Animal House

Charlotte has gotten it into her head that she wants a pet.  I, of course, do not want a pet.  I have a hard enough time keeping all of us alive on a daily basis that it wouldn’t be fair to me or the animal to start a new routine.

One day she asks me for a dog but then says she doesn’t like dogs and she wants a cat.  I told her we will never ever EVER get a cat because I hate cats.  I don’t trust cats and I think they’re sneaky and weird and I just never want one in my house and refuse to care for an animal that would happily gouge out my eyes and eat my body if I died in the house.  I didn’t tell her this though, but if she asks me for a cat again that’s what I’m going to say.  So then she asked for a fish.  A fish I could probably handle.  I could just stick a goldfish on the kitchen counter and let her look at it every now and then until it died and then we could flush it down the toilet together because I feel like she’d enjoy that.  I told her we could get a fish, but then she said no, she wants a UNICORN.  She asked where the unicorn store was and how much they are.  I don’t have the heart to tell her that unicorns aren’t real yet so I just said they’re way too expensive and we don’t have room in our house for a unicorn.  She gave me 37 cents and told me the unicorn could live in the garage.  She’s a problem solver.

This morning she said she doesn’t want a pet anymore, she wants a brother.  And she wants to name him “Broddy” but if she can’t get a brother she wants a sister that she wants to name “Sissy” because she’s original like that.  I wish she’d go back to the fish.

Gratitude

Sometimes, particularly on the days when everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, I often wonder if I’m failing at motherhood.  It’s easy to fall into this trap, especially in the social media age where everything looks perfect with the right filter.  It’s really easy to let my frustrations bubble over when I tell Charlotte to stop doing something and she looks me dead in the eyes and continues to do it and I stop and think — am I raising an entitled brat?  Or when she screams at me like some sort of deranged animal and I can’t help but wonder if I’m the only one with a deranged animal for a kid.

But then there are moments when something shifts.  Charlotte shows empathy.  She can tell if I’m having a bad day and cheers me up.  She gives genuine compliments out of the blue.  She’ll take my picture and tell me I look beautiful or tell me she likes the way my hair smells or how my dress looks.  She always, and I mean always, says thank you when I do her laundry.  When I bring the basket up, she helps me fold the clothes and she chirps out “oh thank you so much for washing my clothes!”  Last night she thanked me for buying her new toothpaste.  She genuinely gives thanks for small tasks that I do that can largely go unnoticed because they are so routine, and it makes the world of difference.  These are the times when I think that we’re doing a good job in parenting.  Sure, she will scream at us that she is never talking to us again and stomp up the stairs like an unruly teen when we punish her, but she is also cognizant enough to show gratitude and kindness, and that’s one thing I always wanted to make sure I instilled in my daughter.

Now if only I could get her to stop swimming naked.

Vacation?

What’s a word for vacation when you’re away with 5 kids 4 and under?  The word is defined as an extended period of leisure and recreation so that can’t be right.  There is no leisure with children.  There is no relaxing.  There’s a lot of fun, sure, but there’s also a lot of yelling and crying and freaking out and some more crying and threats.  But I don’t think we’d trade in our three days in Lancaster because there were a lot of laughs and memories made.  I truly love my cousins kids like they are my own.  I love watching them interact with each other and I love that my family and I parent in similar ways.  There’s no judging or being afraid to call your kid an idiot in front of each other, because we all know when kids are being idiots.  There was no stress between adults, we all know we’re in this together.  I also find that I have more patience with my cousins kids than I do my own daughter, so when one started flipping a shit at dinner (thrown chocolate milk, anyone?) I truly did not mind getting up from the table and walking around with him.  In fact, I loved the cuddles and his sweet little voice.

When we got home on Friday after eating 75 pounds of Hershey chocolate I was exhausted, but, even more so, I was melancholy.  I loved getting up and having all 11 of us be together and I missed them all.  We were missing some family this year too, so next year we’re looking into renting a house or getting suites so we can all be together at night (because we’ll be 16 and possibly more).  We are going to make sure we take a trip somewhere together every summer, so that our children grow up like we did.  How lucky am I to have the family that I do?  How lucky is Char?

Mommy No More

I have to be honest – I wasn’t prepared for the transition from “mommy” to “mom.”  It happened to quickly that I don’t think I even realized it was happening.  She hasn’t given up calling me mommy entirely.  I still get it when she is scared or crying or wants to cuddle, but for the most part, I’m mom.  Every once in a blue moon I’ll get a mama, but that also ended before I was ready.  It is things like this that make me realize how quickly the time goes.  The little girl I come home to every night that greets me with a “hi mom!” isn’t a baby anymore.   Is she even a toddler?  Are you still a toddler at almost 4 and a half years old or has she entered kids territory?  Have I lost the mommy title because of this?

There’s always going to be a last time for something, whether in motherhood or just life in general.  And most of the the time you won’t know it’s the last time, which makes it all the more upsetting.  With every “mom” I know that “mommy” time is running out.  Every time she tells me she can’t walk because she wants me to hold her could be the very last time she asks me to hold her.  One day I won’t bathe her anymore, I won’t help her brush her hair or help her brush her teeth, I won’t get her clothes out and help her put them on.  She won’t be standing in front of me, telling me that her shorts are “a little twisted.”  Some things I think I’ll be happy when it’s the last time – like toilet supervision since she still doesn’t understand that an entire roll of toilet paper is not needed for a single pee.

But I want to mommy for a little longer.  I’m not ready for it to be that last time.

 

Hello Again!

Hi Hi Hiiiiii.  I have been soooo MIA lately but that is mostly because we have been lounging by the pool every second we can manage.  Having a pool has been a GAME CHANGER.  I no longer loathe the heat of summer knowing that I can dive in whenever I’m home.  Charlotte is obsessed with it and having something that always keeps her entertained that isn’t Peppa Pig or Matilda is the best.  She can reach the shallow end of our pool so she likes to go in without her puddle jumper and the improvements she has made swimming is actually amazing.  She’s able to actually swim halfway across the pool without any help!  Eric and I have been teaching her and although she’s still afraid to go under water, if she does happen to dip below the surface she knows what to do.  I think by the end of this summer she’ll really start to get the hang of it and be a pro in no time.

If we aren’t swimming we are watching or reading Matilda.  The first time we watched the movie she sat through the entire thing, which was a miracle in and of itself.  The next 75,000 times she decided that she only likes to watch three parts.  When Matilda glues her father’s hat to his head, when Matilda gets thrown into the chokey, and when Miss Trunchbull throws Amanda Thripp across the schoolyard by her hair.  Those are the only three parts she will watch now, over and over and over again.  She likes that Matilda has powers but has decided she doesn’t like those parts because SHE doesn’t have powers.  The first few times she watched it she kept trying to make things move with her eyes and then started to cry when she realized she couldn’t.  I told her I wished I had powers too, so I could clean the house without getting up.

It’s been a really good summer so far.  The rest of July will be fun with pool days and a trip to Lancaster with our cousins.  Char is excited for Dutch Wonderland and I am excited for Kitchen Kettle Village and Miller’s Smorgasbord.  I basically planned this trip around food.  I can’t wait to have butter cheese and brown buttered noodles again.  Eric and I took the same week of vacation too, so the few days before our trip we want to go to the new aquarium in Brooklyn.  I’m so looking forward to it all!

The F Word

There comes a point in your parenting journey where you realize your kid actually listens to and absorbs everything you say.  I’d say this started with Charlotte around 3 and a half, where things I told her would pop up in conversation months later.  Now, she remembers everything and will bring up stuff I said and use it against me.  This is a blessing and a curse.  For example, she remembers our security code.  This is a blessing because she was able to tell the babysitter the code when the alarm went off a few weeks ago and shut it off before the cops came (the cops still came), but it is a curse because she thinks she should be telling everyone this code.  Ah, kids.

Anyway, the point I want to get to today is something that happened last night.  I was putting my pajamas on when Charlotte looked up at me and said, “mom, do you think your stomach is fat?”  And this is when I realized she is really listening to every word I say, because lately I have been constantly saying my stomach is fat.  And now I need to STOP IT.  I’ve talked about it before, how I want to watch my words about appearance around Charlotte, to frame things in a way where I’m not putting myself down.  I clearly haven’t done any of that.  It’s ridiculous and I’m ashamed of myself.  I looked down at her and told her it’s not nice to say the word fat and mommy should probably be exercising a little more so she gets stronger.  I told her we don’t call other people fat and that we shouldn’t call ourselves fat because everyone is beautiful, yada yada yada.  And then when I thought she really got it, she looked up at me and said… “well when is the baby in there going to start kicking?”  There is no baby.  There is no kicking.  The only kicking I wanted to do was to kick her little behind for constantly equating the extra pounds in my midsection to being pregnant.  The last thing I need is for her to start telling people there’s a baby in mommy’s belly- WHICH THERE ISN’T.  But I will stop saying I’m fat, that’s for sure.

Ah, kids.

Catching Up

Hey there!  It’s been a while.  Since I last wrote I’ve been to Texas, gone to Charlotte’s moving up ceremony,  had her first venture into Manhattan on public transport, AND discovered the joy that is Freddie Mercury and Queen!  WHAT A TIME!

First up – Texas! I had such a great work trip that even managed to feel a little bit like a vacation since the River Walk in San Antonio is so fun. I learned a lot, had great food and thoroughly enjoyed the hotel bedding.  I was up at 3:45 AM the day I left to make it to the moving up ceremony and make it I DID.  Everything was perfect.  Quick boarding, smooth flight that arrived 27 minutes early, cabs immediately and no traffic.  When I saw Charlotte and she ran to me I immediately started crying and then continued to cry as they sang their songs and I realized we weren’t going to be back at the same school next year.  I truly cannot believe how quickly her first year of school went.  I was pretty emotional the entire day because there’s nothing like a few days away from your kid to make you appreciate them and I was so happy to be back with her.  That feeling went away the next morning though, I assure you.

Charlotte also came to work with me when I returned and was an absolute champ at public transportation.  She really enjoyed her express bus ride and was very quiet and well behaved, except for the one moment on the bridge when she shouted “ARE THERE SHARKS IN THAT WATER?”  Nobody seemed to mind though.  We had to wait a little while for the bus to come on our way home and she wasn’t too thrilled about that and started to yell “I JUST CAN’T TAKE THIS!” and I wanted to be like welcome to the world of commuting!!!  Find a job close to home or marry rich, kiddo!

Really though, the best thing to come out of this weekend was discovering Charlotte’s love of Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody.  I watched the movie with Rami Malek on the way home from Texas and have been listening to the music ever since (see it if you haven’t, it was GREAT) and Char actually became interested in Bohemian Rhapsody, which is amazing because who DOESN’T love that song?  The best part of this all though?  She really only likes one part of it – the section of “Bismillah, no we will not let you go!” over and over.  She thinks they’re saying Miss Milla and continues to ask me “put on the Miss Milla part!”  Then she asked me who Miss Milla was, why Miss Milla won’t let them go and which member of Queen was Miss Milla.  She also wanted me to find a picture of them holding hands, which I have yet to be able to do.  So if anyone has any photos of the members of Queen holding hands, send them my way!  She watched live performances of Bohemian Rhapsody in the car yesterday for about a half an hour, which is a hell of a lot better than the usual songs she listens to.  I love how kids process things.  I’ll forever call this song Miss Milla from now on.

Tough Choices

By this time next week Charlotte will have completed an entire year of school.  It will be her first day of summer vacation.  Sure, she only attended two days a week for a few hours, but it was new for her (and for us) and the amount she has learned in one year is remarkable.  I have an entire box filled with every piece of art work she brought home, one better than the next.  Her preschool was fantastic and I will miss sending her there so much, but it’s time for full day pre-k which I think will do wonders for her.

She has a stepping up ceremony next Wednesday where I’m sure they are going to be singing adorable songs about going into pre-k and how they will miss the friends they made.  I’m sure I would be crying, that is, if I knew I could be there.  But what kind of mother misses their first child’s 3-k stepping up ceremony, you ask?  What kind of monster does that?  That monster, my friends, is me.

You see, for the first time in my working mom life, I had to make a difficult choice.  My job is amazing  and though I work full time, I do have the option of flexibility and the ability to be able to take off in an emergency if I need to.  But a few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to travel for work, an opportunity I did not want to turn down.  And that’s not just because it’s in San Antonio where the food is good and the drinks are better and I’ll have a hotel room all to myself, but because it’s a great opportunity.

So on Sunday I will be traveling to San Antonio, and on Wednesday morning I will be on a 6 AM flight desperately trying to make Charlotte’s ceremony.  I have about 45 minutes from the minute the plane lands to the minute it starts and if all goes to plan I might be able to make it.  I’ve moved my seat as close to the front of the plane as possible without upgrading to first class (although I’m totally going to try to talk my way into that) so I can run off and sprint to a cab.  As long as there are no delays or an accident on the highway of epic proportions, I may be able to pull this off.  So I’m doing everything in my power possible to be there and I have to let myself realize I am doing the best I can and that’s all I can do.

But honestly —  if I miss it, I miss it.  I’ll have video taken by her dad and I’ll be home early enough to celebrate her accomplishment.  I don’t think she’ll remember I wasn’t there in the long term even though I had a tough time making this choice.  But what I do know is that if she ends up being a working mom either by choice or necessity, and she gets an opportunity to travel, learn and grow in her career and she has to miss one of her kids events, she’ll know her own mom did it and everything was fine.  She’ll see that her mom made the tough choice and she can make the tough choice too.

And to be perfectly honest with you I don’t think any dads out there traveling for work ever bat an eye at missing events and I don’t think people look at them and say “but how could you miss this?”  Because traveling dads are expected, of course.  Traveling moms are shit moms in some people’s eyes, though.

Really, the only thing I’m worried about is if she’ll wear the dresses I pick out for Eric to put on her and if she lets him brush her hair.  I should probably just admit defeat in that department early.

We’re Ready for Summer!

Now that we’re heading into June it seems like the warm weather and sunshine is here to stay and our gorgeous deck has been completed, we spent a lot of our weekend getting our yard ready for what I think will be one of the best summers yet.

Charlotte and I started by planting my herbs and flowers and Eric has been sprucing up around the pool.  The planting portion of the weekend quickly went from organized potting to complete chaos.  Have you ever seen a four year old shovel dirt into a pot? Because none of the dirt makes it into the pot, I’ll tell you that much.  She’d take the shovel out and the dirt flew everywhere and then that turned into her getting the hose to wash away the dirt, and that turned into spraying me in the face with the super soaker setting on.  She quickly gave up gardening and moved onto taking off all of her clothes, wetting her sidewalk chalk and painting her body with it.  And she then has the nerve to ask me why she has to have a bath every night?

Our pool is being opened on Friday and while Eric and I have no idea how to care for it I think we’ll be able to figure it out eventually.  I’m sure the water will be absolutely freezing and I am equally sure that Charlotte is going to go in anyway.  I’ve got so much stuff ready for summer parties and I’m just really excited to spend all of our time swimming and grilling and having friends and family over and enjoying this space we’ve created.  And hopefully all of the swimming leads to Charlotte exhausting herself and going to bed without me having to threaten her.  Hey, a girl can dream.

It’s Almost Mother’s Day…

Well, it’s almost that time again.  I’m sure your email inbox has been overflowing with Mother’s Day sale emails from various stores (that can’t just be me?) with gift ideas for mom.  Perhaps you’re at a loss on the gift idea front.  Should you get a piece of jewelry that says MOM on it?  Do you get up early and make her breakfast in bed?  Perhaps you go the easy and safe route and just order some flowers.  I’m here to tell you what you should get with my very own Top 20 Gift Ideas – it’s the Mommy Minutes Mother’s Day Gift Guide.  Buckle up, here we go!

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The Top 20 Mommy Minutes Mother’s Day Gift Guide

  1. Let
  2. Her
  3. Sleep
  4. And
  5. Take
  6. The
  7. Children
  8. And
  9. Get
  10. Out
  11. Of
  12. The
  13. House
  14. For
  15. 12
  16. Hours
  17. So
  18. She
  19. Is
  20. Alone