Category Archives: parenting

The Chill Pills Are Working

Last year, I got a bee in my bonnet about having a perfectly matched Christmas tree. I excommunicated all the tattered and handmade ornaments to a mini tree which I relegated to the sunroom, and informed the family that only the pre-designated red and gold ornaments could be hung on the official Christmas tree.

I then tried to sell the mini tree to my offspring as a very special tree they could decorate in any way they pleased (even though I snuck back during the dead of night to re-arrange their handiwork), but they saw right through the chicanery. One child was so upset that she did not come out of her room for two hours. I recognized the folly of my ways eventually, but not before ruining Christmas Decorating Day and creating traumatic memories that my children will need years of therapy to work through

That’s why last weekend, before we hauled out all the Christmas stuff, the P-Dawg said, “Are you going to do that thing again where you don’t let the kids put up their favorite ornaments?”

“Of course not. I made a mistake last year. They can hang any ornament anywhere and any which way they like.”

When we hauled out the boxes, my daughter approached me and asked very timidly, “Mama, which ornaments are we allowed to put on the tree?”

It was then that the shriveled up husk I call a heart disintegrated altogether.

“There are no restrictions on ornament placement this year,” I told her. I’m sorry I was such a jerk.

Then I sat back and watched them go to town. What’s more, I was able to restrain myself from moving even one single ornament from the branch it was clustered on with three or five of its low hanging friends.

And I’ll let you in on another secret: When I put up the banister garland, I did not loop it around the rungs using a precise, mathematical pattern as I have done in the past. In some places, garland is bunched together and in other places it’s spread out. Also,  there is about three feet of garland with malfunctioning lights right in the middle of the whole she-bang, which I’m choosing to pretend does not exist.

As a casual observer you may not even notice this, but for me it’s a personal victory. One which I tend to perseverate on when I wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden urge to re-hang the banister garland, but a victory nevertheless.

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The Depth of my Depravity

The problem with having young children is you just can’t devour a chocolate bar without being noticed.

The other day, I gave my kids a healthy after school snack of apples and wheat germ. Then I planted them in front of an educational television program and scurried back to the kitchen, whereupon I opened the pantry and proceeded to stare inside.

I noticed a chocolate bar.

I took that chocolate bar and began to unwrap it with the stealth of a sniper. I even paused my breathing. The first velvet bite was mere inches away from my mouth when two small humans, about yea big, materialized behind me.

“WHAT ARE YOU EATING MAMA?”

Lickety-split, I tucked that chocolate bar into the elastic waistband of my yoga pants.

“Oh, just some raw almonds. Would you like one?”

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We’ll Probably Give Her Some Ice Cream, Too. And Maybe a Steak with a Side of Formula

With my birthday just around the corner, (*cough* Saturday *cough*), I’ve been thinking about my own mortality.  Specifically, what it might be like to have grandchildren.

Of course, I’m still up to my eyeballs in children of my own, but earlier today I had a sudden vision of a grown and happily married V-meister dropping her firstborn off for the P-Dawg and me to babysit. (I’m not saying that I don’t expect Jonas to get married and have kids, only that I’m placing all the pressure squarely on the V-meister.)

In my vision, the V-meister comes over with an adorable baby who looks just like me and she’s toting an enormous bag containing a year’s supply of diapers, three changes of clothing, diaper creme, cloth wipes, toys (3), bibs (2), pacifiers (2), a laminated index card with emergency phone numbers and instructions, and one measly little baby bottle with like three (3) ounces of breastmilk in it.

Like I used to.

I immediately grab my grandchild from the V-meister and take off her socks.

And the V-meister is like, “Mom, I just put those socks on her!”

And I’m like, “Nonsense! Babies don’t need socks. And when is the last time you fed her? She looks like she’s about to gnaw off her own hand.”

“I just fed her ten minutes ago, so she probably won’t even need to eat until I get back. There’s a bottle of breast milk in the bag, but don’t give it to her unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“You don’t have to worry, I know when a baby’s hungry.”

“You can just give it to her at room temperature, you don’t even need to heat it up.”

(Me, examining the bottle.) “Where’s the rest of it? This isn’t even enough to feed a hamster.”

“Mom!”

“Okay.”

“Remember not to microwave it.”

“Of course not.”

“And when you change her diaper, make sure the fringy little elastic thingies are flipped outwards because last time her clothes got wet.”

“Really? I don’t remember that. But don’t worry, sweetie, I got it. Hey, P-Dawg! (yelling in direction of home office where the retired P-Dawg is in his underwear, playing poker online) HOW MANY KIDS DID WE RAISE?”

(P-Dawg, from office) “Two.”

“Your father and I raised two children. We know what we’re doing.”

“Okay, Mom. Thanks so much for watching her for me. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“Don’t rush sweetie. It’s my pleasure.”

“Okay. Don’t put her carrier on the kitchen table.”

“She will be safe in my arms the whole time.”

“Well. I guess that’s it. Did I forget anything?”

“I doubt it. Just go! (pushing V-meister out the door) Enjoy yourself!”

“Ok, Mama. Bye. And don’t forget – only use the breast milk in case of emergency!”

“No worries, sweetie! Bye-bye!”

As soon as the V-meister takes off in her solar powered SUV, I’ll go ahead and warm up that breast milk in the microwave. I’ll probably add a little goat’s milk into the mix, too.  The poor baby’s starving, for cryin’ out loud.

Next, I’ll remove about three extra layers of clothing (from the baby), and then the P-Dawg and I will go outside and sit with her on a blanket under a tree. We will let her go diaperless and eat some dirt.  And I’m going to be really honest with you: we’ll probably let her stay outside for 20 minutes with no sunblock on.

It’s going to be great.

Vija with my beautiful mother, who always put up with and followed my childcare instructions, even when I typed them up.

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Are They Deaf?

I bet Julie Andrews didn’t lose her singing voice from that botched surgery.  I bet she severed her vocal cords yelling at her kids from the bottom of the stairs.

Before I had children, I never yelled from the bottom of the stairs. I had better things to do, like paint my toenails, read a magazine, or organize photographs into neatly labeled albums. I seem also to recall wandering aimlessly around the mall and trying clothes on, just for fun.

Now, if I’m not standing at the bottom of the staircase screaming like a gym teacher, it’s only because I’m standing next to the rear passenger door of my SUV with my eyes pointed heavenward, uttering “You think I have nothing better to do than stand out here like some kind of chauffeur, freezing my butt off while you climb in? Jesus, Mary and Joseph, just get in the car!”

Through clenched teeth, so the neighbors wouldn’t hear.

From the bottom of the stairs, I yell things like, “If you’re not down here in two minutes, we’re leaving without you and I’m not even kidding!” (a lie) or, “Hey, V-meister! I asked you a question! And if I don’t get a response in the next five seconds, I’m coming up!” (A bold faced lie.)

It’s almost as though my kids are willfully ignoring me.

And that’s why it’s so hard to understand why every time I turn on the vacuum cleaner, a child materializes next to me in two seconds flat with a sudden inexplicable desire to chat.

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