Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Thoughts about Moms

I have been having this ongoing email discussion with some of my girlfriends about mothers. Our mothers, to be exact. And the ways in which they were brilliant, and the ways in which they were horrible. I’m lucky, I have nothing to contribute to the latter part of this discussion. But geeze-o-pete, some of these girls have got some serious stuff to carry around with them from mom’s who were manipulative and cruel. Or distant. Or addicted. And it breaks my heart to see them still hurting or shielding themselves from their moms’ critical and destructive behavior. In fact, it really pisses me off.

Then, yesterday, one of the girls in this same discussion group – who is a fantastic mom by the way - had a really tough thing happen to her. Her little guy was asked to leave his daycare after only 9 days at a new center. (He was biting, much to my friend’s horror and consternation.) And while that in and of itself would be upsetting, the stupid Yatch who did the dismissing made my friend feel like this was about her and her parenting. When clearly, it is not. It’s about teething and trying to acclimate to a completely new environment. So today, all of us girls have been sending this friend emails about how she’s a great mom, and it’s unfair, and she’s doing the right things, etc.

So in the midst of that email storm I had this question jump out in front of me like a big blinking neon sign. And I have no answer for it. Or, maybe I don’t like my own answer.

The question is this: If one of my girlfriends was behaving in a way that we all knew was messing up her kids, would we confront her? We’re pretty quick to tell each other what a great job we’re doing as moms. Is our friendship strong enough that we could be critical too?

I don’t mean different parenting styles that we don’t all agree on. Like co-sleeping, or demand feeding, or cloth vs. disposable, or all those things that you can jump on one side or the other of. And clearly, if one of my friends was putting her kids in harms way, we would be having a chat. What I mean is…like, if I had a friend who was overly critical. Or, talked to her kids like they were stupid all the time. Or wasn’t handling stress well, and taking it out on her kids verbally. Or going out all the time and leaving her kids with nannys and sitters every night. Stuff that chips away at their self esteem over time. Stuff that molds who they become in subtle and not so subtle ways.

It’s easy to read the Dr. Phil columns of the world and know that you should address the situation in a way that shows caring and support and uses messaging like, “I noticed that when Timmy put his shoes on the wrong feet, that really made you angry. How about I take the kids for a while and give you a break today so that you can go wash your mouth out with soap you filthy mean witch.”

But come on, the reality is that there are mom’s who don’t need a break for an hour. They need a complete personality overhaul. And they very likely don’t even see that. So how do you address that in a way that is caring?

“Gee Gail, I totally sympathize when you demonstrate how this parenting gig has ruined your life. How about you just give me your children so that you can return to your picture perfect life of boozing, ladder climbing, and vicious gossiping without so many inconvenient interruptions?”

And even if there was a better way to say it (that was pretty Hallmarkish if you ask me), once you start pointing out faults in someone’s parenting they aren’t very likely to keep you around as a friend for long. Right? So then have those kids lost you as an ally? Does Mommy Dearest just cycle through friends until she either has none, or has a few who are mean to their kids too?

I dunno. I’m troubled by this. I like feeling confident about a course of action. And in this situation, albeit a hypothetical one, I am lost without a compass.


Monday, July 17, 2006

DIY Parenting

If someone with all the answers could please just contact me ASAP, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanky.

Specifically, I need to know why my two year old is suddenly refusing naps, fighting bedtime, and waking up during the night. Wait, I should rephrase. She will take a nap, on my lap. She will go to bed, with me. And she will sleep all night, in my bed. This is not exactly working for me. Advice welcome.

Suspiciously enough, she is also freaking out about being dropped off at school in the mornings. She is otherwise her happy fun self. As long as I am within her magnetic force field. As soon as I am too far away for her to run to with her arms up yelling “MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY” we have problems.

I can be reached through the comments section of this blog. Immediate solutions appreciated.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

If 30 is the new 20, then I am a player in the new dating scene.

Mommies meeting Mommies. Sounds dirty, no?

Well, it is dirty. But now how you think. It’s sticky hands, grape jelly stains, and Kool-Aid mustache dirty. I’m talking about finding the perfect playdate. Parents of toddlers desperate to find friends within walking distance who have kids the same age. Friends who will understand that your beer fridge is now stocked with juice boxes. Who won’t freak out if you throw a poopy diaper into their trash. And who plan all social activities between 4 and 7 p.m. - with noodles as the main entrée.

Ok, I’m not really all that desperate for friends. But since moving to our new house 8 months ago, we’ve been looking for other families in the neighborhood who had little kids. Our hopes were dashed at our annual homeowners meeting this winter, when we discovered that most of the people in our subdivision were offering up their grandchildren as babysitters. And my fears were not lessened this spring as time and time again Sweet Pea and I had the playground to ourselves. I just figured we moved into an older neighborhood. Both the houses, and the residents. But on Tuesday a glorious thing happened. We had a Fouth of July parade! It was fantastic, with a fire truck leading the way and an army of kids on streamer laden bikes racing around the cul-de-sacs. And then, from across the street, we spotted them. A nice couple with a double stroller. They were totally checking us out too. And slowly made their way over to introduce themselves.

“Hey, we’re Sue and Rob*. Do you live around here?”

“Yes! We do. Right over there. You?”

“Yeah, the tan house on the corner. (Pause) How old? (nodding at my daughter)”

“Two, yours?”

“This one is three, and he’s nine months. We should get them together sometime.”

OMG, WE GOT ASKED OUT. I didn’t get digits. But Sue told me to drop by anytime. Their house is on the way to the playground, so it would be really easy to do. So what’s the protocol? It’s been two days. If I drop by tomorrow do I seem too eager? If I wait until next weekend will she think I blew her off? What if we go to the park and she never calls again? Or what if she’s weird and she won’t leave me alone? She didn’t seem weird. She seemed nice. And friendly. And well dressed.

I think I’ll drop by. Maybe bring her some Teddy Grams.


*Names have been changed, blah blah blah.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It’s a C-O-N-spiracy.

I am so onto you Dyson Corp. Nice try. With the super chatty sales lady who was oh so interested in me and my vacuuming needs. “What kind of carpet do you have?”

“Oh, you have a pet? What kind?”

It worked for a while. I naively believed that she was just trying to asses which Dyson would be the best fit for our home. BUT NOW I KNOW WHAT YOU WERE REALLY UP TO.

As soon as that fork tongued suction siren heard me say yellow lab she sent some kind of message back to the warehouse. Didn’t she? I’ll give you guys some credit. She was sneaky. I didn’t see her talking into her sleeve, or using any Sydney Bristowesque moves to initiate the communiqué…but I know she did it. And then your little minions in the back installed some kind of doohickey in my vacuum that churns out blonde fur faster than you can say “won’t lose suction.”

At first I just thought I had a dog with a shedding problem. But hello – I’m sucking up an extra pet a week. There is no way that my precious furry baby is making that big of a mess in my house. She loves me too much. So I started to think about what was really going on here. And that’s when it came to me. You knew that your modern design and chichi color schemes would get me to make the purchase. But you needed the clear canister to seal the deal. And so you made it impossible for me to resist the suction seduction. You made me a Dyson whore. Endlessly singing your praises to my friends. Obsessing about dust and dander. Vacuuming two, three times a week.

Oh Dyson, how I loathe you. Oh Dyson, how I love you.