Archive for March, 2013

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Things My Kids Say That Make Me Feel Old

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype

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“What’s a pager?”

“I heard that in the olden days, moms used to wash kids’ mouths out with soap when they were bad.”

“What’s a pay phone?”

“Mom, were cars invented yet when you were a kid?”

“Mom, can you skip to the next song? Why not? What’s a deejay?’”

“What’s a cassette tape?”

“This is boring, I don’t want to watch it with you anymore. The Fraggles don’t even look real.”

“I love Napoleon Dynamite’s boots, they’re so old-fashioned.”

“Why would anyone want a Tickle Me Elmo?”

“Can I have electronics time now? I want to read my book.”

“I already turned in my homework; I just shared the document with my teacher.”

“How did you watch movies when you were a kid if you didn’t have the Internet?”

“Tupperware? What kind of party is that?”

“You had chalkboards in your classroom?”

“What’s a ‘dial-up?’”

“What’s a Polaroid?”

“Did they have Justin Bieber when you were a kid? MMMBop? That’s a dumb name for a song.”

An Open Letter to My Children’s School Regarding the Excessive Amount of Papers You Send Home

Categories: Best Practices

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Dear Elementary School,

If you and I were to enter into a romantic relationship, get married under a beautiful wisteria-draped arbor in the spring and then ultimately end up in marriage counseling, our marriage therapist would be incredibly impressed with your communication skills. In fact, she would probably look at the two of us sitting in her office– you with your eager, straight-backed posture and a file folder of color-coded newsletters balanced carefully on your knees, and me slumped in the corner of the couch whispering aggressively into my phone trying to convince Siri to remind me to pick up my prescription later– and shake her head woefully, wondering just what it was that brought the two of us together in the first place.

The truth is, School, I was awed by you at first. You seemed so organized, so responsible! You seemed like the type who’d never accidentally run out of clean underwear or sandwich bags. Back then, I’ll admit, I was a little vulnerable. The divorce had really pulled the rug out from under me and I was frequently forgetting to shower, sleep, and drink water. I was a mess, and your blurrily-copied permission forms arrived at home with such reassuring regularity that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to your stolid presence. But that was then, School: it was a simpler time when accent walls seemed like a good idea and young women would definitely kiss you on the first date if you sent home an invitation to an ice cream social printed on a sherbet-colored rectangle sprinkled with Comic Sans. Things are different now.

The kids have gotten a little older, and I no longer worry that I’ll forget which day it is. Emails from my ex-husband don’t make me cry anymore, and I no longer rely on the government to keep us stocked up on bread and Life cereal. In short, I am pretty close to having my s#!$ together these days and I would really appreciate it if you could stop making me feel guilty by filling my recycle bin with a small forest each week.

I know this is confusing for you because I have two children, but one newsletter is really all I need. The second copy is unnecessary and excessive, as well as the second copy of every announcement for all of the things I’ll never go to because I work a lot and really don’t feel like spending my Wednesday night stuffed in a cafeteria with other parents planning next year’s walk-a-thon. I just want to eat dinner with my kids and fight with them about whether or not they need to use toothpaste when they brush their teeth, so please stop inviting me to stuff. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Siri pretty much runs things around here now, so your second, third and sometimes fourth reminders about wrapping paper sales and roller skating parties are redundant and if we’re being completely honest here, Siri is probably a little offended by them. She’s got this, okay? Back off.

In conclusion, I’d like to point out that while your after-school programs for K-2 students sound like a whole lot of fun, neither of my kids are eligible due to not being in those grades anymore, so we probably don’t need those lists of program costs and descriptions. And at the risk of being labeled bitter or resentful by our marriage therapist, I’d like to remind you that I’m never going to volunteer in the staff copy room because I work fifty hours a week at three different jobs, so if you could stop rubbing it in my face that some mothers have time for these things, that would be great.

Sincerely,
A Parent Who Is No Longer That Into You

3 Quick And Yummy Snacks For Busy Moms

Categories: Taking care of mom

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If you’re anything like me, your morning is spent in a flurry of getting everyone ready and out the door for the day. In between drying my hair and letting the dog out to pee I’m making kid-friendly breakfasts and school lunches and trying to sneak in a few sips of black coffee before it gets too cold sitting on the counter. On good days, when we’re on time, I also remember to leave food out for the poor cats. And then suddenly it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I’m spacing out at my desk, unable to concentrate. At this point I realize that I have forgotten to feed myself completely (and on really bad days, I probably haven’t had any water to drink, either!). Due to the unfortunate frequency of this scenario, I’ve learned it’s best to keep a few emergency snacks on hand to give me a much-needed energy boost on days when I need it most. Here are three of my favorites.

Yogurt Parfait
I call this a parfait to make myself sound fancy and French, but it’s actually a very healthy snack and a great option for breakfast, too!

Ingredients:

1 serving of fat-free vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup chopped or sliced roasted, unsalted almonds
1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Mix the sliced strawberries in with the yogurt and sprinkle generously with almonds. Delish!

Brie and Apple Sandwich
This is my favorite go-to lunch when I want something simple but classy. The painless preparation is a bonus!

Ingredients:

1 demi-baguette
2 ounces of brie
1/2 Granny Smith apple

Slice the demi-baguette in half and spread one of the halves with brie. Slice the Granny Smith apple into thin slivers and layer on top of the brie, then close the sandwich. Voila! Your heavenly lunch is complete.

Apple-Cinnamon Quinoa
This is a perfect make-ahead dish that is tasty right out of the fridge or easily reheated.

Ingredients:

1 cup white dry quinoa
1 apple
Cinnamon and sugar to taste

Cut your apple into bite-size chunks or slices, leaving the skin on. Boil 2 cups of water, and add the quinoa, apple slices and cinnamon and sugar all at the same time. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water and the apples are soft. Remove from heat and serve warm or cold. Tip: Rinsing your quinoa thoroughly before cooking is the best way to reduce any bitterness.

We mothers do a great job of taking care of the ones we love, but it’s easy to put ourselves- and our health- last. These yummy snacks will give you the nutrition and energy boost you need to make it through a busy day!

Summertime, and the living is very scheduled

Categories: Fighting the Stereotype

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Some of my happiest childhood memories come from those long, languid summer days spent hunting for tiny shells along the beach or planting marigolds in my grandmother’s garden. My sister and I would run wild, our hair tangled and gritty, our filthy bare feet toughened by gravel driveways and the rough bark of the cherry tree. We’d sway side by side on the backyard swings, one hand gripping the sun-warmed metal chains and the other holding a gooey tunafish and pickle sandwich. I love these memories almost as much as I loved the days themselves. They were such a relief from the constant structure and social pressure of the school year. During the summer, I was free to explore and read and daydream as much as I wanted. I could just be me.

I was reminded of those precious summer days as I emailed back and forth with my ex-husband last week, planning our daughters’ summer schedule. Every moment is accounted for. Every day has an elaborate plan attached with transportation, childcare and even meals already figured out. Although living in two households certainly complicates the matter somewhat, the fact is times are just different. When I was little, neither one of my grandmothers worked. My summers were split between their two nearby houses. All of the grandparent figures in my children’s lives (meaning their actual grandparents or the parents of our new partners) either work full time or live out of state. We don’t have the luxury of dropping the girls off at a relative’s house while we work during the summer, so the girls go to camps. They’ve never had a summer like the ones their dad and I knew growing up, and they most likely never will.

This, I think, is very sad. I find myself compensating for this lack of a carefree summer by inserting chunks of “free time” into our weekend schedules, days where we have nothing planned and nowhere to be. I firmly believe they need this time desperately. I just wish I could give them more of it. How do other mothers do this? Is a summer without schedules simply the luxury of the married, non-working housewife? If so, what does this mean for the millions of children whose parents and, increasingly, all members of extended family, must work full time in order to stay afloat? What will this do to their imaginations, their creativity? What will happen to our artists and dancers and explorers and scientists?

I fear that in trying to make sure my kids are safe and cared for while the grown-ups in their lives work, we’re effectively scheduling them right out of a childhood. Tell me it isn’t so. Tell me there is hope. Tell me there’s a TED talk out there for working mothers whose relatives can’t step in to help.

There must be a different way to do this.

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