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Kids flying alone?

Categories: Mommy Angst, Wanna Fight About It?

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Two of my kids are flying — alone — across the country today. Flying alone with a change of planes usually isn’t a big deal for kids flying unaccompanied, because airlines insist that (for a fee) an airline employee take most kids to their next gate and make sure they get on the plane. But my kids are flying standby (their dad’s a pilot), which doesn’t guarantee two seats together for my two (14 and 10) and doesn’t actually guarantee any seats at all.

I’m about 85% okay with this, for a lot of reasons: they are seasoned travelers; they’ll be equipped with a cell phone for emergencies; they’ve been prepped with what to do if they get stuck at DFW; they did this once before; and last but not least, it’s what they need to do for us to see one another this summer.

I’m 15% not okay because, well, I’m a mom. I worry about things. Things happen in the wacky world of air travel. Kids get sent to the wrong destination. Or they’re forgotten, stranded.
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Working mom equals a family win

Categories: Mommy Angst

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What a relief. We can give up our working-mom guilt hats once and for all now and get on with our lives. How do I know this? A new study, of course. Not because I base all my parenting decisions on studies (what? don’t you?), but because, well, because. I’m the mom and I said so.

Apparently, working moms “don’t damage” their kids by working. Well then! Let’s break out the party hats! And! Working moms are less crazy! How do I know this? Because I’m the mom. And I said so.

But there is something to be examined here. The fact that a) mothers have been working outside the home for a LONG TIME NOW and that b) this is the first grudging acknowledgment that it might actually be a GOOD thing — for the whole family — is worth celebrating. Even if it’s sort of lame because this isn’t really news to people who have been living it. But honestly, do you turn down a Cake Occasion when one slaps you in the face like the side of a wet fish?
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Kids left in hot cars

Categories: Guilt Inducers, Mommy Angst

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I still remember it like it was yesterday. I went home from the hospital with kid #3 the afternoon after her birth. Her father left for work that night, to be gone for 2-3 days and leaving me alone with a newborn, a 4 year old, and a busy teenager. From baby Serena’s two-day doctor visit we were sent home to nurse round the clock to wake up this sleepy, dehydrated baby and avoid the ER. The next day — at this point I’m going on three days without sleep and still not recovered from an intense birth — we returned to the doctor (a 40 minute one-way drive): me, Serena, and Nathaniel, 4.

Relieved that my all-nighter was going to keep my baby from the ER, I strapped the kids in the car and we drove home. After about 20 minutes Nathaniel piped up. “Mom, I’m not seat belted!”

I had forgotten to buckle his car seat. I was driving around with a potential human cannonball inside my car. Any sudden stop on this high-traffic road filled with bad drivers would send my son hurtling through a window to his death. Shaking, I pulled over and fastened his belt, but not without a big hug first.

It could happen to anyone. That’s one of the main things I took from this New York Times Motherlode post about kids dying in hot cars. But the issue is more complicated than that.
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The kids are all right

Categories: Mommy Angst

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Recently I had cause to re-read almost every entry in my old (now defunct but still standing) blog, Lion and Magic Boy. I wrote there near-daily for three years, choosing to leave it behind when I left Pennsylvania to move west two years ago this month. I was surprised to remember that there is some great writing there (and a lot of near misses and wild swings). But most of what I found there was heart.

I wrote about my kids, mostly. Heart.

Kids, cats, riding my bike. And a lot about me, of course, but always there with my kids. My heart.

And the overarching theme? About my kids? Was that I wanted, more than anything, to see and know that I was making the right choices that would help make their lives good. And happy. I questioned myself constantly, not out of self-doubt but out of soul-wrenching love for my children. More than anything, what I wished then was to know they were going to end up happy.

(I think that’s what we all want.)
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Secret agent mom

Categories: Mommy Angst

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When I was growing up, it was pretty clear what my parents did. My mom was a teacher. I knew about teachers — I even had to suffer through being taunted with cries of “Teacher’s Pet!” as I walked down the hall to her 4th grade classroom every day. Fun. And my dad was a physicist, which meant he left early in the morning with w briefcase to fly to Nevada and blow things up (later he became a Master’s student, which meant he stayed home and baked bread). Like I said, I knew exactly what my parents did.

Teachers grade papers and complain about parents who don’t care about their kids.

Physicists blow things up.

My kids know exactly what I do, too. Once they showed me. We were playing a game in which I’d call out “Be a tree! Be a spoon!” and they’d imagine themselves into treeness or spoonness. We were all laughing so hard! I took it further and had them be one another. And then me.

Uniformly, the two who were playing sat down with imaginary laptops and told imaginary children to be “Quiet! I’m writing!”

Ugh. Also yikes.

Is is possible that our kids don’t really know what we do because we don’t really show them?
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Dinner table fail

Categories: Mommy Angst

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Recently I did some dinner table reminiscing with someone who had painful childhood dinner table experiences. I remembered that my childhood dinner table was a “seen but not heard” occasion, where elbows came nowhere near the table and where plates were cleared under threat of guilt and starving faraway children.

I remembered too that I crafted my own dinner table — with my children — to create something completely different from my own childhood experiences. After all, I was still haunted by these:

1. Cold Peas. Cold, congealed peas, to be exact. One small girl, alone at the table well after everyone had left, unable to leave until every last evil pea was gone. (I still hate peas.)

2. The Lima Bean Incident. After several incidents of Cold Peas, it was decided that any hated vegetable had to be fully consumed (without making yucky faces) before anything else on the plate could even be looked at or breathed upon. Enter one bowl of hard, previously-frozen Lima beans, already a member of the Hated Vegetables Club. Every single one was choked down before anyone else ate even one. Naturally, as soon as they did, it was determined that they weren’t fit for human consumption and they were thrown out. I am the only one who remembers this.
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Hardest words to say to your kids: I have cancer

Categories: Mommy Angst

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On a Thursday not too long ago, I was pulling into the parking lot at my eye doctor and my phone rang. Usually I ignore calls that come in close to an appointment, but this one I took. When I heard who was calling me, I knew why. You have melanoma. You’ll need surgery immediately. Your surgeon will talk to you about next steps. Cancer.

I knew about melanoma, had suspected for months that the spot just below my ankle at the bony place on the side of my heel was melanoma, but to hear the words out loud was another matter. Melanoma kills people.

That night I Skype-messaged my son Nathaniel. We haven’t talked by webcam for a long time. Can we set that up tomorrow? You and Serena?

I had to tell them face to face, or as face to face as I can get from 3000 miles away. I needed them to see my face. I needed to see theirs.
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Parenting the child inside you

Categories: Mommy Angst

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For the past ten days I’ve been engaged in an experiment of listening to my inner guidance, what I call the “still, small voice within you.” The plan is to try this for 30 days for a kind of inner reboot.

It is way harder than it sounds. (It’s also way easier when I just let go.) But it has revealed some interesting patterns about my parenting style, my interactions with authority figures, and the child within me.

When I began the experiment I had no idea what to expect. I’m a professional channel (I tell people, tongue-in-cheekly, that this is like being a psychic only better, but it’s really more like a spiritual counselor) and I listen to a panoply of voices inside me all the time. We all have them. I remember fighting with mine a few years ago, the voice that for years had said things like, “You’re fat. You’re ugly. You’re hopeless,” and I finally kicked that one to the curb, so now I’m left with the voice that comes from a place of acceptance and appreciation.

We all need that.

But in this past ten days I’ve been sort of butting heads with this voice, as encouraging as it is. Resistance to inner authority, I guess, and a holdover from feeling like a child being ordered about anybody taller than me.
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Teaching your kids to cook

Categories: Mommy Angst

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When I was 10, I developed an interest in cooking. Not content just to lick the beaters whenever my mom decided to “bake cookies” (her code word for “there’s something I don’t want to do, so — hey! — are those chocolate chips?”), I begged my parents to let me crack open Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and have a go.

Early results were — predictably — uneven. Ahem.

I went back to the beginning and started making cakes and pudding from boxes. You have to start somewhere, and until I was older I never knew there were other kinds of cakes and puddings that didn’t start with Betty Crocker. In a couple of years I graduated back up to Julia and made my own pâte à choux, still the one and only time I ever made cream puffs. My family ate them without comment but I’m pretty sure they were delicious.

Teaching my own kids to cook, though, has been a different story. Le sigh. Here’s why:
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Which are better, girls or boys?

Categories: Mommy Angst

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THE SCENE: You’re in public, with your ginormous pregnant belly leading the way in some weird parade that attracts thousands of spectators. Especially the belly patters. The ones who touch your ginormous pregnant belly while asking, “So, do you want a boy or a girl?”

Boy? Girl? Uh…

I used to have some stock answers for that question for just this occasion:

A. Does it have to be one or the other? I was hoping for a mix.

B. You mean it’s a person in there?

C. No.

D. We’re going to let the baby decide.

[I'm not sure I ever actually said any of those, but I wished I had.]

So … boy or girl? I actually have two of each, which is pretty much perfect, but it’s funny how we have definite opinions about these things. Everyone commenting on this New York Times Motherlode blog post seems to have an opinion.
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