Do you get all up in their grill?

Categories: Mommy Angst

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I love the internet. It’s a kittentastic parade of memes, catchphrases, and Urban Dictionary-isms. I would hardly know how to talk to anyone between 11 and 29 if it weren’t for the internet. In fact, it is the internet that reminded me of today’s title phrase, “All up in my grill.”

All up in my grill = Someone who is “in your face”. Being excessively annoying or bothersome.

I think that defines parent (from a teenager’s perspective, anyway), don’t you?


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Telling my kids I have cancer - again

Categories: Mommy Angst

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I hope none of you ever have to have a conversation with your kids like the ones I had this week.

To Jessica, 28, via text: I was admitted to hospital last night from ER. I have a mass in abdomen that looks like enlarged lymph node. Having biopsy and further CT scans in the next couple days. Should know more soon.

To Nathaniel, 16, who emailed me about flying out to visit me this week: I am in the hospital having tests and then later, The cancer has metastacized, I’ll be in treatment, I don’t know what’s next.

To Serena, 12, on Skype: The cancer I had is back. It’s Stage 4. That’s really, really bad. The medical community doesn’t give much hope and doesn’t know how to treat this very well. I will be doing all I can.

To Eric, 8, who has Down syndrome: I love you, sweet boy!

I believe our children should face the tough stuff with us. Families go through hard times together. I wished I had known as a teenager that my parents were rapidly losing money in their multi-level marketing endeavor and had three mortgages before the pressure caused them to divorce and suddenly I had to request financial aid for college. I could have made different choices. I could have supported them. At the very least, I would have known. Knowing makes a difference.

Do you tell your kids the tough stuff?

When is it okay to be the bad-guy parent?

Categories: Mommy Angst

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I had an appointment this morning with my daughter Serena. She’s 12. We had plans to Skype. 9am came and went and she didn’t appear online. No other contact. I Facebooked and checked email and finally took the shower I had postponed so I could make sure I made our 9am commitment. At least, I had made the commitment. Serena? She lost track of time, she said, 45 minutes later when she finally came online.

I got angry. I IM’d her:

I set aside time this morning to talk to you, to devote just to you, and you weren’t there.  Let’s set another time a different day, and make a commitment to be available at that time.

Living 3000 miles away from your kids is tough. You have to schedule talk time and connecting time. No matter how much to schedule, there is never enough time. It’s not like I can pop my head in her door and ask her to take a walk with me or see if she wants to go to the store so we can have a heart-to-heart. You know the sage parenting advice “pick your battles”? When you live 3000 miles away it means even more.

I felt bad. Disrespected. Angry and sad that I was going to miss talking to her. I had so many questions. Should I make this a teaching moment? Am I making too much of this? How much can a 12 year old take? What standards do I hold my kid to? Is making a big deal of this worth risking alienating her? When is it okay to be the bad-guy parent?
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6 ways to rock your family meeting

Categories: This is Supposed to Be Fun

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Newsflash: families, like all relationships, take work to make really awesome. Just because you carried these little people inside your body and you love them more than anything doesn’t mean you will navigate the roads of life together without some bumps. That’s where the family meeting comes in.

Wait, what? Family meeting? Isn’t that like when the Brady Bunch came together to diffuse the tension created by deciding how to spend the trading stamps they saved? (spoiler: after a tense house-of-cards build-off, the boys and girls decided to give up their opposing ideas — rowboat! sewing machine! — and instead buy something the whole family could enjoy — a 13-inch color TV, w00t!)

Yeah, well, no. Family meetings are like the rainbow sprinkles of the donut world. They make everything sparklier. Tastier. More fun. Okay, maybe a food analogy doesn’t work here. But these are things you can have from holding effective family meetings:
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Dear New Parents, what’s with all the whining?

Categories: Push my Button

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This is totally going to come as a surprise, but I am here to tell you right now that Babies Are Hard. Not hard like you can cut diamonds with them hard, but hard like, Ohhhh, they’re so haaaaaarrd, like the way Barbie thinks math is. And! Get this. Not only are babies hard, but kids in general. Hard!

Hey. Can you spare me a tiny detour segue thing? Because I really wanted to share this with you. And by this, I mean the awesome Jamie and Jeff’s Birth Plan over at McSweeney’s. Go on. I’ll wait. Because 1) in my world it relates to this post and 2) how can you NOT weep from pure happiness at birth plan talking points that refer to Zoey Deschanel, Oregon Tilth, Gisele Bundchen, texting, and placenta donation?
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The Nora Ephron guide to motherhood

Categories: Parents in the Media

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Nora Ephron made the 90’s. She created Meg Ryan out of thin air (sorry about how the lips turned out). At least, in my head she did.

I miss Nora Ephron already. You’ve probably heard the news that she died yesterday —  the pseudofeminist screenwriter and playwright responsible for the phrase, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

The 90’s are over. Meg Ryan’s lips now have their own orbits.
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What makes a good parent?

Categories: Guilt Inducers

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I just found out I can blame my dad for my lack of persistence and general success in life. Yay. A new study suggests that strict and authoritarian parents raise crappy kids. Hi, Dad, I’m talking to you. It’s a relief, actually, to find out that my dad’s strict, critical, punishment-based fathering style wasn’t just something I’ve been able to point to and vow that I will do exactly the opposite with my own kids.

So what makes a good parent?
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How far would you go to protect your kids?

Categories: Parents in the Media

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I was appalled to read the bloodthirsty go-get-’em comments in support of the dad who killed a dude who was trying to sexually abuse the dad’s four-year-old daughter. At a social gathering this weekend, a Texas father caught a casual acquaintance attempting to sexually abuse the dad’s four-year-old daughter, who had gone inside the house while everyone else was outside tending to horses. The dad reportedly punched the molester in the head repeatedly until he died. Local sheriff says he won’t press charges against the dad. And people are cheering.

Listen, the very thought of one of my children being molested or sexually abused by an adult makes me want to throw up. But the thought of punching someone in the head until they die? That makes me want to throw up more.
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Should you let your kids have “their” thing?

Categories: Uncategorized

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Oh, kids these days. They WILL go off on their own and develop — what is it called? Oh — personality. And tastes. Of their own.

Sigh.

Maybe I should have cloned myself a Mini-Me.

Because I TRIED to make my kids like everything I like, really I did. I bought Tinker Toys and trotted out my old childhood Breyer horses. I spent hours trolling websites that help people like me recall the names of their favorite childhood books so I could read “Shadow Castle” and “Mystery of the Green Cat” to my spawn. I found copies of every Rankin-Bass Christmas-themed animated film.

But you know what?
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Mothering your mother

Categories: Uncategorized

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My mom lives in a nursing home. She probably wears diapers. When I phone her (she lives in California — I’m in Seattle), she always tells me the same things: “We have a lot of fun here. The people are really nice.”

My mom can’t remember what she did that day, or what she ate for lunch. She doesn’t know her roommate’s name. She remembers that a bus takes them into town from time to time and she can buy things. I imagine her standing at a glass counter, holding a little coin purse stuffed with a few folded bills, sliding coins across the counter to buy a weekly candy bar. In my imagination I can see the five-year-old Janey doing the same thing, only back then it was a nickel she slid across the counter instead of — how much do candy bars cost these days, anyway?

Some people would say I have lost my mother. I think I finally see who she is.
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