Serenity Now

Ay dios mio, can’t we just give each other a break? I stumbled across this article last week and vomited in my mouth a little as I read it. It’s one of those mom stories that reads like it makes a non-controversial point, but at its core, is so judgy and mean. In a nutshell (for those of you who don’t want to read, which amen, sistah), the writer is calling out a mom who is sitting on a park bench and looking at her iPhone while her children play nearby. Her poor, poor children, who are desperate for their mother’s attention while they twirl around like a “beauty queen” and coo and wither away from total lack of attention.

But you know what? There are plenty of totally reasonable things that mom could be doing on her phone while her children play. For example, she could be:
1. Researching some awful diagnosis a sick family member just received.
2. Checking work emails on her phone so her kids can play in the park in the middle of the day.
3. Planning an amazing party or trip for her family.
4. Looking at porn.
5. Taking a goddamn break so she doesn’t spontaneously combust from exhaustion and stress.
6. Totally faking interest in her phone so she doesn’t have to talk to you about how beautiful it is to raise children.

Whatever she is doing, here is what I think: who the f cares. Unless her kids are attacking your kids, or hurting themselves, or peeing on the slide, then just calm yourself.

It seems like the god-awful, media-perpetuated “mommy wars” have cooled off a bit but I still hear moms talk smack about each other almost as much as I hear them support each other. Let’s all just be honest: we really have no idea what we are doing at any given moment. Right? We’re all just making our best guesses throughout the day, and are totally unsure about so many of our decisions, and deep down know that there is a massive amount of luck in raising well-adjusted, good kids. Instead of saying that, though, we bash each other’s choices to try to make ourselves comfortable with our own.

I try to be conscious about not judging other moms, but I have been so harsh on myself about my own choices. I tortured myself when I was a working mom, feeling constantly guilty about not spending enough time with my kids and imagining all the beautiful, thoughtful things I would do with them if only I was home. So now that I’m on the other side and have been a SAHM for a few months, I want to assure my working mom friends who feel conflicted: the way you parent probably isn’t going to change just because you stop working. For example, I used to see projects and recipes on Pinterest and other similarly evil websites when I was working, and think that if only I were home more, I would do them all. With a huge smile on my face, while wearing a lovely apron. And also, my kids would listen to me and seek out my wisdom and guidance, and I would suddenly be good at math.

But really, what has changed is that I do more stuff around the house (and I’m talking about the stuff that needs to get done, not optional stuff like baking holiday-themed after school snacks or ironing). I do some fun projects with the kids, but probably not much more than I used to, and I get to pick them up a little earlier from school. Also, I add flax seed to meals because in my head that seems like something a thoughtful SAHM does.

I think my kids are mostly happy to have me around for a few more hours every day, but it really hasn’t been a monumental change for them. For example, my son asked me the other day how my work was going. I asked him what he was talking about, and he said, “You know, your work, at the office I went to that one time, where I played on your computer and wrote FART really big on the screen.” Um. My normally very aware son, who can tell you exactly how many Thin Mints I have stashed in the freezer right now, had forgotten that I haven’t been working for the past seven months.

So my point is: let’s all calm down and give each other a break. The kids are fine and we’re doing OK. Working, not working, leaning in, reclining back, falling over – we’re all just trying our best to do a really hard job that doesn’t have any guidelines or guarantees, and the least the adults can do is be cool to each other.

And if you’re reading this post on your iPhone while your kids are playing nearby, and some woman is giving you the evil eye, it is not me. And you have my permission to totally ignore her and go right back to looking at porn reading about current events.

Pining Away

I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our household, Piney Porky McHedgypants.


Piney arrived on a cold December evening, shortly after Christmas, wrapped in a massive amount of leftover Hanukkah wrapping paper from our beloved Uncle John (who, interestingly, is neither an uncle nor a John). After a fierce debate about whether it was a boy or girl porcupine or hedgehog, and why the hell didn’t it have any pants on, the kids settled on the name Piney Porky McHedgypants. Obviously.

Don’t let his painfully adorable smile and whimsical little ball nose fool you. Piney is kind of an asshole and has scared the shit out of me twice now: once when I checked on my daughter in the middle of the night and found him sitting in her rocking chair (I swear the chair was moving), and once when I walked by the kids’ bathroom and found HIM SITTING ON THE TOILET. The kids promise they did not put him there, and I totally believe them.

After that second scare, I had a brief, horrible thought of “losing” Piney the way certain noisy or messy toys seem to always get “lost” in my house. Whoops, mommy threw them away by accident, my bad. But LOOK at him. I can’t imagine seeing his sweet huge face staring up at me from the trash can, surrounded by empty juice boxes and banana peels. Or worse, his nubby, soft arms reaching out for a hug from the garbage man right before he chucks him in the back of the truck.

So I’ve asked Piney to start running errands for me. He’s been extremely cooperative.

photo 2 (2)

But the little bastard sucks at laundry. I told him he’s got two weeks to figure out how to use the dryer, or I might accidentally misplace him.

Cracking Up

J and L have been calling each other “stale crackers” for the past few days.  They heard it on Jake and the Neverland Pirates – Jake and his little cartoon hooligan friends run around Neverland saying, “Last one to the ship is a stale cracker!”  Um.  As a white woman whose doctor just told her she’s getting older, I am super uncomfortable hearing my kids call each other stale crackers.  Sigh.

So it got all kinds of Christmas-y up in my house today.  I found the most overpriced beautiful wrapping paper and gift tags at Container Store and wrapped up some toys for my nieces and nephews.  I am sharing the picture with you because, even though my kids politely oohh-ed and ahhh-ed when I showed them a pile of beautifully wrapped presents, you and I both know they really don’t give a shit.  But maybe you do!


I also made an owl ornament today.  I use the term “made” very loosely, because I just got a $4.99 kit at Michael’s, and stuck a threaded needle through some pre-cut holes in some pre-cut felt.  Wait, is that sewing?  Did I sew?  Anyways, this owl is freaking awesome.


While I was at Michael’s, I saw a mom and daughter in the scrapbooking aisle who were just about to get into it.  The mom was wearing a Harvard Law sweatshirt, and something about it looked legit to me – not like she bought it on a trip to Boston, or like it was left over from the ’80s when all the cool seventh graders wore college sweatshirts.  It looked like she actually went to Harvard law school.  Or at least that’s what I made up in my head.  I overheard her say to her middle-school aged daughter, “I KNOW what an ink dauber is, DO NOT talk to me that way or you can forget about that embosser…THING.”  For the record, I have no idea what ink daubers or embossers are, and they scare me.

I felt for that woman.  Michael’s totally overwhelms me because the moms in there who are really good at crafting speak another language and have customs and tools that are totally foreign to me.  I imagine that woman was thinking something like this:  “I am a freaking highly educated woman standing in a strip mall craft store and an 11-year-old is smack talking my knowledge of SCRAPBOOKING SUPPLIES?  What have I done with my life.”

We’ve all been there.  Well, maybe not in a craft store arguing over embossers with a surly tween, but in that place where we know we’re working so hard – and we have the wrinkles and gray hairs to prove it – and somehow we’re still totally unprepared for what is coming at us.  Maybe that is why I am in love with my five dollar owl.  I bought it, I read the instructions, I made it, it’s cute.  The end.  Just simple and finite.

Which is pretty much the exact opposite of trying to explain to your 4 and 5-year-old why they can’t call each other crackers.  Can an ink dauber help with that?

Monkeys, Minaj, and More

So I started thinking that I had nothing to write about today and then I see this:  Image

It is like the universe is telling me to write and is sending forlorn pocket-sized monkeys as its messengers.  If you happened to lose your adorable, tiny, shearling-coat wearing monkey today, he is apparently wandering around an Ikea in Toronto.  And he’s wearing a diaper.  And according to at least one woman in the store who posted a video of the little guy on YouTube, the whole experience was “terrifying.”  OH my god, now I just read that this monkey was locked in its crate in a car, and it managed to get out of said crate, OPEN THE CAR DOOR, and make it across the presumably huge Ikea parking lot to do a little shopping.  That IS terrifying.  The owner wasn’t supposed to have the monkey in the first place, so now the Toronto authorities aren’t giving him back.  What will become of this poor monkey?  Well, at least he’s dressed appropriately for winter in Toronto.  Do you think he’s going to go to a zoo or animal shelter now and be like, “Why the hell are all of these monkeys naked?”  And all the other monkeys are going to be all, “OH, look at fancy clothed monkey in his warm shearling coat and poop-catching diaper, he thinks he’s better than us, let’s eat him.”  Poor, poor monkey.

In other news, sometimes my daughter says something so thoughtful, so sweet, so insightful, that I am in total awe of her.  And then other times, she asks me to call her Nicki Minaj when I pick her up from school.  

I just had to write that down because I don’t want to ever forget it.  

Anyways, by this point in my stay-at-home mom adventure, I expected to have some insightful perspective on the whole thing.  I thought I’d have some clarity about what was better for my family, for my kids, for me.  But instead, I have never felt so old in my life because my body is going batshit crazy.  

First, I tore the meniscus in my knee because I had the nerve to actually work out for the first time in, oh, a year.  To quote my orthopedist:  “Who do you think you are, doing lunges at your age.”  Why I never.  Luckily it wasn’t a bad tear and I only had to wear a gigantic brace and hobble around for about ten days.  But, as my mother always told me, walking like a peg-legged pirate for ten days has its price.  For me, it aggravated a back problem I hadn’t even thought about for like four years and caused me to HERNIATE A DISC.  That is in all caps because it is TOTALLY MERITED.

And of course, my disc has the balls to herniate itself right after my husband leaves for a business trip and I am solely responsible for the kids.  Shit always hits the fan as soon as my husband is en route to his fancy hotel and his expense-account nights out with co-workers.  If not for my amazing neighbor swooping in and taking care of my kids while I whimpered on my heating pad, I have no idea what I would have done.  Well, I would have taken painkillers and drooled on myself – I guess I should say I’m not sure what the kids would have done.

So the worst part of the back pain is behind me, but it has slowed me down for going on four weeks now.  Which means for four weeks I have been feeling useless and not doing the looooong list of things I wanted to do after I quit my job, and my husband has been doing everything.  All while listening to me tell him he’s doing it all wrong (well, he is).  

So that’s why I just don’t have any perspective yet.  It’s disappointing, but maybe also a lesson – that when you have more unscheduled time in your day, there’s more room for stuff to go totally off track.  Or to stop trying to plan stuff and just take care of yourself.  Or that even when you are lying on the kitchen floor in excruciating pain, it will take a good 30 minutes of eating dinner before one of your kids says, “Hey, what are you doing?”  Or maybe I am just getting old.  

I’m going with the first two.