The thing about parenthood is that you usually feel like you are doing it wrong. Before kids, you have some kind of confidence in your abilities to navigate life. You think to yourself, “Hey, I have a job! I show up on time. My shirt is reasonably clean. I pay my rent. I eat pretty good food. I get to the gym sort of regularly. I’m kicking ass in this life thing.”
Then one day you have a baby. And life gets strangely hard. You are no longer on time, you are eating leftover chicken nuggets for breakfast and by 4 in the afternoon, you are still wearing pajamas. What the hell happened?!
Luckily, there are lots of resources for getting your life back on track. A quick google search will tell you how to get your baby sleeping better, eating better and doing whatever else better.
And as your child grows – there are even more tips and advice (usually in number form like… “The top 5 ways to manage your kids screen time!” or “The top 10 biggest mistakes when it comes to helping your kids with their homework” or “Six reasons why you should let your kids fail or else you will raise the biggest losers of all time”).
And if you click on these lists (which you probably will because those links are like crack cocaine for parents), you will read through some mediocre or maybe helpful advice which will make you feel like you are doing this parenting thing wrong.
I have many downfalls as a parent (I’d like to yell less, not worry about the mess so much and put my phone away even more) but overall I really love my kids an insane amount and think they are turning out pretty awesome. So I don’t want to constantly hear about how I’m failing all the time.
Which is why I felt a great sense of relief and happiness when I read the following quote from comedian Jim Gaffigan…
“I love being a parent and enjoy finding the humor in parenting. If you complain about how you spend your Saturdays taking your kid to birthday parties, that means you are taking your kid to birthday parties. If you complain about how hard it is to get your kid to read, it means you are trying to get your kid to read. If you are complaining about your kid not helping around the house, that means you have a fat, lazy kid. You joke about it. That’s how you deal. If parents don’t like being a parent, they don’t talk about being a parent. They are absent. And probably having a great time somewhere.”
So my friends, if you are complaining about your kids because your toddler washed his hands in toilet bowl water this morning or your 4th grader was sobbing because she got 3 minutes less of screen time than her sibling or because your kids were squabbling over who got which chair at dinner time or because someone was singing too loudly for someone else or because one certain child said, “I’m hungry” for 14 straight minutes in the car – THEN YOU ARE DOING THIS PARENTING THING RIGHT.
It means you are involved. You are passionate. You are present. You love them madly. And your kids sometimes drive you crazy.
It means you are kicking ass at being a parent.
I’m a little sad Halloween is over. There is something incredibly freeing, glorious and guilt free about this holiday. It’s the day when anything organic is cast aside, high fructose corn syrup rules and candy is calorie free (or at least that’s what I heard. Or made up. Whatever).
There are no bedtime routines or soapy baths. Just power ranger outfits, Cleopatra gowns and an explosion of Elsa’s.
At one point, I heard a gigantic Gumby say, “I just accidentally scared the crap out of Elsa.”
And yes, it was my Elsa. But she didn’t seem too shaken up. Evidently, it takes a lot more than a big green, whatever the hell he is to spook 4 year old Harlowe.
It’s her twin Chase who hates anything scary so obviously this is not his dream holiday. He was terrified of every scary outfit and especially those adults who like to dress like the grim reaper and hold the candy bowl very very still until some unsuspecting power ranger comes along and just as he takes a Kit Kat out of the bowl – BAM. The grim reaper suddenly moves and my poor 4 year old jumps about 3 miles in the air, runs back to me and sobs and sobs.
Man, it’s not easy to get a free mini candy bar these days.
When Chase wasn’t crying, 7 year old Summer (dressed as Katy Perry/diva girl) was screeching and freaking about every dog (from the biggest canine to the teacup poodle) who came her way.
Of course every dog owner, when they notice Summer’s upset, says the same thing… “She’s a sweet dog. She won’t hurt anyone.” And I believe them, despite the fact I once said the same thing to a man who was pretty much being tackled on a beach by our former dog Martini.
Now I don’t know the dog population numbers for South Florida but I’m going to estimate that every single person has a dog. So Summer was on a real emotional roller coaster all night long. Dog! (miserable) Candy! (happy) Dog! (miserable) Candy! (happy).
Meanwhile… from what I could tell, every teenager in our neighborhood was dressed as a bloody vampire. Although props to the one kid who bucked peer pressure and went as a banana. (Especially because it’s really hard to pass someone in a banana outfit and not share your best banana joke. You’re thinking of a banana joke right now, aren’t you?)
Rick missed out on the whole thing because he was working but the next morning we took a rollerblade/walk and you would be amazed at how much unopened, perfectly good candy you can find on the ground the day after Halloween.
And if you think we are too fancy to pick up candy from the ground, well then you underestimate our love of candy around here.
So now it’s back to baths, bedtime routines and homework. Damn.
Look we can’t all be as successful as those couples who find eternal love on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette but with a little advice we can all have a better chance of staying together.
These are my best marriage tips and by best I mean, these are the ones I could think of while watching TV and eating whoppers… two activities that are an intricate part of my pre Halloween mental preparation.
Hugging and Planning
Always give your spouse a hug and kiss when they get home from work. But realize this is still a multi tasking opportunity where you can discuss how you finally got that oil change taken care of but the minivan now needs to immediately go back for a required transmission and radiator flushing. Whatever that is. The more car problems, the longer the hug can be!
Saving Money Means Less Marital Stress
Want to save money? Every time your spouse says, “I really really want a new flat screen TV. Ours is so outdated,” you respond, “I really want new granite in the kitchen. Ours is uglier than grandma Helen’s in the 1970s. This is what we call a marital standstill and it will prevent you from doing anything, thus saving money which reduces marital stress.
Watch Your Favorite Shows Together – Just in Different Rooms
You like The Mindy Project and he likes The Black List? No problem. Watch them in different rooms! Send warm, loving texts like, “I hope you’re enjoying your show!” Run into each other in the kitchen while getting snacks and tell each other about exciting plot developments. It’s like watching a show together without the painful agony of sitting through a TV program you absolutely can’t stand.
Find Marital Balance
It works like this… He promises to not put plastic in the dishwasher as long as you let the kids stay up when his football team is playing because apparently their focused energy on the game can actually help his team win.
For the record, he has no idea why plastic can’t go in the dishwasher and you have no idea how sleeping children could cause his team to lose, but that’s okay. You have reached a state of marital balance where you do puzzling things to make the other person happy.
Saturday Night: Paint the Town Red and Find Out How Your Kid is Doing in School
Go out to dinner with other couples. The couple will at some point ask, “How are your kids?” And this is when you will find out about important information you and your partner forgot to discuss… like your kid’s parent teacher conference, the fact that you are the designated snack family for this week’s soccer game and that your daughter wants to drop piano and take up guitar. Date night is like a fact finding mission with cocktails!
Acts of Kindness
Do nice things for your each other. Like he won’t post pictures of you on Facebook where you look 5 months pregnant (you’re not). And you won’t post pictures on Facebook that shows his chin from an unflattering angle.
You can do other sweet things for your spouse like make the coffee in the morning, leave him little notes and record TV shows for him in standard-definition. Oh wait, was it high definition that he prefers? Oh who cares! It all looks the same. He won’t know the difference.
Say You’re Sorry! And then say it again!
You don’t know why you are saying sorry, but just do it. A lot! Once in awhile your spouse will say, “Why are you sorry?” and you won’t know the answer to that one. But don’t panic. Just say, “Because I was wrong. And you look beautiful. Let’s kiss and put on your favorite movie.”
It’s as easy as that.
So follow all these tips and marital bliss is yours.
Photo Courtesy of Ruffled.
Every one is always telling me to do more videos! And sometimes I think to myself, why don’t I do more videos?! I’m a former TV reporter so I hopefully have some kind of on air presence, once upon a time I could edit video and I’m sure the world is clamouring for more funny clips in their Facebook feed from middle aged moms.
So I ended up pitching this art hoarder idea to NickMom – because parents really do accumulate a lot of art in their children’s younger years and they might not all be Picasso-ish.
Filming the piece was easy. I recruited my husband who was a little under the weather from shingles but in support of my future media empire, he agreed to it. At times he said that he needed to rest but I told him to buck up and get a better angle of me wrapping a deli sandwich in a dinosaur painting.
I also kept screaming, “Make me look like a super model Folbaum!!!” because I heard that’s very therapeutic for people suffering from shingles.
Then it came to editing this video and it turns out iMovie is less “intuitive” and more “what the fu*k?!” So I signed up for a movie making session at Apple (that’s where all the good film directors hone their craft). I hired 2 sitters for my 5 children and headed to Ft. Lauderdale one afternoon.
As soon as I got there, I was told that I had booked the wrong kind of appointment. I had apparently scheduled time with the genius bar when I actually needed a one-to-one session. Could I come back another day, a blue shirted Apple girl asked me.
I explained what it took for me to get there with 5 kids, 2 babysitters and an outdated Google Maps that always displays my map upside down and surely amongst the army of 19 year old blue shirted Apple associates, there must be someone who could give me a quick tutorial on iMovie.
She made a call to the back and told someone influential… “There is a woman here with QUITE a back story. Can anyone help her with iMovie?”
I must have seemed really sad and desperate because I got my iMovie tutorial and you can now see my NickMom video by clicking here or watch below.
If you like it, please share it with your friends and family. I will be forever grateful and you will be rewarded with a chocolate caramel unicorn unless unicorns don’t exist and then you’ll just get good internet karma.
10 year old Dylan’s story:
I recently picked up my 10 year old daughter at school and this is the story she told me….
“At recess, we were playing on the playground and all of a sudden it started to rain. And not just a little rain but tons and tons of rain. And we were under the sun shade but that didn’t do anything to stop the water. And we were all trying to escape the rain by ducking under slides but it really wasn’t working because it’s a sun shade, not a rain shade. They really should put up rain shades. And the rain did not stop. We finally had to run back to the school and we all got soaking wet.”
<Takes big breath and keeps going.>
“When we got inside, we had to take off our shoes and socks. But they knew we couldn’t go back to class because we were all wet and we would be freezing. So there was a religious school near by and they had all these brand new t-shirts and they loaned us the shirts. We all put on the t-shirts. We are supposed to return the shirt tomorrow washed with a thank you note.”
My husband Rick’s story:
This is how my husband (a TV news anchor) would tell the same story…
Exactly like Dylan – as if he was filling air time for a breaking news story and at the end he would say, “We have to take a quick break but when we return, find out if the t-shirts actually got returned with thank you notes! And our reporter checks in with the children to find out how they are adjusting to life after this dramatic rainstorm.”
This is how I would tell the rain story….
“There was a big rain storm at Dylan’s school during recess and Dylan’s class got drenched. The religious school kindly loaned them t-shirts. So please, for the love of laundry, someone help me remember to wash this shirt and return it tomorrow. And Dylan, you need to write a thank you note. And oh my gosh, we still haven’t written your birthday thank you notes and your birthday was a month ago!! Can someone remind me of that too? I wrote a reminder note but I think it’s under two week’s worth of mail.”
This is how 7-year-old Summer would tell the rain story…
“I’m hungry. Did you bring any food for me? Can we stop for frozen yogurt?”
This is how 4-year-old Chase would tell the rain story…
At recess, the rain came shooting down from the sky and Dylan and all her friends got all wet. So they took swords and battled the rain until the pirates came and put them in a big ship and sailed them back to their class.
This is how 4-year-old Harlowe would tell the rain story…
Dylan and her friends got all wet at recess and then – MOMMY, TOMORROW WHEN I GO TO SCHOOL AND I BRING MY DRAWING OF A RAINBOW AND SHOW IT TO MY FRIEND OLIVIA AND THEN WHEN I GET HOME FROM SCHOOL CAN I PUT IT ON MY WALL?!
This is how 1 1/2 year old Cash would tell the rain story…
Clearly, Cash knows how to be succinct. I love that in a kid.