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Category Archives: Boys!

From smother mother to pick up your sh*t

I was a bit of control freak right from the beginning, never bottle feeding any of my children, always latching them to me like they were attached to me, which I guess they were. I reveled in that time where I wandered covered in milk stains, barely able to keep my eyes open, children dripping off of me. I wanted no help, embracing the martyr’s way and spending my days soothing, rocking, and strolling with a child on my hip, or on my back, or in my lap.

As they grew, I was always nostalgic for the year past – for when my four year-old was three, for when my six year-old was five, before my one year old could walk, zipping from one room to another instead of lying lazily in my arms. I worried that they were growing too fast. I was the ultimate smother mother, wallowing in the sap, working on five hours broken sleep a night, and kind of loving it.

It’s because of the mother I was then, one who stalked the nursery school halls, who volunteered for every single class project and trip, who baked cupcakes for reasons as nonsensical as, ‘It’s Tuesday!’,  that I am still amazed at how I’ve changed.

My boys are now 14, 11 and 8 years-olds. They are in high school, middle school and third grade. They still need me to do a million mommy things for them, but now I also expect them to help themselves a lot more. And when they don’t I am no longer the sweet loving mama, I am the nagging, cranky mama.

“Move your asses,” I’ll say when it’s time to shower and they’ve procrastinated too long. “Pick up you shit” and “Get it yourself” are other favorites. I don’t sugar coat things. I expect things done and my patience is minimal.

Maybe it sounds selfish and maybe it is, but I have turned a corner. Things are starting to be about me again and I am embracing this new cycle in my life. I am writing and loving it. But like any job, it takes time, and if I’m constantly nagging I am not sitting on my fabulous chair in my computer room tapping away.

I no longer want them hanging off of me (although a good hug is always appreciated). I want them to be more independent so I can be more independent as well.  I want them to do more for themselves so I can do less. It makes me feel like a bad mother sometimes when I remember how emotional I was when my oldest gave up his stuffed animals or when my youngest went to school without crying for me. But I’ve changed. The mother who always had the play dates at her house because she wanted the children near, now doesn’t mind so much when the boys are all engaged at a friend’s. Back then, I needed them to need me, but now there are many days where I just want to be left alone, not doing anything for anyone but myself.

I know there will be a time in the not too distant future when my beautiful boys are no longer always underfoot, and I will long for them to ask me to make them an egg sandwich, find their baseball pants, or pick them up at a friend’s. I will remember how lucky I was to be so present in their lives and so available to them.

But for now, I’d just like them to pick up their shit.

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It’s really not that hard.

And – shameless plug – if you haven’t checked out my books, Secrets of the Suburbs or Murder Across the Street, you can find them HERE. They make great holiday gifts!! You can even gift for  Kindle!! 🙂

Pokemon Go – Away!

It wasn’t even a week ago that my kids discovered the new Pokemon Go app (I wrote about it in Parents here). I watched them run around the corner excited and laughing, following their phones to discover the hidden Pokemon lurking all over our neighborhood.

I walked with them, amused and happy. My boys were engaged in an outdoor activity and getting along – no one was hitting anyone with a stick, no one was taking the ball away from anyone, and no one was crying that his brother cheated at something. I didn’t even mind that their devices were at the center of their attention. It still felt like a huge step up from them ignoring me while staring at our X-box in the basement. We were outside in the sun, wandering around and bonding like a family.

It seemed everyone we saw, from kids to moms to teens to grown men were all playing this game. Even when we went to dinner, we ran into waiters on break doing the same. It felt strangely like the world had gotten a bit smaller and we were all on the same team. Although as my son reminds me, there are different teams – blue, yellow and red.

I loved everything about the app last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We strolled, we talked, we caught Pokemon, meeting friends and making friends all doing the same. But by Tuesday my boys, already pros, figured some ways to cheat, or at least how to cut down on the exercise part of the game, my favorite part.

“Hey Mom,” My middle son asked, “It’s kind of hot out. Why don’t you drive us down to the water, and we’ll walk around. And then we can drive to the library and then to the train station.”

These were all Poke hot spots to get free stuff. I eyed him skeptically but his big green eyes gave nothing away. It was kind of hot out. “Okay,” I conceded and they all cheered.

We drove to the water and my boys had me drive back and forth in the parking lot and then back around the block – Go left! No other left! Keep Going! You missed it! Go back! – The phone glitching a number of times before they were all satisfied that they had received adequate Poke loot. Next we head off to the library where they walked around the parking lot for a full three minutes before jumping back in the car. “Done,” My oldest announced, “Take us to the train station.”

“Excuse me?” I said, annoyed. We were no longer bonding. I had become the chauffer being bossed around, pretty much my typical life.

“No!” My youngest suddenly cried. “Mine isn’t loading!! I didn’t get anything!” He made a lot of grunting and whiny noises as I drove around in circles trying to find a good spot to help his phone – I mean my freaking phone! – work.

“Let’s just go,” My oldest compassionately suggested and my youngest screamed at him. After ten minutes of 8 year-old meltdown, the ridiculously overloaded server kicked in.

With the app reloaded and my youngest receiving an egg, some balls and yet another Pidgey; the Pokemon that needs some birth control since they are literally everywhere – “Mom! Don’t move there’s a Pidgey on your back!” – We head to the train station, a center spot in town.

My children run here and there collecting free stuff, capturing some Pokemon and almost running into people, while I yell for them to be careful of the street. It is around 5pm and others lurk doing the same. You can spot them immediately, hovering over their phone in little groups or staring at it as it directs them. There is also a ‘Gym’ at the train station. My boys have announced that it is weak and they are all excited to take it over.

“Guys we have to go,” I say, dampening the fun but I am hot and tired and needing to get home and start dinner. They ignore me, loitering near a grown man in a wrinkled suit tapping his cell madly.

“We’ll just stay here at the Gym,” my oldest says. “Pick us up when you’re done.”

It’s not a Gym I want to yell. It’s the middle of a street! And you are stalking a strange man! And I want my phone! “No,” I say calmly. “We’ve had enough Pokemon for right now. It’s time to go.”

My youngest starts whining. “My game froze again! They got so much more guys than me!”

“To the car!” I command and they grudgingly follow.

We repeat this experience all week; them obsessed, nagging and begging, and me driving with phones glitching, batteries dying and them whining and crying in frustration.

Then there are all these stories out there of people getting robbed or walking into trees, but I honestly don’t think there’s any real danger. The app is awesome, creative and fun, but I do worry a bit that this craze has obsessively overtaken my children and my town. It’s like a cult of zombies out there – Must find Pokemon!

I really wouldn’t mind if the app would just Go away, but it seems I stand alone. Everyone else is out finding Pokemon.

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Yup, quality family time in the great outdoors.

And while you’re waiting for your kids to lift their heads, check out my book, Secrets of the Suburbs – the perfect sexy fun beach read! – available on Amazon. Just click HERE!  And…  Murder Across the Street, click HERE. Yes! The suburbs are crazy! Sex, Murder and Pokemon, Oh my!

From toddler to teen: A mom’s short retrospective

From toddler to teen: A mom’s short retrospective

2002

Love. Love. Love. Your drool is adorable, your poop, a topic of conversation. Never leave my side. Stay forever in my arms. You are mine. I am yours. Before you, life had no meaning. Before you there was nothing.

2005

Oh my baby. My poor sweet child. Don’t be sad. It’s only for a couple of hours. Everyone goes to nursery. Why? I don’t know why. Good question! Why?!! No don’t cry. You’re making me cry. Okay one more hug. Okay one more. Okay, Just one mor-

Yes, I know he’s going to be fine. Okay… shut the door.

(I’ll just be sitting here.)

2007

First day of Kindergarten. Can’t…. even….. speak.

2008-10

What’s going on, my love? Yes, I would Love to play dinosaur battles with you! Yes, I want to color! Yes we can build a set-up! Yes, I will even listen to the really really long and convoluted story about the dragons you are breeding on your video game and all 112 words you have made up for your own secret language. Tell me. I am fascinated.

2010-2012

Of course! Have all your friends come over! Everyone is welcome! Five on five wiffleball/soccer/football/basketball in the yard? Fabulous! Manhunt through the house? Movies? Wii? X-Box? Great! I’ll order a pizza! Who wants fresh baked cookies? Weeeeee!!!

2013-2014

Uh okay, of course I’ll drive you to your friend’s. Again.

2015

Me: Can I make you pancakes?

Him: Shrug

Me: Hey that was a good game you played today!

Him: Grunt

Me: Who did you hang out with at the party yesterday?

Him: Eye roll

Sigh. (Both of us)

2016 –

How are you? How’s school? What’s going on? What’s new? Are you happy? Are you sad? Are you comfortable? Do you have friends you like? Do they like you? Are you feeling okay? Do you need anything? Want anything? Can I help you? Hello? Are you listening? Hello…

I’m here.

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And always will be

 

*Now that I have you all sapped up, go check out my latest essay over on Scary Mommy – Underneath His Teenage Scowl. Originally titled, It’s not you, It’s me. Okay, maybe it is you,  but just a little.  🙂

 

I’m Not Going Anywhere, Kid.

They say there’s always one born to drive you crazy. That would be my 10 year-old, a whip smart, manipulative, feisty and sensitive boy who only takes no for an answer if it’s the answer he wants.

We’ve just gone a round or two over putting away his clothes. It was a simple request that should have taken five minutes that I gave more than a full day’s latitude before putting my foot down. But instead of compliance with a loud sigh, we spent a solid half hour in a heated battle of wills.

“It will take you five minutes.” I maintained calmly. “Let’s not continue this waste of time. Go get it done so we can move on.”

“There is no purpose to it!” He insisted, always looking to debate. “I like them on my floor… It’s my room.”

Back and forth we went until I stopped. “No more discussion. I’m telling you what you need to do, and if you don’t there will be a consequence. Last warning.”

He wasn’t happy but finally complied. Fear of losing his device carries weight. It’s possibly my only real leverage.

Not 15 minutes later, my quills from our recent clash barely settled, he wanders back into the kitchen bounce, bounce, bouncing his basketball with a smile that makes me wait for what’s coming.

“Hey,” He greets through bounces that feel like it’s my head banging against a wall.

“Hey,” I reply, standing up a little straighter, eyeing him.

He takes his time, drawing it out.

“So mom, why don’t you work?”

I’m confused, thrown off. I thought he’d request macaroni and cheese or an M&M yogurt, if he could skip Hebrew school or if 2, 3 or 4 of his closest friends could come over, but this…

“What do you mean? Taking care of you boys and daddy and the house and everything is a lot of work.”

“Yeah, but it’s not a real job.”

I’m trying hard not to be defensive but my heart is shattered all over my kitchen floor, along with some lost morning cereal and crumbs. I suck.

“Taking care of you guys is a real job.”

He looks at me smug, like I should know better. “Not really.”

All of sudden all the stay-at-home vs working mommy wars are right here in my house coming from the most unexpected of places, from one of the people I revolve my world around.

“So you want a nanny to take care of you?”  I am a wounded animal, a wounded domestic animal.

He shrugs, “I wouldn’t mind.”

UGH. He’s killing me. I bend down to pick up Cheerios and wonder if I’m paying for the battle over the clothes. Or maybe he would like to see me working. Whenever I show him essays of mine or talk about publishing a book I wrote, he is proud. Maybe he wants to be able to show me off.  But more likely, he’s the cat and I’m just a mouse that he’s toying with.

“Your brothers would mind,” I counter. “They like that I pick you guys up and come to all the school stuff and bake brownies. They like that I’m here to help with homework and hang out.”

“You could still do that if you worked.”

“Yeah. Well no. I couldn’t do all that.” Another piece of my self-worth crumbles to the floor.

“Well the nanny could.” He’s not letting up for one second.

We’re at an impasse and I’m ready to get a job just to spite him. Visions of Nanny Ratched play out in my head.

I sigh. It’s time to change the subject. “So are you hungry? Do you want macaroni and cheese?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Thanks.”

As I put the pot on, he pulls his homework from his book bag and I watch his bowed head, busy at work, scribbling off answers. This is my job. This is where I love and need to be. He can push all he wants.

The water is boiling but I am not.

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You’re stuck with me tough guy. MWAH!

Time For My Big Girl Pants

 

From my storm door I fog up the glass watching my middle son race around on the neighbor’s lawn. Our neighbor’s daughter is with him, but of course she’s in long pants and a winter coat and he’s in a pair of shorts, beaming as he crunch, crunch, crunches over the frozen grass.  Last winter of course, we went through the same. It’s a thing, my older sons tell me, but looking around all I notice are appropriately dressed kids. Not that this is something I stress over. They wear their hoodies. And if they’re cold, well, they know the draw to pull.

My youngest boy wearing pants and a jacket (clearly the smart one) lingers in the house with me, timidly watching the cold from the inside and waiting for that strip of yellow to rumble up the block. Usually my middle son screams, “Bus!” and on his signal we bolt through the door, out into the street where the belabored vehicle idles, creaking its doors open, panting exhaust fumes.

They step on and I follow their little faces and wave, almost immediately losing my 5th grader to his posse in the back seats. But my 2nd grader hangs with me, his brave smile pressed up against the tinted or possibly just very dirty windows, barely concealing his anxiety at leaving his home and me before the bus heaves up, heavily turns and makes its way to the next stop.

On a cold day like today, I am back in my house within seconds, relieved, closing the door to the outside, hunkering down in the quiet and sweet comforts of my steaming coffee, a pile of clean laundry to fold and hopefully a warm voice on the other end of my phone. I spend a lot of time hiding myself away. I used to say that I needed the time and space to write and while that’s true, a writer needs to write, life’s injustices have kept me on hiatus for months keeping a steady force field between me and my computer.

I haven’t been happy about it, although my son has. He is now free to play his Minecraft while I am free of his long faced, soulful pleading. It’s been a relief of sorts, to not feel the pressure of myself to perform. In the beginning with all the other stresses going on, I welcomed it. But quickly that free space got gobbled up with new and old problems and people…  cousins with BRACA diagnosis, one fighting cancer and the other going thru a preventative double mastectomy and hysterectomy, friends who needed an ear and of course my unwell father. And just like that, day after day slowly slipped through my fingers and I lost myself as I focused on others.

So I guess that’s where I’ve been all these months, if you’re even wondering, fogging it up on the inside. But lately I feel the crushing weight of my father’s immeasurable needs has lessened because I lessened them, and here and there the inklings of misplaced energy and discontent sparkle through me. It’s time, my dulled senses snap, to say hello again and find my focus; to get invigorated, get out and feel the fresh air.

But I’ll be doing it in pants.

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That’s my boy!

 

And in case you missed, here’s the essay that secured that my middle son will never wear anything but shorts in winter. Read What’s up with Boys and Shorts in Winter.

And also, if interested, here’s the last article I wrote for On Parenting on Washpo. They Grow Up so Fast, so What’s my Rush?

Yay! I wrote something. 🙂

 

About Face

They pound into the backseat like an explosion, popping with energy, youth and hormones and the car heaves with the extra weight. I give a small smile in greeting but then concentrate on the road. I am just the driver. My job is to not say a word, suck in as much information as possible and deposit them at their destination without calling any attention to myself.

It’s hard when all I want to do is stare at them, at their maturing faces and expressions, but of course that would be weird so I just stare straight ahead wondering about these almost unrecognizable creatures who I have known for years.

I sneak glimpses through the rear view mirror at the angular lines and skin dotted with the blemishes. They are morphing into new people every day, every second. I want to study them and find the little boys who I remember. Where did the curvy cheeks and smooth skin go?  The sticky smiles? The Hot Wheels and Pokemon cards? But really, where did the years go?

My son sits in the front seat next to me and keeps me in line, changing the radio to a more preferred station, giving me a stern nod when I start singing along. That is not on the list of things moms are allowed to do. I comply, of course. I want to be allowed to chauffer them places. I want to get to know them as they are now, these little boy men.

I arrive at the chosen house of hangout and watch them shoot out like firecrackers. They remember to thank me politely and I know their mothers would be proud. My own boy jerks his head to the left, momentarily tossing his surfer long hair off of his golden eyes to give me a sideways glance and a shy smile. “Bye, mama.”

Oh that face. I wish I could preserve it, set it in stone, hide it away in my heart and in my house and never have anything change. He is so beautiful and I know he will grow and become a handsome young man like they all are, but I have just this moment become desperate to stop time and hold on to this boy. I’ve already lost the baby who nuzzled me, the sweet kid who clung to me, and soon I will lose this face as well.

It’s almost too much but life forces me to accept that. Because I know that while I can capture a moment, I can’t capture my boy. He will grow and change. He will rise and fall. He will love me and leave me. And all I can do is sit back and be grateful that I’m along for the ride.

I love this boy!!!!

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My baby turns 13 this month. Puh Puh Puh. I love this face. I love this boy. Always.

This face has my heart, no matter what it looks like. Always. Happy almost 13 baby.

Passing Me By

I caught a glimpse of her pushing her double stroller along the side of the road as I sped by in my car on my way to crossing things off my list and getting things done.

The baby slept while her toddler twisted around in her seat. The woman, who seemed more a girl with her pony tail and workout clothes, slowed her pace then reached down into the basket underneath and handed her a sippy cup. Satisfied, the child sat back down and enjoyed the scenery while her mom strode onward to some unknown destination, the exercise and fresh air the most important part of the excursion.

My heart smiled, remembering that time both long ago and only yesterday when just getting out of the house was an accomplishment. When I couldn’t let my kids go without a good cry, stalked the nursery school, reveled in my martyrdom, ate up every bit of deliciousness and mourned the passage of time.

I loved being that mom. I loved her so much. And I loved those babies in an almost cripplingly powerful way. I wanted nothing for myself but to peacefully drift into the overwhelming tide, going under without struggle and no intention or interest in coming up for air. At times it seemed stressful, caring for these needy, fragile creatures but mostly we rode our days along peacefully with a few good friends who made all the difference.

But now, I’m different. I’m older. My babies are no longer babies. They are 7, 10 and almost 13.  I no longer have time to stroll, or even a stroller to push. My sippy cups have been replaced with sports bottles. I drive because my world has kicked into a higher gear and I need to keep up the pace. Beep beep, chop chop, let’s move it along, lady.

And I like it; the constant motion, the shift in priorities – I’m almost a person again! Having children that can actually (when they decide to) communicate and express themselves. Who are complicated, interesting and (when they decide to be) capable. Who are smart and strong and (except to each other) kind. Who are growing into young men I like, who make me proud and happy and grateful.

But I guess like with most things past, I’m sentimental. It was an age of innocence, theirs and mine. A time to laugh when you’re late for a music class and you just dropped your coffee on the floor and your baby pooped through his clothes again. A time to cry when you’re working on three hours of sleep with a newborn and your oldest sneaks into your bed in the middle of the night and throws up on you. A time to dance to Laurie Berkner and giggle with the Wiggles. And a time for endless walks with a good friend, a stroller stocked with goldfish and lollipops and your babies at the center of your world.

And you still at the center of theirs.

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Happy Mother’s Day! No matter what stage you’re in, it’s a beautiful place to be.

 

But there's this too