The other day my daughter and I overheard a dad enthusiastically talking to his kids about their Elf on a Shelf. They were discussing how cute the little guy was and speculating about where he would hide this month.
I gritted my teeth and silently cursed that father. Or rather, I cursed my proximity to that father.
A couple of weeks ago, my kids and I were at a party, and I ran into an old friend. She had her baby and toddlers in tow. As we greeted each other, I recognized the weary look in on her face. The look that revealed her long day of childcare—the constant feeding and diaper changing, the non-stop monitoring and discipline, the meltdowns, the challenge of being absolutely everything to multiple little beings.
My friend saw my kids in the other room sweetly playing together, and she wistfully said, “So that is what I have to look forward to.”
I happily (but not too gleefully—I didn’t want to make her jealous, just hopeful) admitted that I am indeed in the “sweet spot” of parenting. My kids are eleven and eight and are turning into happy, self-sufficient little people. They can pour their own milk and wipe their own butts. They can take showers by themselves and remove snot from their own noses. They don’t need me to entertain them constantly, and they can even prepare simple meals for themselves. THEY CAN PUT THEIR OWN GLOVES ON. (I’ll let that one sit for a moment. Try not to hate me too much.)
My 8-year-old son Colin and I were sitting in the car waiting for my daughter to finish her music lesson. He was reading a book, and I was texting a friend. I didn’t realize that Colin was looking over my shoulder.
Colin: Oh! I shouldn’t be reading that.
Me (nervously re-reading what I had texted): What? Huh? Is there something bad in here?
Colin: W.T.F. Isn’t that bad? What does that mean?
Me (stammering): Oh! Well in this case, I meant, “Why, That’s Funny!”
Colin (looks at me suspiciously): …
Me (trying to play it cool): Why, what do you think it means?
Colin: It’s got one of those bad words. One that teenagers use. You know, the bad F word. I’m not going to say it.
Me: That’s good. The F word is a bad word, and you shouldn’t say it. But where did you learn it?
Colin: Randy** told me.
Me: Huh. I wonder were he learned it.
Colin: Maybe he watched a teenage video.
Clearly my son thinks that teenagers are the root of all evil in this world. I think it might have something to do with his sister’s impending teenage status.
** Name changed to protect the f-bomb-dropping 3rd grader.
My pre-teen daughter is a fucking nightmare.
And by “fucking nightmare,” I mean she’s a perfectly-normal, emotionally-charged, almost-twelve-year-old girl. It’s just that the hormones in her body are RAGING in an epic battle for dominance, and her good-natured spirit and cheerful demeanor are currently getting slaughtered.
Fortunately for her safety and my sanity, I remember what it’s like to be her age. I remember the random screaming fits, the dramatic antics, and the internal emotional whiplash. I don’t take it personally, and, for the most part, I can approach my daughter calmly and offer appropriate advice and support:
- “Take some deep breaths. It’s going to be okay.”
- “Do you want to walk the dog with me and talk about it?”
- “Can you repeat that? I’d like to blog about it.”
- “How about you go lie down in your room? Hit a few pillows and get that frustration out.”
- “Here. Have a cookie. It will give your mouth something else to do besides scream in my face.”
Your kids are getting older, and bedtime battles are a thing of the past (maybe). The small people go to bed willingly and actually sleep through the night (mostly). You’re just starting to enjoy regular REM cycles and solid stretches of sleep and feel almost human again (barely).
And then you decide to fuck it all up.
I’m talking about sleepovers.
Who the hell invented sleepovers? Parents can barely survive the night with their own kids, why should they take in more?
Nonetheless, you are having a sleepover with four kids, your younger son and your older daughter and two friends (even though something deep down is telling you that this is a terrible idea). The evening will start out great because you will serve pizza and ice cream—classic sleep-over food.
All four kids will then spend the evening playing cards and Apples to Apples and watching Frozen (because that brand of torture never ends).
By 9:30 p.m. you will get them started on their bedtime routine (i.e., you will force them to floss and brush their teeth and change into clothes that aren’t covered in chocolate sauce and ice cream).
By 10:00 p.m. the kids will be downstairs with their sleeping bags ready for a campout.
And here are 10 reasons why the night will go horribly wrong.
Over the summer, my 11-year-old (and very picky) daughter announced that she’d become a vegetarian. Except for bacon. She’d still eat bacon. I laughed at the irony. I cried at her ever-expanding-pickiness. And, naturally, I had to tweet about it.
My 11-year-old declared herself a vegetarian. Except for bacon. Nothing like a magical pork product to help you compromise your convictions.
— Foxy Wine Pocket (@FoxyWinePocket) July 12, 2014
My husband and I do regular date nights with our kids. We alternate which kid we go out with, and we let the kids decide what we should do. We always enjoy our one-on-one time and getting to know the kids on their own.
Recently, my son and I were scheduled to go out on our monthly date. He hadn’t told me where he wanted to go, so on the day of the date, I asked him about it:
When I was pregnant with our first child—a girl—there weren’t many baby-making decisions for me and my husband to make, and the ones that we did have were quite easy. Selecting strollers and cribs and other supplies was free of drama. We opted for a gender-neutral nursery color scheme, thinking we’d save money in the event that our next child was a boy. (Okay, we knew we were too lazy to repaint.) We both agreed that our daughter should not be forced to wear pink just because she was a girl. (Of course, pink ended up being her favorite color for many years. I even wear it now too. Go figure.)
A few years later, when we found out that I was pregnant with a boy, we were just elated that he had a strong heartbeat and that the pregnancy was going well (we had lost two pregnancies in between). We didn’t think about anything else because we were so focused on keeping both the baby and me healthy and strong. Even selecting a name wasn’t a huge decision.
It wasn’t until we were in the third trimester of this pregnancy when our doctor asked us, “So, are you going to circumcise your son?” that we were confronted with our first huge baby-making decision. And one of the first times in our marriage where our points of view were diametrically opposed: The Circumcision Decision.
I’ve started a new club. It’s a very important club, but I’m only inviting a few friends. Honestly, I don’t think most of you can hack it. The initiation is rigorous, and the pressure to break the rules intense.
I’m calling this club, “Mom Club.” It’s for regular moms like me that are sick of all the competition and judgmental attitudes that come from non-members.
Please take careful note of the following rules before applying: