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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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”

A Re-Gift: I Am a Liar. And It’s All Santa’s Fault

It’s go time around here. And with our first (of about five) family Christmas celebrations happening this coming weekend, I’m going to pull an old post from two years ago out of my magic sack. But it’s not just any old post. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Besides, at least half of you readers weren’t even around when I posted this. So it’s new to most of you. And with one of my children knowing Santa isn’t real and the other firmly believing in Mr. Kringle without any doubts, I was reminiscing about the year when I had to work a little harder at keeping the faith alive. This is what sitcoms are made of, people. Now, off to address some Christmas cards…

•••

It can be stressful to have a seven-year-old at Christmastime. Why? Because there is questioning. A lot of questioning. You know, about that plump guy in the red suit.

I have to be honest; Grace’s prying questions about Santa make me more uncomfortable than the few questions she has already asked me about S-E-X. Questions about sex, while a little awkward, haven’t been that hard to answer. I am making sure she has accurate facts, giving her knowledge that not only makes her feel okay about her own body, but will hopefully lead to informed and responsible decisions in the future. I subscribe to the very wise motto of G.I. Joe: Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

But answering all these endless questions about Santa means I am doing the exact opposite: I am perpetrating a lie.

It all started at the very beginning of December. We were in the car, sitting at a stoplight. The car behind us caught my eye in the rearview mirror because it had those little reindeer antlers on either side. I glanced at the driver for a glimpse of this person with undoubted Christmas cheer, and lo and behold…it was an older gentleman, with a round face, a long, fuzzy white beard, and a red shirt. I couldn’t believe my luck! Last year we happened upon a reindeer in our backyard just before Christmas, and now this!

So I announced to the kids, “Look who is driving the car behind us!” They both quickly turned around, and Michael yelled, with an energy like the one that comes from eating too many pixie sticks, “SANTA!!!!!!”

Almost on cue, the man behind us smiled and waved at the kids. It was, for lack of a better word, precious. Just as I was feeling my own giant boost of yuletide glow, Grace said, a bit accusingly, “What would Santa be doing driving around here?” I explained that maybe he was making the rounds, checking up on kids, getting reports from all the Elves on the Shelves.

She was quiet for a second. “I kind of think Santa is real. But I kind of think he is a fairy tale.” Well, isn’t that just Grinchy. And then the questions began…

I know what she’s doing. I can tell she is conflicted. She wants to believe Santa is real, but that maturing brain of hers is feeding her more and more of this thing call “logic.” And she’s not so sure she likes the taste of it. Therefore, instead of coming straight out with the question of whether there is a Santa Claus, she is asking every possible question about his practicality to see how I respond.

Grace: What is Santa’s address?
Me: Just write “Santa Clause – North Pole. The post office will know where it goes because there is only one Santa.

Grace: But if no one has ever seen Santa and his workshop is secret, how does the mailman know where he lives?
Me: (crap)

What am I supposed to do? Tell her that I am incredibly impressed with her abilities in deduction, throw up my hands to the fact that I will likely soon be out-smarted, and say, “Congratulations! I think you have just about figured it out. I will spare you the last two zillion questions you were going to ask me and just confirm what you are hinting at. THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS. And your parents are liars. Merry Christmas.”

Nope. That is not what I do at all. Instead, I conspire with my husband to dig ourselves even deeper in this jolly old lie. Ladies and gentlemen, witness our deception:

Grace's Email from Santa
Grace’s Email from Santa

A few days ago, I was at the computer sending some emails when Grace asked me if the reason Santa knew all this stuff about her and Michael was because I emailed him. I confessed that I had absolutely no idea what Santa’s email address was. So Miss Smarty Pants said, “Just Google it.” I hesitantly typed in the words “Santa’s email address,” fearing that an entry would pop up saying something like “Trick your kids with this fake email address to Santa…because we all know Santa is not real.” Luckily, the first entry was an actual site where kids could send emails to Santa. And it was adorable.

Grace entered her information and her note to Santa, then hit send. A screen popped up with a message that the email was being sent…then it said Santa was reading the email…then it said he was writing one back to her. Within a few minutes, Santa’s email was ready for her to read. She was a bit skeptical that he had written it so quickly, but that doubt was soon squashed once she read the email. It was very personal and even somehow had picked up from what she had written in the free-form comment section the fact that she had a brother. I was relieved to see she seemed quite satisfied.

But apparently her wheels had been turning all afternoon, because at dinner time she informed us she had a sneaky idea. She wasn’t so sure Santa had actually written that email, or that there really was a Santa to even email. So she had devised an “experiment.” She wanted my husband to go back to the site and enter in his name, but say he was 6 years old and from Canada. By her reasoning, if Santa was real and really writing these emails, he would certainly know that Kurtis was actually an adult…and not living in Canada.

Well, *%$#@. But I have to admit, she is kind of a genius. And a little maniacal.

We knew we couldn’t talk our way out of this, so my husband agreed to do it. He went downstairs and started the email. All of a sudden, he came racing back upstairs, whipped into the family room and said in a hushed voice, “QUICK! Get on the Kindle, pretend you are Santa, and send an email to me saying that you know I was tricking you!”

OOOOOH! You handsome devil you!

But there was just one problem. I panicked, “But the site doesn’t send it to your email address! Santa’s email just pops up on the site after a minute or two!!!” But my enginerd had already taken care of that. He had unplugged the router so when they hit “send,” nothing would happen. Then when he plugged the router back in, he quickly opened his email to find this message waiting in his inbox:

Subject: Naughty, Naughty

HO HO HO! You tried to trick old Santa! I know you don’t live in Canada.

Love, Santa

P.S. Rudolph thought that was a funny joke!

I know. The tangled web of lies we weave. But I have to say, it was totally worth it to see the look on her face and hear her exclaim, “YES! The email was really from Santa!”

My Cutest Christmas Angel when she was 1 year old
My Cutest Christmas Angel when she was 1 year old

Maybe I am setting her up for a bigger disappointment when she finally does learn the truth. Maybe I am being selfish. I know that the elaborate lengths my husband and I have gone to in order to keep Grace believing are in part for us. We see her losing pieces of “little” every day. Sure, her innocence still outweighs her worldliness. But childhood starts to look different around this age. It isn’t necessarily better or worse, but change is always hard. Every parent knows that faint tug of longing that comes whenever you catch a glimpse of a photo of your child during younger years. Remember…that squeaky voice…the way that tiny hand felt around your finger…that unquestionable belief in anything that could be imagined…it was adorable.

But seven-year-olds can be pretty adorable, too. Grace reminded me of that when she took a bit of offense to Santa’s use of the word joke.

“It wasn’t a joke. It was an EXPERIMENT.”

Maybe I will remember that line when Grace finally does come to the real conclusion about Santa Claus. It was just an experiment. And to make up for her being the subject of that experiment, I will let her eat the cookies her little brother leaves for Old St. Nick. I might need a lot of cookies.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Believe
Believe

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The Mayhem is HERE: The Official Release of Absolute Mayhem

I am vibrating just a bit. Finally, here is the blog post four years in the making. If we want to be technical, it has really been more like twenty-five years in the making. But twenty-one of those years were just spent dreaming…the last four were the ones to see the actual work that made this dream a reality. So let’s stop putting this off any long and get right to it then:

ABSOLUTE MAYHEM IS HERE!

My very first children’s book, Absolute Mayhem, is officially available as of TODAY! And all I can say is that I am kind of excited to go someplace like a doctor’s office where I have to fill out a form, just so I can finally list my occupation as Author, after almost ten years of leaving that space blank. I mean, I can totally do that now. I have a business card that says so.

Absolute Mayhem by Kelly SuellentropIf the space on that form isn’t too small, I can also list myself as an Illustrator. In addition to writing Absolute Mayhem, I also did all of the illustrations, which was hands down THE most enjoyable part of this whole project. I have fallen in love with my characters, the sister and brother duo of Lulu and Milo, almost as much as I love my own children. And I sincerely hope they are able to charm you and your family as well, along with their tag-a-long dog Hippo.

Lulu, Milo, Hippo and I have spent a lot of time together getting them ready to go out on their own. I had a lot less time to prepare them to fly the nest than I do with my own children; then again, they aren’t half as stubborn and don’t distract me from my mission by leaving lots of messes to clean up. I can also erase their mouths if they get sassy. So they have now graduated from the desk of my comfy home office to the big world of KellySuellentrop.com and Amazon, just in time for the holidays!

Please help me spread the word about Absolute Mayhem. To sweeten the deal, I am having a GIVEAWAY! Two people will each win a free autographed copy of the book. You can be entered to win the following ways:

#1 – Visit my giveaway on Rafflecopter HERE for various ways to earn entries.

#2 – If you are a blogger, REBLOG this post.

#3 – Go to either my new AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE or the ARE YOU FINISHED YET FACEBOOK PAGE, find the post announcing Absolute Mayhem’s release on the timeline, and share it. (And go ahead and give those pages a “like” while you’re there, if you haven’t already.)

#4SHARE this blog post using the social media sharing buttons below, and let me know where you shared it in the comment section.

The giveaway will run today until midnight on Sunday, December 7th (Central Time). I will announce the winners on Tuesday, December 9th here on the blog and on my social media outlets.

Of course, you can always purchase your own copy of the book on KellySuellentrop.com and on Amazon. (And after you read the book, I would love for you to leave a customer review over on Amazon!)

In the coming weeks, Absolute Mayhem will be visiting lots of different and awesome places around the internet, and I am really excited about that. So stay tuned! In the meantime, let me just say thank you in advance to all of you who are going to share the book with your friends and families.

It will be pretty nice to have the last four years pay off.

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Hibernation Supplies

Oh joy. Rapture. Winter is upon us.

(I hope you noticed my lack of exclamation points.)

Our first dose of snow hit us over the weekend, so I guess Fall has officially packed it in for 2014. Christmas has obnoxiously butted its way in front of Thanksgiving, and once again, my children are ill-prepared in the area of winter weather attire. (When will I learn and just buy freaking snow boots as soon as they hit Target’s shelves?) Thankfully, my son’s Kindergarten teacher was ahead of the game and started getting her students into a chilly mindset. The other day, Michael came home with a worksheet about hibernation, and he had to draw pictures of things he would take with him if he had to hide himself away for a warm winter’s nap, just like a bear. Continue reading “Hibernation Supplies”

3 Things They Should Teach in Prenatal Classes

Bathing baby. Infant CPR. Car seat safety. Sure, those are all important things to know when becoming a parent for the first time. But now that I don’t have babies anymore, I’m starting to realize how short-sighted prenatal classes really are in preparing us for the grand scheme of parenting. You know the saying, “no one ever tells you THAT about having kids.” Well, here are my suggestions for a few things those classes should cover for long-term parental success…beyond the baby years…when no one seems to care if you are prepared or not.

P10000331. Clothing Negotiation Skills 
Your little one has begun forming opinions, and the first thing she decides to feel passionately about is wearing the exact same Disney-character-of-the-moment pajama shirt with a chocolate milk-stained skirt and a pair of sparkly leggings with a giant hole in the knee everywhere you go. Even to Great Aunt Ginny’s funeral. And when you try to at least swap out the holey sparkly leggings for the non-holey polka dot pair, she has a melt down, saying the polka dots are itchy. Not the leggings. The polka dots themselves. Because that’s what polka dots do. Itch people. And sparkles give relaxing mini leg massages. But the most messed up thing about this whole struggle is that in a few years, she will actually make you wish she did still want to wear the pajama-shirt-stained-skirt-holey-legging ensemble when she decides booty shorts and backless halter tops are appropriate attire for a prepubescent. That’s some pretty sick torture. My recommendation: this will clearly require a CTU-trained negotiator to teach this lesson. I don’t think Jack Bauer is doing much these days. Maybe call him.

2. School Handout Organization
No parent wants to feel the wrath that is unleashed when you pick up your child at school, only to find out it was Pretzel Day. And you never filled out the order form because it is somewhere at the bottom of one of four different piles scattered throughout your house. If your kid doesn’t get a pretzel on Pretzel Day, he may as well just run away and join the circus, because you obviously don’t care about him. In fact, you must actively and intentionally hate him to subject him to watching everyone else in school devour a warm, soft twist of carbohydrates, all because you didn’t detach a little sheet of paper and pop it in an envelope with a dollar by last Thursday. And don’t be fooled…even if it is discovered that said order form never actually made it out of your child’s backpack and into one of your four piles, it is still your fault. Therefore, a subcategory of this lesson would be Strategies for Remembering to Check Your Child’s Backpack Everyday For Important Things Like Pretzel Day Order Forms.

3. A Crash Review In Fractions
…Because those little f%*kers pop out of nowhere sometime around fourth grade. And your kid is going to expect you to help her figure out whether 5/6 or 7/8 is bigger. And if you can’t do it, you’re just going to end up looking like a dumb ass. And if you look like a dumb ass, then she’s going to start the whole “if you don’t know fractions and did okay, why do I have to learn them” thing. And if she thinks she doesn’t need to know fractions, then she’s going to start questioning the whole purpose of elementary school. And if she questions the purpose of elementary school, you’ll try to tell her she has to go so she can get into college one day. And if you tell her she’s going to college one day, she’ll decide she’d rather just work at the mall for the rest of her life so she doesn’t have to learn fractions. And if she works at the mall, she will probably get fired when she won’t know how to ring up a sweater that is on sale for 1/2 off, because, you know, fractions. And if she gets fired from the mall, she’ll probably end up as a jobless teen mom with no education. And if she becomes a teen mom, she won’t get a crash review in fractions in her prenatal class. And when those little f%*kers pop up again when her kid is in fourth grade, she won’t know how to help. And if she doesn’t know how to help, her kid is going to wonder why she needs to know fractions…

See? Learning how to swaddle doesn’t seem so necessary anymore, does it?

*Author’s Note: My husband suggested I end the post with the line, “By the way, 7/8 is bigger.” I asked him if it really was. He said, “I don’t know.” 

Boom.

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Guess Where I Am Today?

Guess where I am today? Well, technically I am where I am just about every day. Home. But virtually, I’m all over the place.

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you my writing would be appearing in some kind of big places in the near future, but I wouldn’t tell you where? Well, I know you have all been on pins and needles since. So today is the day I relieve your suspense. And you get a two-for-one deal, because unbeknownst to me, BOTH places are featuring my articles on the very same day! Continue reading “Guess Where I Am Today?”

Why I’m Happy I’m Not a First-Time Mom

Awwww!…Isn’t that adorable?…How precious!…Oh my god, those are just the BEST!…You’ll use that ALL the time!…*squee*…I’m dying from cuteness!… 

Guess where I was this past weekend? Yep. A baby shower. My uterus always gets a little mushy and nostalgic whenever I celebrate a new tiny life coming into the world. And, people…the STUFF! Holy diaper blowouts. I can’t help but be a little jealous over all the new gadgets and toys that weren’t around when I had babies. And I can’t help but miss, just a bit, all the ones that were. As cumbersome as it can be carting around a well-stocked diaper bag, it also makes you feel more like MacGyver than any other time in your life.

diaper bag
Don’t worry. We are covered in case of diaper emergencies, snot emergencies, tantrum emergencies, clothing emergencies, hunger emergencies, and nuclear war. I’m also pretty sure I’ve got something in here I can fashion into a flotation device in a pinch. photo credit: jds-emma via photopin cc

Continue reading “Why I’m Happy I’m Not a First-Time Mom”

To My Children’s Grandparents

You are not who you used to be. The moment my husband entered the waiting room and smiled the words, “It’s a girl,” you became something new and different, while being altogether exactly the people we had grown up with. Before that moment, you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. You were the ones who provided for us, comforted us, bailed us out, held us to consequences, and loved us unconditionally, whether we cared or not (though we usually did). You were either the gateway or the obstruction to everything we wanted to do and be…depending on the day. It was easy for us to find you annoying, or call you unfair, or roll our eyes, or take you for granted. Because we were your kids, and you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. Continue reading “To My Children’s Grandparents”