Tag Archive | parenting

Open Letter To The Tweedles– “It’s A School Night.”

Dearest Tweedles:

It’s a school night.  Try on that phrase for size– “a school night.”  Here, smack dab in the middle of August.  Wait, no, it’s not even the MIDDLE of August yet, and here lies the first school night.

And with the cries of distress and moans of despair that accompany any premature, abrupt stoppage, the summer is simply…OVER.  Tomorrow, you go back to school.

It hardly seems fair.  I mean, it’s still summer.  Pools are still open, and the days are still relatively long.  People the world over complain about childhood obesity rates, yet students are forced back into desks, squirming as teachers try to make them care about French conjugations, algebra, and ancient history when by all rights you should still be riding around on your bikes, flirting dangerously with the “be home before dark” curfew.

Instead, you are forced back into your institute of educational wonder, which seems to come earlier and earlier each summer, in order to accommodate the various teacher enrichment days and standardized testing schedules, which MUST be done before the Christmas…oops, I mean Holiday break.

I feel your pain, children, I really do.  I sympathize with your plight.  I, too, enjoyed the summer.  Just a short time ago, we kicked it off with the viewing of various superhero movies and lazy days hanging out in the backyard, trying to play badminton–that is until the dog ran through and practically destroyed the poles which held up the net.  I liked not getting up at 5:30 in the morning in order to ensure that you were on a bus at an obscenely early time of day when not even your father was ready to head off to work.

But children, you must understand one thing.  I am a parent.  A stay at home parent, at that, and I admit that a part of me is looking forward to tomorrow in much the same way that tourists look forward to autumn in New England to look at leaves.  You know the commercial in which the mother with the Wet Swiffer all of a sudden declares her job done and then grabs the basket of bath goodies and with joyful aplomb says, “I am going to use these?”  That’s me, kiddos.

For I do not remember the last time I could go grocery shopping without receiving a text message from you.  I don’t remember the last day that I was alone for longer than an hour at a time, my ears blissfully undisturbed by the squeals and shouts of adolescent females or the last time that my glass front door remained free of the grubby hand prints of pre-teen boys immediately after having been cleaned.

I don’t remember the last time I went to the gym, because, forgive me, I don’t wish for the two of you to wake up to an empty house, and there is this weird part of my psyche that insists that I am here when you get up in the morning.  Perhaps it’s strange.  I know it is.

Someday you will understand the flurry of activity that a mom undergoes on the last day of summer vacation.  It is the day when every loose end gets tied up, when all chores are done.  Because tomorrow, I am going to do NOTHING.  While you are off at school, I am not even going to turn on the TV.  I will bask in the blissful silence of a Tweedle-free house.  I will sit around and drink coffee until 10:00, and perhaps I will even visit the art museum.  Maybe I will sit by the pool and read a book.  Whatever I do, it will be quiet.  It will be clean.  It will be, “Hey, Mom!” and text message free.

You’ll understand one day, children.  Someday, you will understand that the love a mother has for her children conceivably has the power to make stars shoot across the sky, but Mama needs some time ALONE.  You, too, will understand the magic which surrounds the phrase, “It’s a school night.”

Love, Mom

Yay! They Aren’t Babies Forever!

There are days that the Tweedles make me feel old.   Most of the time, this is not exactly a good thing.  It’s a reminder that I am entirely too old to get away with black eye shadow and plum-crazy-purple hair.  This “feeling old” thing happens when I ask Tweedledee a question like, “Hey, who sings this song?” and then she tells me, astonished at my tragically un-hip ignorance on a matter of such great importance.  It happens when we all go to see Men In Black 3 (great movie, by the way!), one of the previews is for a video game, and I am totally faked into thinking it is a preview for a movie that I would totally want to go see.  (Thanks, Halo 4).

Aside from those fleeting moments of feeling like the fossil of some ancient antediluvian creature, the cool thing about kids is that they grow up.  I knew from the beginning that my babies would not be babies for long.  That was a fact ingrained in my head from the moment I gave birth–things like, “Cherish it, it doesn’t last long,” and “Take lots of pictures,” and “When they’re smack dab in the middle of some onerous developmental stage, take heart.  It won’t last long before they are onto the next one that will leave you scratching your head for entirely different reasons.”

As a result, I don’t typically mourn for their lost babyhood.  I am around enough children to have an idea of exactly what it is that Cloudbuster and I have already passed though as parents,.  More often than not, when I have the opportunity to spend a day with a baby, or when I have to deal with 7 year olds who have not quite yet learned the difference between appropriate and inappropriate times to start cracking-wise, I walk away with a great feeling of relief that things like diaper changes, bottles, and jokes that are not funny but just plain rude are no longer things that I have to deal with day in and day out.

Tweedledee turns 13 on Sunday, and is having her birthday party this evening.  In a few short hours, my home will be descended upon by 10 girls all roughly the same age as Tweedledee, where they will swim and eat pizza and lemon cake, and listen to One Direction.  I anticipate much squealing, shrieking, and a lingering stench of too much  perfume.  I will keep an eye on the proceedings from just the right distance–where I can see them, but they won’t know that I can see them.  And I will wonder just when it was that my baby girl–the one who used to call Christmas lights “Kick-a-mites,” the one who accidentally almost stabbed her brother in the brain with a pencil when she was 6 and he 4, the one who on a daily basis used to bring me homemade cards which read, “I love you, Mom!” turned into such an independent, lovely and talented young lady.

Tweedledum, meanwhile, just turned 11.  This week, in the midst of the worst heat wave to hit the area since 1954, he is away at Boy Scout camp.  Last night was parent’s night.  He showed us all around the camp, told us about the things he has been doing all week, and about the merit badges he should earn by the time it is over.  He told us all about how seriously he took the Order of the Arrow nominations.  Some of the scout leaders stopped to tell me how fantastic Tweedledum is.  (As if I didn’t already know, but their reasons for saying so are reasons that I never even pondered before.)  In this insane heat, my son–and all of the boys– are not only maintaining, but thriving.

They’re growing up.  Rocking chairs and bottles are a memory.  Knowledge of the difference between being a comedian and a smart-ass has not only been acquired, it has been mastered.  Somewhere along the lines, Goodnight Moon gave way to The Magic Tree House, which gave way to The Hunger Games and Twilight.  Shoot, at this point, elementary school is a memory.  Things like “room mothers” and classroom half-birthday parties are in the past.

Gone are the four year olds who attempted to trick me into getting another cookie.  The days when a trip to the zoo or The Magic House could provide an afternoon’s entertainment are no longer.  Banging away a tune on a Fisher-Price light up piano has given way to performing the theme to Jaws on the cello, or performing a classical piece on the clarinet in front of judges.

Perhaps it is strange that I do not miss the smell of clean baby-heads, or sitting in a rocking chair with a tiny infant nestled into the crook of my arm.  Maybe it is strange that I do not long for the days of going on field trips to the apple orchard with them.  Each passing year brings about new milestones and achievements, and instead of mourning for what is past, I chose a long time ago to celebrate right along with them.

The Tweedles are slowly but surely becoming the people that God intends for them to be.  Wow, what fun it is to witness THAT process!  They each have their own unique personalities, talents, and interests.  They each have their own shortcomings, demons to battle, and problems to overcome.  So far, they are handling both the joys and the trials with incredible grace.  And I’ll tell you one thing for sure–they certainly didn’t learn that grace from me.  I can only pray that it sticks.

Being a parent has got to be one of the strangest things in the world.  We invest years and countless dollars  into caring for our offspring.  We instruct them, teach and nurture them, and for what?  So they can eventually grow up, leave and perhaps take part in that whole cycle themselves.

No, they won’t be my babies forever.  Hallelujah!!

Elizabeth Wurtzel, Who Do You Think You Are?

I was all set this morning to comment on a recent story in The Atlantic titled, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” when I discovered this odious opinion piece online.

In the article, written by Elizabeth Wurtzel, she lambastes rich, stay at home wives and mothers for being…rich stay at home wives and mothers.  But in reality, she goes after all stay at home wives and mothers.  Here are some quotes:

“I have to admit that when I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton — one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better — but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed.”

“Feminism should not be inclusive, and like most terms that are meaningful, it should mean something. It should mean equality.  And there really is only one kind of equality — it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo — and it’s economic. If you can’t pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent.”

“When it’s come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy.”

“Because here’s what happens when women go shopping at Chanel and get facials at Tracy Martyn when they should be wage-earning mensches: the war on women happens.”

“…being a mother isn’t really work. Yes, of course, it’s something — actually, it’s something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle of making okay meals and decent kid conversation. But let’s face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation).”

No, Ms. Wurtzel, you are mistaken.  When a person such as yourself, who has the audacity to try to dictate to other women how they should and should not live their lives–be they rich women or otherwise–THAT is when the war on women happens.  It happens every time a woman who is successful in her career looks down on a woman for choosing to stay at home with her children.  It happens every time every time a woman who breastfeeds her kids tells a woman who didn’t that she “harmed her child.”  It happens every time a married woman looks on a single woman with pity, saying things like, “Don’t worry, it will happen for you someday, dear,” without knowing if the woman in question even WANTS to get married someday.

Ms. Wurtzel, just who do you think you are, anyway?  What gives you the right to define “feminism” as a purely economic endeavor?  How do you possess the gall to say that because a woman decided to stay at home and raise her children that they are “dependents” who opted for something “easy and obvious” over “integrity and independence?”

Do you have any idea what being a stay at home wife and mother entails?  No, of course you don’t.  There is nothing easy about it, and I don’t care if you’re rich or poor.  I don’t care if you live in New York City or Fly-Over Country.  And I am not talking about the cooking, or the cleaning, or the driving kids to and fro, either.  What is involved is a daily exercise in having your heart exist outside of your own body.  It is realizing that you are a part of something that is larger than your own selfish needs or desires.  It is the ultimate exercise in, “It’s not about ME.”

Ms. Wurtzel, I hate to break it to you, but integrity is not defined as having an income,  and independence means having the choice to do what I want with my life without having to answer to the likes of  someone as myopic and judgmental as yourself.

You claim that you are “happy,” but happy people generally do not condemn and attack the choices of others with such vitriol.  If you feel “betrayed” because a highly educated woman (or a woman in general) decides to devote herself to her family, that is not her problem.  I suggest that you and others like you stop trying to convince them that it is.

The problem is all yours.

“It’s A School Night. Wait, No It’s Not!”

The Tweedles’ last day of school is tomorrow, and Summer Vacation is so close we can taste it. For the past few weeks, with each passing sunrise, anticipation of the Blessed Event has grown to monumental proportions, and not just by the Tweedles.

For, I, too, adore Summer Vacation and the freedom that comes with it.

Behold, the magic!!

Each year, I envision fun outings with the kids, lazy days hanging out by the pool, and having about fifty less things to nag them about on a daily basis.

I am fond of deluding myself.  This uncontained bliss only lasts for about a week.

After a week, I realize just how tedious it is to clean the house with Tweedles underfoot.

My sentiments, exactly. Nobody sits around the Thanksgiving Dinner table 20 years after moving away from home and discusses how clean mom kept the refrigerator handle.

It takes roughly a week before I hear the first whiny proclamations of boredom.  This, despite the fact that I have repeatedly told them NEVER to tell a mother they are bored–we can always find something for them to do.

It takes a week before I start to bemoan my long lost days of youth, when I, too, could sleep in until 10:30 and not have a laundry list of things to complete upon rising.

I’m gonna stay right here until my bladder bursts.

The fifty school-related things that I no longer have to nag them about are replaced with fifty summer-related items, and I find myself saying things like:

“Get off the computer and go outside.  Minecraft will still be there later!”

“My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding?  Really?!”

“Stop splashing!  I’ve got a library book here, ya know!”

“The lawn doesn’t mow itself.  If you want your allowance, you  have to do something for it.”

However, it is still Summer Vacation, and no doubt we will enjoy all of the pleasantries that go along with it.  Late night swims, playing four square in the street after dinner, and impromptu trips to the Zoo just because we can.  Barbequing all the time, eating outside, and saying, “Yes, you can go ride bikes with your friend,  just be home before dark.”  Music from the next door club house will play from noon until 9:00PM, providing a summer soundtrack.  There will be wet, balled up towels and swimsuits on the bathroom floor and flip flops laying all over the house, evidence of a day well spent.

And for nearly three months, I won’t have to say the dreaded words, “It’s a school night.”

“I Don’t Get Paid Enough For This.”

“Stay at home Mom” is a nice gig, and I rather enjoy it.  For all of the craziness that it entails, it is infinitely better than the last paid job I held before Before Children.  I used to get up each morning, put on something that hid all my tattoos resembling “professional,”  and deal with the fickle public.  When Tweedledee came along, I decided to stay at home rather than go back to work.  One of the very first things I noticed was that even though I was taking care of a wee little baby 24-7, my days were generally a lot more peaceful than they ever were while at work.

Adults like to whine.  To anyone who will listen.  I worked at a bank, so in my case, I was a captive audience.  A captive audience who had to play nice with others, no matter what.  I couldn’t simply say, “Why are you telling me this?” to the stranger who happened to come to my teller window (or later on, my desk), and complain about the interest rates.  I didn’t set them.  I never had the ear of the Federal Reserve Chairman, although one time I wondered what would happen if I told the man standing in front of me grousing about them that I would “get on that right away.”

There were always the customers who complained when I asked them for their I.D. when they wanted to take out money.  The disgruntled customer would always say something like, “But, I’ve been banking here for 25 years!”  Yeah?  Well, I’ve only worked here for 25 minutes, and I don’t know you, so hand it over.  I never actually said that, of course, but there were times when I wanted to.  There was one gentleman who insisted that I get the manager over there to confirm his identity instead of just taking 30 seconds to get his wallet out of his back pocket in order to show me his drivers license.  To him, I did say something like, “I assure you, I will remember who you are after today.”

Sometimes, people are just plain dumb.  One Friday afternoon,  the tellers were swamped, so I had to leave my cushy new accounts desk–people don’t generally open accounts or want IRA’s on Fridays–and work over on the “other side.”  A young man who was not much younger than myself came to my window wishing to deposit a mess of cash into his account.  I say a “mess” of cash because that is exactly what it was.  There were ones, fives, tens, and a boatload of change, and it was all crumbled up and thrown haphazardly into a plastic baggie.  He tossed it onto the counter, and when I opened the baggie, I was immediately greeted by an odor that reminded me of Lollapalooza ’93.  I tried not to laugh out loud–my laugh tends to draw attention–and silently sorted out his cash and made the deposit.  When I handed him back his baggie and his deposit slip, I leaned over and softly said, “You really want to be careful who you hand this bag to.  Might I suggest just getting rid of it altogether?”  It took a second, but a look of paranoid realization finally dawned on his face, he mumbled a quick “thank you,” and hastily left my teller window and fled the bank altogether.

Then there were the line-butters. One afternoon, an elderly lady who had been patiently waiting in line had missed her turn because a man was “in a hurry” and needed to be waited on “right this minute.”  The thing was, he was a repeat offender.  He did this often, because he was deluded enough to think that his life and his time was way more important than the time of anybody else standing there.  He was always in a hurry.  He always needed to be waited on “right this minute.”  The day he cut off the elderly lady, I’d just had it.  I told my manager about him, and asked for permission to send him to the back of the line the next time he did it.  Permission was granted, under the condition that I was not “nasty” about it.  The next time he came bustling in with his air of haughty self importance, clamoring up to my teller window, I sent him to the back of the line.  He stared at me as if I had just lost my mind.  “Excuse me?”  he exclaimed, apparently amazed at my impertinence.  I just smiled sweetly and repeated that there were people in line who were ahead of him, and he would have to wait his turn.  “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but we have to be fair, you know.”  He huffed away to the back of the line, calling me a not-very-nice-name under his breath, but he never did it again, at least not when I was there.

It wasn’t all disgruntled, grumpy patrons.  For the most part, the customers were generally quite nice, and I certainly had my favorites.  People would come in and tell me little snippets about their lives and seem surprised when I remembered them later on and asked them about their job, or how their husband was feeling, or how retirement was treating them.  That part of the job was quite lovely.

The turnover rate for bank employees is enormously high, though.  They don’t get paid a whole lot, and for every wonderful customer who comes in, there is a miserable sot who likes to try and spread their bad temper around.  I much prefer being at home.  I don’t bring in a paycheck, but on the other hand, if someone wants to toss a bad mood at me, I can simply send them to their room.

Tweedledee, The Beastie Boys, and The Bottle

Monday morning, when I sat down to my computer with my cup of coffee, I had absolutely no intention of writing a week’s worth of posts about Mothers and their special day on the second Sunday in May.

I sat down to write about something else entirely, but as the act of writing often is, something else decided it wanted precedence over what I had planned.

On Monday morning, I was sad.  The Friday before, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away.

I grew up with the Beastie Boys.  I still love the Beastie Boys.  When a song comes on in my car, I crank it up.  If Tweedledee and Friends are in the car, I get to hear a running commentary about how much it sucks, which, frankly, delights me to no end.

What I intended to write about on Monday morning was Tweedledee, The Beastie Boys, and her bottle.

When she was a newborn, she would fall asleep halfway through a bottle.  She would doze in the crook of my arm as I rocked away, milk bubbles at the corner of her tiny little rosebud of a mouth.

“She only drank two ounces, the little stinker!”  I would cry.

That is when it happened.  One day, Ken came out with this:  “No!  Sleep!  ‘Til Bottle!” and thus altered the song forever.

I cannot hear  “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” without thinking about rocking chairs, the sweet, clean smell of a baby’s head, and the first precious months of my daughter’s life.

Let Her Eat Cake — Mamahood: Part 5

My daughter does not like this commercial.

I love it.

A debate ensued.

“She’s being so selfish!” Tweedledee informed us.  I snorted.

She cleans their toilets.  She does their laundry.  She cooks their meals.  She is the giver of motherly advice, the wiper of tears, and the glue ensuring that the household not descend into a complete state of utter chaos.

She may work outside of the home, and struggle with the challenges of balancing career and family.  Or not.  She might put, “Domestic Goddess” on the “occupation” blank of the forms we must fill out in life.

Perhaps she does a zillion little things throughout the day that nobody ever sees, thinking about everybody but herself.

So for Pete’s sake, let her eat her crummy fast-food-joint cake.

Happy Mother’s Day.