Do you sing to your kids?

Categories: This is Supposed to Be Fun

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Just now I found myself singing “I’m a Little Teapot.” I was alone. Well, no kids around. No excuse. It’s not even a song I LIKE. In fact, it reminds me of Candyland, which seemed like such an awesome game when I was a kid (OMG! Candy Mountain! Now I’d rather repeatedly stab my eyeballs with a rusty fork than play it Ever. Again). But “I’m a Teapot”? It has never been my song. I was baffled by it in kindergarten. What were all these silly hand movements? Here is my handle? Why do I need a spout? WTF?!

All that teapot angst reminded me of how not a day went by, maybe not an hour, that I did not sing to my kids. Years of singing. Now my partner asks me frequently to sing to him, and when I do I remember how I figured out how to time singing “Edelweiss” in exactly one minute, because that was the only song that would make infant Serena stop crying. I kept myself from going mad by trying to sing it in exactly sixty seconds. Over and over, my plea to a colicky baby.
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3 ways to take control of your Yes

Categories: Push my Button

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I was a Yes Mom. Not the good kind. The out of control kind.

I think you know what I’m talking about. We’re the ones who can’t say no. Oh, not all the time. Maybe we can say no in our jobs. Maybe we can say no to community. Maybe we can say no to our friends when we need to, or to our partners. But to our kids? Who pull the Puss in Boots cute sad eyes trick whenever you even look like you might say no? [Seriously. If you didn't click on the Puss in Boots link, do yourself a favor and do it now. You could use a cuteness break.] No, to our kids we are the Yes Mom (doormat edition).

And they know it.
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What if: dreaming your happy life

Categories: This is Supposed to Be Fun

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When I was little I was dumbfounded by the question teachers asked us at the beginning of every year through about third grade: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Really? I remember wondering, We have a choice? Is it that easy? And the choices offered — fireman, doctor, teacher, secretary — sounded so … wrong to me. Not wrong, exactly. Incomplete. Not ME. Is that all there is? I wondered, I have to choose one of those? I have to know now? I admired the kids who were certain about what they wanted, but I always thought that, for me, there would be more. Something wonderful. Something so awesome, so magical, maybe, that nobody had even thought of it yet.

You, too? You can have that. We all can. There’s really only one secret.
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Working from home made me a bad mom

Categories: Bad Parenting

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A defining Bad Mom Moment came when my kids and I were playing a game where they had to pretend to be different things. “Be a lion!” “Be a cloud!” “Be a flower!” “Be a spoon!” (that one was hard, and hilarious) I quickly  ran out of ideas of things they could pretend to be so I started having them be people they knew. “Be Nathaniel!” “Be Serena!” It had to be my turn soon, we had already run through everyone they knew. What would they do? “Be Mama!”

They both stopped, stock still. Hmm. How to Be Mama?

Finally, Nathaniel smiled. He had it! He sat down, and started to Pretend Type on an imaginary laptop. After a couple of seconds he looked up, glared at everyone in the room, and said, “Shh! Go away! I’m writing!”

Oh. My.

Not pretty.
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Do your kids know you love them? Really?

Categories: Guilt Inducers

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Yes, I had an awesome visit with my kids last week, thank you. A highlight for me was the electric boat I had rented through Groupon. We packed a Whole Foods crusty-baguette-sandwich picnic lunch, we somewhat successfully remembered cameras (one child out of two), we had ready a playlist of fun music, and we promptly shoved off into Lake Union, downtown Seattle. “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…” It was very cool to see my new city from the water with my kids. We all had a great time. Except one of us. The one hiding her nose in a book.

I so get the book thing! I honor the book thing. I was a bershon book-reader myself, escaping family awkwardness in the pages of My Friend Flicka or Little Women. But I didn’t expect MY spawn, er, child, to escape her one-week-a-year-with-Mama by reading. What gives? One week out of the year. So I called her on it. Asked her what was going on. And the answer surprised me.

She thought I had stopped loving her.

SKREEEEEEEK.
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Reunited and it feels so good

Categories: Bad Parenting

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Two of my four kids are coming to see me today. One week out of fifty-two. This will be the first time they see me in my new home in Seattle (they have visited twice when I lived north of Seattle in a smaller city). This will be the first time they meet my new love. This will be the last time fifteen-year old Nathaniel sees me before he goes off to France to live for a year, likely returning forever changed by a year abroad. This will be the last time eleven-year old Serena sees me before she enters middle school, forever changed by growing up, puberty, and sixth grade dances.

Today is a flurry of laundry, cleaning, and making up two extra beds down in our client room. I have a list prepared of activities for the week ahead, including the zoo, seeing the Space Needle, a visit to Pike Place Market downtown (where they throw fish!), hanging at the beach, eating sushi, and some secret surprises involving boats, water, and picnics. Oh, and eating. And talking. And laughing. Lots of laughing.

And hugs.

I know you might not be able to imagine what it might be like being away from your children for 51 weeks and then seeing them again. You might not be able to imagine seeing them descend an escalator at the airport, inches taller and infinitely wiser than the last time you hugged them. You might not be able to imagine a moment of awkwardness with two people whom you knew from their first breaths before you drop into the deep knowing that you have always shared. But I believe you can imagine the connections between you and these two people that never disappears, that persists despite growing up, growing older, and growing more into yourselves.

Next week when I write again I will have a year’s worth of memories packed into a week’s time to share with you, indelible images forever burned into my mind’s eye and my heart that will sustain me for another year.

Until then…

What’s your guilty pleasure kid’s toy?

Categories: This is Supposed to Be Fun

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When my older daughter was born I began to strategize and plan her life. Isn’t that what we parents do? We dream big into our children’s futures. We imagine their first steps, their first days of school, their first prom dates. So when Jessica was born, like every other parent I began thinking about her future. Our future. And what was my priority? Nope, not preschool waiting lists and Ivy League saving plans — my burning question was simple. Urgent. Life-affirming. And … all about me. How long would it take before she would be into Legos?
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Why are we so darned responsible?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Wanna Fight About It?

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As parents, we walk a thin red line of responsibility. Suddenly becoming a small weak adorable being’s whole world is a wake-up call of sorts. Sleep in on a Sunday morning? Not so fast, bucko — there’s diapers to change, 4am feedings, or just plain crying-for-no-earthly-reason. And when that goes away, there is the sweetness of small feet padding in to the parental bedroom, a small warm body looking for comfort, the Sunday morning pancake ritual. Or early morning ferrying to cross country meets, basketball games, soccer practice. As parents we willingly make the shift from beer bong to Baby Bjorn. We do this from love. We do this because it is the right thing to do. And that’s as it should be, right?

Yes and no.

I think we go too far.
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Dating advice for daughters

Categories: Mommy Angst

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The day is coming. I can deny it all I want, but it is coming and there is nothing I can do about it. My daughter is hitting puberty. And likely she is going to date. Boys. Maybe girls. Whatever. Either way she needs a mother’s advice about dating. Right?

Part of me wants to hand out phrases like “They only want one thing!” and “Keep your legs together!” but not only does that place me squarely back in 1956 (maybe 1856) but it also misses the point entirely. Want to hear what my mom’s dating advice to me was? When she found out I was, at 15, headed out for my first date, she pulled me aside, lowered her voice, looked around conspiratorily, and asked, “Do you NEED anything….?”
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Shy kids rock

Categories: Push my Button

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It’s time we stopped trying to fix our shy kids. So what if they quietly sit on our laps at Mommy and Me classes? Those kids aren’t detaching from the world or being swallowed up by the floor; they’re being quietly observant, taking in and analyzing the world around them. Not to diss the extroverts happily parading around the room banging on drums, taking tigers by the tail, and generally being Awesome with a capital A, but shy introverted kids are overwhelmingly creative, informed, attentive and empathetic. In short, shy kids rock and it’s time we understood their power to change the world for the better.
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