“Difficult” Is Not a Synonym for “Traumatizing”

Traumatize /ˈtrouməˌtīz,ˈtrôməˌtīz/ (verb): subject to lasting shock as a result of an emotionally disturbing experience or physical injury.

Last week, the TODAY Parenting Team featured an article I wrote called “A Tale of Two Kindergarteners,” as part of their community series on back-t0-school advice. I chose to share a story from two years ago about my son’s struggles starting kindergarten. He had a rough go of it, and it was hard for me to watch. But in time, he found his courage and confidence, and I wanted to give hope to other parents who might be going through this.

By in large, the response was positive. Yet, like disconcerting pieces of gristle that ruin an otherwise tasty piece of chicken, came voices of dissent, peppered throughout those responses of parents relating to the piece. It comes with the territory of putting yourself out there. What I thought was a fairly innocuous piece, I now saw in a different light, one that called my parenting skills into question for forcing my son to do something he clearly had fears about.

My husband’s aunt often jokes that all parents will inevitably do something for which their children will need therapy. Well, apparently the transgression that will land my son on the psychiatrist’s couch is sending him to kindergarten. It was a very difficult situation, after all. I sure felt like a horrible mother when I left him crying on the bus or tearful in his classroom morning after morning. Maybe he really was traumatized. Continue reading ““Difficult” Is Not a Synonym for “Traumatizing””

10 Signs You’ve Become a Road Trip Family

Summer is coming to a close. Like many families, we did our fair share of traveling by way of road trip. Whether we were spanning multiple states or just visiting a neighboring town for a quick getaway, a sort of kinship has developed between us and the paved pathways that decorate our great land. Now, when I hear Willie Nelson’s, “On the Road Again,” I think to myself, “I feel ya, bro. Like a band of gypsies…”

On one of these voyages, I realized we have become a “road trip family.” The following truths make us Griswold-certified:road trip family vacation

Continue reading “10 Signs You’ve Become a Road Trip Family”

How Real Love Stories Go: The “Listen To Your Mother” Video

You know that somewhat jarring feeling when you see a radio DJ for the first time, and he or she looks nothing like what you thought? Well, for those of you who only know me from my words on a screen, get ready to say, “Huh. That’s not how I imagined her at all.”

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I am incredibly excited to share the video from my Listen To Your Mother St. Louis performance that happened this past Mother’s Day weekend. My piece is called “How Real Love Stories Go,” about how a minivan turns out to be the perfect setting for a real life love story.

The highest compliment I could have ever gotten about this piece came from my very talented fellow St. Louis cast member, LaQuetta Ruston, who said:

“Your amazing story completely changed how I think of my kids & slowing down in life to enjoy them!”

Continue reading “How Real Love Stories Go: The “Listen To Your Mother” Video”

Our Summer Mantra: “Is It Worse Than Cholera?”

“They just don’t know how good they really have it.”

That was the consensus among my friends at the pool the other day, as we waded in the shallow end, keeping an eye on our swimming children while chatting. The conversation was one that happens between parents who have hit the wall when it comes to surviving June, July, and August…and whose children may or may not have just made the comment that swimming at the neighborhood pool was boring because it doesn’t have a slide.

We have come to that point in the summer when things start to wear. The novelty of being out of school is over. We’ve already taken our vacation. A moratorium was called on scheduling camps and activities every week when both the family minivan and wallet each made motions that they also get a summer respite. And with me working from home more hours than before, well, things have been a little slow for the children around our house.

When things are slow, my kids seem to fill their free time with finding things to complain about. Like pools with no slides. Really?

Articles about giving your kids a “70’s Summer” are everywhere, encouraging parents to promote more laid back days filled with unstructured play, television, friends, and apparently, Tang.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that sounds fabulous. I mean, that’s pretty much the way I spent all of my childhood summers (except for the Tang. I lived on Hi-C Ecto Cooler, because I was an 80’s kid). And it has pretty much been my general modus operandi as a parent as well (even before it was trendy). But let’s face it, trying to convince my children of how cushy their lives are by starting a sentence with, “When I was a kid…” is futile. Because things were awesome when I was a kid…and still quite cushy.

No, I needed to really drive home the “first-world-problem-ness” of their first world problems if I was going to make it to the start of a new school year with any shred of sanity. Something that would shut down their whining about Disney Channel never running new episodes of their shows, or that I don’t run to the store to immediately restock the bag of chips they just finished a day after I bought them.
Continue reading “Our Summer Mantra: “Is It Worse Than Cholera?””

The Mother’s Day Hierarchy

Mother’s Day. I recall being a kid and feeling a little jealous that moms got their very own holiday (because kids are too dumb to realize the national children’s holiday is just called “Life.”) I wanted to be a part of that club who got to go through the dinner line first and unwrap gifts on a day that wasn’t Christmas or my birthday. I just knew that once I became a mom, I would have it made in the shade every time the second Sunday of May rolled around.

Little did I know.

The advent of your first bumbling baby may give you the right to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. But what most new moms don’t realize is that there is a certain seniority at play. You aren’t immediately granted a free pass to a day of complete leisure and pampering. That has to be earned through the ranks of what I like to call “The Hierarchy of Mother’s Day.”icecream

Level 1: The New Mom

You will probably get some nice jewelry from your husband, but just don’t even think about putting “sleeping in” on your wish list, especially if you’re nursing. Babies can’t read the universal memo, RE: Mom is Off the Clock Today. And they usually pick Mother’s Day as one of those “special” times when the touch, voice, glance, or even presence of anyone but Mom induces whines, tantrums, and neck clawing. So I hope you like that birthstone necklace. It’s all you’re getting this year.

Level 2: The Mom of Little People

Pinterest was invented for you. Keepsake plates decorated with your children’s adorable artwork. Footprints immortalized in garden stones. Ornaments of your children’s silhouettes. Jewelry charms made from precious fingerprints. Except YOU won’t be the one getting these gifts, because, duh…dads don’t do Pinterest. GRANDMA is going to be the lucky recipient of all these thoughtful and sentimental goodies. YOU will be the one busting your ass to get them all made while your kids try to shove quick-dry cement up their noses and stick their tongues out every time you try to snap a photo of their profiles. Then you get to dress the kids in their Sunday best (because again, duh, dads don’t do fashion) and herd them all to church before heading over to the big extended family celebration with your pot luck side dish (because, you guessed it, dads and Pinterest).  But don’t worry. You are still going to have hella appreciation heaped upon you. Get ready for some pancakes with “secret” ingredients, construction paper cards with indecipherable writing, and glitter. Damn it.

Level 3: The Mom of Teens

During Level 2, you would have given your Target Redcard for everyone to leave the house for the day so you could have some uninterrupted peace and quiet. Now in Level 3, that’s all you get…because everyone is apparently hanging out at Taylor’s house breaking in her new pool table. Well, there was that text you got that says “HMD *heart emoticon, kissy face emoticon, taco emoticon.*

Level 4: The Mom of Adult Children

Mother’s Day is becoming a sweeter affair by now. Your kids make money of their own and can finally start giving you something that doesn’t have a handprint on it. You may even get to be doubly celebrated as a mom AND and grandma, so there are bonus presents. But since your kids are likely busy being parents of tiny tots, working long hours, or just being self-absorbed d-bags (because there’s always one), everyone still looks to you for “the plan.” And it’s just as well, since your own 83-year-old mother broke her hip when she tripped over a Lego castle the last time she was at your daughter’s house, and she might catch any number of communicable diseases if the celebration is held at your son’s bachelor pad.

Level 5: The Eldest Matriarch

You’ve made it to the only level of The Mother’s Day Hierarchy where you don’t have to lift one.damn.finger. Everyone owes YOU. The party’s not at your house. You don’t have to cook a freakin’ thing. You’re first in line to eat. Good news: you are the Queen Supreme of all the Mothers. Bad news: that means your mom is dead.

Son of b. Looks like Mother’s Day kind of sucks for everyone.

Do you like your Mother’s Day with just a hint of truthful snark? Then you are going to LOVE these new cards designed by myself and three other über talented ladies: Emily of The Waiting, Meredith of Pile of Babies, and Ashley, writer at Mommyish. Emily had this great idea to put our heads together to create a Mother’s Day collection of cards that speak to the “real” and often hilarious side of motherhood. You know, non-Hallmark approved. We even made it so you can purchase and download any of these cards at our Etsy store to give to all the mamas in your life. Even better, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to an organization called Every Mother Counts, an non-profit that works to provide safe pregnancies and childbirth for women all over the world who don’t have access to the care and resources they need. So not only do you get to have a laugh at these cards, but your purchase also helps to ensure other mothers get the chance to find the humor in motherhood.

Here’s a sneak peak at the three cards I contributed to the collection:

To see the rest of the collection, go check them out on Emily’s blog, The Waiting, or head over to the Etsy store and get your own copies!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it!

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The Google Search History of a 6-Year-Old Boy

I’d like to kiss the person who invented internet parental controls.

Raising kids in this digital age usually terrifies me. The moment my tween daughter first asked me for her own iPhone without the slightest hint of joking in her voice was enough to make me regret not becoming Amish. But being the (fairly) modern people we are, we do allow our kids their technological romps, with all necessary precautions in place. Like internet parental controls. And thank God, because had we been Amish, or not able to trust internet filters, I would have missed out on one of the funniest things I have ever read: my 6-year-old son’s Google search history.

In addition to playing Angry Birds Star Wars and Dr. Panda’s Restaurant, my son loves utilizing the Google voice search function on my husband’s phone. He will sit there and just start saying crap as it comes to mind, seeing what results pop up on Google. (Hence, my extreme gratitude for parental controls.) The other night, my husband came into the bedroom laughing. He handed me his phone and told me to check out the search history.

What I read was pretty much the most glorious manifesto of attention deficit disorder meets Nickelodeon meets everything little boys think about. Like, everything. tweet-button(1)blog Continue reading “The Google Search History of a 6-Year-Old Boy”

Listen To Your Mother…Or Me. Either One.

Eat your vegetables. Put on a coat. Tie your shoes. If you don’t clean up this hell-hole-hurricane-disaster-zone-stinking-landfill-of-a-room, I will clean it for you…and give all your earthly possessions to homeless Brazilian Pygmies who don’t have bedazzled password journals.

I think we can all agree, though sometimes begrudgingly, that it is usually best to listen to your mother. In fact, listening to your mother has become such a universally good idea that 39 cities have decided to devote an entire show aimed at giving motherhood a microphone. One of those cities happens to be my hometown, St. Louis. And I am honored to say that I have been chosen as one of the mothers you should apparently listen to.

Yes, I am officially a cast member of the Listen To Your Mother St. Louis 2015 Show, which will happen on May 9th! Continue reading “Listen To Your Mother…Or Me. Either One.”

3 Tips for Getting Kids To Eat Healthy (Hint: They All Involve Deception)

When it comes to eating healthy, kids talk a big talk. But they usually walk the walk that leads them straight to the sugar high.

Case in point: I was recently at an elementary school reading my book, Absolute Mayhem, to the kids. At one point in the story, my character Milo is struggling to choke down his vegetables in as many unsuccessful ways as possible. I always stop and ask the kids, “You guys like vegetables, right?” I usually get a pretty resounding “Yes!” drowning out those few, *ahem*…darling children who always insist on giving the answer they know you don’t want to hear. However, when I turn the page to reveal Milo and his sister Lulu feasting on a sweet buffet that is the stuff of doctor’s and dentists’ nightmares, a wide-eyed, covetous look creeps across the face of every single child sitting on the reading carpet. It’s a look that says, Screw you, vegetables.
Continue reading “3 Tips for Getting Kids To Eat Healthy (Hint: They All Involve Deception)”

A Mother’s Advice for A 10 Year Old Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Welcome to the double digits. Turning ten is considered a milestone, celebrating the first decade of your life. But becoming the mother of a ten-year-old for the first time, well, this birthday is kind of terrifying for me. And not just because finding a gift for you is a real b*tch…since you feel you are too old for toys, and feel you are too young for just about everything else. (You also likely know the word b*tch and how to properly use it. Thankfully, age ten does not seem to come with the courage to say it in front of me, only the eyerolls that imply it.)
Continue reading “A Mother’s Advice for A 10 Year Old Daughter”

Advice for a Double-Digits Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Welcome to the double digits. Turning ten is considered a milestone, celebrating the first decade of your life. But becoming the mother of a ten-year-old for the first time, well, this birthday is kind of terrifying for me. And not just because finding a gift for you is a real b*tch…since you feel you are too old for toys, and feel you are too young for just about everything else. (You also likely know the word b*tch and how to properly use it. Thankfully, age ten does not seem to come with the courage to say it in front of me, only the eyerolls that imply it.)
Continue reading “Advice for a Double-Digits Daughter”