Category Archives: Mom Rant

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

Social Media posts are a real bummer these days, am I right? I miss hamsters eating burritos!

I heard some complaining that they were tired of the depressing posts about the former Stanford student who got off easy for sexual assault and the responses to Emily Doe’s letter she read in court. Chances are, they aren’t the 1 in 5 women who have had the pleasure of being the victim of unwelcome sexual advances or God forbid, rape and sexual assault.

And enough already with their feed being inundated with comments, stories, and various posts about the Orlando shooting and a desire that our government reassess – or at least have a grown up conversation about- our gun laws, I hope to God their privilege protects them long enough to never fear being open about who they are or who they, or their children, love.

When “Black Lives Matter” compels you correct someone with, “ALL Lives Matter” and remind everyone that being a cop is hard. Yeah, it’s got to be a real breeze to worry about driving or walking or breathing, all while being Black.

People are screaming out to be heard because of a constant reminder that many of us are marginalized and not enough, just as we are, to be left the hell alone. If it is depressing to see our pleas and reminders of the way so many people are treated- DO SOMETHING. If you are one of the privileged, SPEAK UP! I’m tired and weary of preaching to a choir that already agrees, but I cannot be silent.

If nothing else, let’s make a deal. If you want us go back to cat videos, pictures of our kids on the first day of school, and what we are eating for dinner, and God knows we ALL want that, listen and take a second to look at your privilege. If you can use it in any way, use it stop hate and reject anyone who wants hate and fear to be the path we take in our country.

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July 7, 2016 · 2:17 pm

Planning the Perfect Mother’s Day?

Hey Moms! What are YOU doing on Mother’s Day? Planning to wake up to hot coffee in bed at 9:00 a.m., sunshine streaming in, while the birds are chirping? To the sounds of children laughing- not fighting- as they carefully prepare your breakfast? The sound of the limo honking outside, filled with your best mom friends, whisking you away to the spa…only to return on Monday morning, AFTER the kids are dropped at school? You’ll call home in the evening to say goodnight to your family, since you had received exactly zero texts or phone calls, regaling the fights, complaints, or ‘where is the…’ inquiries, that you contend with each day, and hear your family say, “We love you, thank you for being a great mom, and don’t worry, everything here is fine!” You return home the next day, to find that yes, indeed everything IS fine… and clean. Your family comes home that evening to say that they needed help- hired a cleaning crew and ordered dinner- because honestly, they don’t know how you do this each day! Ah, can you imagine?

Well, hold onto your hats Ladies, because I have found the only thing that could possibly compare. Luckily, after spending my day at work, rushing to get the kids from school, mailing out my own mother’s Mother’s Day card, dropping the kids off at soccer, hustling over to the store, returning to get the kids, feeding them dinner, reminding them to get in the shower a dozen times, AND fighting with a 9 year old about a 15 minute bedtime extension, I finally checked my email sometime between taking off my bra and falling asleep to Criminal Minds. Unbeknownst to me, I had been in a lather about how I was REALLY going to spend Mother’s Day, when my family’s favorite pizza place sent me the ONLY true option for Mom:

CEC Email

What the Funk?

Listen, marketing people at Chuck E. Cheese: this is NOT how you thank mom. This is how WE bribe our kids to stop doing some frustrating thing they keep doing. You are at the very least, a reward system. We hate Chuck E. Cheese, but go because we can sit in a booth alone for a moment, we can eat decent pizza that hasn’t been left over and discarded, because the kids are too busy running around playing inexpensive games, with the hopes of winning one piece of crap that will generally keep them pretty subdued in the car ride home. We go to Chuck E. Cheese because it is raining. We go because our kids really love it. Please don’t confuse my love for them, however, with a desire to spend the only day all year that someone MAY ask me what I want, at Chuck E. Cheese.

But here’s the thing. My kids are still young and to them, Mother’s Day is about celebrating me and spending time with me. And for all my whining sometimes about being overworked, underpaid, and exhausted, I want that too. Sometimes I get caught up in what seems like constant arguing, the wrestling and the grossness of little boys, but I also really like my kids. They make me laugh. They are good guys and I smile more when I’m with them. I also know that my time is borrowed with these creatures I created, that in a few short years they will beg to do anything BUT hang out with me and then, I can go to a spa and eat a full meal in peace. In what seems like a blink of an eye, my kids will be off on their own and most days I won’t have the luxury problem of too much to do each day. So for now, I am content doing something that makes them happy because as you know, Moms, a day with happy kids makes a pretty damn good day. And if in the process, I get to do something that I enjoy as well, that’s even better. I like rollercoasters. I like kettle corn. We’re going to Knott’s Berry Farm.

F you, Chuck E. Cheese.

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Filed under Mom Rant, Motherhood, parenting, truth, What Really Happened

1979

I really want to apologize to my kids. I fucked up and completely miscalculated. Not a big surprise, knowing how much I suck at math and science. I totally meant to raise them in 1979, not 2015. When I thought about having kids, I thought about them growing up riding their bikes without a helmet, playing kickball or hide and seek, whenever and wherever, without fear of someone texting and driving or having an opinion about them not wearing a helmet and having a bottle of water within arm’s reach. I assumed they would play with their friends, not their friends and their parents who would micromanage every argument or move they made. I thought they would learn to fight their own battles among other children and learn how one minute they could be so pissed at their best friend and how unconditional love worked when they forgot all about it 15 minutes later. I planned on letting them spend their free time running off to the park or wherever they wanted to go, just knowing to be home by dinner. In my miscalculation, I now need to be the one to coordinate a scheduled ‘play date’ for a specified amount of time with proper supervision. My children don’t need to be concerned with such responsibilities as using a phone to call a friend and ask them to play, risk hearing “no”, or letting their creativity and natural sense of wonder drive the events of the day. It’s still important though, so in 2015, I have vetted and arranged time for them to ‘be creative’ and ‘curious’ every Tuesday afternoon in a class I found. I will drive them, pay for it, watch from the waiting gallery to supervise. I will ensure that they are doing it right and not being too curious, not making it uncomfortable for others or deviating too far from the assigned curriculum. We will then drive home and I will give them my assessment of their experience.

How in the hell did this happen? How did we advance in so many ways as a society in the last 36 years and yet, as a parent, I’ve completely retreated into control and fear in my attempt to raise them? You see, these young ones in 2015 are believed to be too immature to be trusted with such things as self-control, responsibility, having instincts, and natural consequences. I don’t know if there is any hard data to support this, but our collective fear has made this our new way of raising kids. Had I raised them in 1979, they would have had a chance to just learn these things, without my interference. In 1979, children were automatically ‘free-range’, but in 2015, I can get arrested for adopting this belief, so instead we are stuck together. I want them to have freedom and to grow and develop as they will, but I don’t know how to let go when I’m sitting right there. I watch them grow with eyes that have seen too much. In 1979, I wouldn’t have to supervise every step of their growth and development. Instead, I would ask about their day at dinner and I would listen to their experiences and you know what? I would be really interested and I would want to hear everything. But here in 2015, I am always right there experiencing it with them, so not only do they not have the freedom to figure it all out, but I don’t even have a chance to be curious about what they think or what they’ve experienced.

In 1979, I was 8. I went to day camp on a bus over the summer, I called friends to make plans, told (not asked) my mom that I would back later, played a little and then came home for a snack. I remember one time, in 1979, being in the park and doing flips off of the monkey bars. A wood chip landed in my knee and I was bleeding. It hurt a lot. After a little crying, I walked to the house across from the park, because I knew a girl from school lived there. I was smart enough at 8 years old to figure out a solution to my problem. In case you missed it, I was BY MYSELF in the park doing flips off the monkey bars. If you are a parent today, I ask you to stop and think about that. My son is going to be 9 next week and I know that most of us wouldn’t let our kids do that today. We have a million reasons- many are justified too- about why we can’t and won’t let them do that, but my point is that I was NO SMARTER than my son is. The difference? I had the opportunity to experience life and figure out how to handle 8 year old problems. I was able to do that because I had the chance to experience 5 year old problems. And 6 year old problems. And 7 year old problems. And that was how I grew up in 1979. So how do I let my kids figure out their 6 and 9 year old problems? Maybe I need to stop looking at their lives with my 40-something eyes which are getting close to needing help seeing things up close. Maybe I need to stop trying to see their lives up close, let them experience things and just be there when they need me. Let them ASK for things, call a friend, have a fight and learn that they are better at solving their problems than I ever thought. With all that free time I might just be able to refocus on things that are important to me. I love to cook. Maybe I can spend time making a great dinner so I can hear what my kids did today in 2015.

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Filed under fear, I was wrong., Mom Rant, parenting, Personal Growth, What Really Happened

An Inconvenient Celebration?

I love the holiday season. I love the festive lights, the feelings of goodwill and the stories of our various beliefs and how we all celebrate in our unique and special ways.

I live in a metropolitan city in the United States with the second largest Jewish population in the country. In my smaller  community of approximately 39,000 people, 10% are identified as Jewish, according to Census and city data. And yet, in the last 24 hours, I have had to remind people that my family cannot attend events because it was scheduled for the first night of Hanukkah. In fairness, Hanukkah is not a ‘holy’ day of strong religious observance. It is a festival and one of the holidays in Judaism that best defines family traditions and encourages people to celebrate together in their homes as a family. I was raised Jewish and have a strong sense of faith and traditions. My beliefs, rooted in Judaism have grown and evolved and I appreciate and recognize that we all get to celebrate our beliefs and traditions in any way we choose.

This year, my older child’s grade is learning to play the recorder and much to the chagrin of most parents and their ears, they perform in a concert to show what they’ve learned. While this sounds a little less like entertainment and more like parent obligation, my son has been talking about learning the recorder all year and as someone with some musical background, I love that he is being introduced to music in some small way. Admittedly, I was also really looking forward to the parenthood rite of passage and listening to “Hot Cross Buns” in the school cafeteria. The unfortunate thing is this- the concert has been scheduled for the first night of Hanukkah. In my son’s class alone, about 25% of the children come from a Jewish background and while I am not in any position to define how those families celebrate, I find it unfortunate that the school decided to put families in a position where they need to choose a school event or a religious holiday. The explanation I received when I brought it up was that they would like greater attendance at PTA meetings so they planned it on the same night which happens to be the same night as Hanukkah. They also said they had no idea that it was Hanukkah in the first place. Again, if I lived in a town where I was the ONLY family who observed certain holidays and traditions, I would accept the oversight, but I live in a city where there are an estimated 500,000 people who identify as Jewish. To not be aware of when a significant portion of your student population celebrates religious holidays is more than an oversight. And I get it, we have a tricky calendar. Our holidays change each and every year… been that way for oh, I don’t know, over 5,775 years now? I’m sure we could get someone a list or something at the beginning of the year, just ask.

I was also told that in years past, they had it during the day and many working parents were not able to attend. I sympathize with this but why are you then planning it when another group- in this case the children who are the reason we are gathering in the first place- may not be able to attend, not to mention Jewish parents who work. Neither group should be put against the other- there has to be another option.  I worry that if I choose to attend the concert and not celebrate Hanukkah at home, I am in some way minimizing the need to recognize my religious beliefs in the first place? I feel a responsibility to speak up and say that all beliefs should be accommodated.

After reading the response to me about the scheduling conflict, I received another email that my other child’s sports team will be having a parent meeting on guess what date? Next Tuesday, the first night of Hanukkah. We sent an email to the team manager, letting them know that our son would not be at practice and that we would not be attending the parent meeting because of Hanukkah and were told that she understood “that it was a busy holiday season and that everyone is busy.” Being busy is a conflict between a cookie exchange and sports practice. Being busy does not mean choosing whether to observe a family’s religious tradition or a team meeting where important information is shared. Being on a team means you respect each other and honestly, calling my beliefs and traditions a ‘conflict’ is anything but respectful.

I have heard some say that Christmas has been watered down because people have to be ‘politically correct’ and ‘inclusive’. I don’t agree. I want people to celebrate Christmas. I welcome the sentiment that comes with people wishing me a “Merry Christmas”, because I know that it means that they wish me well in this holiday season and into the new year. What I want, is to be included and acknowledged that my traditions are just as valid and important, without having to be a squeaky wheel every time someone forgets to look at the calendar. Having to speak up is hard, and I know that by doing so, I am sometimes making things uncomfortable and inconvenient.  I want to be included, not to have to choose, even if that means attending a concert where my ears might bleed.

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Filed under Mom Rant, parenting, What Really Happened

“Student of the Month” is Stupid

“I’m pretty much guaranteed to never be Student of the Month,” my oldest son tells me. He is in the third grade. This is a harsh thing for an 8 year-old to believe. I would love to tell him that even though in the three previous years at his school he has never received this “honor”, there is always hope. Unfortunately, I made a promise not to blatantly lie to my children.

I hate saying this, but he’s probably right. He has trouble sitting still. He asks a lot of questions. He can’t just do what he is told, he needs to understand why he is doing a task before he can proceed. He often lacks impulse control. He probably speaks out of turn a lot. He is strong-willed, curious and not always socially appropriate. I see room for improvement, for sure, but I also see a mostly normal 8 year-old boy who last time I checked was supposed to be learning and growing and not perfect.

Student of the Month is an antiquated ritual where the cooperative, quiet, ideal of a child is rewarded for being convenient to teachers. These children are generally introverted and shy, and sometimes they are kids who have learned how to play the game. Listen, I am not telling you that these kids don’t deserve recognition or praise, these are nice kids. But they are not the ONLY good kids at the school. I’ll be honest, I think it’s a cop out for the teachers to just go for the low hanging fruit. It’s easy to reward these kids. But here’s what my son has figured out: because he isn’t perfect out of the gate, he will never be good enough for his teachers. Last year, in second grade, he came home every month and said, “My teacher said I was really close this month. But someone else was better.” By the end of the year, he told me, that he gave up. This is the message my son has walked away with by age 8. He isn’t ever going to measure up.

I can tell him until I’m blue in the face that he is enough, show him the myriad of ways that he measures up, but there is something deeper. He craves the acknowledgment that his teachers see him. He wants to know that they recognize how hard he tries. He tells me that his teacher hates him, she only sees what he does wrong and not the good stuff. I worry that he is correct. My heart breaks. I want to send his teacher a list of the wonderful things that this child does on a daily basis- helping others, showing kindness, improvement and growth- but I don’t know that this is the right way to approach it. From what I’ve seen at our school, I don’t really know that they want to be different. So I work from the inside. I try and show him that what others think of you is less important than what you think of yourself. I try to believe this myself, because sadly, he also gets this from me. I am tempted to keep them out of school during the awards assembly, because each month, I see it wears my older son’s self-confidence down a little bit more. Then I think that maybe it’s okay for my kids to have this experience, to learn how to navigate feelings of disappointment.

Before I am criticized for being bitter, I will disclose that I have two children. My younger one will probably receive “Student of the Month” most years at the school. He is a different kid. He is generally cooperative, small for his age and has a lot of charm. He is a helper and knows how to be quiet (most of the time). He is smart, funny and the kind of person who easily fits in. It comes naturally to him, he doesn’t need to work on it at all and I would rather he didn’t receive an award for it. Recognize the child who has a really hard time sitting still or doing math or learning patience. This is where teachers have an opportunity to change a child’s life. And I know it sounds dramatic, but when you are small and your main job is to go to school and learn, to be recognized for something that you have worked so hard on, something that does not come naturally to you, will change everything. That child will learn that they can shine, that they can change and learn and grow. I can say with 100% confidence that if my older son was given that recognition, it would make a huge impact on his education and his self-esteem.

Now there will be educators that stand up and tell stories about giving it to a child who showed dramatic improvement and I applaud this. But let’s be honest, we all know that each year there will be 9-10 students in a class of 25 who are given this award and I bet if we took a look at the winners, we would find that they majority received it before and are the kids that are the quietest and most cooperative. What does this really teach our kids?

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Filed under Mom Rant, Motherhood, parenting, self-confidence

When Is Hate Ok?

This may sound like a stupid question.  Obviously, most people agree that hate is NOT ok.  But lately I’ve been seeing some examples of things I consider pretty hateful and they upset me.  I mean, what is the right thing to do when you see hate around you?  Do you have a responsibility to stand up and say something?  What if it means that others might end up hating me?  What am I teaching my kids when I see hateful acts and say nothing?

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Is it okay to continue to have the Olympics there when anyone who identifies as LGBT is at risk of persecution?  I’ve heard justification that networks and sponsors and others have already spent a lot of money and moving it would cost more.  SO, just to be sure I understand, HATE is OK if it means that you will lose money?  Is HATE OK if you have trained your entire life to compete?  And if the Olympics are held in Sochi, do I still watch?
Is it okay to hurt another person, even kill them, if they confuse you?  If you are so uncomfortable with another person’s gender expression or identity, you can justify harming them?  It starts in the schoolyard.  The other day, a child at my house made fun of my son for having a ‘girl toy’.  I not blaming anyone either- I understand that as they grow, they are learning about expression and gender norms and our marketing of toys and television doesn’t help.  In that moment, I explained that any child may like anything he or she wants and under no circumstances is it okay to make them feel bad about it.  A boy who likes princesses and a girl who likes ninjas are perfect in my eyes and I sincerely hope that they have the freedom to grow up in a world where they can be who they are.  But for all the talk about anti-bullying initiatives in schools, we don’t seem to apply the same rules to adults.  We don’t put images of gender fluidity on TV or when we market toys and for all of our progressive beliefs, we still are squeamish when we see it in our children.
Young Celebrities- You know who I’m talking about.
Is it okay to put a microscope up to and mock someone’s disease or personal challenges or just growing up if it sells magazines or generates ad revenue?  These are young people and I am so sad that they have people around them who are supposed to be there to help them grow up safely and instead are being put in really scary, dangerous situations.  I can’t even begin to imagine if in my 20’s I was expected to support other people financially with my talent/celebrity AND figure out how to be an adult.  They are held to a standard that I certainly couldn’t attain.  I’m not sure if any of us could if we were in their situation and had so much of our childhood modified.  I’m not here to judge whether or not they ‘asked for it’ by being in the industry, I’m merely suggesting a bit of empathy.
I have very little in the way of answers, but what I can do is speak up when I disagree.  I can go to places like Change.org and my elected officials and state my concerns about issues that matter to me.  I can serve as a role model for my children instead of relying on celebrities who are still growing up themselves and be there to help navigate what my children see.  I can offer compassion and respect to others who may make me feel uncomfortable with things that I don’t understand.  Most of all, I can consider how I would want to be treated in the same situation and act as if.

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Filed under fear, Mom Rant

An Open Letter to Lucille’s BBQ and Other Chain Restaurants

Dear Lucille’s,

Let me start by saying that I don’t mean to single you out specifically.  I mean, I could probably throw in your brethren over at Chili’s, El Torito and BJ’s, and many others too, but last night I visited your fine establishment, so I am writing to you today.  Don’t misunderstand me either, there are many positive aspects of eating at your restaurant, specifically with my kids.  Overall, I don’t love going to restaurants with my kids, you’ve got to believe me.  The thought of dragging two kids who are pooped from a day’s worth of non-stop kidlet action into your eatery is not my idea of fun, but neither is cooking and this has become a game of survival.  I’m tired, and when I walk in, it’s because I just want someone else to cook and do the darn dishes.  And provide coloring.  Oh how I appreciate your crayon packs, activity books and kids’ menus with drinks included.  I know that there are many of us who do and this is what keeps up coming back.  Whether or not you like us.  You need us and frankly, we need you too.

But here’s where my love begins to fade.  I beg you:  PLEASE stop training your employees to follow a strict script and upsell every customer who walks in and sits down at the expense of good, efficient customer service.  Allow me to illustrate.

My younger son just had a meltdown.  Even though we agreed to eat at Lucille’s, he has since changed his mind.  Whatever.  I can handle his nonsense.  I tell you this only to illustrate what my life looked like for a solid 15 minutes, while standing in front of your restaurant.  May I offer a suggestion?  Assume that everyone who walks in with young children has had a similar experience as they walk in.  It’s not bad, it’s just our reality and at that point, your mission should be clear:  Get this family fed as quickly as possible and out the door unless their actions indicate otherwise.  Trust me, we’ll buy drinks and/or dessert if we can and tip your servers well if they become our ally.  And, I should mention, we will be back and tell our friends.

After waiting several minutes, our server walks up.  Before he can say hello, the same son who just came down from his hysterics, starts whining to me that he is so hungry and thirsty.  I assure him that we are going to get food and drink shortly.  I am then able to say hello back.

“Can I get started taking your drink order?”

“Actually, we are all set to order everything, thanks,” I reply.

“Well, can I interest you in an appetizer? How about some Onion Straws or Spinach Dip?  Maybe you’d like a cocktail from the bar?”

I don’t know if this is covered in training, but your agenda as a server to stick to script cannot successfully override a crying preschooler.  Ever.  When your customer says she is ready to order, listen to her.  Especially if she has kids.  She will pay you extra if you listen to her- no one has all day and if you are the first, you will be rewarded handsomely in your gratuity.

Once, I remember being at Island’s and we had a server who totally got IT.  When she came up and saw me with two little kids, she jumped right in.

“Mom,” she said, “have these guys decided what they want to eat?  Let’s get their order in as soon as we can because I bet they are hungry!”  She was fully aware of our family’s needs for our visit.  She brought out crackers with the drinks, just in case.  She gave us extra napkins immediately, without us asking.  She was either a mom or a psychic or superhero or some freakish combination of them all.

But the best thing, I mean the best thing EVER, was what she did when she came to check on us after we had our food.  She brought me the check.  She explained that even though everything seemed to be going well at our table, she knew it could change at any moment.  If we wanted dessert or coffee, by all means, she’d check back in a bit, but just in case, the check was there.  That, my friends, is how you upsell and guarantee a good tip.  The coffee was hot and the ice cream pie was delicious, by the way.

By contrast, last night, my total visit lasted well over an hour, with most of our time spent waiting for our server to come back to us.  There was no indication that our server understood was interested or aware of who sat at our table.  When I asked for the check, the second time, he ignored me and asked if we were ready for some Cobbler or maybe some Red Velvet Cake.   One kid was dancing and doing ninja moves and the other was sitting in my lap, ready to fall asleep. As calmly as I could, I just said, “No.  Please just bring me the check.”

Understand, I’m not entirely faulting the server for this.  I’ve had this experience happen at many different restaurants (see list above), several times, with and without my children.  It is clear that servers are trained to suggest additional items to increase the total bill.  I get it, and I know it is part of the sales process and that is fine.  But if I may, allow me offer you this suggestion from those of us who eat in restaurants WAY TOO OFTEN-  when you train your employees to stick to script and focus strictly on the upsell, we can tell and probably won’t be ordering extra, sometimes just out of spite.  I submit that an alternative is to train servers to assess their guests and determine the level of customer service needed and gauge opportunity to upsell.  This is a genuine interaction, much quicker and will probably increase the amount many of us spend.

For the record- we did get dessert and coffee.  AFTER we left.

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Filed under Glorious Food, Mom Rant, parenting, What Really Happened