Mama makes you feel better because your kids have normal hobbies. Some kids collect things. Perhaps yours collect shells. Or stamps. Or Pokemon cards. Maybe you complain because sometimes your lives seem to revolve around that collection. Wow, that must be rough for ya’ll. Your kid showing an interest in something that can teach them about their world, their history, or ignite their imagination.
You know what my kids collect?
Used cups. That’s right. The little cups they use to swish and spit when brushing their teeth cannot be thrown away in this house. They are stored securely in their rooms. And by securely, I mean, they’re everywhere.
A glimpse under any bed, dresser, or book shelf reveals a collection worthy of awe and reverie. Used paper cup collectors from around the globe would marvel at what my children have meticulously collected.
What is the purpose of this collection? Well, who doesn’t find themselves in need of a cup now and again? Need a place to put the change you have stolen from your parents’ pockets? Grab a cup. Did a beaded necklace break and you’d like to store the parts so your mother can throw them away when you’re not looking fix it? Well, there’s a cup right behind the door jam perfect for that.
Whenever we attempt to dispose of a cup, my husband and I are met with angry protests. We have learned that our children are not above rummaging through the garbage.
When we last ran out of cups, my judicious daughters ran to their rooms to fill dust-covered cups with water. And we let them. Because it filled them with pleasure to make use of their beloved collections. Mostly, we were too lazy to go downstairs to fetch clean cups from the kitchen.
Because your child is not the only one on the block completely terrified of losing her teeth. I didn’t lose a tooth until I was well into 2nd grade and all of my friends already resembled jack-o-lanterns. Needless to say, I could not wait until my chompers started falling out. This means I was completely unprepared for the terror my own child felt at the prospect of losing her first tooth.
When it comes to the first, I get it. If I woke up one day with a loose toe and it just fell off a few months later, I suppose it would alarm me. By the third toe – especially after I had clearly seen that new toes kept growing back – I think I’d be all “Oh, another toe just fell off. Sweet, I needed some more cash.” Not my kid.
Last night, right after bath time, the third tooth fell out. What was the reaction? She burst into tears so hysterical that she literally gave herself a bloody nose. She gave herself a bloody nose, people! And since her mom is just the tops, I took a picture of the poor kid in full on bloody hysterics.
The good news? She’s currently got five wiggly teeth.
Because tonight’s dinner is mac and cheese. Literally. I didn’t realize we were out of milk until it was too late. The one element of nutrition in this meal, gone. Mama’s dignity, gone. The mac and cheese, gone. Apparently my kids dig carbs, butter, and cheese. I wonder where they got that from…
Most of us know that NSFW means “Not Safe For Work.” We know to interpret that to mean that the material following includes some mature content that you wouldn’t want on your computer screen when your boss passes by. We also know it means that what follows has the potential to be lewd, offensive, or crass. You know who might not know that? People who retired long before the Internet came along and reduced office productivity by 87%. People like the lovely folks I call mom, aunt, or uncle. People who should probably just stop reading now.
Seriously, I’d say we should invent a new acronym, NSFFOAOG: Not Safe For Family Of An Older Generation, but I’m pretty sure they would see that and just assume anyone using it was another illiterate victim of the Whole Language movement of the 80s. Alas. The bottom line is, you have to spell it out for them phonics style. If you were born before the Truman administration, STOP READING THIS NOW! Seriously Aunt Cathy, just stop.
You see, today’s Mama Makes You Feel Better came to me with a little message that said, “I hope this doesn’t offend you.” Offend me it did not. I LOVED it! If my thighs looked this cute, I’d have done it myself long ago. I’m pretty sure that every single mom and dad with a kid under 8 at home (please tell me this stops when they’re 8) can relate to this picture.
Today, Mama is making you feel better because you, my friend, are NOT the only one who has company every time you need to use the facilities. Every. Single. Time. You are not the only ones whose children take your entrance into the bathroom as a sign that you want a hug or to hear a lengthy recap of the latest episode of Sofia the First. You are not alone. Literally.
Because Daddy’s drink wine, too. There’s been some talk about sexism on here recently, and it occurred to us that dads need to be represented more frequently on this page. Good dads put their fair share of work into child rearing, which means they’re enjoying some of the good stuff along with us. And by good stuff, I mean booze.
Our inaugural featured daddy is home only twice a week for dinner. On this night, he and his wife planned to have a really nice steak dinner… their girls had other plans. They both abandoned their dinners, climbed on top of Daddy and polished off everything on his plate. Thankfully, there was one thing they couldn’t get a hold of – Daddy’s wine.
This morning I woke up in a panic. On summer days, I allow my children to be my alarm clock. Today, I woke up with a start, realizing that the amount of sunshine gleaming through my bedroom window was far too powerful for 7a.m. I turned, expecting to see my husband missing, in my sleepy haze wondering if he’d gotten up with the kids and was letting me sleep in. But there he was, tucked under the covers, snoring gently. A glance at the clock informed me that it was 8:45, and that was when the panic truly set in.
I don’t have a newborn if that’s what you’re thinking. The days of waking up, terrified that something was wrong because your infant was actually sleeping are long gone. No, I was sitting in bed, full of anxiety, because I was afraid that my daughters, aged three and six, would miss our scheduled summer activities. The ones scheduled by me.
I have the summers off and am beyond grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my children, a luxury I know other parents long for. I do not send them to camp because, in the springtime – when camps begin filling up – I am swamped at work, missing them dearly, and fantasizing about our long, glorious summer days together. Come August, when I have broken up roughly 89 sibling squabbles and waded in the suspiciously warm local kiddie pool a dozen times, I am regretting that decision just a little bit.
By week one of summer vacation, I felt that the only solution to my children’s wild behavior and my boredom was a strict adherence to a schedule of my own creation. If my children were entertained for every minute of the day, not only would we be making memories for them to reminisce about for years to come, but their lack of boredom would mean there would be no reason for them to lash out at me or each other. That sounds pretty Type A of me. I assure you, I am what most people would consider a Type J. Which is why this didn’t quite work out.
Each day would revolve around one or two “events,” like a visit to a museum, a local water park, or an art room. All meals and snacks would be systematically scheduled around said event, and would be mini-events in their own rites. Downtime? Also scheduled. The iPad and television would be used at certain times of the day (like when Mama was making meals or trying to take deep breaths in a corner somewhere). My children would have a routine and we would be a happier family because of it…is what I thought.
Instead, this schedule created a morning of mayhem. Every morning began with a hurried breakfast, angst over what to wear (my three-year-old never wants what I have picked out and my 6-year-old is constantly asking to wear seasonally inappropriate attire, like a long-sleeved velvet dress on a 90-degree day). Then there came the point in the morning where I start shouting, “We are not leaving this house until your hair is brushed!” while one of the girls attempts to slyly stick the hairbrush under a couch cushion.
On average, it takes us an hour and a half to get ourselves ready for the day’s “event.” This means that lunchtime is often delayed, causing everyone’s blood sugar to drop to level “cantankerous.” By 3 p.m. everyone is angry with each other and I begin counting down the seconds (hours) until it is socially acceptable to start drinking wine and for my husband to arrive home from work.
On this particular morning, a dollar showing of Minions was on our agenda. Showtime was at 10 a.m. which meant we had about 40 minutes to get out of the house in order to get there in time. I had a choice: have an even more harried morning than typical so that the rest of our day could go as planned, or just throw the schedule out the window and let the morning play itself out. I reluctantly chose the latter, preparing myself for countless cries of “She’s copying me” and laments about boredom. What I got surprised me.
Going with the flow, when my older daughter asked if she could make everyone breakfast, I obliged. She was soon happily filling up bowls with yogurt and granola, something I never would have allowed her to do if I was worried about getting to one of our events on time. She happily talked herself through the process as if she were hosting a cooking program and beamed with pride as we all gobbled it up. The girls then asked if they could put on some make-up and I obliged, with the condition that they had to ask before they put on each new product – I’ve learned my lesson. They even put on their own tunes.
When the inevitable squabble occurred (One unstructured morning helped our overall morale – it didn’t make us the Von Trapps), it was resolved in less than 5 minutes. Why? Because no one’s patience had been tested. I’d spent my morning sipping earl grey tea – finishing both cups while they were still warm. My children were still in their pajamas, their hair in messy pony tails leftover from the day before. With no one agitated after a chaotic morning, I could react calmly and rationally, choosing to listen to my daughters rather than immediately scolding them. They, in turn, were able to listen to each other and come to an agreement. And okay, fine, for purposes of full disclosure, it also helped that the iPad they were fighting over died while we were reaching a resolution.
The afternoon led us outside where the girls snipped kale from our garden and I picked some zucchini to bake with. When I realized we were out of chocolate chips, we slipped on our shoes and took a stroll down the street to get some from the local convenient store. With the oven on, everyone was getting hot, and when the girls asked if we could head to the pool, I was relaxed enough to actually want to go myself. Two hours later, we came home, put some clothes on over our chlorine-soaked bodies, and when my husband arrived home, went over to my in-laws house for a lovely birthday dinner for my mother-in-law.
When we put the kids to bed that night, everyone was worn out. The kids fell asleep within minutes of putting their heads on their pillows and I was right behind them. Laying in bed, I wondered why everyone was so tuckered out after doing nothing. That’s when I realized that doing nothing was our event of the day. Doing nothing meant putting on pink eye shadow and eating chocolate chips out of the bag. It meant diving for sinking toys in a pool while your mom chatted with friends. Doing nothing was playing a harmonica at the dinner table and eating home-baked blueberry pie. As I dozed off, I realized that, sometimes, the “event” is letting our day reveal itself to us.
Make no mistake, this does not mean that there will be no more events planned for this summer, but that we need to schedule in some time to breathe. Let’s be honest, if we let the day reveal itself to us five days a week, I’m fairly sure our next “event” would be a trip to the pharmacy to pick up a king-sized bottle of Xanax for Mama.
Once upon a time, I dropped a bowl full of leftover cranberry sauce, which splattered all over the kitchen. I sponged most of it up that evening (I’m not an animal), but some of the sauce found its way to the door jam we use to track the girls’ height. I fear that taking a magic eraser to the sauce will also remove the height lines. So the cranberry sauce, fingerprints, and other unidentified smears remain. For purposes of full disclosure, I dropped it while we were hosting Friendsgiving 2015. I’ll allow you to check this post date and do the math.
We are failing our children. Do you realize that, with Easter’s passing, my children will not receive a bucket of candy until the final day of October? Worse yet, unless one of them loses a tooth, a mythical creature will not enter my home until the arrival of Mother Goose, our Elf on the Shelf, in late November. How are my children supposed to have a childhood filled with magic and wonder if they are to go over a month without a holiday that is celebrated with a stranger breaking into our home and leaving them gifts and high fructose corn syrup? Our children deserve better, which is why I have devised this handy schedule of mythical creature visits around holidays that have been deprived of their untapped potential for far too long.
New Year’s Day
We’ve all watched the ball drop in Times Square, but this New Year’s, a jolly old soul who looks an awful lot like Dick Clark will be heading over to my place after the confetti has cleared in order to leave a package on the foot of my children’s beds. It will be filled with sugary cereals and video games that they can use to feed and entertain themselves while my husband and I nurse our hangovers in bed.
Valentine cards might be suitable for some parents, but why allow school to have all of the fun? Come February 14th, Cupid will be visiting our home, leaving his mark on all that he touches by hiding conversation hearts in every corner and turning everything, from our cereal milk to our bath water, his signature red. Sure, red dye might make your home look like a crime scene, but it’s all in the name of creating lifelong memories for your little ones. What were you going to do you selfish twit, go out to dinner with your spouse?
Can someone explain to me how our children are supposed to appreciate the sacrifices men and women have made for our country if no one gives them a gift that rings in the summer? This Memorial Day morning, my children will scurry outside in their pajamas, open up our backyard grill, and discover that a Union soldier has filled it with Freeze Pops, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, new bathing suits and sunscreen!
This year, my children will start their day with a game of capture the flag that will make the Hunger Games look like a Maypole event. The winning team earns a chest full of Bomb Pops – eat them before they melt! The losing team…wins the same. Because what’s better than a participation trophy? A participation gift that causes Type 2 diabetes, hyperactivity, and attention disorders.
Fourth of July
Parents, this is your day to wake up before dawn so that you can arrange for the ghost of Ben Franklin to visit your home before your children rise, leaving them Pop Rocks, sparklers, cherry bombs, and other explosive devices. Because nothing says the holidays like a visit to the ER.
Saying goodbye to summer isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely less painful when visited by Jimmy Hoffa. There’s a reason his body hasn’t been found yet – he’s alive and well and leaving my children a trail of chocolate coins that leads to a glorious discovery. My kids will go crazy for the briefcase full of cash that Jimmy leaves for them to buy their back-to-school wardrobe.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or as my kids call her, Bazooka Betty, doesn’t visit your house to supply your children with a canister full of rock hard bubble gum and freshly sharpened number 2 pencils? Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you were raising your kids to have a complete lack of respect for our electoral process.
We have allowed this holiday to be a day about gathering with family for the sole purpose of expressing gratitude for far too long. From now on, the Thanksgiving Pilgrim will be leaving a cornucopia of small gifts (like bicycles and iPads) for my children before throwing a turkey in the oven for our family to enjoy come nightfall. And don’t even get me started on Thanksgiving desserts. When a fruit and vegetable are the featured ingredients in your dessert, something is amiss. Move over apple and pumpkin pie, the Thanksgiving Pilgrim will also be bringing tasty treats made exclusively of corn syrup and red dye – all in the shape of feathers!
Do your children a favor and make their childhood magical by teaching them that a holiday is not a holiday at all unless they are receiving gifts and childhood obesity from someone other than their parents.