Category Archives: What Really Happened

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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I’m a Guest Blogger! What?

Today, I am guest blogging on SoberMommies.

Yesterday, I reflected on motherhood, gratitude and 9/11.  This time it’s personal.  This was probably the most difficult post I have written to date- sharing my story is hard, especially when it wasn’t a story I wanted anyone to know.  There is a saying that our secrets keep us sick and my secret could have easily made me very sick.  I share my hope today and my gratitude for others who positively listen and love me.

Reflections of Gratitude on 9/11
The other day, I cleaned the boys’ bathroom.  It was disgusting.  If you have sons, you know what I am talking about.  Running to the toilet, barely making it types of messes.  Dirt and grime around the sink, and the remnants of soccer practice and recess all over the tub.  As I scrubbed, trying not to throw up in my mouth, I thought about women I know-  mothers who may never get to complain and feel grossed out by such things.  READ MORE

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Filed under fear, Food, Motherhood, Personal Growth, What Really Happened

Tales from the Backseat

Today, we were driving in the car and I was listening to the boys talking amongst themselves.

“I bet you can’t name the boy singing, but I’ll give you a hint,” says the Big One.

“Okay, I can do it,” Little Guy proclaims.

“His name is Justin.”

“Oh! I know this.  Wait.  No, I don’t.”

“Justin Beaver.  But I think he’s dead.  He was like 112 or something.”

“I know him.  Yeah, he’s dead.  Mommy?  Isn’t Justin Beeger dead?”  Little Guy asks.

“No.  Justin Bieber isn’t dead and he’s like 19 years old.  He is also not singing right now,” I clarify.

They then start discussing who at their school likes Justin (still calling him) Beaver and other pop stars they know.  I realize that they know very little about pop music.  The Big One tells his brother how this one classmate of his likes this one singer, but he can’t remember her name.

“Mom, it’s the girl who sings, ‘California Girls’, with Snoopy.”

“Katy Perry,” I tell him.

“Yeah, her.  Little Guy, you should marry her.”

“No, I don’t want to.  Who do you want to marry, Big One?” Little Guy asks.

“I’m already married to Pokemon.”

I smile and thank the heavens that at least dating and pop music in my car are two less things to worry about today as their mom.

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Let’s Try Not to Get Hepatitis Today, Ok?

Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself doing, saying and experiencing things I never imagined I would ever do, say or experience.  Things that when you imagine being a parent, you NEVER could possibly anticipate.  Things you NEVER thought you would NEED to say.  If you have kids, I expect that you will relate to at least one.  If you are considering having children, maybe just read these as cautionary tales, it’s certainly possible it’s just my precious little gems who are adorably insane.  If you don’t have kids and have no plans to do so in the future,  enjoy the laughs and your holiday weekend.  I remember sleeping in on a day off fondly.

So this happened today:

  • Dude, really?  You are seriously eating my soul.  I mean c’mon! Do you have to try and eat crap off of the ground- I mean crap that has already been- I can’t even finish this sentence without throwing up in my mouth.  I pray that you won’t be the gross kid when you get to middle school.
  • Both kids in the pool, having fun.  I settle into a book, when one of the boys sneaks up behind me and makes a hacking, blowing your nose kinda sound. I’m trying desperately to relax.
    “Mommy, was that funny?”
    “No”
    “Why not?”
    “Because I want to relax.”
    “Well, I want to eat.”
  • “Mom, lets play ‘does that hurt’, ok?”  Before I can even say no:
    Poke- “Does that hurt?”
    Poke- “Does that hurt?”
    Poke- “Does that hurt?”
  • This weekend, we rented a condo in a resort across from the beach.  When walking from the concierge:
    “Do you think living here is like living at Office Depot?” asked my child.
    “Why would it be like living at Office Depot?”
    “Because Office Depot has everything and so does this place- except a pool. Office Depot doesn’t have a pool. Or basketballs.”
  • I don’t know if this is just a boy thing, but do all kids end up turning every song into one about poop and farts?  And is it a boy-mom thing or just me to join in.

“The slippery fish, the slippery fish, FARTING in the water,
The slippery fish, the slippery first, PFFFT… PFFFT… PFFFT…
Oh no!  He’s pooping on… an octopus, an octopus…”

What I hadn’t expected, however, was the very end.  I had really had enough of the hamster-wheel of parenting and all I could think about was getting into my pajamas and into bed.  Instead, as I thought about the day, I remembered when my son and I were out on boogie boards (my first time) and I was enjoying riding the waves.  At some point, we both got a bit too far out and we needed to wait for a couple of big waves to bring us in.  He was crying- he was really scared.  I was shook up, too.  We went back up to sit on our blanket and catch our breath and I just held him as he calmed down.  Then, we talked about what happened, how we should handle the waves in the future and that while the ocean is a beautiful thing, it can be dangerous and needs to be respected.  Then we stopped and got quiet for a minute and my son looked at me and said, “It was pretty cool, though, right Mom?”  Very cool.  And since you didn’t eat that crap off the ground, I’m pretty sure you didn’t catch a communicable disease so hey, win-win.

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Date Night

When I was in my twenties, single and without children or much in the way of responsibility, I used to occasionally take myself on a date.  I would take a shower, put on makeup and a nice outfit and even spray on a little perfume too.  The courtship of myself was something I took seriously and I wanted to impress myself.  I picked a nice restaurant, enjoyed a good meal and then if I was in the mood, I would treat myself to a movie or a coffee in a cafe someplace.  A lady never kisses and tells, but if the date went well… maybe I’d get lucky?  Who knows?  Anything’s possible on a good date. The whole point of dating myself is to take time- to treat myself as I want others to treat me, to explore the things that I enjoy and mostly, to enjoy my own company and build my self-esteem.  Looking back now, it was an admirable idea, but I wasn’t ready to really learn these things.

Now, I’m in my early forties now and as you know from reading this blog, I am on a journey of self-discovery and I believe I am now ready to fully embrace myself, exactly as I am.  Now that I am single again, there are some nights without kids and I thought I would see if I was free tonight.  To my delight, I was.  I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but it is now 6:47 p.m. and I am home blogging.  So yeah, it didn’t go great.

I’ll be honest, I’m WAY out of practice in terms of dating myself.  I waiting until the last minute, basically took myself out to dinner immediately following yoga, despite being a sweaty mess.  I do get points for taking myself to a new favorite restaurant of mine, LYFE Kitchen.  I had a book and my mind on their vegan ‘sausage & cheese’ ravioli and recalling the days when I would go out on solo date nights, I was very optimistic.  Walking to the restaurant, I checked to see what movies were playing.  I saw that Lee Daniels’, “The Butler” was starting about an hour later so this was all looking good.

Walking into the restaurant, I see that they have ‘happy hour’ prices for appetizers so I opt to order Edamame Hummus along with my ravioli.   I knew it would be too much food, but it was HALF PRICE!  You can’t just pass that up!  As I sat and waited, I relaxed, read a little, listened to the music playing.  Good music- and I was super excited when I heard, “Can’t Let it Go” by Lucinda Williams* (written by Randy Weeks).  She is so darn talented and I haven’t heard that song in some time.  Anyway, the hummus shows up and it was so beautiful.  Fresh edamame, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers along with these tasty flax seed chips.  Delicious.  I know this isn’t a restaurant review, but the hummus made me so happy!  If you find yourself at LYFE Kitchen, seriously, try it.  Good stuff.

I don't know if you can see it, but there are tons of fresh veggies and flax seed crackers with it.

Edamame Hummus.  Book.  Iced Tea.  This is good stuff.

I should have trusted my instincts, though.  I was enjoying myself and ended up eating too much of it and then ate my ravioli too.  If you know me in real life and personally over the last few years, you know that I don’t eat that much and when I do overindulge, I am one sad little panda.  I had to tell my date to take me home.  Date over! And it was going so well!

As I drove home, I thought about the date.  I felt the familiar pangs of guilt I recalled from dating in the past- like I was letting someone down by taking care of myself.  Instead, I challenged myself to think about it as the other person.  If someone told me that they needed to go home, wouldn’t I understand?  Of course I would.  And it was then I reminded myself that I deserved the same grace that I would offer someone else.  So instead of thinking about the past, the too much hummus debacle and going home before seeing a movie, I thought about my standards of dating- whether it be myself or another person:

1.  Not only should I NOT make a date last minute, I should NOT say yes if asked last minute, either.  Meeting up with a friend is one thing, but in my opinion, a date should be planned.

2. If I must go on a date after yoga, I will take a shower and put on clothes that are date-worthy.  I enjoy dressing to impress not only my date, but also myself.

3.  Know my limits and keep my eyes on the entire evening.  Even if hummus is half-price.

4.  If I do need to call it a night for whatever reason, it is fine to apologize and even feel disappointed.  Someone who is worth dating will understand.

*So as I sat, writing this and listening to Lucinda Williams, I found out that she was played in L.A. tonight. Had I planned it, that would have been a kick ass date.

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Filed under Food, Personal Growth, self-confidence, What Really Happened