Last week, I turned 31. This is a crucial turning point in life, because I can no longer say that I am just 30; I am officially in my 30s. Now, I’m not one who is concerned with age. Some days I feel like I’m 12 (usually when I’m laughing at an “I Love My Wiener Dog!” bumper sticker) and there are other days that I feel like I’m 97 (any day that involves spending more than two hours going “wheee!” on the slides at the park). I never felt pressured to accomplish certain things by a certain age. We never really had a “plan” of any sort – let alone a five year plan – when it came to buying our house, starting a family, etc. Things just happened when they were supposed to, in God’s timing. Life is much easier that way, you know? Don’t worry about it; He’s got your back.
I can say that the older I’ve gotten, the less I care about what others think. That might sound negative; it’s not, it’s actually a very wonderful and freeing thing, to no longer care.
An example: last weekend, we were getting ready to head to a Saturday morning birthday party. I had gotten off of work early the previous day, as I was starting a week-long vacation. I spent that Friday afternoon running errands and cleaning. When Saturday morning rolled around, I looked at myself in the mirror, and realized I hadn’t showered since Thursday night. I started to turn on the water, but the coffee brewing in the kitchen began its sweet siren’s song, and I knew there would be no personal grooming. I looked at my hair, and decided it was fine. I looked at my legs, and realized I hadn’t shaved since George W. was still in office, so I opted for yoga pants. I smelled my armpits, then remembered this party was at a horse ranch, and I decided that the odor of a pony would surely be far more noticeable than my own. Coffee won.
And guess what? No one looked at me like I had three heads, or hairy sasquatch legs. They were too busy enjoying the party, watching their own kids. It didn’t matter that I smelled like a junior high school boy.
The older I’ve grown, and even more so now that I’m a mom, I just don’t have the time or energy or desire to care. The brand of jeans I wear, the extra gray hairs, the soft belly that my son enjoys poking his Matchbox cars into…it’s all good.
Don’t take this the wrong way, though. It’s not necessarily bad to like nice things, or to care about your appearance more than I generally care about my own. I understand that those are things that do make some folks happy. While I would never spend more than $30 on a purse, but I would easily spend more than that on things like food (I love food) or books (I love books) or wine (you get the idea). I do have my vices, but they absolutely do not revolve around what others think when they see me. Maybe it’s because I would rather put that time and energy into being with my family; maybe it’s because when I do have that free time on the weekends, I would rather read a book or take a nap or just sit in the still, quiet room and soak it all in.
When your days are spent running around the front yard with your family, you will find that life is so much more than shaved armpits and clean pants (if it’s just yogurt, they’re clean). It’s loud, messy, joyful, lovely chaos.
Hello, 30s. Are you ready for what’s next? (Hint: It’s a nap)
I have lamented many, many times about my disdain for the mom judgement with which we are so frequently faced. And I have tried, tried, tried to not be one of those judgey moms. I know that each family circumstance is different, that without walking a mile in your shoes I couldn’t possibly know why you have made the choices you have, and that your decisions are what is best for your family. You know that, and that is what matters most, mama.
But when you feel the judgement passed against you, oh it stings. It fills you with a fiery little ball of anger in the pit of your stomach; you bite your tongue and take the high road, and carry on. Most of the time.
Before we begin, you should know that Miles and I do most of the grocery shopping together, and that he loves Sesame Street. Like, A LOT. He knows the names of all the characters, and he dances any time he hears one of those Muppets singing a song (even if it’s on streaming music, and not the actual show).
At our Publix, it’s impossible to enter the bakery and deli without first passing through the flowers. In the floral department, there are balloons, and in this giant menagerie of balloons on sticks, there are Sesame Street characters. There is one in particular who causes great squeals of joy when we walk into the store: Ernie. No, wait…it sounds more like, “EEEERRRRRRRNNNNNNIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!! ERNIE! ERNIE! ERNIE! ERRRNIIIEEE!!!!!” And so began the tradition of buying an Ernie balloon when we’re at Publix. It was $2.99 of pure joy for my son.
Then, while checking out last week, a woman responded to Miles’ joyous Ernie-llujah Chorus with, “Well, they start younger and younger…”
Now, I knew what she meant right away. This woman, whom we’ve never met or seen before, assumed that my child must spend an exorbitant amount of time in front of the TV. And the thought of her passing that judgement made me pretty angry, because that’s not what we do, AT ALL. Miles is allowed to watch three TV shows (Sesame Street, Super Why! and The Chica Show) for 20 minutes a day, tops. TV is the glorious savior that brings me things like the ability to cook dinner without burning myself and/or my toddler. For some parents, 20 minutes a day is no big deal; for others, their children won’t even view an electronic screen until they’re at least two years old. To each his own, right?
But still, that judgement. Oh, how it burned my biscuits.
We love Publix. This woman was just some mannerless out-of-towner. We moved on.
This afternoon, I was faced with the task of stopping at Publix after work. Now, I knew this would need to be a quick trip so we could get home, have dinner, and keep our normal routine. We arrive, get an Ernie balloon, and go about our business. After picking up the necessities (milk, produce, dinner, crayons for Miles and cookies for me) we got in line to check out.
It was a long line, filled with couponers and BOGOers and people with the weekly flyer. We persevered. Miles grew annoyed with the drawing pad we picked up, because it was not a book as he’d originally thought, and the blank pages were frustratingly storyless. A chorus of “no no no no no” followed by “ERNIE! ERNIE! ERNIE” began.
While the gal was ringing us up, she asked if I really “needed” the Ernie balloon. I told her we did, that it was something we pick up most times we come shopping. She responded with a look (moms, you know the look…) and I jokingly said, “I’m sure I’m creating a monster!”
“Oh yes, YOU ARE.”
And there it was: that fiery ball of rage, filling my brain with images of tying 1,000 Ernie balloons to this woman and watching her float away, just like the house in the movie Up.
You see, this woman doesn’t know us, not like she thinks she does. And while she may see a whiny toddler getting his way, that five minute interaction isn’t enough for her to really know our afternoon. This woman had no idea that I was tired (so very, very tired) and still wearing my heels, or that I’d needed to poop since 4:57pm (moms have bowels and bladders of great fortitude, FYI) She didn’t know that Miles was getting hungry, needed his shoes off his feet RIGHTNOWRIGHTNOWRIGHTNOW or that he’s cutting his last molar (praise the Tooth Fairy). She also has no children, so she’s never experienced the 80% joy and 20% frustration that is toddlerhood. She didn’t know any of this, and so, she judged.
But these two not-so-wonderful experiences at Publix will not deter us; after all, they are the perfect summation of parenting, in which the 80/20 rule applies. Our days are happy, joyful, filled with fun and blessings, and we are so very, very thankful for them…especially when the difficult days, with tantrums, teething, and “NONONONONO” occur. But those few bad moments could never, ever change the love and gratefulness we feel each and every day.
We got home at 5:58pm. I promptly turned on Sesame Street, which gave me the 20 minutes I needed to get dinner together, put away the groceries, and most importantly: POOP.
Veteran moms, we need to talk. I know that you guys have a secret book filled with your mom trickery; things that have gotten you through self-soothing, teething, potty training, eating broccoli and pretending your children will never ever become teenagers (EVER). I also know that you can’t share all the magic with us first-time moms, because there are certain rites of passage in the world of parenting. It’s a Mom Sorority; you pledge, you’re accepted, and initiation lasts 18 years or until you squeeze out another kid, at which point you have earned the Veteran Phi Beta Mama crown. Here I am, ready to swallow a goldfish.
Sometimes I stumble across something that works, and I think to myself, “I AM A GENIUS!” Other times I think to myself, “Those witches…they knew about this.”
As you may remember, last week was Vomitpalooza 2014 in our house. Once the chunks were cleared and the floor was steam mopped for the 478th time, life went back to normal, with one exception: my son cannot stop eating. He needs all the food in his mouth, all the time.
A typical Hungry Hungry Hippos morning in our house post-VP2014 goes something like this:
- 7:00am: Wake-Up
- 7:07am: “DIDO! DIDO! DIDO!” (Cheerios) Give child Cheerios.
- 7:11am: “APPAHSUE! APPAHSUE!” (applesauce) Tell child applesauce is for his after dinner snack. Direct child back to Cheerios.
- 7:14am: “GOGUR! GOGUR! GOGUR!” (yogurt) Remind child that he will have his yogurt at school. Direct back to Cheerios again.
- 7:23am: “KEEK! KEEK! KEEK!” (blueberry pancakes, which I make from scratch twice a week because I feel like I am 17% more awesome when I do that) Give child one and a half blueberry pancakes, even though he will also eat more at school.
- 7:25am: “TAWBEES!” (strawberries) Give child strawberries.
- 7:27am: Remind child we need to go to school. Pack 1,483 various snacks. Find shoes. Field requests for “BAH!” (granola bar) and “BAH!” (dinner roll) and “BAH!” (loaf of bread) PS – I know which “bah” he’s referring to based on his fervent pointing.
- 7:32am: “BAAAAAH!” Give child half a cereal bar, which he eats on the way to school, while asking for more didos, tawbees and keeks.
- 7:40am: Drop child off at school, where he will eat a breakfast of (more) blueberry pancakes, (more) strawberries, half a banana and a cup of yogurt.
When we remodeled our kitchen in 2009, one of the things I wanted was an open concept pantry. I saw the idea in an issue of Southern Living, and my husband built what we have today. I loved it. I still love it now; however, an open concept pantry means most of our dry goods are stored in baskets, and the lower shelved items are easily reached by little toddler paws.
Miles will frequently grab something out of these lower baskets (crackers, granola bars, tortilla chips) and bring them to me, hoping it will be something I can give him to eat. He looks up at me with those eager hungry-puppy eyes, waiting for mom to dole out something bah-related.
One afternoon, we went through an endless circle of him bringing me a bag of croutons, only to have me explain that he cannot eat croutons (they are too crunchy; they are too salty; they are for Mommy’s salad; they pair well with Mommy’s wine) and then finally FINALLY, it dawned on me…
Lie to him. Lie to the child. Look right into the eyes of the sweet, bright and funny boy that you carried for 41 weeks, rocked for hours as newborn, promised the moon and stars to each and every night, and LIE.
And so, I told him they were dog treats.
I lied. He believed me. He took the bag to our dog and said, “Here, Mammy!” (her name is Maggie, but he pronounces it Mammy – it’s very Gone with the Wind, so I don’t correct it). And the croutons were ignored for the rest of the afternoon; in fact, they haven’t been picked up since.
I WON! I won I won I won. It was so easy, and I was so PROUD of myself. For lying.
So, what now? Does this begin a pattern of lying to my son? Will I tell him that broccoli tastes like ice cream, or that brushing his teeth will give him superpowers, or that helping mom put away the dishes brings him good luck? And if I start lying now, what will that evolve into as he gets older? “No, Miles, you can never date…it’s only for the Amish” (probably not for the Amish, but you know what I mean).
I am conflicted. I haven’t told another lie yet (okay, I did tell him we were out of honey, but to be fair, he was just licking it off the toast and not actually eating the toast…) but I’m sure the day will come. Food related lies can’t be that bad, right? It’s MY hummus. MINE.
And don’t all parents lie? Isn’t that why we created Santa Claus? To ensure two months of excellent behavior and vegetable eating?
Veteran moms, I’m on to your games.
Not sharing croutons,