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Did you plan your life?

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When I was young, I never thought I would be a parent and I never thought I would be a wife. It just didn’t occur to me. I did plan once, with a childhood friend named Sherry, that we would share an apartment somewhere (particularly funny because I’m pretty sure neither of us had ever been in an apartment) and drink Tab and drive a shared Volkswagen bug. But I never planned a wedding in my head or named my kids like some people do. I eventually figured I would move to a city, but that was it.

Because of my lack of planning,  I was particularly interested last night when Jenn announced some planning of her own.  After I had yelled at her brother for a marginal offense, she announced:

” When I’m a mommy, it’s going to be really fun and I’m going to be nice all the time.”

We talked about what that might entail, and she had some further ideas for me.  (I’ll point out that she’s four.)

“For example, you could have just said, ‘Jake, stop doing that.'”

That was all she said, and then she moved on to finding an item for show and tell.

But I didn’t move on because she was right. Maybe I don’t need to start with cranky and angry. Maybe I can build to it. But with kids/dog/house I don’t really want in Ohio, by the time the kids get home from school, I have been building all day. If only mine went to eleven. (Have you seen This is Spinal Tap?)

Perhaps I should look up Sherry and see what she’s doing these days  — that apartment, car and can of Tab might be a perfect respite.

Jan 5, 2012

How long has it been since your underwear was too cute to cover up?

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This fall, my sister visited and it became clear on that visit that my kids’ underwear was not up to snuff. I’m usually just happy that they are wearing underwear, so I never gave it too much thought. It takes the experience of an older sister to make one’s errors crystal clear.

Because we are from the midwest, we mention most things on the sly. Which is how she approached my son, Jake’s, undergarments.

My sister, noting Jake’s super hero briefs:  Has Jake tried boxers?

Me:  I don’t think so.

My sister, nodding once with raised eyebrows: Hmm.  I think he would like them.

Of course, I trotted out and picked up tw0 3-packs of boxer shorts for Jake. They seem giant but they’re cute and he was very excited about wearing them to bed.

Confident that we had hit a winner, I suggested that he wear them to school one day.

Jake:  Boxing shorts to school? That’s crazy.

Me: Crazy why? I don’t think so.

Jake: I’m not wearing them under my clothes. That’s crazy.

Me: But it’s underwear. You’re supposed to wear it under your clothes.

Jake:  Under my pants?

Me: Yes, I promise. Ask Daddy. Or your cousin. I swear.

Jake, looking at himself in his boxers:  Nice.

Since in our last underwear conversation, he had insisted on wearing his sister’s Hello Kittys, I felt good about the “boxing shorts” progress. And the boxing shorts are pretty cute. Of course, if he takes his pants off once he gets to school, I’m sure the teachers will be sending a note home about it. Yet another item that will never make it into his baby book, because, predictably, he doesn’t have one.

Filed under Expectations, Underwear
Nov 29, 2011

Happy to have contributed to an optimist

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This morning, Jake checked out the weather on my phone while I was in the shower. He checks it daily: first checking weather in New York, then the weather in Michigan where my family is and then he gets to Cleveland. For Cleveland this morning,  it showed the little iphone pictures of a sun with rain drops coming out of it (thank you, Steve Jobs). Since it has rained virtually every single day since we moved here on August 14, I would have expected him to lament the impending rain. Or complained about it in some way. Instead, he called to me excitedly:  “It’s the sun with the rain coming out of it! Maybe there will be rainbows.”

I hope so. I could go for a rainbow.

 

Filed under Expectations
Nov 3, 2011

Want to take a parenting class with me?

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In 20 -ish years of post-college life, I have been busy hiring others to help me improve at my various pursuits. I have taken writing classes (to improve my writing), Spanish classes (to improve my Spanish), running classes (to improve my running) and swimming classes (to improve my swimming). I have hired a triathlon coach and a swimming coach. I have hired someone to clean my apartment, mow my lawn, train my dog (to no avail) and help watch my kids.

Clearly I have no problem seeking outside help. Yet I dragged my feet (and was faced with some eye rolls from friends) when given the opportunity to take a parenting class. Why are we supposed to have some innate parenting knack? Because lame or not, I do not have that knack.

“You’re a great parent,” one said. Then why did I almost bite off my lip this morning to keep from screaming, I wondered. And why does my 5-year old son count to three to get my 4-year old daughter to do something? (Which would be funny if it weren’t so awful.)

A swim coach helped quicken my race times. Perhaps this parenting class will help me quicken my kids’ response times, or lower the time it takes me to erupt. And since I don’t really have any friends  here yet, maybe I’ll find one who isn’t a total whackadoodle at class. I’m almost assured, however, of another blog post.

First class is tonight at 7. I’m cautiously optimistic.

 

Oct 4, 2011

Middle school

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When I moved to New York in 1992, I was alone in a city of millions. Now, in my new home, I’m alone in a small community and it’s much harder, I think.

I spent an hour last night at a PTA meeting and I was sad sitting in a room of women who have already called “same seats” in the middle school cafeteria where we sat. There is definitely some cruel irony in the fact that the meeting was held at the middle school: I can’t say I miss my overbite, frizzy hair and glasses. (Yes, I really was THAT cute in 7th grade.)

I’m not outgoing even at my most confident and as much as I might try to be that way, it’s not my nature. I’m a watcher and it will take a few PTA meetings for my extraordinary kindness and brilliant wit to rise to anybody’s attention. I volunteered to help with a handful of activities – when they see how years of micromanaging tv shoots has prepped me for organizing field trip payments, they’ll all want me to sit at their table.

 

Filed under Cleveland, Expectations, NYC
Sep 8, 2011

Who is your emergency contact?

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I had been patting myself on the back for being brave (not here , of course)  about the move t0 Ohio, but filling out the school forms tripped me up.   Jake and Jenn are both going to the same school this fall (or today, if you’re in Ohio), and I faced the predictable pile of forms.  I remembered to get the new pediatrician to fill out Jenn’s forms; I remembered to get the health forms sent for Jake from the NY pediatrician, and I dutifully looked up my husband’s office and cel phone numbers (which I am refusing to commit to memory in case this whole bit of nonsense passes and we can return to our 917 numbers).

I was buttoned up, which is not always the case for lame mom. Then I got to the emergency release forms – you know, who can the school call in case of an emergency to pick up your kids if you aren’t reachable. The form said I needed to list someone, not a parent, who is nearby. And at 41 years old, suddenly, I don’t have anyone to put down as my emergency contact. Can I list the stranger who re-did our wood floors? Or the cutie pie who put my groceries in the back of my new car the other day?

I expect I felt as bad as my kids would if nobody came to pick them up from school. So I put down my sister, who is seven hours away by car, because there’s nobody here yet. With the dollar a minute we are charged at school for a late pick-up, I am confident she will drive fast if she gets the call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 22, 2011

Do two bad choices make a really bad choice? Or is bad just bad?

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I might have hit another low yesterday evening, as far as the nutrition police are concerned. The kids and I went for dinner at our local  (and very delicious, actually) Chirping Chicken. We all got it our way:  fingers for Jake and nuggets for Jenn, fries across the board, corn on the cob and chicken soup to share. We found a table outside and watched the 5pm exodus from the playground across the street.

Our food came and I was feeling pretty good, in part because the mom sitting at the table next to ours with her 3 year old and 1 year old commented that our ages (5 and 3) seem more fun, especially for a dinner out, even at a Chirping Chicken. (Can we deny that she is right? No way.) The kids were eating; I was mentally calculating how many days until I can have a guilt-free beer, and Jenn asked me to help her spread her butter. Lazily, I first suggested that she just dip in her butter and she insisted that she needed it spread. So I helped her.

I was on the third nugget when I realized I was spreading butter on my daughter’s chicken nuggets. Gross out. Who does that? Of course, the butter came for the corn on the cob, which the kids rejected so I ate.  Jenn sees butter as a way to make everything better (Again, can we deny that she is right?) and I’m a helper so we were wiping thick globs of soft-ish butter on her nuggets. I always figure butter on corn or brocoli is a small price to pay, if the kids actually eat the vegetable, but on fried, fake-ish chicken?

Virtually all of my son’s classmates and their parents passed our table and chatted with us as they walked home from the playground. If anybody took note, I can’t imagine what they thought the yellow stuff was all over Jenn’s food. I’ll note that nobody was jumping to arrange any play dates.

The silver lining? That it was actually butter that we globbed all over her food, and not something from a big tub of margarine, because I’m pretty sure it was not until college that I eschewed margarine for real butter, and Miracle Whip for mayo… She’s so sophisticated, my daughter. And she ate almost all the nuggets, which was good enough for what it was.

 

 

Jun 22, 2011

New babies and my ever-sliding standards

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Everybody seems to agree — parenting evolves with each subsequent child. Which is to say, in my case, my standards have fallen and I am less concerned with lots of the extraneous stuff. Maybe, 6 years after my first pregnancy,  I’m more lazy, (yes), maybe I’m more busy (yes), maybe I just know better which things we really need. (Or maybe I’m justifying. Very possibly.)

My third baby is coming in four weeks, I’m told. My cousin (younger and sweeter than I) is having her first baby in about two weeks, give or take, and our “parallel pregnancies” have been fun to follow. Aside from being younger and sweeter, she is also made for this parenting thing and seems utterly ready. I had a wild panic attack when, upon seeing a picture of her new baby’s room, I realized I didn’t have ANYTHING ready for my baby 3. Nary a diaper purchased. The preparations are complicated by the fact that we’re moving cities a few weeks after his grand arrival, but I hadn’t even come up with sleeping accommodations for my poor bugger. (Though I owe a big thanks to MomTrends, as at their Travel Event last week, I  was the lucky winner of the Britax Baby Carrier so my poor bugger will at least be schlepped in style!)

So while I now can haul around baby 3 easily, he has no where to sleep because I got rid of our drop-side crib (that my two nieces, nephew and my two big kids have all used) because they are now deemed dangerous.  My cousin’s baby’s room has beautifully painted knobs on the dresser and my poor bugger doesn’t even have a bed. Should someone call children’s services? Doesn’t it seem silly to put together a crib for three weeks? Won’t he just torture me in my bed for the first few weeks anyway? Happily, we still have a pack-n-play somewhere in the back of a closet, and that can be a bed for a few weeks, can’t it? I was feeling moderate about the decision, but still longing for a “done” baby’s room. This thought process inevitably set off one of my “I’m-supposed-to-be-nesting-not-packing” tantrums, which hit me most evenings.

Like everything else, it’s always a matter of what roads you have been down. The night I started worrying about painted knobs, I was chatting with my husband’s grandmother and she was remembering how sad she was when she left England as a young bride with her husband and kids. Of course, they were after a better life, but she was still sad to leave her home country. I was lamenting our upcoming move and she laughed when I complained that I didn’t even have a bed for the baby. “Well, dear, ” she said. “When they’re that small, a drawer will be fine. He won’t know and you won’t tell him.”  Begrudgingly, I have to admit that she’s right. Now if I can keep the big kids from telling him.

 

 

 

 

Filed under Babies, Expectations, Family
Jun 21, 2011

Just like in the movie

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Today on the bus I was chatting with Jenn about my day:  I was headed to meet my friend, also named Jenn. The Jenns had met a couple of times and I was keen to have my daughter Jenn remember my friend Jenn.

Me:  Remember last summer when that lady with the same name as you came to the apartment with her three daughters?

Jenn:  No.

Me:  (Trying again)  Remember when that family met us at our cottage and you and Daddy  took the three little girls tubing?

Jenn:  (No reply, but starting to exhibit some recollection. Or maybe she was imagining the chocolate croissant I had just told her we could buy.)

Me:  Remember the littlest girl who was almost your age and you and your brother wanted her to stay to play? Her name was Charlotte?

Jenn:  Charlotte.

Me:  (Relieved this exercise was almost over, and confident she is about to remember my dear friend. ) Yes!

Jenn:  Like in the movie.

At which point I was no longer dying for Jenn to remember my friend, I had moved on to horror that my daughter thought Charlotte’s Web was a movie and not a book.  I really just wanted to kick the Easter Bunny for bringing the DVD of Charlotte’s Web instead of the book. Stupid bunny. Even if it’s a good one, my kids can’t become literary geniuses watching the movies.

 

 

Note:  Incidentally — my kids LOVED watching Charlotte’s Web. I was all ready for a pair of sobbing disasters, but they were fine. In fact, when I asked them if it had been a little sad, they agreed but pointed out that Charlotte had died but she first laid 514 eggs. Pretty impressive big-picture view, I thought. I was the only sobbing disaster to be found.

 

Filed under Expectations, Parenting
May 17, 2011

Husband recovers: Mother’s Day do-over a success

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So my husband failed Mother’s Day this year.  He neither planned anything nor stepped up to make any impromptu grand gestures. The kids made cards under the direction of the babysitter and she helped them buy my gifts:  a rose with a teddy bear magnet on it saying “I love you” and a small white ceramic heart thingie that now sits near the sink in my bathroom.  Perfect. Only orchestrated not by my husband.

His fumble was puzzling, as I had been mentioning the “holiday” for weeks. And I had even offered it up as chance for him to have a return to glory  following his UTTER failure of my birthday, one week prior. (Lest you judge me as harsh:  it was like 16 Candles with no Jake at the end. He didn’t remember it was my birthday until noon, which meant I left him sleeping as I walked the dog at 6, got the kids ready for school, etc. I think he clued in when he noticed that the babysitter had brought me flowers, gifts from the kids, cards and a cake – perfect again, though again, orchestrated not by my husband.)

After the birthday debacle, I blamed myself. I simply needed to implement some remedial training, showing him how one should celebrate a birthday properly. Rather, showing how I believe one should celebrate a birthday properly.  So I offered a re-do, in the shape of Mother’s Day. Obviously I was not clear enough, as that holiday also did not go well. (I’ll point out that I’m pregnant, so a little nuttier than usual.)

Mother’s Day evening, I was spent from watching my husband nap on the couch (truly) while I scraped together bowls of cereal for the kids’ dinner, so we watched a DVR-ed episode of Modern Family — the Mother’s Day episode. After the show, I pointed out all the instances of proper celebration:  coffee and breakfast in bed, cards made by the kids, a special meal not created by the mother, etc.

Well, apparently that primer was just what he needed as this past Saturday morning, while I read in bed (!!), he and the kids wrapped up a bunch of gifts, –  an apple, last week’s rose w/ teddy bear stuck to it, white ceramic heart thingie and a beautiful new ipad (the actual item, not a piece of paper saying “Good for one ipad” — this husband stood in line at the Apple Store!)  – and they all helped me open them in bed. Then we went on a Mother’s Day, Take 2,  hike, got Mother’s Day, Take 2, ice cream and tackled the grocery store and dinner together.

Of course, all I really wanted to do is stay home and figure out and play with my new ipad, but the day was perfect, regardless. I imagine I should start planning Father’s Day.  Though the pressure is low, as I figure I have a few tries to get it right.

Filed under Expectations, Family
May 16, 2011

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