Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best Mom Tip #157: Ignore the other moms, Part 2

In addition to feeling self conscious around more stylish moms (see yesterday), I also feel as though I'm failing as a parent when I'm around the highly active/organized moms.

At curriculum night at Charlotte's school, every mom who signed up to volunteer for something pulled a giant organizer/coupon holder/wallet thing out of her purse. Why is it that big? What else should I be writing down? Why do I not understand the appeal of couponing?

At the bus stop another mom asked me if Charlotte wanted to take chess lessons after school with her daughter. I have nothing against chess. I actually like to play chess. But I was taught by my dad (who never let me win, by the way) and we didn't have to pay 250 bucks a month for the privilege. I'm sure that chess club would help her problem solving skills and her ability to think logically, but I kind of like it that she just comes home. She does her homework. Then she watches TV and then goes outside to play. I call them in for dinner by yelling and banging on the window. It's like my life in 1982 all over again, but without Stretch Armstrong.

Why must I be exposed to the parents who have their kids taking violin lessons and practicing their math skills on Saturdays? Chess Mom also showed me the "easy" 300 piece puzzle her 6-year-old had just put together. She said it was easy because, since it is of the United States, there are words all over it. Yes, but in order for that to be useful, you need to know where Montana is in relation to Tampa. What 6-year-old knows that? This kid also speaks Hebrew and can play the piano. Charlotte's only hope of becoming bilingual is if my mother begins teaching her Appalachian Hill People as a second language.

There are the kids on our neighborhood swim team who also take private swim lessons year round. There were the moms at gymnastics who had serious conversations about scholarship opportunities for college gymnasts. I constantly feel like maybe I'm holding back my kids' potential because I haven't signed up for enough stuff.

Don't get me wrong, they do have some outside activities. It's just that they are only allowed to have one at a time. And I don't assume that they will ever make any money off it, become smarter from it, or suddenly discover a latent superpower. I know that occasionally, making sure that your kid is constantly striving to do better at their extracurricular activity works out for them. Tiger Woods has been playing golf since he was 3 and he's made a little money. Britney Spears' mom had her singing and dancing by 5 or so as well. But, honestly, they both seem like pretty crappy spouses.

I'd rather have my slightly-above-average-intelligence children with healthy relationships and lifestyles than have them be super-rich. Maybe they can be both, but I'm not sure I can think of a billionaire who also seems to have normal kids. Maybe Warren Buffet, but I can guarantee that whatever his mom did, it didn't involve a giant calendar and chauffeuring her kids to 4 events a week. They probably only had one car anyway.

Like I decided yesterday, I'm going to try to stop the comparisons and make my decisions based on my own kids' needs and wants. I hope, when they're adults, they don't have to spend money on a therapist because I didn't challenge them enough. I can just hear them complaining, "I could have reached my full potential if only my mom had signed me up for soccer AND chess club at the same time." Even if they do, I'm certainly not paying for it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Best Mom Tip #156: Ignore the other moms, Part 1

I waste a lot of my mental time and energy comparing myself to other moms. This frequently happens at the YMCA, but it can be just about anywhere I go. I will come out of a class or in from a run looking like my face has been replaced by a giant beet and I inherited my hair from Grandma Medusa and I will see a tall, thin, graceful mom herding her children toward the car. She is slightly sweaty, but really, on her it looks good.

A lot of the super-fit moms are in the running club. This is why the running club intimidates me. They say things like, "I'm going to do 8 miles on Thursday." Then they jog off in their coordinating visors and running skirts. They also bond and chat while they run. I am capable of making one noise while running and it is a sound that, if you heard it coming from your dog, you would go ahead and have the poor thing put down.

I will later see these same moms at PTA and church and the grocery store and I will feel bad that they have long, flowing hair while I am still growing mine out from the decision I made two years ago to have 1-inch-long hair with pink and purple highlights. I'm not sure what I was thinking.

They dress well. They use "accessories." They seem to remember to put on makeup when they leave the house. Even the running club moms. I talked with one mom today who had on eyeliner under her visor. How did she get that to stay on? My actual skin was melting off of my face because it is August and this is Georgia. Turns out her kid sits across the table from my kid in the first grade so I am going to have to continue to feel inadequate in her presence.

I'm trying to overcome this problem. I recognize that my constant comparing myself to others affects no one but myself. I realize that it dings my self esteem and belittles my efforts at health, fitness, and my general sense of well-being. So I'm going to try. My first step is to actually get to know the people who intimidate me the most.

When my beautiful, size-zero friend Jill had a baby and still had to deal with the fact that her clothes didn't fit right afterwards, it made me realize that skinny girls feel the same way I do. We are all just trying to figure out how to function as moms and wives and co-workers and volunteers and feel good about ourselves at the same time. I will try to remember this again later today when I am faced with an amazon mother of 3 and her perfectly toned legs. Really. I'm trying.

Really.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Best Mom Tip #155: Don't let them break you

I have not slept well this week. It is entirely the fault of my children. I have only been able to keep my sanity by refusing to let them break me. It reminded me again how much I think parenthood is a lot like being tortured by the CIA.
My daughter was born in December of 2004, which happened to be right about the same time American soldiers captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The former dictator was found in what became known as a “spider hole” covered in mud and looking more like a crazy guy who sells flowers on a freeway exit ramp than the leader of an oil-rich nation.
What really interested me was how Saddam’s life was different after his capture. The rumors of where he was being held and how he was being treated seemed somewhat familiar to me. That’s when it hit me: being held by the CIA while they attempt to get you to reveal the location of weapons of mass destruction (even if they don't exist) is a lot like being at home with your children. Here's how they compare and how we can all survive.
1. You are pulled out of a safe dark hole: Before you have children, you are the most important thing in your world. Or maybe your spouse is if you’re feeling generous. You can eat rice for dinner while watching Seinfeld reruns and no one’s going to base their eating/TV viewing habits on your actions. In those last few days of pregnancy, you hole up in your own little world, totally focused on your own physical well being. Then your precious child is born crying and fussing, which is actually her way of saying, "greetings from your new master." They are vicious little task masters, what with their need to eat and bathe and poop and get dressed EVERY DAY. I still grieve my self-centered life. Alas.
**Solution: Enjoy your spider hole every chance you get. When you have a baby say “YES, NOW!” when someone offers to come over and help out. While that person is there, don’t talk to them at all, just go take a nap. As your kids get older, actually take people up on their offers to watch them or exchange baby sitting with a friend. I have one friend who has a neighbor come sit with her sleeping children so she and her husband can have date nights. She then does the same for that neighbor the next week and no one has to pay for a sitter. This is important. You need to be able to go to a dark place and listen to the war from a distance.
2. You are grimy and unkempt: No matter how fastidious you are as a woman, the day you become a mom, you look rough. Your hair is matted, you probably haven’t bathed in a little while, and you are wearing your old lady glasses. Although this problem gets significantly better as kids age, I still find myself with half-chewed Cheerios stuck to my clothing and unidentified baby goo smeared in my hair. After they finished showing the world Saddam's crazy hair and checking his teeth or whatever, the CIA actually cleaned Mr. Hussein up. You cannot expect that kind of courtesy from your children.
**Solution: Take a shower. Sounds silly, I know, but the noise of the water is soothing, the heat will ease your aching muscles, and no one touches you for about 10 minutes. The cries of "Mooooooommmmmmyyyy" are also a lot harder to hear and you can't see the tiny fingers under the bathroom door. You will also be clean for 4.3 minutes.
3. Your visitors are limited: Supposedly, Saddam was kept in a sparse room where his only visitors were the 19-year-old soldiers who brought him food. Your social life looks a lot like this when you become a parent. At first, your friends and family bring you food on their way to do more glamorous and exciting things--like bathe. They pop in for a while, chat briefly about how you’re feeling and then leave you with only a glimpse at what the outside world might be like. For those of us who stay at home with our kids, this phase seems to go on forever. It is REALLY difficult to find someone to talk to about something other than your kids. Not that you have anything else to talk about anyway.
**Solution: Talk to anyone who calls you. Even those political town hall survey people. Read the news on the internet. If you can, workout without your children nearby. It doesn't matter if your only piece of outside information concerns which celebrities have named their children after inanimate objects this week; knowing something about the rest of the world makes you feel connected and like a part of society. And even the Kardashians count as society when you have small kids.
4. Your sense of time is altered: A common interrogation tactic is to wake up the captive at random times during the day and night to throw off their internal rhythms and confuse their sense of time. In a windowless cell, this method can quite literally drive people mad. Your children know this. You will get 8 hours of sleep one night and think, “this isn't so bad,” only to have your baby wake at unpredictable times that are no further apart than 45 minutes the next night. You might find yourself awake at 4 in the morning asking your 3-week-old why she doesn't love you. You could go 3 months with great sleep and then have a week where one kid has a stomach virus, one caught croup, and the other just didn't want to miss out on the midnight party. You know, for instance. Not that I have any experience with that.
**Solution: If you've had a really rough night and you can work it in, sleep at any moment that you can. When I was working, I once took a nap under my desk during lunch. Really. If you're at home, put down the laundry and rest. No one cares about the laundry but you. Make your spouse buy takeout instead of cooking; I promise it won’t kill you. And don't beat yourself up if you make odd parenting decisions at night. I cannot tell you how many nights I have rocked, cuddled, fed, and wailed at a crying baby only to find a wet diaper when I finally remembered to look. Sleepy You cannot be held responsible for your actions.
5. You are surrounded by photos to remind you of your predicament: According to one account I read at the time, Saddam Hussein’s cell had a giant picture of President Bush on one wall and photos of his dead relatives who had been killed in the fighting on another wall. I don’t know if that's true or not, but I do know that your home has a similar d├ęcor. The most prominent pictures in a home with kids are not smiling wedding shots—they are, or will soon be, totally of your kids. Toothless, drooling grins will replace that 8x10 of you looking incredibly skinny at your engagement party. All the small pictures will be of your former, now deceased, life where you toasted the New Year with expensive champagne and took spontaneous ski weekends with old college buddies.
**Solution: Remind yourself that childhood only lasts for a little while. You will be out on New Year’s Eve again. You will go skiing again. You will have time to yourself and be able to do things with your friends. My parents, for instance, are planning a trip to Italy. So, you know, there's that to look forward to in 30 years. Until then, create new family-centered memories. Those photos of parties past will slowly be replaced with pictures of princess birthdays and pirate pool parties. And you will love every new kid-covered snapshot.
6. Your world is forever changed: Unfortunately for Saddam, the Iraq to which he returned was run by his enemies and he was hung (and decapitated) for his crimes against humanity. This will probably not happen to you as a parent. What will happen, however, is that you will notice that you see the world through new eyes. Your spouse cannot drive slowly enough when your baby is in the car. You won’t like being in elevators at the doctor's office because all those strangers are breathing near your child. You will be overly specific with your instructions to people who care for your kids in your absence. The world of parenting is both more wonderful and more dangerous than you ever thought possible.
**Solution: Embrace your parent's world view. You’re right to worry about your kids. If you didn’t worry, you wouldn’t be normal. Don’t let it paralyze you or make you one of those crazy moms who never lets their kid spend the night at the slumber party. But understand that you will always feel like a part of you is wandering around outside in the world and you must do whatever you can to protect it. On the bright side, you will also see how magical and amazing the world is when it is viewed for the first time. Christmas lights? Beautiful! Jell-O? The best dessert EVER! Running? The only way to travel! Child-like wonder is truly a miracle to behold and we all have front row seats for years to come.
So bring on the torture because it is totally worth the effort. It may crack dictators and terrorists, but not you. You’re a PARENT—and you can take anything.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Best Mom Tip #154: Edit your vehicle

When I was six I came home with an honor student bumper sticker from my elementary school and I asked my mom to put it on our family car. She looked at me and said, "we're really proud of you for your grades, but putting stickers on the car lowers it's resale value so we don't really do that."
Being six, I did not realize that this was code for "I do not want to advertise your academic achievements on my car because I think that it's tacky." I did, however, internalize a distaste for excessive car stickers. And, honestly, I feel that a lot of people are really excessive.
I have seen Suburbans with soccer balls declaring their kids' names and numbers, school stickers, W support, and neighborhood all at once. I now have enough information about these people to check their kid out of school and all I've done is sit behind them at a red light.
I frequently see a car driven by a woman that has about 20 stickers including a gay pride flag, a pro-choice message, and one that urges all religions to coexist. I, perhaps mistakenly, assumed that unwanted pregnancy would be self-regulated in the gay community. Is it just a sense of feminist-issue solidarity that encouraged her to stick the pro-choice one on her car? Maybe it's like tattoos and once you have one or two you wind up with 50.
At the YMCA, I see a lot of family stick figure stickers. I've seen mom, dad, son, daughter, dog, cat, and today....duck. Really? Duck? At least it looked like a duck. Maybe it was a parakeet. Are there goldfish? Turtles? How often do these animals ride in the car?
I also saw one where the mom sticker was gone. All that was left was a sad, dusty outline of the former stick figure. Is that the final step in the divorce? "Kids, Daddy and Mommy are done and, I'm sorry to say, we're taking Mommy's sticker off the car." Since that one was on an SUV at the YMCA at 10 in the morning it probably just fell off, but it still seemed like a poor message to offer the world.
I also saw a thin middle-aged man with only one sticker on his blah-colored Camry.
It read, I "heart" My Wife.
My first thought was that this was the dorkiest bumper sticker I had ever seen. Then I remembered how many "Kid Chess" stickers I have seen and I changed my mind. My second (or third, maybe) thought was that at least it was a pretty good one-thing-you-want-the-world-to-know-about-you. Much better than the people whose one thing is I "heart" My Yorkie."
I'm not saying you should never have a bumper sticker. In the past, I have displayed my collegiate pride on my rear-view window. Gooooooo Dawgs! (Yes, I realize it is embarrassing that my university's cheer is misspelled. If you think that's bad, you should hear how we pronounce it).
Let's just try to keep the message simple. And, perhaps, make sure it's something you really want to say.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Best Mom Tip #153: Party like it's 1979


Last week I read this article about why parents of the 70s and 80s did a better job than we are currently doing with our own children. The basic point was that parenting was a bit simpler and they did not seem so afraid that we would die/disappear/stop loving them if they made us mad.

Although I didn't necessarily agree with the whole article (I know a lot of people my age whose parents did a crappy job), I thought the section about birthdays was pretty true. The author complained that birthday parties today are too elaborate, what with ponies and bounce houses and the like. We have certainly gone to some pretty elaborate birthdays over the years, but this weekend we hosted a really basic party for Griffin.

Now I will fully admit that this is less of a parenting philosophy statement and more of a "I'm a really bad housewife" kind of a statement. I have been shamed by a multitude of parties my kids have been invited to. There was the one with the pony and petting zoo. And the one where a "train" came to drive all the children around the neighborhood. There's actually a TLC show about crazy kid parties (they have a show about everything).

Even the more tame ones tend to make me painfully aware of my ineptitude as a domestic success. Charlotte went to one party where the theme was Mary Poppins and the mom had made "spoonfuls of sugar" (molded chocolate in spoons) and gave ceramic piggy banks as party gifts (to hold your tuppence).

Griffin asked that his party be Mickey Mouse Fireman with a Toy Story balloon. So he got Mickey Mouse streamers and fire hats. And a Buzz Lightyear balloon. That cake up there at the top of the post? (Thanks for the pic, Cheryl). Yeah, I totally bought that at Publix and stuck some fire truck candles on it. I did make chocolate cupcakes, but I used a mix. And store-bought icing.

There were no goody bags. I just didn't get around to it. I also only invited kids whose parents I like. Griffin is still young enough for me to get away with that.

The result? I had a great time. Jay and I only know how to throw one party--it involves Jay grilling hamburgers and a lot of fruit. But it was fun. We turned the sprinkler on in the back yard and threw plastic cups out there for the dozen or so kids to play with. And I mean the actual sprinkler we use to water the lawn--not any sort of $70 water ball from PBKids. And I mean red solo cups like you stood around the keg holding at parties in college.

Kids ate, they played, there was cake. Griffin said that he had a great time and that his party was "too exciding!'" Obviously I will not be featured in Southern Living any time soon. Martha Stewart will not be offering recipes that begin with "always buy the cheapest cake mix you can find."

I still think it was a good time. And so did my kids.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Best Mom Tip #152: Check the dryer for bees

We recently went on vacation and it was fun. Then we came home and I had to do laundry and that was not fun.

As I pulled the first load out of the dryer, I found a bumble bee. A very dead, crispy bumble bee. It was all black and crunchy, but still fully in bumble bee form. Why was there a bee in my dryer? We'd been gone for over a week. Did it come home in our clothes? Did one of my children think that it would be a good idea to keep a dead bee?

Or, and this is what I really suspect, are bees trying to squat in my home? I picture little bee real estate agents giving tours of our house and saying things like, "now this next one doesn't meet your desire for a honey comb, BUT it has ready access to a heated pool, the location is great, and you'll save a fortune on heating!"

Imagine their little bee horror when wet clothing landed on their home, the earthquake known as the "big one" started, and then the heat. Oh, the horrific heat. They knew the Lord would never FLOOD the earth again, but he didn't say he wouldn't burn everything to a crisp.

Were there bee prayers? Dryer-wide vigils, inadvisable last minute relationships, or just one last wild party?

Or did the bee just go, "Dammit, I will never listen to my mother's directions again."

I also found raisins in the washing machine, but that I could trace back to the raisins we had for snack and the children learning to be responsible and putting their own clothing in themselves.

Before I had children, I never found anything in my laundry but clothes. And the occasional movie ticket stub. Man, I miss finding movie ticket stubs after the fact. They are MUCH better than blackened bees in the lint trap.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Best Mom Tip #151: Enjoy back-to-school chaos, don't just endure it

I try to avoid taking all 3 of my kids shopping at any one time. And I mean avoid like you might avoid licking the hand-hold pole on the subway. Avoid like nudist colonies try to avoid swarms of angry bees. But at least once a year, you have to take them with you, even if you have to traverse the subway, nudists, and angry bees all at the same time.

Back-to-school shopping requires that you have actual children's feet present in order to get the right size. Back-to-school shopping means that you have to have the input of the children who will be using the clothing or you will have drawers full of unworn items for the rest of your life.

There are pencils to buy, forms to fill out, and classroom Kleenex stockpiles to replenish. You need to pre-order yearbooks, join the PTA again, and make sure you understand this year's carpool system. It is enough to make you want to live in a hut. Well, maybe a hut with DVR service. We're not savages.

So how do you dive back into the land of homework and 7am bus pick-up without killing one of your children (or even the occasional innocent bystander)? I suggest you make at least one element of back-to-school season an EVENT.

When I was a child, my mother would have my Aunt Charlotte meet us at the mall for my annual birthday/back-to-school shopping trip. Charlotte was a wonderful third-party mediator. We would wander the racks and she would give me tips on creating basic pieces for my wardrobe to build off of. Never mind that I was 8 and my ideal wardrobe consisted of what I'll call rainbow-brite-meets-covered-in-red-clay chic. I felt special, and adult, and valued.

We would "do" lunch and there was, no matter how strapped for time we might be, always chocolate. I remember these chocolate shavings that came on top of a chocolate pie I ordered for dessert like it was yesterday. You don't forget the first time you realize that chocolate can be a garnish.

You may not have time for an all-out shopping day or you may have all boys who think that sounds a lot like torture, but you can do something that creates that event feeling for your kids. Maybe it's laying out all of the school supplies and packing backpacks as a family. Maybe it's a special day with just your family the weekend before school begins. Maybe you do your own version of shopping fun.

This year, my kids are still really little with one in elementary school, one in pre-school, and one still learning to walk. My mom came with us on our shopping trip and although by the end of it she suggested I rename my kids Flitsy, Hell-Bent, and While-You-Weren't-Looking, they did all get new shoes.

And they rode the carousel and got punch balloons. It was a special trip with special moments made just for them. I hope that they will remember and cherish these trips as adults like I treasure the memories of my own back-to-school events.

So take a deep breath, pull your kid down off of that display case, and enjoy the moment. School starts soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best Mom Tip #150: Resist the urge to put your kid on a leash

I will admit that I have recently been fantasizing about putting my son on a leash.

That boy runs off every chance he gets. He always comes back, but it's like watching a cartoon--he runs as fast as he can, then creates a giant arc to run back toward me. He also laughs the entire time.

He hides in clothes racks at stores. He giggles as he runs headlong in a direction opposite that which he is facing. He runs into things a lot. He refuses to look at me when I call his name--my eyes are somehow his disobedience kryptonite. "I could run forever without guilt if only I could avoid Mommy's look."

I thought about just attaching one of those extendable dog leashes to the belt loops on his pants. I would probably be investigated by protective services, but at least I could focus on choosing produce at the grocery store without having to constantly look up to see if he has climbed the meat counter yet.

It turns out, however, that there is actually a rather large market for this kind of product. Based on my non-scientific study (which consists mostly of looking at people at Target), the most popular kid leashes look like a monkey.  You can see one on Target's website here: Monkey Backpack Harness

Technically, this is called a backpack harness, but the monkey's tail is attached to a long handle that the parent holds. Looks a lot like a leash. The particular one I have seen is made by Eddie Bauer and comes with pockets for toys or snacks. Not that your kid could reach them because they are on his back.

The thing that gets me the most about this item is that it is a monkey. How does no one see the irony of putting a literal monkey on your child's back? Every time I see it I hear George Michael singing, "why don't you do it, why don't you set your monkey free."

I have this image of my kid in therapy one day saying, "well, I knew I wanted to become the next Unabomber the day my mom saddled me with a monkey leash filled with goldfish crackers and apple juice. I. Just. Hated. That. Monkey."

If I could get past my aversion to harnessing children I think that I could make some money here. When my oldest was about 2 we used to joke that we needed to "run" her so that she would sleep at night. Probably other parents feel this way. I could get 6 or 7 monkey leashes, hook up the neighborhood kids, and walk them to the park. Sure, they might run around each other's legs and get the lines tangled up, but they would get fresh air and I could make a living as a kid walker.

I am resisting the urge. I'm going to continue to try to get my errant kid to actually listen to me and stay somewhere in my general vicinity without physical restraint. I think.

I mean, the monkey is cute, right?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Best Mom Tip #149: Know what your hair says about you

I am not careful with my hair. In my adult life my hair has been between 2 inches and 2 1/2 feet long. It has been really dark brown (my natural color), red, blonde, pink, and purple. Those last two were at the same time. I have had highlights, bobs, pixie cuts, you name it.

Last night I dyed my hair "warm light brown" to cover up the fact that my highlights were growing out and I can't really afford to keep up $75 every two months. My hair is currently in a bob about chin length and as I blew it dry and carefully styled it I thought, "Hey, I look like me again." This is generally a good thing, but I'll come back to it in a minute.

Before I go any further, I need to share a moment of my life from nearly a decade ago.

In my mid-to-late 20s I was teaching with some of my favorite coworkers of all time. They were (and are) special people who made me laugh, encouraged me to be a better teacher, and shared pina coladas with me by the pool during the summer. One day I was walking down the hall with two other women in their 20s and a male coworker joked that we looked like Charlie's Angels. We all laughed and did our best gun-toting poses.

Then I looked at beautiful, blonde Jill and tall, leggy Katie and thought, "Dammit. I'm Kate Jackson."

Now, I don't have anything against Kate Jackson. And I bet some of you don't even know who I'm talking about. But in the 70s-era Charlie's Angels (that my parents let me watch in syndication for some unknown reason) there were Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson. Here's a picture of them in their groovy glory (Kate is the one on the left.)


Kate (Sabrina on the show) was the kinda sporty, kinda smart one. She's cute, but not glamorous. She was eager and had a big smile, but no one ever fantasized about Kate Jackson...

Back to the present and my hair and what Charlie's Angles has to do with it all:
Right after I thought I looked like me again, it hit me that I also looked like Kate Jackson again.

So what does my Kate Jackson hair say about me? That if there is going to be a photo shoot they're going to hand me the walkie-talkie/tape recorder thing and not the pistol. Which is sad because I would really like to use the pistol.

That I would be a terrible spy who would tell everyone everything I know just so we could be friends.

It says that if you need a party guest who will talk to anyone, I'm your girl. Honestly, I have been told many times that my job at a party is to talk to the uncomfortable people and give them something to say.

You don't send Farrah to make shy people feel more comfortable.

At least I am aware of what my hair is telling the world. I am not glamorous. I'm the friendly face who will ask interested questions and show unbridled enthusiasm about dry topics like the Roman Empire and medieval warfare. I am good at reading stories to little kids (I am very animated and do voices). I can make you laugh in just about any circumstance, even at a funeral.
There are certainly worse things to be than the less-sexy Angel. Bosley, for instance.

So what does your hair say about you?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Best Mom Tip #148: Sing happy birthday anyway

The President and I share a birthday.

His 50th is front page news for some reason. My 35th is mostly remarked upon by my mother and Facebook. (BTW, thanks for the Facebook wishes, guys.) It's not that I don't feel lucky and loved in my life, but I do start to feel like I may not actually be "special."

You know how when we were little kids and our elementary school counselors told us things like, "you are all unique" and "everyone is special." Never mind that those are blatantly untrue statements that grossly misrepresent the definitions of both unique and special. It seemed like a nice thing to say and I always thought I was pretty special, if I did say so myself.

It turns out that, again based on my information from Facebook, I am not. A lot of us seem to be living quite similar lives. We are parents and spouses and employees. Some are divorced, some stay home with their kids. But pretty much, we are all just living our relatively quiet lives.

I somehow do not think that I will be running the nation in 15 years. Nor do I think that in 3 years I will be gracing the cover of a magazine like 38-year-old Heidi Klum is on the cover of this month's Marie Claire.

I get Marie Claire because in a bizarre twist of irony, I am rewarded for consistent recycling by earning random magazine subscriptions. I also get O.

The Heidi Klum article points out that she gets her great shape by "chasing her kids around" and strength training. I am so tired of celebrities who say they are in shape because they chase their kids. Where are their kids going and are they hopped up on drugs that they are so difficult to catch that it burns calories? They also say horseback riding a lot, but doesn't that seem like more of a workout for the horse?

Anyway, I guess I feel old. I am middle-aged. I am not going to be the president or on the cover of a magazine. Although why I am so annoyed by a German supermodel, I do not know. I blame Project Runway and an affinity for Michael J. Fox in Spin City.

My kids, and this is where they really come in handy, are ecstatic that it is my birthday. They have been "decorating." Which I will have to clean up tomorrow, but still. They got out party hats from Harry's birthday and wore them to breakfast. They are thrilled that there will be cake tonight with dinner.

I may not be happy about getting older, but we're singing happy birthday anyway.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Best Mom Tip #147: Read this in New Hampshire

You know how you're supposed to leave questions blank on the SAT if you don't know the answer? Yeah, I couldn't do that. I filled in a bubble on every line no matter what.

It drives me nuts when Jay leaves open the kitchen cabinets because there is now a gaping hole.

In my music appreciation class in college our professor told us a legend about, ummmm.... let's say... Mozart, and how his mom/paramour/whatever woke him up with an unfinished cadence. Like playing "shave-and-a-haircut" but leaving off the "two-bits." Mozart (or whoever this is about) would have to get out of bed just to play the last couple of notes. Obviously I don't remember any other details about this legend except that that would drive me nuts, too.

I have a problem with unfinished things.

Well, unfinished irrelevant things, at least. Pile of laundry on the bed/chair/pool table--no problem. Half of the dishes unloaded from the dishwasher--that's how it's supposed to look.

But putting down a book in the middle of a chapter? Beginning a pattern of anything and not being able to complete it? These things drive me absolutely nuts to the point that I will give up sleep and forgo dessert to take care of them.

So what does that have to do with New Hampshire? Just this: Blogger lets you see a map overlay of where in the world people have seen your blog. Although people in over 100 countries have accidentally found their way here, no one in New Hampshire ever has.

It's the only state not represented. It drives me crazy that the whole map is green...except for New Hampshire. I don't even know what Blogger is tracking when it tells me this and it still annoys me. For all I know New Hampshire doesn't have it's own system and any views from there show up as Vermont. They are really close together. And seem to be hugging.

But, really, no one? Ever? I mean, I have readers in India (what's up New Delhi?!!). And Iran. And once, someone in the Sudan stumbled here. How is it that no one in New Hampshire has ever wanted to buy their mom a "you're the best mom" t-shirt and clicked on my blog by mistake? Go ahead, google "best mom." You'll see what I mean.

So, help out a neurotic and obsessive person. Get someone in New Hampshire to read this so I can move on with my life.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Best Mom Tip #146: Don't take your kids to the doctor

O.k, I guess that you have to take your kids to the doctor. It's probably illegal or something to deny them medical care. I did read an article recently about a woman who remembers being told by her Christian Scientist parents that her chicken pox were only in her mind and that she should pray them away, so I guess that's an option.

Until I convert, however, I have to keep taking them (oftentimes en masse) to see various medical professionals. Today it was Baby Harry and the dermatologist. I don't know what it is about dermatological diseases, but they all sound awful.

I have a friend whose kid had a rash called giovanni crosti (or something that sounds like that-I never actually saw it written down). However you spell it, it sounds like something crusty you picked up on the subway while headed to Little Italy.

We took Harry to see if he had a thing called molluscum contagiosum. Which, because I am a nerd, made me think he had been cursed by a 3rd year from Hogwarts and that clams would soon be spreading across his body.

That's not what he has, actually, so if you were planning on coming to my house for dinner anytime soon there's no reason to throw up.

What I really don't like about taking kids to the doctor is that it involves a lot of intense sitting still. I say intense because I expend a lot of energy trying to keep everyone else still. I bribe them with snacks, electronic games, special toys-all in the hopes that no one will melt down until I understand what's wrong with the sick kid.

Today, as we were leaving, a mom told her very nice teenage boy to get the door for me. The problem was that I needed to unfold the double stroller and in those moments Griffin ran out the open door and down the hall of the office building. I had to put Harry down on the floor, put down my bag, the diaper bag, and the notes from the doctor, and chase him down.

I got back to the office door just as Harry was making his way out. That teenage kid politely held the door open the entire time. I'm sure our exit made all the other patients happy not to be me today.

There is nothing fun about taking kids to the doctor. Except maybe the princess stickers.