I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day.
Of course, I know this randomly chosen day is really just a BS marketing gimmick to sell cards, flowers and cheap perfume. I know it means nothing in the larger scheme of things, but this doesn’t stop me from feeling… just a little let down.
It’s the same feeling I get after Valentine’s Day or an arranged blind date:
Really? This is what you think of me??
Every year, instead of giving me what I actually want (a bottle of gin – the good stuff and a whole day off) I end up getting crappy home-made cards. I keep them, of course. I can’t throw out any of the ugly shit my kids make because, gosh darn it, I’m a sentimental fruit. Here is a sampling of past Mother’s Day cards I’ve gotten over the years.
I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this joke before
And then there’s the one I got from my husband as a joke/hint
But by far and away, the best Mother’s Day message I’ve gotten this year came in the mail yesterday.
download and print to prank your mom or anyone else who needs a good scare.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I’d been getting parenting lessons from a real-live Tiger Mother. The Tiger Mother openly describes her parenting style as Brainwashing. Which initially made me very uncomfortable. But there’s no discounting her kids are respectful, have excellent manners, and get top marks in everything. As enviable as they seem, I’d never trade my feral offspring for hers. But I’d be an idiot not to take her advice. I just bend it to fit a little better. Make it my own.
I don’t know if all children have the same heat-seeking-missile-like ability to sense parental weakness and go in for the kill.
But my kids sure do. Since birth, it seems, they know the best way to make me lose my shit is to refuse to eat. In more lucid moments, I know it’s not a big deal.
Except I feel all pissy tossing more uneaten food down the garburator. My youth was mostly spent sitting at the kitchen table until I finished everything on my plate. No way in a million years would my mom let me waste this much food.
But that was the 70’s. Today, forcing children to eat is child abuse because everyone knows that beating the picky out of a kid only leads to trust issues and eating disorders. So I’m supposed to suck it up and eat their dinners as well. Standing over the kitchen sink. Even though I’m totally not hungry.
My son is 7. Until last month the only green thing he’d ever eaten was snot.
I took him to our doctor, who rolled his eyes. “He’s perfectly healthy.”
“For now,” I cried.
But come on. If you are what you eat, then what does a diet of bread, peanut butter, jam, cheese, and pasta make you? There’s no way a kid who doesn’t get even one daily helping of fruits and vegetables isn’t going to experience some severe consequences.
A canker sore.
When my son, whimpering, pulls down his lip to show me the big white canker on his gums, just under his bottom teeth, I take a page from the Tiger Mother Handbook and leap. (more…)
Modern Parenting Manual – unless you’re a Tiger Mom
You know the worst thing about being a modern woman? I’ve been trained to appreciate the potential value in everything. Like a cubist, I contemplate each situation from every angle, which makes reality seem fucked up, much like one of those paintings. It also makes it difficult to take a hard line on anything. A lack of black and white reasoning makes parenting very challenging.
To tiger mother or not to tiger mother, this is the question.
During the summer, when my entire life revolved around the summer swim club, I spent a lot of time with bonafide Tiger Mothers. At first, we barely acknowledged one another. After all, what could I ever say to a woman, with zero facial flaws, who dresses in Gucci to watch her eight-year-old swim lengths?
While I can’t imagine what she might say to a spotty looking woman, hunched over her Starbucks cup, muttering about stupid rules that prevent her from throwing a piss-stained mattress in the alley.
Swim club Tiger Moms and I come from two different worlds, but eventually, we found the humanity in one another and built a connection. After one particularly lovely exchange, I say casually, “We should get the kids together for a playdate.” (more…)
My kid got into shit again at school. This time it was for stomping out of his classroom and walking home. He’s 6.
Of course, I got a call from his teacher asking me to come in. This was a very serious matter and needed to be addressed immediately.
When I rushed down the hallway towards the principal’s office, I saw him slumped over in a chair. His feet didn’t quite touch the ground and he just looked so small…
But this sentimentality is what turns normal, rational people into helicopter parents, which in turn turns kids into useless assholes, unable to take responsibility for their own fuck ups. So I sucked it up, got into character and marched towards him.
One of the reasons I keep freaking out is because I’m aware that something irreversible has happened to my brain. Something untreatable.
I think like someone’s mother. And now it’s permanently affected the way I see the world.
The most obvious example:
I never used to think about food. Except in the most pleasurable terms.
Now, food anxiety invades and overtakes my mind at least 10 times a day. What to make my kids for breakfast that will keep them full until recess without any sugar crashes?
What to pack for lunch now that every other kid has an annoying nut allergy?
What to make for dinner so I won’t have to listen to a constant whine about how gross dinner is?
How to go to Costco without wanting to slit my wrists?
How to go to Whole Foods without hyperventilating over the price of organic grapes? (more…)
It was unusually chaotic this morning. Which really got things off to a good start.
In retrospect, this day was a by-product of human error.
Beginning with the ill-conceived idea that my husband and I could get a few moments to enjoy a small luxury – like coffee in bed, maybe a little light petting -by putting on the Wii and letting the kids play a tank game.
I know… We are the worst people in the world. Within 5 minutes I’m forced to race into the living room, topless, in full view of the street below and condo windows across the street, to pull my son off my daughter, who was just going for his eyes. All while my husband runs around screaming that someone in the building will call Social Services for sure and have our children removed from our care. Naomi begins to have an anxiety attack. Just as Felix decides to teach us all a lesson about what the future will be for us all if we don’t side with him over Naomi: He starts hyperventilating. Yells something he knows will be very offensive, then starts shrieking,”No. Daddy No,” while running down the hall into his bedroom. All because my husband has finally lost it and yells, just behind our thin front door, that Felix had better stay in his room or risk being killed. Maybe for real.
Poor Brad Pitt. I am instantly filled with gratitude that we cannot afford to have staff since one of his staff was certain to have reported his “child abuse” to the LAPD. This is a complete reversal from my earlier position, which was that the only thing standing between me and complete happiness was shortage of staff.
Brad before people found out that he is a normal parent
I have to accept a ruined Sunday morning as punishment because really this was all my fault. For breakfast, I allowed our daughter to finish off the last of Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie (Sure. Take as much whipped cream as you like). And Felix pretty much finished off half a box of cinnamon buns, under my direct supervision. Just because I was just a tad hungover (just one double gin and tonic – I hate getting old) and didn’t want to make anything for breakfast or do the dishes after. So how can I be mad at the kids for my own idiocy?
To celebrate this amazing mental breakthrough, I reward myself by leaving. (Don’t judge me. I made eggs first)
“Bye. Just running to the store. Love you. Take care of each other.”
Since Amsterdam, I have been orchestrating and savouring these moments of true Freedom.
I float down the street to the chocolate shop so I can shoot the shit with Heather, the owner and my new life-coach. She has an idea, easy to execute, that will make me look like a rock-star with the PAC for my kids’ school. I just love her.
Then I wander up the street to the grocery store, where I try all the samples. And also pick up the ingredient I need to prepare a glorious Family Sunday Dinner, which is going to become a weekly and mandatory thing – but hopefully in a happy, quality time sort of way.
As I walk home, I look up and am rewarded again with the most beautiful cloud-shaped shades of grey and purpley black. I let the rain patter down on my face, soaking up all the negative ions. Feeling my heart open and grow patient again. Feeling the tightness in my neck and shoulders. Then holding onto a tree trunk for a little stretch. I drink in calm and the beauty of a peaceful, glimmering city by a gorgeous body of water. Thank you. Thank you. My church rocks!! I just have to figure out how to incorporate a little sip of wine during my service and a little more “body” (if you get my meaning…) And I’ll be ready to apply for tax-free status.
I invite you to join my congregation and take a little time away to savour something that makes you feel free. (and make it a news-free day. Unless it’s John Oliver, then it’s ok.)
Please share a time you’ve found magic in the mundane…
And also I’d deeply appreciate it if you’d subscribe. This way I can send you this new thing I’m trying:
I’ve got two lines of snappy little quotes you can print off and stick on your fridge…
1) Unsolicited Advice 2) Weird Shit I Overhear
I can also let you know when I’m doing a storytelling gig near you and want to crash on your couch.