My 11 year old has a theory about motherhood.
“Whatever you’re mom is like, you become the opposite,” she declared. She’s a girl who likes a declaration. Especially at bedtime when she should stop declaring and start sleeping.
“Really?” I said. “Always the opposite?”
“Yup. Like your mom is messy. You are really neat. So I’ll be messy when I’m an adult and then you can come and clean my house.”
“I’m really looking forward to that,” I said.
After I finally got the girl who loves declarations to actually close her eyes, I thought about my mother. My daughter was right. My mom is a bit messy – prone to not noticing silly things like coffee stains on counters and cabinet doors that get left open all night long.
And when I was growing up, she used to have this plastic bag dryer sitting on her counter. She probably still has it. It looks like this:
Except my mom had like 25 bags hanging off this thing and it looked crazy. The idea is eco-friendly. You wash out your plastic bags. And then dry them on these sticks.
But I was mostly focused on the idea that it looked insane sitting on our countertop, with all those plastic bags hanging off it. And I had my high school friends over. I begged, “Mom, could you please put that thing away before kids hear about it at school?!”
Anyway, fast forward many years and the other night my 9 year daughter was trying to find a plastic bag for part of her lunch.
“All these plastic bags have been used before. I want a new one,” she said.
“Those bags are fine. I cleaned them out. More or less. They might have a few potato chips crumbs but what’s the difference if you’re putting potato chips back in them?”
My daughter looked at me like I had gone mad.
“I really need a new bag.”
“Plastic isn’t good for the earth my dear,” I said. Which she knows. Because when I forget my reusable bags at the grocery store, I refuse the plastic ones and literally put all my groceries back in the cart with no bags like some kind of animal that doesn’t understand civilized society.
“I really want a new plastic bag,” my daughter pressed.
“Oh fine. Here’s a new one for your chips. But you’re reusing that one tomorrow!!”
But of course she can’t hear me because she’s already entranced in another Musical.ly on her iTouch. This Musical.ly must involve chips.
And that’s when I actually thought to myself, “I could really use one of those countertop bag dryer things my mom had.”
Yup. It came full circle.
Of course, I won’t ever get one. I don’t need something practical junking up my clean countertops.
But I realized that as my teenage self was rolling my eyes at my mother’s crazy countertop bag dryer thingy, I was actually learning about the environment. And the little things each of us can do to help protect a world we really depend on. And it apparently rubbed off on me.
Because there I was so many years later, reusing plastic sandwich bags, while my own daughter looked at me in disbelief.
So maybe we do end up like our moms. Or maybe we don’t.
Or maybe we end up somewhere in between – a creative combination of their passions, their flaws, their quirks and their awesomeness.
Some children are joiners. Throw any activity at them and they jump in gleefully. I don’t give birth to those kinds of kids. My children tend to hold back a bit. Or a lot.
Like when one of my daughters was in first grade, she agreed to try soccer. Except maybe I should have questioned her a bit on the phrase “try soccer.” Because I paid for an entire season of soccer and her cleat never touched the field. She did eat a lot goldfish from the sidelines though.
This kind of scenario has happened many times over the years with various children.
And once again, I am faced with a child who wants no part of any organized activity.
To read more, please click on over to Alpha Mom. You won’t regret it. Promise.
When you are single, it’s pretty easy to put your needs first.
You think, hey, I want to take a trip to Paris. Do I have enough money? Well, I have a credit card. And hostels are fun, right? Do I have a few days with nothing to do? Yup, I do.
But then you get married and have kids and well, nothing is so simple. A trip. A cross country move. A bucket list. You don’t do anything so quickly anymore.
You’re constantly balancing various needs. What do your kids need? What does your spouse need? What do you need?
We sacrifice for our kids. Oh my gosh do we sacrifice. And they repay us with compliments like this… Last night, my 5 year old said to me, “Were you alive when Abraham Lincoln was president?”
Uh no. I am old. But not quite that old.
But we can’t sacrifice everything.
Because then we are just puddles of patheticness (yes, of course that’s a word) and one day, as our college bound kids wave goodbye, we’ll come crawling after them, “Wait! I used to be fun. I used to book trips to Paris!”
So it’s important to figure out what we want. Not when our kids are in college. What do we want now. Which is how I ended up in Clearwater, Florida a few weeks back.
My husband and I were trying to decide what to do with the kids over vacation and he utters, “Well, seeing a Phillies spring training game is on my bucket list.”
A boring baseball game is on your bucket list?!
I mean, a chance of a lifetime spring training game is on your bucket list?!
We needed to make this happen.
So we did.
We drove four hours to Clearwater, Florida and my husband thought the whole thing was pretty magical.
The reality is – the chaos of our lives can consume us. To the point where somebody asks, what are your hobbies? And you honestly can’t remember anymore. Umm… I think I liked roller blading in 2004. Or they ask, what do you see yourself doing in five years? Well, I’ll definitely still be doing laundry.
But we deserve more. As parents, we need to love our families fiercely and ourselves just as much. We need to ask ourselves, what do we want from this life that is just too short?
We have to pay attention to what’s important to us. Where we want to be in this world. What do we truly want to do that we haven’t bothered to even pursue.
It could be a hobby. Or a career change. Or a vacation. Or a class. Or a move. Or a friendship.
Or maybe just a drive to a baseball field during spring training.
Whatever brings us joy. We owe it to ourselves to find it.
There are certain parental things you know you should be doing for your kids… like feeding them, clothing them and oh yeah, spending time with them. And not just any kind of time. One-on-one time.
I can completely see the benefits of spending time with kids individually. It makes them feel important. You get to really know them. They get to know you. It brings you closer together. So I’m completely in love with this idea but I just can’t figure out how to make it happen.
To read more, please click over to Alpha Mom. I promise some very cool ideas on actually making one-on-one time happen!
I was raised with a very healthy diet. Like 7 grain bread and carrot cake kind of diet. I don’t remember ever going to fast food (unless it was with a babysitter) and the only treat in the house was Ovaltine. As a kid, I used to secretly eat that chocolate powder with a spoon. I was desperate.
I would see those kids at school with their Wonder bread sandwiches and just be filled with jealousy. And no one trades their peanut butter fluff sandwich for a turkey with alfalfa sprouts. Nobody.
When raising my own kids, I did want to instill healthy eating habits. But it’s sooo hard. Because white bread and white pasta and pizza and chicken nuggets are everywhere. And kids really dig them. Plus, only America thinks to deep fry Oreos, right? Delicious and genius. But still.
So you start your kids off eating all these healthy organic baby foods (maybe even pureeing your own) and then within a few years, they are literally eating goldfish off the rug of your minivan. Yup. Processed foods off a rug that hasn’t been vacuumed in months. And you’re like – what the heck happened here?
When my kids are home, I do try to make sure they eat reasonably well. They eat fruits, a few vegetables, protein, nothing with nitrates and I try to avoid artificial colors.
But I noticed that I have really let it slide when it comes to eating whole grain breads and pastas. There was more and more white challah in my house and lots of yummy white pasta. Why? Because every time we are at the store, my kids beg for it. And because children who aren’t complaining about their lunches and dinners are a lot less annoying.
So last week, I said enough and bought whole wheat challah bread.
And this is how it went over….
11 year old: At lunch, I just ate the ham in my sandwich. I did not like that whole wheat bread.
9 year old: I don’t want that. I made myself a pumpernickel bagel instead.
5 year old boy: I don’t want the whole wheat bread either.
5 year old girl: I DO NOT LIKE THAT NEW BREAD!!
2 year old: Elephant. Where’s elephant? (Totally off topic by the way)
The whole wheat challah was rejected. Eventually my 5 year old son made a bird nest in one of our trees and left the bread out for the birds. (For the record, they really liked it.)
This week I went back to buying white bread. I had been beaten down.
But I kind of feel okay about it. I think you have to reach some kind of balance with kids and food. It’s okay to go to fast food sometimes. There are days when my children have somehow finagled pizza for lunch AND dinner. And well, white bread is sticking around here for now. At least most of them time.
And I take heart that I’m a pretty healthy eater as an adult (despite my Ovaltine childhood addiction).
So I’m thinking my kids will turn out just fine.