And the Winner is…Me!

totwAnother week has gone by and let me tell you, it was a doozy! And by doozy, I mean it sucked, which in turn made my tweets suck. But that’s how it goes in the parenting tweet writing world, my friends. Some weeks it’s a piece of cake and others it’s a shit sandwich. Here’s hoping we get back to cake. Everyone loves cake.

This week was tough because I’ve been sick. Which got me thinking, most of being a parent is feeling like you’re always coming down with something. I’m at the point where I’ll be surprised once I feel good, not the other way around. But I shouldn’t complain, for the most part we were all healthy for the entire month of February which seems like a miracle. All the hand-sanitizing and vitamin-popping we were doing paid off. Sadly, it all caught up with us and three out of four of us are down. Anyway, maybe a little laughter will bring us back up. Enjoy my top 3 tweets from this past week.

tweets list2

I’m just like any other parent. Happiness and sarcasm are two of life’s most wonderful things. Of course I want my children to grow up to be happy adults who are smart enough to know how to use sarcasm and also so they know how to interpret most of what I say.

tweets list3

See, there’s some of that sarcasm I’m talking about. I don’t really think it’s great that the days are so long that I can’t even remember the beginning of them. Maybe the word I should’ve used was insane because it’s absolutely crazy how much happens in just one day of parenthood.

tweets wk 2

Thank you, Parenthood for teaching me my limits when it comes to children and to booze. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that kids are their own kind of hangover even when you haven’t been drinking, and parenting with a hangover is the absolute worst thing in the world.

Cheers to another week of tweets!

Top 10 Movie Titles That Describe Parenthood

Movies! You remember–those things you used to watch before you became a parent. I’m lucky if I get to watch A movie a year these days. I’m not talking about all the children’s movies I have to listen to while doing dishes or folding laundry or picking up toys everywhere. I’m talking about movies with real actors, dialogue instead of sound effects, and an actual plot line. In parenthood, it’s always too late to start a movie, and someone always falls asleep (depending on who got to choose it). Since I haven’t seen anything new, I’ve made a list of my favorites where the titles describe parenthood perfectly.

  1. Dazed & Confused — cause that’s how you wake up every day as a parent.
  2. Reality Bites — cause the reality of parenthood bites compared to what you’d thought it’d be.
  3. Misery — cause even when you’re sick and miserable, you still have to parent.
  4. Groundhog Day — cause every single day you do the exact same thing over and over and over.
  5. There Will Be Blood — cause kids are insane and fall down just standing still.
  6. Clueless — cause that’s how you’ll feel about your parenting skills.
  7. Sleepless in Seattle (or whichever city you live in) — cause you never sleep again.
  8. Fight Club — cause you break up more fights than a referee in a boxing match.
  9. From Dusk till Dawn — cause that’s the only time you get to yourself but you have to spend it trying to sleep.
  10. The Neverending Story — cause anytime your kids tell a story, it’s neverending.

    These are called dvds in case you don’t know

     

For the Love of God Eat Your Dinner

If there was an award for world’s pickiest eater, I would’ve held the title when I was growing up. It drove my mom to the edge, and now my daughter is exactly the same. There are a handful of things she’ll eat: peanut butter sandwiches, no jelly, just peanut butter, which isn’t crazy, but still, c’mon. She won’t eat hamburgers or hot dogs, but she’ll eat the buns and even dip them in ketchup which sounds repulsive, but I did it too when I was little. She’ll eat string cheese but not mac & cheese, no pizza, no grilled cheese, not even spaghetti. None of the “normal” things that kids eat. She’ll drink smoothies, and eat an entire carton of raspberries in one sitting, but god forbid she even try a tiny bite of potato or carrot. And forget eggs unless they’re baked into a cake.

The only thing that brings me hope is that I was the same, and today I eat way more than I did in my childhood. For me it was all about texture. I couldn’t eat anything slimy or chewy. There were many nights I had to sit at the dinner table alone because I refused to finish my pot roast or my broccoli smothered with mayonnaise…makes me gag just remembering. I used to tell my mom that certain foods gave me the shivers when I had to swallow them which makes me laugh now and think, god I was ridiculous and she must have been so frustrated with me. I’m ashamed to think of all the food I wasted.

I wish I could give my kids the three-course dinner gum from Willy Wonka minus the whole turning into a giant blueberry part. Somebody please make that happen while my kids are still young. It would make dinner time so much easier. I wouldn’t have to cook a meal that no one will eat while simultaneously keeping my kids from killing each other and burning down the house in the process.

It’s no wonder that there are people who love cooking and then there are parents.

 

Birthday Wishes

Dearest E,

It’s here! Your favorite day of the year and one of my favorite days of my life…your birthday!

Six years ago you came into our world and taught us the definition of happiness. You also taught us the definitions of exhaustion and frustration, but let’s focus on the positive, it is your big day after all.

When you turned 5 last year I couldn’t wait to see what your fifth year would bring. To say it was exciting would be an understatement. You flew on an airplane for the first time, played on your first soccer team, started kindergarten, and recently lost your first tooth, which is adorable btw. A lot of firsts!

You still love horses, cracking jokes, and you’d eat pancakes for every meal if I let you (and some days I do).

We hope you have an incredible birthday full of surprise and joy because that’s exactly what you bring to each one of our days. I’m beyond proud you’re my daughter and am so lucky you call me mama. You are everything good in the world and we love you!

Hope your birthday is as magical as you are. Happy 6th Birthday, Miss E!

Shake it Off

Maybe by teaching my girls not to care what others think I’ll finally be able to learn it for myself.

Last month my daughter skipped up to her classroom wearing a panda mask. Happy-go-lucky until we got closer and someone said, “Lookit!” while giggling and pointing which made everyone laugh. My daughter ripped off the mask and broke into tears, thinking they were laughing at her. It hurt my heart because I don’t think they were making fun of her, I think they thought it was funny, but it didn’t seem that way to her. It saddened me knowing she’s going to have many moments like this because, as we know, kids are cruel and we all deal with some sort of bullying at one point or another.

It took me back to my sixth grade bully who said I stared too much, which I still do…and that I needed to get a tan, which I still do. I now realize that staring was just my way, part of my process of writing and observing the world around me. And the tan thing, yeah, I’m naturally pale, this skin freckles and burns, it was not intended for the sun. While my pint-sized bully may have just been stating the obvious, he was trying to hurt me, however, I knew that his opinion never really mattered. Maybe this was because I had older brothers who teased me anyway so I was used to empty, lame insults, or maybe it was because my parents instilled a strong sense of self from an early age.

We all get picked on, we all get our feelings hurt, but it’s what we do with it that’s most important. My daughter is still young so to explain all this to her would’ve been overwhelming, but I wanted to do the right thing, tell her the right words so that the next time she feels this embarrassment she’ll be able to laugh it off and not take it to heart, but all I could do was hug her and act like it wasn’t a big deal.

I would’ve reacted the same way. It’s taken me a long time to be able to laugh at myself and I still struggle with it sometimes (just ask my husband who has been glared at more than once for me misinterpreting his laughter). So when I picked her up from school I told her that the girls were laughing because her mask made them happy and they thought she was being funny not that she looked funny.

I love that she wore her mask. I want her to embrace her silliness and individuality and have the confidence to do what she wants and to stand up for herself when anyone tries to make her feel small. So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I ask her to shake it off. I guess it’s never too soon to learn that the haters are gonna hate so never let them see you sweat…or burst into tears.

Fun in the Sun

I don’t know what I was so worried about…traveling with kids is a piece of cake. Wait, did I say piece of cake? I meant, takes the cake, as in, takes every ounce of energy and patience you’ve got saved up.

All kidding aside, our trip went very well. Almost too well. Going there the little one fell asleep for two glorious hours and I didn’t even drug her (although I thought about it beforehand). While she snoozed with her head on my lap, I held my breath and watched an entire movie in one sitting! It all seemed too good to be true.

Don’t get me wrong, traveling with two small kids who depend on you for most everything is a big pain in the ass. However, much to my surprise, flying was one of their favorite parts of the trip. The little one squealed with delight when we landed. See below.

From the moment we got to the resort we jumped in the first pool we saw and stayed until we were all pruney. That’s how the whole week went, only getting out of the water long enough to eat ice cream and slather on more sunscreen.

us

Between all the swimming and sunblocking, I finished a good book and even had time for one tropical cocktail.

We saw some gorgeous sunsets…

sunset

had a celebrity sighting…

all of us

and only brought home one stowaway…

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So am I glad we went? Yes, because now they can’t say we never took them anywhere, I mean, we had the best time and made a million magical memories to last a lifetime. Would I do it again? Ask me again in a couple months when I’ve fully recovered, I mean, of course…in a heartbeat. (wink wink)

Don’t Make Me Turn This Plane Around

Let’s call this family vacation what it really is…a mistake.

Okay fine, not a mistake, but not really a vacation either. The word vacation implies relaxation, sleeping in without thinking about an itinerary, lounging by the pool with a daiquiri in one hand and a book in the other, not the hectic, unpredictable madness that is traveling with small children. Yet, spring break is almost upon us and so is our first official family trip. Despite my complaining, I’m looking forward to sharing and making memories with my girls and their cousins, I’m just not looking forward to the amount of work it’s gonna be.

The thing I’m most nervous about is the actual traveling part, flying to be exact. We’ve never flown with our children and just the thought of it fills me with anxiety. I’m worried about entertaining them for five hours while we’re stuck in a huge flying contraption in the middle of the open sky over the wide Pacific ocean especially when I can’t hide in the bathroom like I do at home. It’s not like I can threaten to turn the plane around if they refuse to stop fighting and yelling.

On a recent trip without our kids (the only kind my husband and I usually take) there was a couple flying with a little boy. As they took their seats directly behind us (just my luck) the dad passed out bags of M&Ms to all the surrounding passengers. They knew their son would most likely have a meltdown at some point and wanted to make everyone smile with an unexpected treat. I’m a sucker for candy, so naturally their little plan worked on me. Plus, there was that whole “I’m a parent, you’re a parent” understanding going on. Plus, there was free wine. Again, another thing I’m a sucker for.

I hope that we have a few understanding parents seated next to us, ones who will be on our side if things start to go awry. But maybe I should stock up on some M&Ms (and also a few mini bottles of wine) just in case. Who am I kidding, I’ll have chugged all the wine before we even board the plane.

I know everything will work out fine and we’ll have an incredible, memorable trip with many laughs and uncountable smiles, and who knows, maybe it’ll become a tradition. But something tells me I’ll need a vacation from my “vacation” when it’s over.

Walking Boots

My father grew up walking the country roads of rural Georgia. He spent his childhood walking everywhere–to town, to school, to the neighbor’s farm that was miles away. He passed down his love of walking to me and now I’m hoping to share it with my daughters. They’re finally old enough that we don’t need a stroller anymore, which is nice, but stressful in different ways. They’re loose and I’m outnumbered and there are no sidewalks here and I have to corral them like wild turkeys.

When we were young, my brothers and I went for walks with our dad almost every night after dinner, now that I think about it, it was probably to give my mom a break from our constant noise because normally she stayed behind.

We’d set off on our usual route and along the way I had my small detours like balancing along the bricks of a certain driveway or a shortcut through another. We always passed The Purple Lady’s house, where, I kid you not, every single thing was purple–the house, the car, the flowers, even her hair!

Strolling along, I’d ask Papa to tell me stories from his childhood. Sometimes he’d tell me all about going to school in a tiny one room schoolhouse, walking however many miles with a group of kids he could still name as if he’d seen them the day before. And he’d tell me about the first pair of glasses he got and how he was so amazed he could finally see ants on the ground. Or how he and his older brother JR got into all sorts of mischief, pulling pranks on everyone. Toward the end of our walk, I’d run ahead and put my hands and feet in the imprints on the sidewalk on Lancaster St. right before saying hello to the yellow lab that always barked at us as we passed by.

We forget pieces of our childhood until we have children of our own and they remind us what it used to be like. I hadn’t thought about these walks for a long time until I took my girls for one yesterday. Just like my detours, they found their own along a rocky pathway, where I followed behind, feeling that long-lost spark of adventure. Then they hopped from one stepping stone to the next at the house on the corner. The big one pointed out pretty white blossoms blooming on a tree while the little one picked dandelions to carry, and I felt like a kid again, which is to say, happy.

on a walk

Memory Lane

Parenthood is the ultimate plot twist. It starts out as trying to protect a helpless little baby from the big bad world, providing everything she needs to survive until one day she turns into a clever, strong-willed child with a mind of her own, and then it’s the parents who need help surviving.

My baby turns five soon. So naturally I’ve been looking back on my first five years as a parent. It’s mind-boggling to think how much living and learning this tiny person has brought along with her. I keep hearing my mom’s voice in the back of my head like a mantra, “It’ll get easier. It’ll get easier…” Yes mama, it has gotten easier, but it’s gotten much harder in much different ways.

The first year of my daughter’s life was based on survival, hers more than mine, but both of ours together. I remember not knowing a damn thing about being a parent and having to figure everything out from scratch and on very little sleep. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and happy. It was a ton of work, but I remembering loving (almost) every minute of it.

The second year of my daughter’s life was based on safety, in the most basic definition of the word. This was when she was unsteady on her feet and charging the world like a wild stallion–fearless and curious and full of wonder. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t crack open her head.

The third year of my daughter’s life was based on surrender, meaning I had to give up a little bit of control. This was when she started preschool, interacting with other kids, being exposed to more than just our little bubble. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t bite anyone.

The fourth year of my daughter’s life was based on surprise, meaning I was surprised at just how difficult she could be. This was when she really started to come into her own–her own ideas, her own choices, her own way of doing things. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and that I didn’t strangle her for never listening to me.

The fifth year…well, that’s this year ahead of us. I’m not sure what it will be based on yet or what all it holds for her, but I’m hopeful that it’s full of love and lots of laughter. Because if I know my daughter it definitely will be. There’s nothing she loves more than making us laugh, and there’s nothing I love more than laughing with her.

Chip off the Ol’ Block

It’s when you see yourself in your children that you really start to worry for their future.

I’m officially worried.

My four year old is exactly like me; she’s a sensitive spitfire full of piss and vinegar who takes things too personally, wears her heart on her sleeve, and does everything possible just to get a reaction. Karma is in full force, people. Now I know exactly where that expression, “chip off the old block” comes from!

People say that it’s great to have a strong-willed child because she’ll stick up for herself and be driven later on in life, but that does nothing to help me put up with her ridiculous attitude until we get to that point (if we even make it to that point). And how do I know if she’s strong-willed and not just an A-hole? Or is that one and the same?

One of the best things about having kids is seeing pieces of yourself in them, but it’s also the worst. In one moment it’s endearing how much my daughter sounds and looks just like me. The way she says, “Seriously!” after dropping something on the floor, to how she responds, “What a bummer!” finding out McDonald’s ice cream maker isn’t working. I especially see myself when she throws her head back and laughs, eyes twinkling with silliness. She’s like a cuter, smarter, funnier caricature of me. These are the moments when it all makes sense.

But then there are the other moments, like when she throws a fit because not everything goes her way, which is my signature move. Or when she scrunches up her face in a terrifying scowl, crossing her arms in disgust before stomping off because it’s not her turn to choose a movie. Or when she bursts into tears because that little line on her sock isn’t lined up just so. These are the moments when I’m confronted with my own terrible behavior.

It scares us to see our children act like us because we want them to be so much better than us, to be everything we’re not, to not make our mistakes, and to know a happiness we’ve never known. And then despite all our exhaustive efforts, they end up exactly like us anyway.

My daughter and I are going to clash our whole lives because we’re too much alike. One day I hope we’ll sit and laugh about how she was as stubborn and feisty as her mama, and it’ll make me proud instead of crazy. But until then, as soon as her father gets home, she’s his problem. Come to think of it, that was exactly what my mom did with me, and once again it hits me that I’m more like her than I’ll ever know or admit.