What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I had a dream last night that I woke up on Christmas morning and realized that I hadn’t wrapped any presents.  That I didn’t even remember where I hid them.  That we were having company over for breakfast and I didn’t make any food.  (It should be noted, however, that I did think to my dream self...at least we have champagne!)  And then in my panic to keep my kids in their room while I ran around in my pajamas trying to find all the presents and wrap them I remembered that we were going out of town and I hadn’t even packed.

Then I woke up.  Thank God.  I feel inadequate enough while the sun is out, I don’t need to be reminded of this while the moon shines.  Nights should be filled with visions of Ben Affleck, not anxiety ridden dreams that remind me of All That Crap I Still Haven’t Done.

Here I thought, with both Offspring going to school every morning, that I would have so much...time.  Before the school year started, I couldn’t even IMAGINE what I would do with all that TIME!  4 hours a day?! I was going to write a novel!  Become a successful actress!  Bake crap in the shape of a pumpkin or a Christmas tree!  Really get down to business and make homemade meals every night!  Lose 5 pounds! I was, obviously, going to BE AWESOME.  Because who couldn’t be awesome with THAT MUCH TIME FREE OF CHILDREN?  

Turns out...me. I am not, apparently, awesome.  Because I always feel that I am failing at all of those things.  Turns out...damn, there is a lot to do.  Every day.  All day.  I don’t want to sound all whiney because I realize there are many people in this world who have Actual Problems and me not remembering where I hid the bey blades, or the fact that I really don’t even understand what that toy is, is not one of them.  Nor is an Actual Problem the fact that when I hinted, suggested, toyed with the idea of Daughter maaaaybe getting a Unicorn Dream Light verses a Butterfly Dream Light, because what if Santa ran out or really thought Daughter would love a Unicorn one and was immediately shot down with a very passionate I HATE UNICORNS!!  NO UNICORNS!!...but trust me, if we don’t find that Butterfly Dream Light by Christmas morning, Daughter will make it an Actual Problem like no Actual Problem you’ve ever seen before.  She will take your Actual Problem and raise you 27 Actual Problems.  And then flip you off.

But I digress.

I wonder, will I always feel like this?  Like I’m always missing something?  That there’s never enough time?  Will that nagging question of What am I forgetting? ever leave my head?  Will the day come when I go to the store and DON’T come home and immediately start making my list of things I forgot?  Will my house ever be clean again for longer than 15 minutes?  Will anybody else ever clean the bathrooms besides me?  Can I go to bed one night without a mental list of the ways I failed that day?  Why wasn’t I more patient while helping with homework?  Was it really a big deal to read ONE more book?  Why didn’t I just wake up early and get my run in?  Can you really be a Good Mom, a Good Wife, AND feel like your purpose in life is greater than cleaning toilets and packing lunches?

Let me repeat...I realize that none of these things are Actual Problems.  And I know that I will wrap the presents, make a coffee cake and pack everybody for a fun-filled week with the Grandparents.  My kids will wake up to a wonderful Christmas and even though they are too young to really realize how very lucky the are, they will feel happy and loved and maybe a bit spoiled.  Every child should feel all of those things.  Especially on Christmas.  Things will get done.  Maybe not perfectly.  Maybe not on time.  You might get a Happy New Year card instead of a Merry Christmas card...but you’ll get a damn card, okay?  But, I’m going to try to give myself a break.  I’m not Susie Homemaker.  I’m not Career Connie.  I’m just Me.  I think most of us are sitting right there in the middle, trying to figure out where we should land.  I haven’t quite figured it out.  But...I’m working on it.

And hey...when all else fails...at least I have champagne.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


One of the very best things about being a parent is experiencing life through your young one’s eyes and reliving all the best moments of being a child. For me, there are no greater examples of this joy than at Christmas time.  Yeah yeah yeah...I know...Christmas is stressful.  It’s expensive.  I never know exactly who I’m supposed to tip and how much I’m supposed to give and, come to think of it, am I supposed to tip my mail carrier because I don’t think I ever have and that lady Does.Not.Like.Me.  But...besides Christmas bringing out even more reasons for me to feel inadequate (I mean...have you ever been to a Michaels?  People, apparently, like make their own wreaths.  And ornaments.  And bake things in the shape of a tree or a Santa or a sled), I do love the holiday season.  I like the red Starbucks cup.  I like the music.  I like the libations.  But what I like the most is believing in Santa again.

Because, in the Gelato House, we BELIEVE in Santa.  With a five and three year old in residence, we are in the throes of the Santa years.  There is no question.  There is no doubt.  There is a man who really likes the color red who lives at the top of the world and makes toys and flies on a magic sled led by reindeer and delivers presents to all the GOOD boys and girls in one single night.  Whatever explanation I care to give as to why Santa can still enter our home even though we do not have a chimney is blindly believed.  Hello...Santa is magic.  (‘Magic’ pretty much covers everything, by the way.)  

But the best part about Santa?  He is Always.Watching.  It’s not me who is the judge of your behavior for the next 6 weeks...it’s The Big Guy and he does not mess around.  You want to ninja kick your sister in the head?  Hmmm...what would Santa think about that?  Oh, we’re going to roll around on the floor and protest the very idea of a bath?  Well, guess what?  Santa likes clean children.  And while Santa loves a good cookie, he would never complain about eating his peas.  He might even say thank you.  Just a thought.  

I realize that one day I will no longer have the option of using Santa as a way to control my children and will instead have to like, parent them, but...I think I have a few good years left and I intend to use them to my advantage.  After all, I waited almost 20 years for the chance to believe in Santa again and you know what?  He’s still worth the wait.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Falling back...

I must confess, I like the benefits of daylight savings.  I like to wake up when the sun is out.  When it’s still dark at 7 am, my body protests the very IDEA that it must depart the cozy bed, face Offspring’s Morning Meltdowns, whip up Trash-Free, Organic, Tasty, Creative Lunches, try not to throw evil dart eyes at Husband as he sits at the edge of the counter READING THE PAPER WHILE THE WORLD IS APPARENTLY ENDING IN THE PLAYROOM, repeat myself maayybeee 700 times and eventually make it out the door, with Children, lunches, snacks, backpacks, shoes on, hair possibly brushed, teeth hopefully brushed and oh crap I forgot to put sunscreen on you again.  

So, the sun being out by 6 am...it puts a little pep in my step.  It makes me happy.  And the evenings falling darker earlier...I don’t really mind that, either.  It makes me feel cozy.  It’s really the only thing that is the equivalent to snow at Christmas around here.  I’m just a girl from Iowa, and although it’s been many years since I’ve lived there, the rhythm of the seasons changing have never quite left my body clock.  The dark park at 5 pm reminds me that Fall is here and it’s comforting.  

When I was young, oh so young, and child free, Fall Back simply meant an extra hour of sleep and that was pretty great.  But now that I’m a parent, the day of Fall Back is simply known as The Longest Day of the Year.  Where I was once a care-free ladida extra hour of sleep person, I am now a parent, looking at my watch in disbelief, unable to comprehend that IT’S NOT EVEN 8 AM YET?  How is that even possible?  How did this one hour of ‘extra sleep’ (HHAHAHAHA!  That’s hilarious!!) somehow add at least 6 hours to my morning?  Why can’t The Offspring obey the natural laws of Fall Back?  Why must they wake up and demand pancakes at 5:25 am?  And here we are, a week later, and Fall Back is still kiinnddd of kicking my ass.  6 am is still the new 7 am and each afternoon as I think it must be time to start winding this day down...I should probably make dinner...let me see...what time is it?  3:30?  3 F*@^*@G 30??  Am I being punked?  Where’s Ashton Kutcher?  

Come springtime though, I’ll get my revenge.  Where, as a young, care free, ladida child- free person, spring forward meant an hour less sleep; but as a parent, we laugh in the face of sleep and, I’m sorry, we’re going to spring this day FORWARD?  Why, YES!  Please DO!  Not only does bedtime come an hour earlier, but so does cocktail hour.  

Win.  Win. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Count Your Blessings...

So, in case you didn’t know, I have two Children: Son, who is almost 6 and Daughter, who is 3 and a half.  (Going on 13.  She’s totally getting her period.  I’m sure of it.  That would explain so much.)   Having two healthy, happy children is a blessing.  A huge blessing.  Some days I have to remind myself of this as my two little blessings are toying with my mental sanity....and I just repeat to myself...Blessing.  Blessing.  Blessing.  But that being said, they are getting to an age where the light at the end of the tunnel starts to burn your eyes just a teeny tiny little bit.  They’re more independent.  They can get their own snack.  Play by themselves.  Brush their own teeth.  It’s these little things that make a huge difference in a parent’s life.  To not be so needed all the time; not that being needed by a child is a bad thing...it’s just all consuming...and until you start to eek out of those first few years of a child’s life...you don’t realize how needed you were.  

This being needed thing has been on my mind lately because it’s no secret to those who know me that I kinda sorta maybe think I possibly maybe kinda want another baby.  Maayyybbeee.  But, maybe not.  Ohhh....babies.  They are so sweet. And little.  And fresh.  Sure, they wake you up a lot, but it’s usually not too complicated to get them to settle down.  Feed them.  Hold them.  Love them.  They haven’t learned to use their armpit and hand as a farting machine.  In fact, they don’t even think that farts are funny, only that they feel better once they do fart.  They haven’t yet learned the sassier side of the English language; don’t know how to talk back; don’t know how to use a black sharpie as a weapon.  When a baby cries out, nobody stares at you in judgement; they simply keep oohing and ahhing and, oh, isn’t that baby so cute when he cries?  Babies.  Are.  Wonderful.

But when I think of having another baby, I have such mixed emotions.  Of course, I would never regret having a child, but, the third time around, you go in with eyes wide open.  The pregnancy.  The diapers.  The sleep schedule.  The breastfeeding.  That phase where your back is in constant pain from the hunch of holding little hands as they learn to walk.  (But, what a sweet pain it is.)  Just thinking about it is kind of exhausting. Do I want to do that again?  I think I do.  No.  I don’t.  I’m not sure.  Which means the door is open.  Unless it’s closed.  But there is a crack.  Do I slip through the crack or do I just keep peeking in?  I mean, The Offspring are doing nothing but getting older, same as their Mama.  What would it be like to have two in school and a newborn?  Would it be lovely?  Would it be more difficult?  Do I jump back in?  Do I want to do it All.Over.Again?  Yes.No.Yes.No.Yes.No.Yes.  

Clearly, I’m a very decisive person.

As I look at women with newborn babies, I try to remember that eventually that tiny, little, sweet, babbling baby will learn how to speak.  Loudly.  And scream NO! while snot and tears collect in a puddle on your freshly laundered shirt.  And those first few years of being so needed...they are hard.  But they are magical.  Most importantly I must remember that watching a child grow is a gift.  A privilege.  So for now...my two blessings keep me feeling very busy...very tired...but extremely lucky.  

And let’s be honest; sometimes I still really...need...my mom.  I guess that never really goes away.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Can I Get A Volunteer?

I may have once or twice mentioned the following facts:

1.) Walking into a room of strangers causes me great discomfort.
2.) This discomfort often causes me to swear while telling inappropriate stories.
3.) Moms scare me.

So imagine my level of anxiety as I walked into a room overrun with moms, most of them strangers, all of them appearing waaayyyy more savvy and smart and put together than me. I’m pretty sure the moment I walked into the room, I dropped an F bomb.  To myself, of course.  Nobody was talking to me.  (Because I was hiding in the corner like a scared little kitten.)  What was the purpose of this gathering, you may ask?  Well, here’s something that if you don’t have kids you may not know: the pressure to volunteer at your kids’ school, especially if you’re a Stay At Home Mom Who Clearly Has Nothing To Do But Work Out, is overwhelming.  I understand the need for the volunteers.  There’s no money, there’s not enough teachers, there’s too many kids, but sometimes it feels like a competition of Who Can Be The BEST Mom?  Who Has Their Shit TOGETHER?  And I often feel like I do not have my shit together...that everyone is in on something that I’m missing out on.  (It’s a lot like those awkward middle school years, come to think of it.)  But I’ve gone...light...on the volunteering in the past years, so I decided that I needed to step it up this year.  First year of kindergarten and all.  Can’t just spend all my time at the gym in Lululemon for goodness sake.  So, I took that number 2 pencil and I put my name down on that list and then there I was...at an Enrichment workshop with a couple hundred other moms where we were to be taught how to teach art to kids.  (Because, you know, kids don’t get art.  Or music.  Or gym.  Or anything that is fun and extremely beneficial to the rest of their lives.)

Walking into that room felt like the first day at a new school where everyone knows each other and you feel invisible.  I had to give myself a pep talk and man up.  Or Mom up, rather.  I strolled around, grabbed a cup of coffee, found my table.  I sat down, introduced myself to the woman sitting across from me and immediately began lamenting to her my insecurities in a curse-riddled monologue.  Lucky for me, she did not seem offended, she laughed, and caught me up on what exactly it was I was volunteering for.  As the table filled, it was obvious that most of these women were familiar with each other; they had older kids; they had been around the block; but I fell into an easy conversation with them because, as I had to remind myself, this is MY TRIBE.  This is not scary. These Moms are not scary.  I can volunteer.  I will figure out where that “shed” is with all my “supplies” are and I will teach the kids art.  I WILL BE OKAY.   

And while I will again experience anxiety as I walk into a room full of strange five year olds (I will do my very very best not to curse), I’ll just look to my own personal tribe, my Son, beaming with joy that his mom is there.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kindergarten Blues

Kindergarten.  A milestone event for any child; a not to be missed photo opportunity.  A day where parents stand proudly, with tears in their eyes, strapping crisp backpacks on to small backs.  Children stand nervously, not quite knowing what is about to hit them. A patient teacher tells you it’s time to leave and 5 year old sweaty hands release their grip and walk bravely into the unknown.  Mom and Dad watch, swallowing the lump in their throats, until the door is closed and then slowly shuffle away, hand in hand, marveling at how fast the time goes and secretly fearing the homework packet that will surely take over their lives. 

Unless your My Son. 

If you’re my Son, you prefer to temporarily go insane and cling yourself to my body, or perhaps try to climb back into it, only to peeled off by a nice lady who’s very job it is to deal with these...special...cases, and scream out MAMA! with your arm out, as if it will be a lifetime, and not just a few hours, until those little eyes are reconnected with mine.  Husband slowly backs away with Daughter, for surely she is taking notes on How To Act On The First Day Of Kindergarten, but she would do it louder and with more...flair and the very thought sends shivers down my spine.  Parents stood around me, nodding their heads, feeling badly for us, yes, but also thinking, Holy Crap I’m So Happy That’s Not Me.  There was no picture.  There was no walk off with a trickle of tears.  There was only chaos, screaming, and psychologists standing by.  (For me or Son, I’m not sure.)

When it was over, I felt like someone had beat the crap out of me.  I cried.  A lot.  I felt helpless.  And then I felt an arm around me.  A mother who I did not know, comforting me.  Familiar and strange faces alike gathered round me, their eyes filled with genuine concern and kindness; their words encouraging and asking me how can they help?  My phone rang and beeped all day, mothers and friends calling me, giving support, advice. A playdate was arranged with a new classmate for that very night, in hopes that the next day would be easier.  These women, these Mothers, may think that their gestures were small and insignificant, but they inspired me.  They made me realize that it really does take a village.  We stumble along this motherhood thing, trying to figure it out and make the right decisions along the way, but we need each other. We need to lift each other up and lend a hand.  To be strong for one when another is weak.  Because being a Mother is hard, hard work.  Joyfully hard.  And we don’t need to do it alone.  We just need to look to our left or to our right and realize a tribe surrounds us. A Mom Tribe.  

It’s been over a week now since that First Day and I’m happy to say that Son skipped off to school this morning, right alongside his new friends.  I watched him disappear into the classroom, the door closing as tears filled my eyes and I sauntered slowly off...marveling at just how fast the time has gone.  I may not have a photo of him smiling nervously on the first day of school, but what I got is better than that.  

I got a Tribe.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Church Camp

Summer is in full swing here in Gelato Land and as much as I’d like to lie in the grass and watch the clouds float by, we don’t have any grass and they only thing I can watch here at the beach is the fog rolling in.  Again.  So after a couple weeks of being blissfully bored and lazy, it was absolutely time to have someone else entertain Offspring.  For at least a few hours.
Enter: Church Camp.
I’m not sure why some of my friends...laughed...when I said my kids were hitting up Church Camp.  Granted, Son did one time ask if Jesus and Chuck E. Cheese’s were the same thing.  And then, of course, there was the time I attempted to explain the meaning of Christmas to him and he walked away believing Jesus and Santa were brothers, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God or talk to my kids about Him.  Daughter requests a prayer each night before dinner and while she usually thanks God first and foremost for tic-tacs, she is praying.  I must have done something right.  After all, I was raised Catholic.  For years, my Wednesday nights were spent at CCD instead of watching 90210 like every other kid my age- but because of that TOTAL INJUSTICE...I don’t remember...everything...those lovely teachers talked about.  But I do appreciate the fact that I had a foundation to build my beliefs on and while I swear, really, that one of these Sundays the Gelato Family will start going to church, I am more than happy in the meantime to scoot my kids over to a specially designed camp run by highly energetic, seemingly impossibly happy people who did backflips of joy at the opportunity to share their love of God with my children.  I was also doing backflips of joy at the prospect of three solo hours. 
But Church Camp had a little slick trick up their sleeve. Church Camp was on to me.  Church Camp knew that there would be moms out there like me who were more than willing to sign up for Church Camp simply because it was cheap.  Like super cheap.  Like ‘a pair of shoes from Target’ cheap.  So what Church Camp conveniently didn’t mention about the price of admission was that it included your very own copy of Church Camp’s Greatest Hits.  And that each song is played at Church Camp with it’s very own dance moves.  Isn’t that just fantastic?  Church Camp knew that no child can resist an infectious beat paired with sign-language inspired dance moves.  Church Camp knew that as soon as my kids saw that shiny little compact disc, they would relentlessly ask to play play play it louder louder louder until the only thing I’m praying to God about is to Make.It.Stop.Please.  Church Camp knew that if I were to reject an invitation to have an impromptu dance party to their Greatest Hits, I would be Judged and deemed a Mean Mommy.  So I listen.  And I dance.  And I think...
Well played, Church Camp.  Well played.
All joking aside, The Offspring totally loved Church Camp.  And I was grateful to be sending them to a place where everyone was so...nice.  Really, really...almost like really? nice.  And turns out, I do need to brush up on my Bible stories as I still can’t figure out why Son came home with a box of Irish Spring soap one day.  And PS-what is IN Irish Spring soap as my entire home, while not being very big, smelled like a leprechaun for 3 days.
So...maybe it wouldn’t kill me to buy a Children’s Bible and talk about Jesus in a way that doesn’t involve me cursing.  The Lord...he really does work in mysterious ways.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pregnant Pause

Four days ago, I was kind of pretty sure that I was pregnant.  This morning, Mother Nature, along with two negative pregnancy tests, have assured me that I am not pregnant.  Today, I am equal parts relieved and sad by confirmation of no bun in oven.    
It all started 37 days ago when a Certain Good Friend was all...you don’t keep track of your period?  (Yeah. Girls talk about their PERIODS, okay?)  And I was all, um, no.  It just comes. I get cranky, I get bloated, I get a zit, I cry a lot, and then It comes. It’s never not come...oh....except for that one unexpected time when It didn’t come..now referred to as FIRST BORN.  
The point is, I decided, 37 days ago, that maybe Certain Good Friend was right.  It really wouldn’t take too much of an effort to just make a mark in my calendar when I got It, even though that would mean finding a pen, and a calendar.  Which I did and so I did. 
And then, I’m sitting around, feeling cranky, bloated, and sad about the zit on my chin when I realize, oh...well, It must be coming.  Any day now.  It should be happening.  Hmmm.  Why isn’t it happening?    Where is that calendar?  Maybe I should count the days.  31?  31 days?  No.  Let me count again.  31.  Hmmm.  Found out I was pregnant with Daughter at 32 days.  No.  I can’t be!  With a .01% chance?  Impossible.  (Practically.)
Day 32.  Day 33.  Day 34.  Day 34 I feel nauseous.  I was dragging on my run.  I had a headache.  OH SHIT I’M TOTALLY PREGNANT.
Here, a sampling of thoughts that were spinning right round baby right round the duration of Day 34:
Oh, a baby!  I love babies.  I want a baby.  Yeah!  A baby.
How will Son and Daughter take it?
I’m doomed.
Oh, God, Husband might pass out.
Good. Lord.
I always said I wanted another one.
I do want another one.  Do I want one right now?  
Oh, crap.
Oh, God, I don’t want to have to lose all that weight again.
Such a fun summer planned.
Damn it.
Now a sober summer.  BOO sober summer!
The playroom will have to go back to a nursery.
It was so nice to have that room as a playroom.
Damn it.
I love babies.  I want a baby.
But I just got my mojo back.  A baby, although one that will surely be a beautiful genius, will totally kill my mojo for at least one year.
I liked my mojo.
Goodbye mojo.
Hello leaky boobs and sleepless nights.
I need a drink.
Evening 34: Husband bought pregnancy test and heartburn medicine.  Test: negative.  Oh.  
Day 35: second test.  Negative.  Really?
Day 36: Waiting.
Day 37: It arrives.  Doesn’t even apologize for being tardy.  Just shows up, like, oh yeah...sorry about that, lady.  Happens sometimes.  Get over it. (Yeah, my period is totally a dude.  Obviously.)
So, now I’m getting over it.  Summer plans resumed.  Thoughts of cooing baby pushed out of mind.  And then realized that I DO want another baby...but I could wait a couple of years.  And also, Husband didn’t pass out when confronted with possible third child. Didn’t have anxiety.  Gave me a hug and said, it would be wonderful.  
It will be wonderful.  One day.
And Husband...Husband is wonderful.
And, most likely, relieved.  For now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hollywood or Bust

I’ve been driving a lot lately. Normally, my daily driving is confined to a 3 mile radius, but due to a play I’m acting in and also my attempt to Contribute Financially by convincing someone to hire me to sell toilet paper, this Gelato Mama’s Volvo has been burning up the freeway with several weekly trips to Hollywood and back.  Actually, that’s a lie.  As if I would ever take the freeway to get anywhere in LA.   At about 45 minutes each way, Volvo and I have been getting to know each other again after years of being forced to share our time together with Little Children, while, although they are quite cute and charming, have been known to inflict severe stress and harm upon car and driver.   But, aside from the ulcer I have developed from the seemingly constant need for last minute childcare due to last minute notification of opportunity to sell toilet paper, the driving...well...it’s not so bad.  It’s quiet and peaceful.  And I can listen to songs with bad words.
It was on these solo drives that I realized just how completely and totally distracted I usually am while driving with the Offspring and perhaps, juuusstt perhaps, the act of parenting while driving should be deemed illegal as it is likely more dangerous than texting and driving, which here in California, is illegal.  Don’t believe me?  Consider, while in the car with Offspring, the following is happening:  
Besides being threatened with a complete breakdown by Daughter if she doesn’t get a GREEN! and an ORANGE! tic tac within 1.7 seconds of asking, I am simultaneously watching the road,  searching for a snack in my Mary Poppins purse, singing a song while playing ‘I Spy’, threatening to turn this car around, reaching directly behind me to grab water thermos from toddler before it is thrown at my head...not to mention that I’m trying to focus on my kegals and squeeze in a few abdominal contractions.  Pair this with fact one or both of my children are trying to get away using the words Poop, Pee Pee, and Fart as frequently as possible, usually singing it out the wide open windows, and you may start to get the idea that I might be a teensy- weensy- bit distracted while driving.
But, the good news is that I have a solution to the Distracted Parents Driving Problem: all cars should be equipped with a sliding window that divides the front seat from the back seat.  You know, like in a limo.  Or a police car.  Whichever one of those you happen to frequent most.  Do I even have to sell this idea?  No, I don’t.  But I will anyway.
Imagine this scenario: You are on the way to Target with the Small Children.  Once safely buckled up and on the way, Small Children ask for water.  Well, Small Children, Mama didn’t bring water.  You’ll have to wait until we get to Target.  Now, instead of listening to the declarations from Small Children of torture and thirst that they are being forced to endure on the 5 minute car ride to said destination, Mama can just clllooooose that window up and peacefully make her way to the Mecca of Target without issuing a single threat.  Yes, with just the simple zip of a window, you have not only increased your mental stability but decreased your chances of not seeing that asshole who cut you off in his fancy 7 Series BMW.  DON’T YOU KNOW I HAVE CHILDREN IN HERE, MAN?  And if you still happen to get cut off by impatient drivers, feel free to curse out loud because no little ears can hear you.  Win.Win.Win.  It's possible that I may have also just solved world peace with this little idea because, as we all know...if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  And this...this little dividing window could make Mama very...very...happy.

Now...onto my next mission: who wants to watch my kids on Friday?  I need to drive to Hollywood and convince someone I’m the perfect face to sell...toilet paper. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Camp: Bored

Ahhhh....did you hear?  Summer is upon us.  In just a few short weeks, the aisles of Target will be crammed with hyper children.  Trips to Trader Joe’s will become less pleasurable and more contact sport.  And the sanity of mothers everywhere falls slowly, but surely, from Somewhat Intact to Holding On By A Thread.  At first, the seduction of summer sucks you in.  A break from the every day “let’s go let’s go let’s go let’s go get your shoes on get your shoes on get your shoes on get your shoes on” is a welcome one.  After all, long, lazy summer days are pretty much the greatest thing about being a kid.  That and unlimited amounts of ice cream, obviously.  But how quickly we forget in those first few weeks of laziness that summer is not over Until. September.  
My kids are still pretty young, so I’m used to spending MASS AMOUNTS OF TIME with them, but I’ve been giving myself a pep talk to prepare for school-less summer days.  I have visions of sleeping past 630, enjoying morning coffee on the porch while Offspring play lovingly with each other, sharing and giggling.  Then we all sit down together and decide what is it we want to do today?  Shall we hit the beach?  Perhaps a museum?  Ride scooters downtown?  Nobody fights, everybody is tan, and getting in the car is a rare occurrence.  
My visions are rudely interrupted by reality.
See, I have a Five Year Old now.  And Five Year Olds apparently aren’t allowed to just sit around and do nothing all summer.  Five year olds are aggressively engaged in the local Summer Competitive Sport of: HOW MANY SUMMER CAMPS CAN YOU AFFORD?  also known as: WHY HAVEN’T YOU SIGNED UP YET? possibly you are more familiar with: YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TO BE A RESIDENT, RIGHT?  or even: YOUR KID IS SO SCREWED AND WILL NEVER GET INTO COLLEGE IF YOU DON’T PUT HIM IN 14 CAMPS THIS SUMMER.  And, my favorite: WE CAN’T DO CAMP THAT WEEK BECAUSE WE’LL BE IN HAWAII.  
Seriously, can we bring it down a notch?  I’m having heart palpitations just thinking about the fact that I came thisclose to not getting Son into the “cheap” beach camp.  I have only my kind, thoughtful, more organized friends to thank for reminding me that I needed to register Son ASAP or else I would surely have had to donate either my arm, leg, or $500 to get him in at a later time.  This whole summer camp thing stresses me out.   My kids are so far from being over-scheduled it might embarrass those more mighty than me.  This isn’t out of laziness or ignorance, it’s just that...like...when did parenting become so...competitive?  Why are we expected to fill fill fill the time up?  Will my kids really be better people if they spend all of their time away from me, being shuffled from activity to activity, eating healthy, organic, homemade snacks in the car?  I say no.  No.
I, for one, just want to slow down during summer.  After all, we have the entire school year to feel rushed, to feel like we’re always missing something, to feel guilty about not signing your kid up for...something; during the eight weeks of summer, can we just...live?  My memories of summer as a kid growing up in Iowa are nothing but happy; sure, there were days when I was bored, but oh my, how lovely it was to be BORED!  To lay in the grass and think thoughts; to ride my bike nowhere for hours; to put on a rollerskating show for no one in particular...how lucky I was to learn how to enjoy being by myself.  Are kids even allowed to be bored these days?  Stimulation is everywhere and we are all guilty of putting a smartphone in front our kids’ faces from time to time instead of letting them just...be.  Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m actually the smartest one in the room, but as a parent, I am going to do my best to be bored with my kids this summer.  After all, it’s only a matter of time before they will start choosing their friends over me, and I want to make sure that they have had the proper amount of time to not do anything but eat ice cream, play in the hose and think that their mom is like, the coolest cat around.  After all, what do I have to lose?  Sanity?  Ha.  I laugh in the face of sanity. 
So, make sure to give the Gelato Family a call this summer if you feel like doing nothing.  We’re sure to be experts come September.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Burp Cloth Blues

The other day I got the urge to clean out the hall closet.  When these kind of urges strike, I must abandon all other plans before losing motivation because once I start...I cannot stop.  The Gelato Family tends to get a tad nervous when I get in these purging moods; nothing is safe, not too much is sacred and I am usually in a somewhat...aggressive mood because it’s safe to say that the need to purge came from picking up everyone else’s crap all the time.  You don’t want to pick it up?  Neither do I.  Let’s just trash it, shall we?
There I was, happily dumping old towels, random pillowcases, that big, scented bar of soap we all have for no apparent reason, old bottles of medicine, but I stopped in my tracks when I came across a single, oh-so-adorable, brown polka-dotted burp cloth.  I had a flashback of the last time I cleaned out this closet and came across the same burp cloth and after much deliberation, decided I could not throw it out.  This burp cloth, apparently, is my kryptonite, and I cannot bring myself to put it in a bag made for trash.
I sat down on the floor and gingerly picked up the burp cloth.  I held it in my hands, turning it over and over, as if searching for some sign of the life it used to occupy...like a flash of my newborn son would be shown upon it.  I am suddenly 7 months pregnant, sitting on a chair at my first baby shower, surrounded by a pile of mysterious things, each item, each little teeny-tiny thing, a symbol of new life, new hope, new expectations.  Opening the package of burp cloths, I imagined using them and slinging them over my shoulder and wouldn’t I look oh- so- great with not only the world’s most beautiful child, but also a very stylish burp cloth?  Clearly I had this baby thing all figured out.
The life of a burp cloth, however, is not a pretty one.  Especially when said beautiful child happens to randomly spit up, oh, hundreds of times a day.  By day ten of newborn’s life, it doesn’t really matter if you are cleaning throw up with a fancy burp cloth, your husband's t-shirt that he may or may not be wearing, or that leaf that luckily landed beside you while sitting outside because HOW COULD I FORGET TO PUT A BURP CLOTH IN THIS VERY LARGE DIAPER BAG?  It may be shocking, but turns out that having fancy burp cloths, expensive baby clothes or, good Lord, a thousand dollar stroller, actually makes no difference in how much you love your baby or your ability to care for him.  In fact, those things can kind of make you look like an asshole sometimes.
I’m not quite sure what it is about this particular baby item that makes my heart beat a little faster.  Over the years, I have purged loads of baby clothing, toys, hooded towels, blankets...you just can’t keep everything no matter how it breaks a tiny piece of your heart to throw it out.  I guess my brown polka-dotted burp cloth is a survivor, just like I was all those years ago when I had absolutely no idea what motherhood had in store for me.  It was there for Son, it was there for Daughter, and it should have a chance to be there for a possible...round three.  (Husband just had an anxiety attack reading that sentence.)  
So for now, I keep it again.  I know that one day it will be put in a box with other treasured baby keepsakes, and when I am feeling time slip by too quickly and say things like, Oh, I remember that age, I will crack open that box and cry.  And there will be my burp cloth, waiting to wipe my sentimental, old lady tears away.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rules of Rest(room)

I’m going to go ahead and give a fair warning here; I will be cursing in this post.  I’ve been trying to be more ladylike and watch my language, but sometimes, certain things cannot help but bring out the truck driver in me.  (I will, however, keep it PG-13.)  I think you’ll agree with me as you read on.  Because the question of the day is:
This is a universal issue we need to address.  Frankly, if I needed to use the facilities for 20 minutes a pop multiple times a day, I might think about seeing a doctor.   I won’t pretend I don’t know what you’re doing in there: catching up on some reading, escaping reality, pretending you don’t hear the cries, maybe...other things, but, really, we’re going to have to lay down some ground rules if you gentleman are going to continue to need so many potty breaks.  I’ll do the honors.  
You do not get to lock the door.  If The Offspring get to barge in on me at any moment, you do not have the right anymore to request “privacy.”  (I just laughed thinking about privacy.)  Hey guys-ever changed a tampon while your three and five year old are watching?  Yeah.  Didn’t think so.
Sports or Business section, not both.  I’m lucky if I get to read my horoscope, which is only three sentences long.  One bathroom session=one newspaper section.
Pick the damn paper up when you are done and put it in the damn recycling bag.  I like sports, but I am not going to read about them.  And I have enough to feel anxious about, so I’m certainly not going to loiter away precious minutes reading the Business section.  I’m pretty sure your intentions were not to leave the paper in the bathroom for me in case I needed some reading material for my 45 second bathroom session, but if it was-NO THANK YOU.  I will love you more if you just PUT.IT.AWAY.   (This is actually true about most things: laundry, dishes, your bath towel, shoes...and so on...and so on...)
Any shared reading material is Off Limits.  Gross.  Ryan Gosling’s picture in Vanity Fair will never be same to me if I know he was in there, sharing a session with you.  And your iPad has waaayyyy more apps than my mine because YOU HAVE SO MUCH TIME TO READ APPARENTLY, so why do you need my piddly iPad?  Let’s just leave my iPad out of the bathroom, shall we?
Needing to use the restroom is no longer a valid excuse to not deal with Whiny Children.  Hold it.  Yeah.  You heard me.  HOLD IT.  Guess what?  I have to pee, too.  I usually have to pee.  I kind of have to pee right now.  But I need to wrap this up, get to the post office and the library before picking up Precious Cargo at school, so I’m going to go ahead and hold it a bit longer.  And I’m pretty sure if our children can hold it for 12-18 hours, (or that one time when a certain Son held it for five days...) you can hold it for just a few more minutes while the Little Children realize that their world is not ending.  I’m fairly confident you will not have an accident.
Listen, I’m not trying to take away your bathroom breaks, I’m just trying to find a way to make them less annoying.  Isn’t that what relationships are all about?  Compromise?  Granted, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you what the compromises are, but, hey, you never know what kind of...mood...I could get in if certain compromises are met.  In a former life, massages and candles and champagne were romantic, but in present life, not seeing the newspaper on the bathroom sink just might be enough to do it for me.  
And you wouldn’t want me to cancel our newspaper subscription, would you?
Didn’t think so.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dr. Doom

It’s almost that time again.  Time to sweat a little.  Time to question all the choices you made in the last six months.  Time to wonder why you just didn’t take that extra minute each night to get certain tasks done.  Yes; it’s time to take Son to the dentist for the fun game doctors everywhere love to play: How Good of a Parent Are You? For those of you who may not be familiar with the guilt trip accompanied by visiting any medical office pertaining to your children’s health, let me fill you in.  
Here in Gelato Land, we can’t WAIT to visit the dentist!  There are VIDEO GAMES!  MOVIES!  TOYS TOYS TOYS!  And of course, the token GINORMOUS FISH TANK!  It’s like a Wonderland of everything your pediatrician advises you to set limitations on.  But the dentist isn’t worried about the pediatrician.  The dentist has plenty of other things to make you feel bad about.
Like flossing.  
You will be interrogated.  And as your children get older, the medical professional interrogates you through your child.  Of course they don’t ask ME the questions because clearly I would lie and present myself as the perfect parent.  These people aren’t fools; they realize kids don’t know they are supposed to lie about flossing yet.  As the hygienist lets Son choose between 57 flavors of toothpaste and very thoughtfully asks him if he would like sunglasses on for his cleaning, I brace myself and send a telepathic message to Son begging him to please not throw me under the bus.  While she cheerily chirps away asking Son how often he brushes, how much juice does he drink, are his vitamin’s gummy or crunchy, does Mommy help you floss, do you think you’re well-adjusted, what colleges are you thinking about, how much TV do you get to watch, do you like vegetables, do you eat dinner together as a family...I just sit there and laugh nervously while tiny beads of sweat pop out under my arms and roll my eyes at his answers...like, oh...kids.  Yes of COURSE we floss each and every day and Harvard has been calling because they can’t believe the amazing hygiene this five year old boy has and did you know he has been accepted to the class of 2028?  Then I whisper a silent prayer pleasenocavities pleasenocavities pleasenocavities because I HAVE ENOUGH TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT, OKAY?  It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have healthy teeth and gums, it’s just that sometimes at the end of the day, I want them to go to bed more.  So until I go all Alpha Mom on flossing, I’m going to have to rely on my superior dental genes and hope that it got passed on to my kids.  I mean, I did basically not visit a dentist for at least five years...those years when you have not one penny to your name and certainly not dental insurance...and my teeth not only survived but thrived.  (Except for that one tooth I had to pull out. R.I.P.) 
Just go ahead and accept that each trip to the dentist or doctor is a friendly reminder that, yeah, you could be doing things a liiiittle bit better.  As a mother, I already live with great amounts of guilt about what I did do, didn’t do, should do, want to do, feel bad for thinking about doing...just go ahead and add that I suck because I can’t seem to floss my kids’ teeth every night.  I’m going to be okay with that right now.   And, fingers crossed, so will The Offspring's teeth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Booby Trap

I’m pretty sure that if you are a woman who has grown a child or two or three inside of your body, you have once or twice perhaps mentioned ways in which those pregnancies have forever ruined certain body parts.  When I was pregnant with Son, varicose veins started popping out of my leg and they frightened me.  When I was pregnant with Daughter, those veins only got larger and larger and they frightened not only me, but poor, unsuspecting strangers who couldn’t help but stare and ask me, What is happening to your leg?  THE MAGIC OF LIFE, LADY.  Leave me alone.  The sole benefit of the veins, which strangely only popped out on my right leg, was that I had On Demand Leg Rubbing from Husband.  Much to my relief, and I’m sure Husband’s, the veins did chill out after birth and although they still exist, I can now wear shorts in public without scaring old ladies before they tell me to put some socks on my kids.
But the unsightly veins were not the only thing to disappear.  Down went the veins and down went the boobs.  Yep...after ballooning up for nine months, then another nine months or so of being swollen, tender, and leaky, the boobs...well, they just...slowly deflated.  At first you think it must be your imagination. You look this way in the mirror, you look that way in the mirror...the boobs are still there, right?  But then, one day while standing in line at Trader Joe’s, you feel your Godforsaken Strapless Bra...sliding...slowly down your body.  And then you start to notice how all of your bras suddenly seem so big.  And then you have a pity party for yourself as you lament to your girlfriends and your Husband about how it’s just not FAIR that the reward for bearing and breastfeeding children is NOT those wonderful big breasts that grew during pregnancy, but instead, these small, almost apologetic boobs that have replaced them.  The only hope of having boobs again is to just go ahead and get pregnant.  And that just seems selfish.  Not to mention messy. 
So instead of getting knocked up, you shuffle over to the Lingerie Department where some Perky Bra Girl with too much makeup on will measure you and gently pat you on the back while you cry.  She then proceeds to inform you about amazing bra technology and uses words like ‘padded’ and ‘lift’ a little too frequently.  After handing you the three bras she managed to find in your size, she reminds you that you can always special order online, then closes the door and laughs. 
Standing there in the dressing room, a neon sign seems to flash across the mirror screaming BOOB JOB!  BOOB JOB!  BOOB JOB!  And for a few moments, it seems completely reasonable.  I mean, why not?  Why shouldn’t we all have perky, happy boobs? After all, I’m not asking for some Pamela Anderson, Real Housewife Boob Action; just your every day, round, bouncy, boob action.  I want my boobs to fill out a t-shirt, not my amazingly padded, lifted bra.  Don’t I deserve that?  Don’t we all deserve that?
Although I’m sure Husband would agree that perky, happy boobs would be fun, a boob job is very, very, very low on the list of priorities...if it even exists at all. (Besides, I would totally get those veins sucked out of my legs before anything else.)  So instead of getting down on myself about the boobs or the veins or the stretch marks or that bit of belly fat that refuses to budge...I will try to remember that all of my imperfections are simply a reminder of my two perfections...my children.  And let’s face it, I’d give up not only my boobs, but my life, for those two little people.