it. Don’t do it. Who cares. Go over the top and have your Elf at all night disco parties with Barbie, or just leave that sucker sitting on the coffee table for days.  Don’t mock the overzealous Elf moms,  and don’t knock the lazy ones. Remember, it’s about the kids, not a competition.

9. Your inner perfectionist. Tell that  “Everything has to be joyfully perfect this Christmas” voice to take a coal filled stocking and shove it up her yuletide ass.  Just BE present. Live the holiDAYS. Sit for longer. Listen harder. Watch deeper. Nobody will be arriving at your door on the 25th with a first place Christmas trophy. 


10. Having a glamorous New Year’s Eve Bash to attend.  If you’ve got a houseful of kids, chances are your best NYE party night has already happened, and another one is not on the horizon for awhile. So just  put the kids to bed, crack open the cheap champagne, and binge watch the last three seasons of Friends.  Enjoy the fact all your kids are actually tucked in and home on NYE, because the days of you staying up all night worrying about how crazy they’re possibly getting are right around the corner.

Moms, It's Time to Get Your Joy Back This Christmas


It’s started. 

The lunatic race to the perfect Christmas has begun. 

The stores are swelling with garland, light strands, and good tidings of joyfully packaged perfume sets. Pinterest looks like a red and green glitter bomb exploded on its cover page, and TV commercials are running their cringe worthy “Give your family this $50K luxury car for Christmas!”  ads. Bucket lists like 25 Things to Do to Have a Merry Christmas, 10 Must Take Christmas Photo Ops, 30 Christmas Movies You Need to Watch, 20 Christmas Dinners You Need to Make, and 15 Easy to Make Organic Free Range Christmas Gifts, are spreading across the internet. The 24 hour Christmas music stations are already streaming, Christmas party obligations and dates are filling up datebooks, and mail order catalogs selling everything from toys to actual nuts are spilling out of the mailbox. 

Sigh

I already want a long winter’s nap.

I am your average 40 something mom with a large family and busy household to run, and truthfully, the holidays scare the hell out of me. I felt the pangs of Christmas anxiety for the first time a few days ago, strolling through a store littered with holly berry and pine scented candles, 20 foot blow up reindeers, and shelves overloaded with peppermint bark and giant wheels of red velvet ribbon.  It was then that the mom's to do list maker in my brain cranked up……

All the Christmas bucket list crap

Decorations unpacked and put up

Baking, baking, cooking, baking

Awesome and appropriate gifts for teenagers…..which don’t actually exist

Christmas card family picture….need to buy dress clothes that actually fit all the kids, then find time we're all together and liking each other. And a patient soul to take the picture 

All the family's present shopping..all of it! 

Church plays, school plays, practices, costumes

Wrapping

The damn ELF

Parties, cookie swaps, gift exchanges

Christmas crafting with the kids

Mailing, shipping 

Charity toy drive, food drive

And those were only the thoughts off the top of my head. 

Imagine what’s below Santa’s surface. 


I walked out of that store sweating with more yuletide anxiety than Rudolph with a low nose battery. All I could think is I want the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to hurry up and “Jingle All the Way” to New Years Eve.  Like NOW. And then I realized my holiday to do list was really just a written collection of first world mom problems, and I needed to put my Mrs. Claus panties on and start decking some damn halls. But even that doesn't feel right. Instead, it feels like my first world mom Christmas problems list were borne of first world Christmas ideas; ideas that come from big box retailers, Madison Avenue, social media, and the Jones’. 

Is everything on my list really necessary? Can I do less and still provide a memorable and joy filled holiday for my family?

Well Oh Holy Night! The answer is a Hark Heralding Yes! 

What do my kids and family actually NEED to have a Merry Christmas? 

Well, I think just one thing really. 

Time.

Just lots and lots of just time spent with a happy and sane mom and dad.

So if that means less decking of the halls and more saying no to obligations that only bring stress to me and the rest of the family,  then so be it.  

But will I  feel like less than a great mom for not  beginning to make it  look a lot like Christmas from now until the 25th?? 

Can’t peace on Earth start within the four walls of  our own homes? Yes it can. 

The only obligations I truly have this Christmas are the ones I choose to put on myself, and I need to ensure they remain the ones that also bring joy, peace, and maybe an actual silent night to our family. I refuse to let what was once considered a sacred holiday-but now wreaks of door-busters and debt inducers- bring resentment, impatience, and frustration to my family. 

There is nothing in a store, an online cart, or on the cover of shiny catalog that can take the place of a joyful parent. There is nothing worth pinning, baking, or creating that is worth more than peaceful time spent with my family. There is no Christmas office party, white elephant gift swap, or holiday open house that is more meaningful than an evening spent on the couch surrounded by all the kids, popcorn, and the movie Elf on TV. They will remember that. 

As a child, I once caught my mom crying while listening to Christmas songs.  
I asked her why the songs were making her sad. She told me that Christmas, the time of year where people are supposed to be the happiest, is often the time of year where people are the saddest. It wasn’t until many years later I understood this unfortunate truth-that for many, the cheerful explosion of the holidays are a stark reminder of another season of their suffering. It is a time when grieving spouses, parents, grandparents, and widows, are all trying to gracefully navigate an inherently joy filled time. 

Perhaps it is those people that can teach us how to embrace the holidays; how much more important it is to make moments, not molasses cookies. 


They can remind us there is only one thing on our holiday to do list that is mandatory. One thing that needs to be done above all the others. One precious gift we need to give our family every year. 

The gift of time. 

And that is all I want this Christmas. I want to live the holidays in the present, not because of presents. I want to wrap my patience and my arms around my children, not boxes. I want to hang on their every word, not hang more wreaths. I want to picture my family in their best selves, not their best clothes. I want to swap stories with my family, not baked goods with strangers. I want to create organic memories, not forced traditions. And I want to keep  perspective and keen awareness in my thoughts at all times, reminding me that the only one true thing on the holiday to do list that is a MUST DO is this…..

To be together with the people I love.  

That is the gift I am giving myself, and my family, this year.  

Moms, let’s help each other keep Christmas joyfully simple this year, and remember that ourselves, our sanity, and our time is the best gift we can give our families this Christmas.

Are you in?






Stop Wishing Away the Noise




I love silence. Total quiet. No background white noise, chatter, or random sounds. Just total quiet. God thought it would be the ultimate in ironic noise inducement to put me in a setting saturated with loud commotion- a house full of boys. 

I hate the clamor, and I wish away the noise on a daily basis.

I just need it to be quiet! I need to hear myself think,  process,  marinate the day! 

What must that be like?

I did a house call this week. A few times a semester I teach technology workshops at my local community college for senior citizens, and on occasion I will visit their homes to help set up their desktop computer or get their tablets connected to wifi. I had a house call last Tuesday.

As I walked up to John’s house,  I could see him pacing in the front room. His yard was exquisitely  manicured-no stray footballs, empty juice boxes, or snack wrappers. He opened the door eagerly, and I knew his whole day would be planned and centered around this one hour we would spend together.  John is in his early 80s, a great grand parent, a former higher up in our state’s department of education, and a recent widow. 

While he went to gather his iPad and his list of hand written questions for me,  I looked around the house. Everything was eerily still, and perfectly in its place; chairs pushed in, pillows fluffed, books standing tall and flush on shelves, and framed photographs of graduations and anniversaries  dusted clean and arranged to precision on end tables. Nothing gets knocked down or broken here I thought. I imagined when he brought groceries home and put them away, they would be in the same exact place he left them on the fridge shelf the next day. And the day after that. When he set down the TV remote it would stay there, and be there when he went back for it. The glass patio doors would remain open if he wanted, and would stay that way all day- nobody sliding them open and shut and open again- and they were fingerprint free. Like forever. Indoor plants were scattered around much of the house and on the porch. They were lush and green, their long leaves spilling out over the sides of pastel ceramic pots. You could tell they were taken care of with an abundance of love and care.  I bet his wife was a plant lover I thought.  

He sat next to me on clean, crisp couch cushions, and as I worked updating his phone and iPad, I anticipated and listened for the noise. But there wasn’t any. Where was it? Whenever I am on my phone or computer or iPad, a cacophony of insanity is playing in the background; someone singing "Hey Jessie…hey Jessie," microwave beeping, fridge opening, pantry door closing, teens stomping up the stairs, phones trilling,  washer spinning, dishwasher whooshing.  Here, now, there was just silence, total quiet. If his houseplants could talk, I imagine they would tell me, “It’s always like this. It’s great for hearing yourself think, to process, to marinate your day. But it’s not great for LIVING. Don’t wish away the noise. Noise is life.”  

The peacefulness around me was quietly soothing, but it was also deafening. It didn’t hurt my ears. It hurt my heart.

We finished up, then shared small talk about college football. John is a lifelong University of Florida fan, and I enjoyed every single second of him showing me his Gator sports memorabilia  room, and talking about rivalries and how wonderfully loud it gets in his stadium. How the loud noise just makes you feel alive.

I’m going to be living in a house like John’s in a matter of a few blinks. In between the blaring TV, the constantly crashing furniture, and the raucous play of boys, years will pass in warp speed. The noise of life in this house will float out my front door, in the form of young men leaving and waving goodbye, who will be ready to produce their own noises in their own homes. 

As always happens after I spend time with older folks, I learn something invaluable. 

I’m going to miss the noises of life here in my house. 

The quiet is not all its cracked up to be. 

And don’t, just don’t for one single second, wish the noise away.  

It is those loud rowdy sounds, that although may hurt our ears, they fill our hearts. 

They are love. They are LIFE.



Surviving the Parenting Roller Coaster Ride


I live on a street mostly occupied by retired couples. They spend their days doing retirement type things; golf, tennis, walking, working out, volunteering, reading, gardening. I watch them go about their golden years,   smiling and seemingly enjoying the slow lifestyle and relaxed days. 

And I just want to ask them one question.

 I want to walk up to them, grab them by the shoulders, look into their calm faces and at the top of my lungs ask, 

“HOW DID YOU DO IT?”

Just that one question. 

And then I want them to spill their guts about the insane roller coaster ride of parenting they just spun around a billion times on , and are lucky enough to have finally been told “Take your personal belongings (anything that is left that the kid’s haven’t destroyed), grab your spouse by the hand (if you’re still talking to each other), and disembark. You’re done people!”

How did you do it? 

How did you make it to this point? 

How did the stress and chaos of the parenting roller coaster not actually kill you?

I think about asking this question to them more and more these days, as our family is in what feels like a great transition. I have a high school senior getting ready to leave the nest, but still a hatchling in so many ways. I have another teenager navigating his own adolescence, in the shadow of the first kid who is stealing the college spotlight, yet more mature and still 2+ years away from his own independence. I have a newly minted middle schooler, who I just noticed for the first time this week, is sporting a body now that is sightly changing, his chin structure losing a bit of chubby youth, and squaring out slightly. His self-reliance is both satisfying and guilt enduring. Is that autonomy the result of my neglect? Or is it accidental free range parenting? And then there’s the one we still call “the baby.” He’s eight.  He’s loud. He has grown up  with one desire and one desire only; to do everything the big boys do. God help him. 

Everyone is changing so quickly, the ride is speeding up. 

I want to get off for a little while. Did they ever want get off?


I want to ask the retired couples how they made it through the tough weeks, the ones where words are spewed between kids and parents that are filled with anything but joy and kindness. The weeks where kid logistics planning takes precedence over marital intimacy. Weeks where uniforms are lost, homework is lost, patience is lost, and we are out of toilet paper. Again. Where cars break down, hot water heaters explode, business deals go awry, and a well planned and graciously prepared dinner sits uneaten on the kitchen counter, because exhaustion, attitude, selfishness, and disrespect all converge at the same time and among every member of our family. Just because. 

Just because some weeks are tough like that. 

The retired people I have the pleasure of seeing everyday sometimes actually help me get through the tough weeks.  They made it! They did it!  Maybe I can too! They had newborns and sleepless nights, toddlers and tantrums, they had rough and tumble kids and goofy tweens, they had mind numbing teenagers and partying college co-eds. They helped navigate fledgling graduates into new apartments and new careers. They married off sons and daughters, moved them across the country, or even  across the world. They bravely rode the parenting roller coaster, they probably screamed and cried on it, undoubtedly at the beginning, most assuredly in the middle, and definitely at the end.  

But they got off smiling.

I won’t ever actually get the chance to ask them my one question, and there’s a wonderful and perfectly good  reason why I can’t. Because when we talk, right after they ask me about my family, their face brightens and their grin widens. “Wanna see a recent picture of the grandkids?” they’ll ask. And just like that, all the tough weeks they endured as parents, the years struggling on the parenting coaster, all of it will melt away in memory. Gone. Like they never happened. 

In my heart, I already know the answer to my big one question, so I don’t ever ask it. 

“The ride was great!” they will say. “Man that ride went by so fast. I wish I could ride it again!” they’ll add. “Stay on the ride as long as you can!” “The best part is I get to ride it again, with all these amazing grandchildren. Wanna see a recent picture?”

Turns out I'll make it off this insane ride eventually, and from what I can tell, the next one is a well deserved reward for the first. You see, you can get off when you want (send the grandkids home.

Now that's a ride I can handle.




#getyourmammogram #nomoreexcuses


My Mom Village Pledge


Chili's and Lady Antebellum Partner for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month


Back in 2002, seven Memphis area Chili's restaurants put out crayons and coloring pages featuring chili peppers, and asked diners for a buck to color a chili pepper, with all the proceeds going to their beacon of hope- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Together, those seven locations raised $14,000 that year. Just a few years later in 2006, Chili's became a corporate sponsor of St. Jude, pledging to raise a whooping $50 million dollars over a 10 year period. Not surprisingly, the place that made chips, queso, and Presidente Margaritas famous, hit the $54 million donation mark in just seven years. That's a whole lot of sizzlin' fajitas.

In honor of the partnership, a state-of-the-art-building was named the Chili's Care Center. Completed in November 2007, the center houses the bone marrow transplant inpatient floor, the Department of Radiological Sciences, inpatient activity areas and research laboratories. The center provides St. Jude kids with more sophisticated diagnostic imaging technologies and more precise radiation therapy.



September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Chili's Restaurants, along with country music sensation Lady Antebellum, are working together to celebrate Chilis' 13th year of raising money for St. Jude, as well as awareness of pediatric cancer and encouraging restaurant guests to join the cause.

"The Create-A-Pepper for St. Jude campaign is our favorite time of the year, and I'm honored to be a part of an amazing team of people who are raising funds so St. Jude can focus on what matters most - finding cures and saving children." said Wyman Roberts, CEO and president of Brinker International and president of Chili's Grill & Bar. And Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott agrees, "St. Jude has always been an organization that we are quick to jump in and support. As a band and as parents, we love the work they do for kids fighting really tough stuff like cancer. It's something really close to our hearts and we're excited to be part of what Chili's is doing to help advocate for these kids and their families."


This month, the Create-A-Pepper campaign and Donate Profits Day on September 14, a day in which Chili's donates 100% of net profits to St. Jude, will highlight Chili's fundraising and awareness efforts. In addition, restaurant guests will have the opportunity to learn more about St. Jude and donate right at their table using the Ziosk tabletop technology. Patrons who use Chili's loyalty program,  My Chili's Rewards, can earn bonus point with their donations, and for the first time Chili's restaurants in Canada will be participating. Finally, with Instagram's new donate feature, make a donation right from the Chili's Instagram page.

Today, the Chili's and St. Jude partnership thrives because of their mutual goal of putting an end to childhood cancer. It's because of partnerships like this that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food because all a family should have to worry about is helping their child live.


A New Mother's September 11 Memory


#neverforget

14 years ago on the morning of September 11,  at 8:40 a.m. I was standing in my Florida kitchen making cinnamon rolls. I had a 3 year old and 22 month old underfoot, yanking on my pajamas bottoms for attention, and flinging tupperware out of kitchen cabinets. 


The Today Show was on TV. 


How odd. A small commuter plane has flown into the side of one of the World Trade Center buildings.


I kept rolling out the dough, sprinkling brown sugar and slathering butter on top, then pushed up the sides and pinched the seams. It was one of the first times I ever made cinnamon rolls from scratch, and I was eager to have moms at playgroup that morning indulge in my efforts. It wasn't even in the oven yet and the smell was overwhelmingly sweet and utterly divine. 


It was almost fall. 


A second plane hits the other building. How odd, I thought again.


I pause from slicing the rolled dough, bend down and pick up the baby, and walk towards the TV. I am anxious to turn up the volume and hear the good, simple explanation for these coincidences.


It is not simple. 


It is not good.


It is horror. 


Lumps form in my throat, my heart begins to race. I call my husband at work and beg him to get near a TV and then come right home.


The little ones are giggling, pulling hair and pushing trains, totally oblivious. Completely and innocently oblivious to the world they are now living in. A very different world. A world that at 8:40 a.m. was spinning ordinarily around, was filled with humdrum workdays and carpools,  cups of coffee swallowed on commutes, afternoon grocery stops, and husbands and wives kissing goodbye in doorways and saying to each other,  “See you at dinner.” 


 My first thoughts, after the shock, the terror, the fear, was only this….


What kind of world did I just bring kids into?  


What kind of life will these little boys have? 


What have I done? My God What. Have. I. Done.


I went on to bring two more sons into this world.  By choice. By the choice that you and I and every other mother out there makes every day. We choose faith, hope, and love.


I choose it every day. I choose it even when I don’t want to, even when it feels like the hardest thing to do,  I still choose it. I choose it even when the news feeds, the media, the stories of grief, sadness, despair, tragedy, illness, and death spill into my mind, and images play on repeat over and over again, and I want to quit.


I choose faith, hope, and love. 


When society tells me there are people who hate, who discriminate, who torture, who bruise, who burn, who even kill for their cause, I don’t listen. I choose not to listen, not to believe, not to trust, not to accept the negativity. I can’t afford to. I have a hopeful world to provide for my children,  the same one just 14 years ago I questioned. This world. It’s the only one I’ve got. The only one they’ve got. 


It’s a hard thing to not listen. Brutally hard. Some days, just to not sit in a depressive state of "What is wrong with this world?" takes all the energy I can muster. But I have to choose to go on, for if I didn’t, if none of us did, then those lives lost on 9/11 were meaningless. And they are anything but. 


I am a better person than I was at 8:40 a.m. 14 years ago. Though I still often doubt the innocence of this world, and I still sometimes let my mind drift into dark places devoid of hope, I keep choosing faith, hope, and love. I choose it for my kids. 


I still make cinnamon rolls from scratch every once in a while. And every time I find myself pushing the rolling pin over the dough,  I imagine I am flattening out the despair of 14 years ago to give way to rising hope. I inhale the divine aroma and faithfully wait for the magic of the rise, and I know when it’s time, the smell with fill my kitchen with pure wonderfulness. 


And the smell will remind me that I am alive, and that to keep living, I still need to keep choosing three things. 


Faith.


Hope.


Love.

Kids Headed to College This Fall Were Born in 1997. Process. THAT.

This is the 18th year that Beloit College has released its annual College Mindset List.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this cultural gem, prepare to feel old, like very, very old. The folks at Beloit have cultivated a list of generational characteristics those entering college this fall all share. For example, having been born circa 1997, these college freshman are also the same age as the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (you have permission to gasp), and may think of the turn of last century as the twentieth, not the nineteenth.  The list hopes to give college professors a clear snapshot into the pictures of the lives these 18 year olds grew up in, ultimately helping them to better understand the mindset of the college freshman in their class. 

 I left for college in the fall of 1990, having only ever watched TV on an actual TV, and never having used a cell phone. Johnny Carson was still on every night,  O.J. Simpson was still known only for being a famous running back, and microfiche was the library’s only quasi electronic resource. I carried a word processor the size of a small piece of carry on luggage, a bright yellow Sony Walkman, and a trunk full of Benetton sweaters into my freshman dorm room. This year’s college freshman? Well, here are a few things Beloit College shares about just where they may be coming from;


Since their birth;

1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.

2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible.” 

3. They have never licked a postage stamp.

4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.

5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.

6. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement. 

7. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

8. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

9. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.

10. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.

11. The Airport in Washington, D.C., has always been Reagan National Airport.

12. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.       


13. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.

14. Attempts at human cloning have never been federally funded but do require FDA approval.

15. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.

16. Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.

17. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies. 

18. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.

19. The eyes of Texas have never looked upon The Houston Oilers.

20. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online. 

21. Playhouse Disney was a place where they could play growing up.

22. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.

23. Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.

24. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.

25. First Responders have always been heroes.

26. CNN has always been available en Español.

27. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.

28. Humans have always had the ability to use implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.

29. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks. 

30. Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith have always been Men in Black, not their next-door neighbors.

31. The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.

32. And among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.





"Twas the Night Before School Starts


Twas the night before school starts
And I. Can’t. Even.
Contain my excitement
Because they’re all finally LEAVIN’!

Lunch boxes, backpacks, and shoes by the door
Filling summer days with fun my job is no more

They’re all finally in bed- bathed, brushed, and sleepy
While I’m over here feeling anything but weepy

Mom is so ready to finally get peace
The messes, the meals, they’re about to just cease

We boated, we swam, we drove and took trips
We’ve milk-shaked, and grilled and ate our body weight in chips

Summer was full of fun, pools, and sun
But now I just need it to really  be done

It’s time for some structure, some routine and some math
and for mom to relax in a nice quiet bath

When the alarm strikes tomorrow, the kids they must go
There’s history and science and lessons to know

Of course I will miss all these kids and the happy
I will try not to think about memories and be sappy

Instead I will grin because summer, that’s a wrap
And now I can finally relax and take a NAP.

So off you go kids, and have a great day
We both need this break, until roughly next May!

End of Summer Thoughts




1. Our body clocks are completely screwed. Yesterday we ate lunch at 3:30.

2. All 4 kids need haircuts so badly they look like the Beatles circa 1968.

3. I am done replacing goggles, empty sunscreen bottles, dive toys, and towels.  Last few weeks of summer the theme is “Castaway,” as in, you get water to play with and nothing else. 

4. Nobody has done any summer required reading, but I swear they are killing it at mining stone, iron, coal, gold, and diamond. 

5. The. Food. Is. Gone. All of it. All the time.

6. There is Halloween stuff on sale at the craft store. Excuse me while I go light some more sparklers and make a flag cake. 

7. Kids home all day go through a helluva lot of toilet paper. See #5.

8. I’m so desperate to be by myself, lay back, and relax, I’m considering having a root canal.

9. I have enjoyed the laziness and having no schedule way too much this summer. But……

10. If I don’t get back into some sort of get up and start our day schedule soon I may end up working the night shift at the local convenient store. Hey, there’s my alone time! 

Guess Who is Really "Killing It" at Motherhood? All of Us.



All over the internet, comment threads are exploding. Millennial moms vs. Gen X moms, vs. Gen Y mom vs. your damn grandma. The hullabaloo having been contrived over an article on Elite daily titled "The New Face of Motherhood: Young, Cute Moms Who Are Totally Killing It."   Seems that mothers of all ages certainly have different definitions of what killing it at mothering looks like. Add me to the over 40 crowd, who has long since left trying to prove anything about our mothering, and is more concerned about killing it at places like yoga, book club, or that moms getaway weekend where someone thought it would be a good idea for 12 of us to run 200 miles in two days.  (Now that I want to kill at. Not the perfect two year old’s birthday cake.) That the kids are eating 100% organically? Not at the top of my list anymore. What is? The fact they can totally prepare their own meals,  like all by themselves. That my millennial friends, is killing it,  in lazy, over 40 mothering fashion.  Going on a grand overseas adventure hauling a carseat? That’s a joke, right? 

Anyhow, the article quickly stirred yet another mommy war debate amongst the mom blogosphere and their internet comment threads. Young moms were offended. Old moms were called “lazy hags”  and “jealous” because they didn’t mother that way anymore, a.k.a. the “right” way. Grandma’s just laughed, wondering what or who the hell Coachella is. Young moms trounced on the notion of older moms dissing technology, informing us “that’s just the way it all is these days.” Hold up now, if my old hag memory serves me right, I was inserting floppy disks into my Apple IIC way before your mom and dad even had their first date. And yet, as I sit here and type, all it seems anyone wants to do lately is raise their kids the old fashioned way.  Meaning, like we were raised, old school, circa the 70s and 80s. Now it’s all about buzz words like "slow parenting," and  "say yes parenting," and saying no to the pressures, the gadgets, the stuff, the perfection we all now know (at our slightly advanced ages) that can never be reached. But when the only things  millennial moms have seen since they first announced to the world they were pregnant via Facebook, is the social media version of picture perfect parenting, then that is what I suppose they strive for, and truly think is “killing it” at motherhood.  So who are the moms who are really killing it? All of us. Our moms and our grandmas. Me, in the 40s crowd, you in the 50s crowd, those in the 30s, and yes, even the millennials. In each of our own ways, we are all killing it at motherhood.  

My grandmother was killing it at motherhood, when she gave birth to twins in 1946, assisted by two nuns, without an anesthesiologist within 10 miles.  She spent her days canning food, sewing, home keeping, hand washing cloth feminine protection products (don’t picture it, trust me) or watching her four kids play in the basement, all without TV, or anything electronic. She was the mom of the now infamous population class called baby boomers, mothering the best way she could, with no audience of followers.  Her followers were her next door neighbor moms and friends who naturally became her support village. A support village we actually know and can meet in person....like in real life? That is killing it my friends.

My mom was killing it at motherhood. Having not gone to college herself, she insisted my sisters and I all went to a university, and constantly remind us we could be anything we wanted to be.  Having grown through the  birth of feminism, she raised us to have minds of our own, to rebel against following the crowd, to strive to reach what she never had the chance to. And she did it without parenting books, tween guidelines, educational pedagogy theories, 24 hour structured school, dance, sports schedules,  school grade accountability apps, and luckily, without the constant stream of parental comparison seeping into her day via social media. Motherhood? She killed it. 

My generation were the little girls of the late 70s and 80s, who were actually the first to have electronic mail in college,  before it was even called email.  We were the first moms to embrace the thought of a birth plan, to proudly attempt to exclusively breastfeed, to study and practice attachment parenting. We bought our "wear your baby" slings at LaLeche meetings, not off the shelf from Nordstrom’s. When we realized we wanted to make our own baby food we didn’t logon to the internet and equip our kitchens with $300 worth of Lilliputian blenders, and freezable frog shaped silicon baby food trays. We called our grandmas and asked them how to make baby food. Turns out you just smash up what you are eating and viola! Dinner is served. Actually it was our grandmothers, mothers, and neighbors we reached out to with all our baby questions, not strangers on the internet.  We co-slept, bringing about an entire market of convertible type cribs that attached to our beds. We joined food co-ops before Whole Foods was even a blip on the map.  We demanded more educational TV programming for the preschool set, and entire networks of them appeared. We threw elaborate birthday parties with homemade cakes shaped like space rockets, and managed to do book reports and science projects using dial up.  And the only evidence of all those early years, of all the killing it we did as mothers, is on 4x6 prints in  photo books we used to scrapbook in,  not across the entire landscape of the internet in no less than five different cloud accounts. Yep. We killed it too. 


Now the young cool millennial moms are killing it. Of course they are. They are killing it because of the killer moms that came before them. Maybe they are killing it in more stylish clothes, with more hippie bohemian kids, with more technology, more virtual friends, with more sass, gumption, and an all out in your face (and on Instagram!) “I am parenting like a boss!”  mentality. You know what I say to them? Awesome! Hell yea you are killing it!  And I’m glad you are.  We love that you are killing it. Kinda makes us proud. Each generation wants the next to do better, be better,  mother better, as it will make all of our futures better. But can you do me one favor? Give a little credit to the moms who came before you. If it wasn’t for us, well, you know how that goes. 

Guess Who is Really "Killing It" at Motherhood? All of Us.



All over the internet, comment threads are exploding. Millennial moms vs. Gen X moms, vs. Gen Y mom vs. your damn grandma. The hullabaloo having been contrived over an article on Elite daily titled "The New Face of Motherhood: Young, Cute Moms Who Are Totally Killing It."   Seems that mothers of all ages certainly have different definitions of what killing it at mothering looks like. Add me to the over 40 crowd, who has long since left tying to prove anything about our mothering, and is more concerned about killing it at places like yoga, book club, or that moms getaway weekend where someone thought it would be a good idea for 12 of us to run 200 miles in two days.  (Now that I want to kill at. Not the perfect two year old’s birthday cake.) That the kids are eating 100% organically? Not at the top of my list anymore. What is? The fact they can totally prepare their own meals,  like all by themselves. That my millennial friends, is killing it,  in lazy, over 40 mothering fashion.  Going on a grand overseas adventure hauling a carseat? That’s a joke, right? 

Anyhow, the article quickly stirred yet another mommy war debate amongst the mom blogosphere and their internet comment threads. Young moms were offended. Old moms were called “lazy hags”  and “jealous” because they didn’t mother that way anymore, a.k.a. the “right” way. Grandma’s just laughed, wondering what or who the hell Coachella is. Young moms trounced on the notion of older moms dissing technology, informing us “that’s just the way it all is these days.” Hold up now, if my old hag memory serves me right, I was inserting floppy disks into my Apple IIC way before your mom and dad even had their first date. And yet, as I sit here and type, all it seems anyone wants to do lately is raise their kids the old fashioned way.  Meaning, like we were raised, old school, circa the 70s and 80s. Now it’s all about buzz words like "slow parenting," and  "say yes parenting," and saying no to the pressures, the gadgets, the stuff, the perfection we all now know (at our slightly advanced ages) that can never be reached. But when the only things  millennial moms have seen since they first announced to the world they were pregnant via Facebook, is the social media version of picture perfect parenting, then that is what I suppose they strive for, and truly think is “killing it” at motherhood.  So who are the moms who are really killing it? All of us. Our moms and our grandmas. Me, in the 40s crowd, you in the 50s crowd, those in the 30s, and yes, even the millennials. In each of our own ways, we are all killing it at motherhood.  

My grandmother was killing it at motherhood, when she gave birth to twins in 1946, assisted by two nuns, without an anesthesiologist within 10 miles.  She spent her days canning food, sewing, home keeping, hand washing cloth feminine protection products (don’t picture it, trust me) or watching her four kids play in the basement, all without TV, or anything electronic. She was the mom of the now infamous population class called baby boomers, mothering the best way she could, with no audience of followers.  Her followers were her next door neighbor moms and friends who naturally became her support village. A support village we actually know and can meet in person....like in real life? That is killing it my friends.

My mom was killing it at motherhood. Having not gone to college herself, she insisted my sisters and I all went to a university, and constantly remind us we could be anything we wanted to be.  Having grown through the  birth of feminism, she raised us to have minds of our own, to rebel against following the crowd, to strive to reach what she never had the chance to. And she did it without parenting books, tween guidelines, educational pedagogy theories, 24 hour structured school, dance, sports schedules,  school grade accountability apps, and luckily, without the constant stream of parental comparison seeping into her day via social media. Motherhood? She killed it. 

My generation were the little girls of the late 70s and 80s, who were actually the first to have electronic mail in college,  before it was even called email.  We were the first moms to embrace the thought of a birth plan, to proudly attempt to exclusively breastfeed, to study and practice attachment parenting. We bought our "wear your baby" slings at LaLeche meetings, not off the shelf from Nordstrom’s. When we realized we wanted to make our own baby food we didn’t logon to the internet and equip our kitchens with $300 worth of Lilliputian blenders, and freezable frog shaped silicon baby food trays. We called our grandmas and asked them how to make baby food. Turns out you just smash up what you are eating and viola! Dinner is served. Actually it was our grandmothers, mothers, and neighbors we reached out to with all our baby questions, not strangers on the internet.  We co-slept, bringing about an entire market of convertible type cribs that attached to our beds. We joined food co-ops before Whole Foods was even a blip on the map.  We demanded more educational TV programming for the preschool set, and entire networks of them appeared. We threw elaborate birthday parties with homemade cakes shaped like space rockets, and managed to do book reports and science projects using dial up.  And the only evidence of all those early years, of all the killing it we did as mothers, is on 4x6 prints in  photo books we used to scrapbook in. Not across the entire landscape of the internet in no less than five different cloud accounts. Yep. We killed it too. 


Now the young cool millennial moms are killing it. Of course they are. They are killing it because of the killer moms that came before them. Maybe they are killing it in more stylish clothes, with more hippie bohemian kids, with more technology, more virtual friends, with more sass, gumption, and an all out in your face (and on Instagram!) “I am parenting like a boss!”  mentality. You know what I say to them? Awesome! Hell yea you are killing it!  And I’m glad you are.  We love that you are killing it. Kinda makes us proud. Each generation wants the next to do better, be better,  mother better, as it will make all of our futures better. But can you do me one favor? Give a little credit to the moms who came before you. If it wasn’t for us, well, you know how that goes. 

Thoughts on the Last Week of School

I am done. I know I have been saying this since May 1, but really, this time I mean it. Done. WELL. DONE. Think hamburger patty left on the grill for three days DONE. I am seriously considering just telling the kids tomorrow morning they don't have to go anymore, and Friday is now today. Mazel Tov!

To all the lovely moms I see at PTA meetings, games, carpool lines and school events, listen, you are all great and all, but I don't want to see and of you until mid-August. Nothing personal. It's not you, it's me. I'm just not that into you anymore. As a matter of fact, I am not into ANYTHING anymore. I have no more cheery small talk in me, and I'm truly afraid if I open my mouth all that will come out is F words. Big ones. Loud ones. At the beginning, middle and end of every sentence. So ,here is my hand waving at you from the safety of my car. See ya in a few....

Teachers, a.k.a. saints in my book, thank you. Thank you for taking care of my kids for nine months. I know you don't want to see me anymore either, and I won't try and talk to you on the last day because I know you are one noun away from dropping several "F bombs" yourself. Hang in there. I bought you beer. It will be in a big gift bag with an apple on it. 

Yesterday, my kid's school sent home next year's school supply list. Uhhh... I'm gonna need another copy of that. When I saw it I had a... well, let's just call it 'an episode,' and it may or may not have ended up accidentally on top of a burning stress relief aromatherapy candle. Glue stick shopping in June? HELL. NO. 

I'm fully aware that six weeks from now, I will be begging for a routine and just a few hours alone, but right now, I just want to enjoy several days with my kids with no "to-do list What. So. Ever. 

Moms, we did it. We made all those spelling word lists, math fact sheets, reading logs, science projects, geography bees, holiday plays and class parties our BITCH. Cheers to us. Now pass the suntan lotion...

The Original Top 10 Ways to Give Your Kids a 1970s Summer






           

It is officially the end of May. The Pinterest pages, Facebook feeds, and family magazine features are loaded up with all the activities you should do with your kids summer. AS. IF.   As if we need more activities. MORE I say!  As if I am sitting here, ok, really lying here in my end of school year coma,  thinking, "OMG! I CANNOT wait to tackle that homemade moon sand recipe  we will dye ourselves with the skin of organic vegetables, then shape our homemade sand into a perfect replica of the Millenium Falcon! ” Or, “Why yes, I am going to schlep 4 kids to that new science museum two hours away, where we will eagerly wander through the exhibits,  each completing the 10 page scavenger hunt I created last night. Then we will come home and ‘discuss’ at great length the scientific theories we learned, because, brace yourself,  what if we don’t keep our minds active ALL summer? GASP!  Wait, hold it! We must, just MUST go to the dollar store and buy 125 pool noodles to construct a backyard water park! We will invite the neighborhood kids over, serve vegan popsicles,  watermelon chunks cut out like dolphins, and a vegetable crudité platter shaped like a palm tree.  And what summer pool party would be complete without nitrate, skin, meat, additive, and taste free hot dogs on gluten free buns covered in artisanal ketchup?

I am done. Sort of like I how I was done with the school year, but I am already done with summer. And by done, I mean I am done with all the forced smile inducing, uber planned and supervised, over the top  summer life experiences  I am supposed to provide for my kids. You know what I want my kids to experience this summer? The same type of summer I would have experienced in the late 1970’s.  The exact same one.  I survived it, and they will too. As a matter of fact, it must have been pretty memorable because 30 years later I can tell you exactly what it entailed. It entailed FUN. Fun we made all on our own. What. A. Concept.

My top 10 ways to give your 2014 kids a 1970’s summer.

1 .       Let them watch TV. Plenty of it. But only the TV Land channel. I want my kids to watch The Love Boat, The Carol Burnett Show, The Jefferson’s, Charlie’s Angels, My Three Sons, The Six Million Dollar Man,  Gilligan's Island, $100,000 Pyramid, and my personal favorite, Hart to Hart.  Seriously,  what little girl in the late 70’s  didn't want to be an amateur detective married to the CEO of Hart Industries, driving around in a yellow Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster, while sporting a matching lilac pant suit and  perfectly coiffed butterfly winged wavy brown hair?  Because I sure as hell did.

2.       Eat whatever you  want, and/or whatever can find.  There will be no more pantries full of organic vegetable chips, and non-GMO graham crackers. No more refrigerators full of anti-pesticide fruit, free range eggs, and cold pressed juice.  This will be the summer of Frito-Lay and Red Dye #5. I want to see my kid’s reaction when I tear open a tiny envelope of cherry Kool-Aid, sprinkle it into a BPA laden plastic pitcher, dump 4 cups of regular, granulated, white, and maybe even generic sugar (not raw, stevia, or agave,) then add water from the tap, and  viola! You are hydrated! I will be over here drinking a Tab. Lunch will be fried bologna and a blue can of Planter’s Cheese Balls, and for dinner we will pile in the car and go pick up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a styrofoam quart of mashed potatoes,  and O. M. Geee, dessert will be pineapple upside cake! Made from canned pineapples in…….wait for it……syrup!

3.       Make them play outside. Like all day. All. Damn. Day. Hot? Drink from the hose. Run through the sprinklers. Swim in the pool until your hair feels like straw, turns green, and the bottom of your feet are calloused from the bottom of the pool. Search for ladybugs, play hide ‘n seek between the houses, run down the street gutters after a rain storm. Read under a tree. I hear this lady named Judy Blume writes good stuff.

4.       Send them to the movies for the entire day. I will drop you off at around 11 and pick you up for dinner. Its’ real simple. You sneak from one theater to the next. Nobody cares.

5.       Spend three nights in a row at your best friend’s house. No, you don’t have to call to check in every hour. And yes,  it’s totally ok their parents will be at work and nobody will be home all day. It will give you plenty of time for #1, 2, and 3.

6.       Make stuff, like from stuff you find. No trips to Hobby Lobby for pre-cut, pre-stuck, pre-fabricated crafts.   Find crap in the garage and assemble it into something you can play with. No, you can’t Google how to do it. Ropes are fun.

7.       Have them put on a talent show. A  real, genuine, sing and dance and entertain the hell out of me talent show.  I promise I won’t upload it to Youtube or share it on Facebook. I pinky swear. No, there is no theme, no requirements, no directions, no anything. No, there is no right way to do it. You have an imagination. Please use it.

8.       Play this until you want to throw it against the wall, or smash into 1,000 pieces.  It’s the original train your brain app.



9.       Build a fort in the backyard. No, I am not gonna help. Yes, you can use the $125 Pottery Barn Kids duvet cover from your bed. I don’t care anymore. Making a memory trumps 400 thread count cotton.

10.   Finally, learn to find the amazing in the ordinary. Trust me. You will need this skill in your 40’s. I pinky swear.

What Do Moms Really Want for Mother's Day? Just This.

This week dads and kids around the country will hit the mall, department stores, and jewelry shops looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift. They will buy pancake mix, fresh berries, and specialty flavored coffee in preparation for making mom breakfast in bed. They may wash her car,  take her out to dinner, or surprise her with tickets to that concert she has always wanted to see. Lovely cards will be given from spouses, little kids will work hard at school this week tracing their hand over a Mothers Day’s poem, and teenagers may actually give mom a genuine hug and grunt out a “Happy Mother’s Day Ma.” And yet, none of these things, these gifts and gestures, cards and meals, are what moms really want this Sunday. 

I know it’s not what I want. No, I don’t want to be left all alone on Mother’s Day with a box of chocolates, the remote, and a quiet, peaceful house. I  also don’t want to be waited on hand and foot all day, pampered and fussed over, like someone who has just come back from a traumatic experience and needs a refreshing makeover.

There is only one thing I want for Mother’s Day. 

Just one. 

I want to be told I’m doing this right.  This whole motherhood thing, just be told I’m doing it right.

I need to hear it. And I don’t want it told to me in the form of a bouquet of roses, a scented candle, and a burnt omelette brought to me in bed on Sunday morning.

Remember your very first six weeks of mothering? When you endured around the clock care taking with zero feedback, when the only sounds you heard were wails and the only sight you saw was a red scrunched up face? When did you first feel like you were doing it right? For me, it was the first time my baby looked up and me and smiled. That one wide grin told me everything I needed to hear, that I was doing it right. In the years since, I have allowed myself to forget what it feels like to be smiled at, and I have simply forgotten to be aware that I am doing it right. 

So please, please tell me I am doing it right, and not just on Mother’s Day.

Tell it to me on days I need to hear it the most. On days when I am at my worst. 




When long days leave me weary and emotionally bruised from the unattainable  expectations of raising kids that society throws at me, I need to be told “You’re doing it right.”

When my patience tank is grossly depleted, and my children’s wants and needs have left me in a state of panic and suffocating anxiety, I need to be told, “You’re doing it right.” 

When I doubt with every bone in my body that the answers I give my inquisitive teenagers about relationships, marriage, love, and life are actually intelligible and inspiring, I need to be told, “You’re doing it right.”

When I have flipped what feels like my 85,000th pancake, packed my 10,000th lunch, and served yet another plate of spaghetti to children who are not old enough yet to grasp what a hot, homemade meal truly means, I need to be told, “You’re doing it right.” 

When I lie down exhausted in the evening,  when anger has fueled my speech and I go to bed full of regret and shame for not doing better, knowing better, and being better, I need to be told, “You’re doing it right.”

When I look at piles of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, and dirty faces, and only see failure instead of full bellies and active kids, I need to be told, “You’re doing it right.”

When I am left with nothing more to give, when I feel I cannot do another single second of parenting, of molding, shaping, and raising boys into men, I just need to be told, “You’re doing it right.”


I can only assume I speak for thousands of mother when I say this; telling me I am doing it right one day out of 365, a day where a calendar and TV commercials are reminding you to tell me I’m doing it right in the form of charm bracelets and pedicures,  is not what I need. 

Please, tell me more often. Tell me in words.

This Sunday, if you’re lucky enough to still have your own mother in your life,  call her up and just say one thing, “You did it right.” 

This Sunday, call up that single or divorced mom you know, the one who I bet more often than not feels “less than” because she is going at it alone, and tell her one thing, “You’re doing it right.” 

Next week when you pass that young mom in the grocery store, the one with the toddler and infant in tow and the dark circles and frumpy appearance clueing you in to the fact that she is utterly exhausted, pat her on the shoulder as you pass and say, “You’re doing it right.”

When you are commiserating with another mom of teens, about how you never thought age 17 would be this difficult, how dealing with the modern adolescent has sucker punched you both in the face, remind each other, “You’re doing it right.” 

To the special needs mom you know, who spends her days not just as a mom, but as her child’s angel, superhero, and savior, and yet wonders daily why she was chosen to parent this child, please tell her “You’re doing it right.”

And that friend you have who is expecting her first baby? Don’t go on and on about sleepless nights and the terrible twos. Hug her, look her right in the eyes, and tell her, “You’re gonna do it right.” 


Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who think they are doing it wrong. Here is your gift from me- 
"You're Doing it Right"