Six Years Later, I Can Finally Smile Again

Six years ago, my mom passed away. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, since she had been disappearing into her illness for over a decade. But it was still a shock when I received the call. My greatest fear finally materialized.

Every year since then, I post something sad about missing her. It’s still true. I still have moments where the pain knocks me to my knees. And while time hasn’t healed all wounds for me, it has offered the gift of distance and clarity. I am grateful that I can look back on memories of her and smile.

One memory in particular made me smile this year. I was close to my son’s age, maybe six or seven years old. My mother, the brave soul, took my toddler sister and me to India without my father, who kept working.

I barely go shopping for one hour and keep it together with my two kids, so I can only imagine the horrors of managing two little kids, plus enough luggage for two months, in the airports and plane bathroom for what feels like a two-day flight. By the time we reached my grandmother’s house, my mother must have reached the limits of her large reservoir of patience.

The day after we arrived in the middle of the night, I remember her sitting in the foyer, with a tired smile plastered across  her face.  She spoke with the flood of guests who “dropped in” to see my grandmother’s “American” daughter. And of course, like any other little kid, I kept interrupting her conversations because I needed my mother’s attention RIGHT NOW.

She lost her shit. My poor mother, who was always kind and patient, grabbed the colorful folds of her sari, jumped up from her chair, and chased me through my grandmother’s house in sandals. I was shocked, but amused. I had the same arrogance as my 6-year old son. “Mom will never catch me. I’m too fast.” So I sprinted down the long hall and she followed me. I ran by the kitchen. So did she. I ran through the dining room. So did she. I ran into our guest bedroom. So did she. I thought I would lose her by running across the bed. So imagine my surprise when she jumped on the bed and kept coming after me. I scurried out the door, into the yard, where I left my mother. I can still picture her, standing in the doorway, holding up her fist and shaking it at me, telling me what she’d do if she caught me interrupting her with a guest again. I hid from her for the rest of the day.

And so today, I’m smiling. For the first time since she died, on the anniversary of her passing, I’m finally smiling when I think of her. I love you, Mom. Thank you for the gift of that memory.

To My Precious Snowflakes: Mommy Loves You

To My Precious Snowflakes,

Mommy loves you very much. You are the organic apples of my eye, the gluten-free sprinkles on my SAHM sundae. I cherish every cup and kick aimed at my head. It all goes so quickly, especially when I duck for cover. My heart swells each time I think of your delightful shenanigans. 

Bless your little hearts for cleaning those brand new books in the bathroom sink yesterday. Dirty Elmo board books have no place in our humble home. Your stealthy teamwork saved us from the scourge of bookstore filth. And siblings who wash books together, play together.   

Little Boy, I admire your curious mind. Not every child would remove a vent cover to drop his LeapPad down the heating duct. Of course you wanted to find out what would happen. Who wouldn’t? Mommy was honored to spend thirty minutes fishing it out of the duct in the name of science. 

Darling Son, your burgeoning artistic abilities amaze me. Especially when you showcase them with permanent markers on the canvas of your face. Unfortunately, I didn’t give you enough paper. So, why should you have to walk across the room to get more? Your baby sister was right there. It made perfect sense to continue your Jackson Pollack scrawls on her.     

Little Girl, your theatrical flair leaves me speechless. No one can knock food to the floor like you can. There is no better way to tell Mommy that you’re all done. And of course, fork color matters. Silver is bad, blue is good. I should have read your mind, but I failed. Poor little thing. You tired yourself out by shrieking bloody murder for forty-five minutes. I gave you the blue fork, but it was too late. That terrible silver fork touched your lunch. Of course you couldn’t eat it. The pasta was ruined.   

Sweet Angel, Mommy can be a monster. It’s cruel for me to give you a red cup when you ask for it. And all those times you asked me to drive you home and I did. What was I thinking? I don’t blame you for screaming during the entire car trip. Who does Mommy think she is, giving you exactly what you wanted?

Driving around town with both of you and listening to the soothing chorus of “WHY, MOMMY, WHY, WHY, WHY?” from the backseat is the highlight of my day. Especially just as I’m about to make a left turn. Why should a delivery truck traveling towards us at fifty miles per hour during rush hour traffic hold my attention? You need to know how to spell “milk” RIGHT NOW. I don’t blame you for yelling at me while I’m mid-turn. Mommy’s heart palpitations aside, nothing trumps the question of a curious child. Nothing. 

Each night, we wrap up our long days with a spirited two-hour discussion before bedtime. Your favorite book is “The Ten Little Monkeys.” We’ve read it SO MANY TIMES that Mommy sees it in her hallucinations. Oh, those crazy monkeys! Look at them jumping on the bed and getting hurt! And how creative of the two of you to act it out EVERY NIGHT RIGHT BEFORE BED! 

Thank goodness you didn’t pick up your toys from the floor like I asked you. You saved your strength. Using the couch like a trampoline takes a lot of energy. And how brilliant of you to add your own spin to the story. You literally spin yourselves dizzy before running towards the fireplace. And what makes running towards sharp edges even better? Doing it with your EYES CLOSED! And almost face-planting on the coffee table! You sure showed Mommy and Daddy how creative you can be! 

Thank you for sharing those howler monkey protests when Mommy and Daddy throw each of you over a shoulder to haul you upstairs. They would follow me into my dreams if I slept at night. But I don’t want to miss a moment with you. So I spend the rest of the night watching my snowflakes breathe.

I love you always,

Your Devoted Mommy

When “Co-Sleeping” Goes Wrong

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I always thought that someday, when I had children, co-sleeping would be one of the highlights of parenthood.  It’s the perfect way to spend quality family time together.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up with a small child nestled in the crook of your arm?  The image is intoxicating.  Dark butterfly lashes resting on chubby baby cheeks.  Little fingers and toes curling up beneath the covers.  Soft sweet breaths on shared fluffy pillows.  Oh, the cuddles!  Oh, the memories!

I was mistaken.

Co-sleeping with little children isn’t for the faint of heart.  I know, because we tried it this morning for ten minutes.  My pulse is still racing six hours later.  I’m not sure how other parents deal with this through an ENTIRE night, unless they drink heavily.  (The parents, not the children.)

Allow me to paint the picture from this morning.  The bedroom was dark.  My husband won my temporary gratitude by getting the kids and letting me lie down.  Both children popped awake at the crack of dawn because it’s the weekend and that’s what they do.  I was enjoying the peace and quiet, when the door cracked open.  A ray of light cut through the darkness and hit me squarely in the face.  There was a figure in the doorway.  It was my husband.  He carried my 2-year old daughter in his arms.  My five-year old son came bounding into the room right after him.

No.  NO.  NO!!!!!!!!!!!!  Panicked, I thought about hiding.  They hadn’t seen me yet.  The room was dark and their eyes were still adjusting.  Unfortunately, before I could slip off the mattress and belly-crawl under the bed, they spotted me.  A chorus of high-pitched “Mommy’s” ensued.

“Mommy, I want to lie down next to Daddy.  I want to lie down next to Daddy.”

“Mommy, I have Pooh!  I want Tigger!  Tigger!  Tigger!  I want Tigger!”

“Mommy, I don’t want to lie down in here.  I want to go downstairs.”

“Mommy, I want Mommy!  I want Mommy!”

Groaning, I rolled over and faced my family.  My son leapt onto the bed and flopped around like a tuna hitting the deck of a fisherman’s boat.  My husband deposited my daughter, AND POOH-BEAR, AND TIGGER, on the bed next to me.  Both of the stuffed animals are about her size, so it was almost like having four kids on the bed with us instead of just two.  Delightful.

My daughter refused to lay down until I moved over to make room for her stuffed friends on my pillow.  The spacious bed suddenly felt like a postage stamp.  I nearly slipped off the edge when she hit me on the head with Tigger and ordered me to wake up.  She had the nerve to look adorable, so I felt myself weaken.  Maybe this would be the morning when the “co-sleeping” magic happened?

Through some miracle, my husband and I coaxed the kids to actually lie down.  The room was silent.  I tightened my arm around my daughter and placed a kiss on her dark head.  Yay!  We were like the commercials on TV!  We were co-sleeping and it was bliss!  Well, maybe not technically co-sleeping, but we were all lying down in the same bed, and it was peaceful.  I reveled in the moment.

That moment lasted for 5.46 seconds.  My son slipped out of my husband’s grasp and did a flip that would make a ninja proud.  It placed him squarely in the opposite direction as the rest of us.  His head lay hear the foot of the bed and his feet were an inch from my husband’s face.

“Nifty Gilifty!”  My son pulled the sheets over his head.  I knew what was coming.  I’m no stranger to Daniel Tiger and his freaking little blue owl friend.  I grabbed my daughter and pulled her onto my pillow before the first scissor kick landed on her face.

While my son pretended to swim, my daughter sat up.  Completely unperturbed by the chaos on her left, she turned and shoved her dainty foot in my face.  “Piggies!  Mommy, I want piggies!”  I gently pulled her toe out of my nose before sneezing.

Suddenly, I smelled something.  Gagging, I gasped out.  “Who passed gas?”

My son laughed uproariously.  A glance at my husband told me that he was trying not to laugh.  “You’re welcome,” my tiny daughter replied, shoving Pooh bear in my face.  “Pooh pooped.”

My son sat up, craning his head from left to right, while doing raspberries.  “Look, Mommy!  I’m a water fountain.”  My daughter giggled and performed raspberries with less finesse.  A spray of saliva landed on my cheek.

“Well, you wanted family time,” my husband grinned at me, as I grabbed a tissue and wiped the moisture from my face.  “This is family time.”

I suppose it is.  Oh, the precious memories.

My Scheduled “Carefree” Mom Moment

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It’s summer time, and in the interest of keeping up with the FB Joneses, my husband and I took our children out of the basement for some fresh Midwestern air today. I scheduled a very “go with the flow” morning of activities. First, day camp for Evan. Next, an outdoor lunch with minimal exposure to the elements. And finally, a visit to a local water fountain (see photo below), with designated water-frolicking time.

After watching the kids shriek with delight at nearly getting splashed by the water jets on the splash pad, I had this crazy idea that I should be playful and carefree too. Shouldn’t my kids remember me as more than a housekeeper, fruit cutter, and Daniel Tiger DVD pusher? Laughing, I grabbed my son’s hand and we ran into the center of fountain. We narrowly missed getting nailed by a water jet. Evan was delighted. Mom is NEVER carefree. Look at all of the water jets that surround us! None of them can hit us in the middle of the splash pad! How exciting!

The fun lasted for all of thirty seconds. My son wanted to get out of the middle, but he didn’t want to get hit in the face by the water jet. I told him I would run with him.

“C’mon, Evan,” I tugged on his arm. “It’ll be fun. We made it to the middle without getting hit. We can make it to the other side too.”

Evan shook his head vigorously. “No.”

Laughing, I wrapped my arms around him. “You’re already wet. Let’s both try to run through the fountain. We’ll just do the same thing again. I’m right here with you.”

Eyes wide, he shivered. “No.”

Frowning because this wasn’t part of my schedule, I said, “Buddy, we can stay here for a little longer. But the only way to get out of the fountain is to run through it to the other side.”

“No.”

We stayed in the center of the fountain for a few minutes. I studied the pattern of the water jets. 4 jets, 3 jets, 5 jets, pause. 1 jet, 2 jets, 5 jets, stop. 5 seconds pass. Repeat pattern. Certain that I had broken the code, I grabbed Evan’s hand. “Okay, buddy, I have the pattern. Let’s count and run through it this time.”

What I failed to consider was one five-year old’s resistance. The pattern repeated itself, just like I expected. For a split second, there was no surge of water. All water jets were dormant.

“Now, Evan! Let’s run NOW!” I yelled and tugged his hand.

He ran two steps and stopped right over the water jet hole. In a few seconds, he was going to get reamed by the water jet.

“Evan, MOVE!!!” I yelled.

“No,” he shook his head, eyes wide.

Knowing my son’s intense dislike of getting water on his face and not wanting it to turn into a full-blown fear, I took two steps and pushed him off the hole. Right then, as I stood directly over the hole, a stream of water emerged.

“Son of a,” I shrieked, as the freezing cold water hit me in the groin like a bidet gone wild.

My husband and toddler daughter both stood safely twenty feet away from the fountain’s reach. I was soaking wet. They laughed at me. Once I made it to the other side, I laughed too.

Evan eventually made his way out of the center of the fountain, WITHOUT MY HELP. Vowing never to sacrifice myself to the fountain bidet gods again, I limped around campus and made it to the car with sopping wet pants.

Well, at least my kids now have one FB worthy moment of their “Carefree” mom. Someday, I may schedule another appearance.

Back To Journaling (I’m Not Ready)

I miss writing for fun.  Earlier this year, after reading a social media marketing book, I started an “official” author’s blog under my real name.  I moved a bunch of content around and made it look more polished than this site does.  It still isn’t where I want it to be, but I’m not ready to actually pay money for a site that I’ll just ignore.  As for writing any NEW content?

I have NOTHING.  Absolutely nothing.

Every time I start writing something to post on the “official” site, I don’t think it’s good enough and then I freak out and stop writing.  Kind of defeats the purpose of being a writer if you stop writing, doesn’t it?

And so, I’m back here.  Just writing off the cuff.  Whatever pops into my head is going on the screen now.

So, what’s going on in my head right now?  This feels like writing in my journal.  Very casual.  Very easy.  I think that’s what I’ll use this site for.  Just my random, frequent musings about life and writing.

If you read this, that’s great.  If you don’t, I’m okay with that too.  I just want to write for the sake of writing in the immediate term.

So, what’s going on in my head right now?  A lot of life changes.  My 5-year old is going to finish his time at the preschool that has been our sanctuary for the past three years.  This fall, he starts Kindergarten.

I’m not ready for this.

It’s bad enough that he doesn’t fit into toddler clothing anymore.  I came to that realization earlier this year, when he couldn’t fit into a bunch of relatively new shirts anymore.  I think the kid literally grew overnight.  Like, one week, the 5T shirts slipped easily over his head and the next day, they didn’t.  I spent a few days trying to convince myself that the dryer must have caused the shrinkage.  Until I actually went to the store and held up a brand new 5T shirt.

Nope.  This kid has grown.

When you’re a stay at home parent to two small children, you live in a swirl of activity that leaves you feeling as if you stepped off of a high speed hamster wheel at the end of the night.  There’s a lot of activity, but no visible progress.  There are some weeks when you have no idea what day it is, or even the time.  All you have in your sight is the next time your kids go to sleep.  Sometimes, if you’re fortunate, it’s nap time.  Other not-so-great days, it isn’t until bedtime.  Those days are LONG.

And then, something like a trip to the store shocks you with the reality of how much time has passed.  And you regret not paying more attention, in the midst of the chaos.  How could I have missed it?  I was there and I still feel like I missed it.

My little guy isn’t so little anymore, and it’s breaking my heart.  Because if I can barely remember where the past five years have gone, how will I remember the upcoming years if they fly as fast or faster?

That’s where my mind and heart are right now.  I’m not ready for my son to go to Kindergarten this fall.  I’m not ready for him to leave toddlerhood behind.  I’m not ready to turn my back on the Toddler section and walk across the aisle towards the Boys section. I’m not ready to leave the pastel colors and sleepy farm animals behind for graphic t-shirts and superheroes.

I’m not ready to leave the preschool that has been our safe sanctuary for the past three years.  I’m not ready for my son to step onto the faster elementary school track and begin Kindergarten in the fall.  I’m not ready for him to be a member of the “Class of 2029.”

I’m not ready for his feet to be bigger than mine are.  I’m not ready for him to stop holding my hand when we cross the street.  I’m not ready to have to tilt my head up to look into his eyes.

I’m not ready, not ready, not ready.  But I don’t have a choice.

So, I’ll continue to struggle and come to terms with this.  But I’m not ready.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Toddler, I Have A Problem With You

Dear Toddler,

I see you.  You’re standing there with your big eyes, little feet, and sticky Hobbit hands, flashing that impish grin at me.  You know that you’re adorable, but guess what?  I’m not falling for it.

I’ve got a lot of problems with you and now, you’re going to hear about them.

You’ve had two years to figure this shit out.  Two.  A person can get an Associate degree in two years.  So, what have you been doing with your time?

Let’s start with an obvious one.  Diaper changes.  We do this EVERY SINGLE DAY, several times a day.  Nothing about it should come as a surprise to you.  So, why do I need an exorcist every time I put you on the changing table?  I CAN’T CLEAN YOU UP when you arch your back, kick me in the face, and scream bloody murder.

If you hate diaper changes that much, then here’s an idea:  COOPERATE WITH POTTY TRAINING.  According to meme studies supplied by online strangers, you’re already behind your peers.  This is your own fault.  You lack focus.  It’s not that hard to aim and drop something into a toilet.  You’ve done it with my phone.  And people train cats to do it.  I know.  I’ve seen videos of cats flushing a toilet.  I’d like to believe that what I begat is smarter than a cat.

Speaking of cats, let’s apply some common sense here.  A tail is not a penis.  Please don’t yank it. And coating the cat in maple syrup and flour will not turn him into a pancake. It will not make him like you. Do you see anyone else doing that?  Don’t be a pioneer. Either pet the cat or ignore him.

Did I just mention pancakes?  Let’s discuss meal time.  Being a toddler is hard.  People always tell you when to play, snack or nap.  It’s a rough life.  But when your Highness experiences meal fatigue, could you please leave the plate ON the table instead of whipping it across the room like a drunk?  You’ve mastered signing AND saying “All Done.”  Why don’t we put these newfound skills to work at meal time?

Now, let’s talk about these tantrums.  I’m going to be brutally honest.  You get upset over stupid shit.  And I know that you think I’m a god, but I can’t control certain things.  Like cloud coverage.  I’m sorry that the sky is too blue for your Majesty.  And I don’t know why the neighbor decided to drive HIS big, red truck to work today without consulting you. But none of these offenses justify your strip show at Target.  I don’t care if you’re a boy or a girl.  Trampy toddlers come in either gender.  Have some self-respect.  Stop flashing your pull-ups in Produce.

Speaking of Target, and the Starbucks attached to Target, and the drive-thru attached to the Starbucks nowhere near Target, let’s talk about coffee.  Being a Mommy requires coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  I gave up caffeine AND booze for both of you during pregnancy.  That’s a grand total of TWENTY MONTHS.  I’m a saint, so I don’t need your howler-monkey protests now that I’m hitting the ‘BUX again.  Do something constructive while Mommy caffeinates.  Read Dickens.

One last thing.  Do you remember the time you spotted that Calliou doll at your aunt’s house?  And how you asked me for one?  No.  Just, no.  I’ve heard about this bald-headed bastard.  He’s the gateway to whining.  I’m not letting him near the house, so watch PBS instead.  Learn math.  Get a STEM job.

Well, I hope this helps you get your shit together.  Here are some GMO-filled Cheerios.  Or maybe they don’t contain GMO’s anymore.  I don’t know. Just eat them and fend for yourself for a few minutes without falling down the stairs. Mommy needs to hide and stuff her face with gluten-filled goodies.

With much love,

Your adoring underpaid servant

Being A Mom Without A Mom

Earlier this summer, I fed my daughter in the picnic area of the park. After watching my husband push my son on the swings for a few moments, I noticed a young mother sitting at picnic table next to me. She was feeding a baby close to my daughter’s age. An older woman, who I assumed was the young woman’s mother, fussed over a little boy close to my son’s age.

I quietly watched them as my daughter drank her milk. When the baby started to fuss, the young woman asked with exasperation, “What do I do?” Her mother immediately picked up the baby and gestured to her daughter. “Go take Jake to the playground.” The young woman’s weary face lit up.  “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely,” the older woman said, as she rubbed the wailing infant’s back. “I have this.” The young woman and her son smiled at each other and rushed off to the playground, while the older woman walked around the picnic area, trying to soothe the baby.

I felt a pang of envy as I looked at my own infant daughter. I don’t have anyone to do that for me. My mother passed away several years ago. And while I don’t begrudge any woman for having her mother, I wish my mother was still around for so many things.

I wish my mother knew that she had a grandson. After a year in hospice care, she died when my son was six weeks old. My mother had two daughters. She doted on all of her nephews. It would have thrilled her to have a grandson. Although I brought my son to visit her one time, near the end of her illness, I don’t know if she remembered that visit.

I wish my mother knew that she had a granddaughter. My little girl already comports herself like a lady. She is very much like her grandmother. Just as beautiful and feisty. Each smile is sweet and each gesture is graceful. My mother once told me that she “bossed people around with a smile.” She would have adored her tiny doppelgänger.

I wish my mother had brought me food when I first delivered the babies. She was the most amazing cook I’ve ever met. My mother could just taste something at a party and recreate it at home without at recipe. It would have brought her so much joy to whip something up in the kitchen and bring it over to my house when she visited her new grandchild.

I wish I could have called my mother when I was freaking out about the babies.  She would have known exactly how to calm my fears and assure me that everything would be okay.  Instead, I relied on Google, friends and any parenting book I could purchase.

I wish I could have cried on my mother’s shoulder when I felt like I was a failure as a parent. Or on those days when I felt so lost and alone. She would have listened to me and more importantly, really UNDERSTOOD me. No one understands you like your mother does.

I wish my children had one more person in their lives who thinks that they’re perfect. Someone who finds their temper tantrums adorable and plays Candy Land twenty times without appearing bored. My mother was an artist, who taught me how to draw flowers. She would have been so proud of her grandson’s blossoming artistic abilities. In my dreams, I see the two of them hunched over a table, as my mother guides my son’s hand along the paper.

But most of all, I wish I could tell my mother how much I admire and respect her. I never realized what an amazing woman she was until I had children. My mother juggled raising two small children, managing a household, and putting herself through school to obtain a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She devoted her life’s work towards helping the most challenging people in society:  prisoners and the mentally ill.

Each day I look into the faces of my children and feel my mother’s presence. I see her sweetness in my daughter’s smile and her fire in my son’s eyes. I hope that wherever her spirit lies, she knows that I am proud to be her daughter.

The Five Reasons That I Love Starbucks

Clearly, I have addictive tendencies, because in addition to my Facebook “issue,” I have another problem.  Starbucks.

I spend way too much money at Starbucks.  It’s ridiculous.  Who pays $4-$5 for a cup of coffee?  What am I getting for the money?  Some steamed milk, espresso shots and flavored liquid sugar.  I mean, syrup.

So, what is it about that place that keeps luring me in?  Why don’t I take all of the money that I spend on caramel macchiatos and buy something to improve the “slobby chic” look that I sport each day?  Here are five reasons:

The Unlimited Supply of Caffeine

I’ll be honest.  I gave up coffee during pregnancy, so for a while, I functioned like a normal human being without it.  But after my daughter was born, I regained my dependency on caffeine.  Once again, I suffer from headaches without coffee.

So why don’t I just stay home and brew my own coffee?  You can’t see me, but I’m making a face.  I spend my days getting food and drinks for other people (a.k.a. the kiddos).  To me, it’s worth looking like a hobo to have someone bring me a drink for a change.

The Smell

I’m a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). I do my best to keep the house clean and fresh.  But in the battle against stink, I’m losing.  Each day, I play two games:  “What’s that smell?” and “Where is it coming from?”  Is it food?  Is it old diapers?  Is it small animals?  I have no idea.  I think the kids are secretly stashing crap under the floor boards.  Why?  Either to get me to take them out of the house or to drive me crazy.

They’re successful on both fronts.  I can stay home with them and remain ensconced in the stench of decomposition.  Or I can go out in to the world, see real adults, and inhale the aroma of freshly ground coffee at Starbucks.  It’s no contest.  Coffee beats decomposition.

The Greeting

My children are adorable.  They really are.  But the way they greet me each morning leaves something to be desired.  My four-year old son growls at me.  I didn’t think I’d have to deal with this for another ten years, but yep.  He’s already a cranky nightmare when I have to wake him up for school.  My one-year old daughter smiles until I place her on the changing table.  Then she winds up to bite, slap or kick me in the face.  For some reason, she prefers to sit in her own filth.

When I go to Starbucks, no one growls at me.  Someone actually smiles without physically assaulting me.  It’s a refreshing change.

The Language

As a SAHM, I don’t get to travel much anymore.  I mean, my kids watch Barney and during the past season, that dopey purple dinosaur has been visiting different countries.  But he still speaks in English, so I don’t consider that foreign language immersion.  When I go to Starbucks, I get to pretend that I’m visiting a foreign country.  And not just any foreign country.  A really snooty foreign country where they treat you like garbage if you don’t speak their language.

For those of you who don’t know, Starbucks has its own language.  It’s called Bux-ese.  I’ve spent the past decade studying it, so I’m fairly fluent.  I can order a grande, nonfat, no foam, extra drizzle, caramel macchiato like a native.  So see, kids.  It pays to stay in school.

The “Crappy to Happy” Hour Shift

The social calendar at our house includes a daily event called “Crappy Hour.” Everyone is invited, but the only people who show up are my son, my daughter and me. It involves a lot of blatant defiance, yelling and tantrums. My husband manages to leave the house right before it starts. His excuse is work, but I have my doubts. I think he’s just going to Starbucks.

Once I manage to drop my son off at school without pulling the hair out of my head, I have thirty precious minutes before I have to rush my daughter back home for the morning nap.  Apparently, I’m not the only one with this window of opportunity. Sometime after nine in the morning, a herd of stroller-pushing SAHM’s descends on the local Starbucks. All of us have the same frazzled look.  We just survived Crappy Hour. It’s time for Happy Hour. Or Happy Half Hour. Whatever it is, we’ll take it.

Five Ways Karma Changed Me Since Becoming A Mom

A Writing Mama's Journal

Karma has it in for me.  You may not believe me, but it’s true. Since becoming a mother, I’m doing all sorts of things that I swore I would never do. Here are just a few examples of how Karma smacked me back to humble reality:

I never thought I could forget my purchases at the store.    

Last week, I officially lost my mind. I arrived at this conclusion when I nearly pulled out of the grocery store parking lot without my groceries. The teenager behind the customer service counter looked at me with pity when I rushed back inside the store and explained what happened. “Well, it could be worse,” the girl tried to console me, as she handed me my groceries. “At least you didn’t forget your baby in the store.”

Is this my future? Forgetting my children in public places? As I walked out of the…

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Post 14: My Moral Dilemma About A Child Left Alone In The Car

To the lady who left her son alone in the car,

I don’t know you. I only know that I was angry when I saw your little boy alone in the blue minivan that was parked next to mine this morning.

At first, I didn’t even realize that he was there. I had just dropped off my four-year old son at summer camp. It’s his third day of camp with a new group of kids and he’s still adjusting. So when I walked back to the parking lot, pushing my daughter in her stroller, all of my thoughts were with my son.

As I carried my daughter from the stroller to the parking lot, I glanced over my shoulder. I saw a pair of large brown eyes peering at me from inside the blue minivan parked next to ours. I didn’t really think about it. This school is populated with helicopter parents. I assumed that there was an adult in the car with him. I buckled my daughter into her car seat, before closing the sliding door and turning around. And that’s when I realized that the little boy was alone in the blue minivan.

Your little boy looks like he’s close to my son’s age. Maybe one year younger. All of the tinted windows in your van were rolled down 2-3 inches. You obviously know that today is going to be a hot summer day. It was after 9 A.M. when I saw your son. I could already feel the sun beating down on me as I stood between our two minivans.

Your boy was also standing up. He poked his nose out the window. Maybe he was hot. I didn’t know how long he had been left alone in the car, so I asked him, “Where are your mommy and daddy?”

He didn’t answer me. I found it ironic that you’ve probably taught your son not to speak with strangers. I tried again. “Are they inside the school?”

He hesitated, and nodded. “My mommy is in there.”

Slightly relieved, but irritated, I asked one more question. “Is she dropping someone off ?”

He said something I couldn’t quite make out, but I was under the impression that you, Fellow Mommy, were there for the same reason I was. To drop off an older child at camp.

I told your little boy that I would be in the car right next to him if he needed something, and he nodded again. Then I slipped into the driver’s seat of my minivan and turned on the air conditioning for my own daughter. Because it was already getting that warm.

I admit it. I was pissed off at you. Who would leave a little kid unattended in the car like that? He wasn’t even buckled into his car seat. He was climbing over the front seats like a jungle gym. My knee-jerk reaction was to call the school’s security office and let them handle it.

Yeah, it’s hard having more than one kid at pick-up and drop-off time. I get it. It would be a lot easier if I could just leave my one-year old daughter in the car by herself for a few minutes while I drop her four-year old brother off at camp. And I admit that I’ve thought about it during milder weather. But I wouldn’t do that. Because even though the likelihood of something bad happening is small, it still exists. And I couldn’t live with myself if something happened to my daughter the one time I took the easy way out.

But that’s my choice. And this morning, you, Fellow Mommy, made yours.

So there I sat, in judgment of what I should do about your choice. And that’s the core of what bothered me. Why did you put me in this position? I didn’t want to judge you, but I did. I thought that you did something incredibly stupid. I thought that you took an unnecessary risk. I get that you’re tired and you want one thing to be easy in your incredibly difficult day. Believe me, I understand. But this isn’t the thing that you should make easier on yourself. Get fast food for lunch today. Turn on the TV a little longer this afternoon. But, for God’s sake, don’t leave your kid in the car unattended.

Fellow Mommy, I was torn. The easy thing for me to do would have been to just call campus security and wash my hands of this whole situation. But I didn’t want to do that to you. Because what if you’re actually a really great mother?  What if you would normally never do this?  What if today you just felt tired and overwhelmed? What if you were so close to the breaking point that you made this incredibly stupid decision? Do you deserve to have your children taken away from you by the CPS for one stupid decision? Because these days, something like that could happen.

After ten minutes of waiting and watching, I didn’t think so. You don’t deserve to lose your children. But you do need a warning. So I picked up the phone and called the front desk of the school. After explaining the situation, I told the front desk assistant that I didn’t want you, Fellow Mommy, to get in trouble with the authorities.  The school should warn you not to do this again.

While I was speaking with the front desk, you, Fellow Mommy, approached your minivan, quickly got in without a glance in my direction and drove away. I didn’t get the chance to talk with you, but I did report what you looked like.

Should I have minded my own business and just left your little boy alone? Some people may think so, but it didn’t feel right to just drive away. Did I do the wrong thing by not calling the police? I hope not. Only time will tell. I hope that when the school contacts you and gives you a warning, you’ll do better next time.

MY COMMENTS:

This piece was rejected by both Scary Mommy (Rejection #7) and The Mid (Rejection #8).  The lady who rejected it at Scary Mommy called it “thought provoking” but said she didn’t have a place for it.  The person at The Mid just rejected it.  I’m not sure where to go from here.