What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What the Elf?

I’m going to skip the mushy love stuff this time and get right get the point: I, Gelato Mama, hereby do declare we come together as a community and rid our lives of The Elf on a Shelf. When did Santa stop being enough for our Children? Here you will find my persuasive argument:

Santa has been around for centuries. This is true because I read it on the internet when I googled “How Long Has Santa Been Around?” How long has Elf been around? Barely a decade. A decade of middle of the night panic attacks, creepy, competitive hiding spots and countless four letter words directed toward That Lady Who Did This To Us. 

Santa was a Saint. He gave to people less fortunate than he. He was a kind man who liked Mothers; he didn’t have this weird, twisted need to make Mothers feel badly about themselves if they hate a weird little doll with creepy eyes. Santa’s eyes are crinkly and happy, not all judgey and disapproving like Elf’s.

Elf is seriously over-doing it. Every night, Elf? Every.Damn.Night you need to go and tattle to Santa about what went down in the Gelato House? That’s aggressive. You should totally chill, Elf. Nobody likes a tattletale. Santa simply has sporadic visits here and there, checking in occasionally like a Normal Person because Santa is a forgiving, rational man who knows that Little Children can be assholes sometimes and it’s not always their fault. You were tooootttally teacher’s pet, weren’t you, Elf? Smirking up there in the front of the class.  Pretty sure Santa was voted Most Likely To Succeed.

Elf’s magic only exists if you don’t touch his precious little Elf Self. Oh here, Kids. Here’s a magical little Elf who is friends with Santa! DON’T TOUCH HIM! HE’LL BURN IN ELF HELL!Santa’s Magic knows no bounds. The man can pay a visit to every house in the land in one night, leave gifts and stuff stockings without waking anyone, eat endless amounts of cookies without getting full; I mean….he rolls in a sleigh driven by flying reindeer for God's sake. How can we even compare this? It’s getting embarrassing that Elf is even a thing at all. 

I don’t meant to sound harsh, I just want the simplicity of the belief in Santa to be enough for Our Children. 

It still is for me.
Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

And then He was Ten....

Dear Son,

You’re ten years old now. 10. However you say it, type it, write it…you’re a whole decade old. Wow. That’s really hard to believe. Each new year is hard to believe because to me…as the saying goes…you are still my first baby, my newborn, my toddler, my kindergartner. I have to start accepting that you are also my boy growing into a Young Man. It’s not always easy with you, I’ll have you know. You and I…we… clash more than me and Sister. You challenge me in ways I didn’t know were possible. But you also love me in ways I didn’t know were possible. You still have a desire to pretty much be as close to me as possible, and while sometimes a Mama just wants her space…I take a breath…and try to soak in the moments with your breath in my ear, your weight on my belly, my hand tickling your back. One day you will reject my arms, I know, and retreat to your room and then I’ll go into my room and cry….but I can only hope somehow that these moments will be instilled into your being, as I can still hear the gurgling of my mother’s stomach as I laid my head in her lap and felt her tears fall on my neck as she read us Where The Red Fern Grows. 

You and me, Son….we’re more alike than maybe what’s first suspected by the outside. So often it’s Your Sister who gets the ‘just like Mom’ references…and while that’s true…you and me, we clash because we both pretty much know we’re always right. And when someone DARE suggest otherwise, we both fight till the end to prove our point. You’re much more pointed and less emotional than I; you’re just relentless in your absolute defiance to accept otherwise.(Use these powers for good as you get older, please.)  I get too heated, too teary, I feel it too much and usually take personal offense when I feel alone on my own island. (Which is most of the time.) But that’s okay, Son. You do you. I’ll do me. Because each time the heat starts to rise and the tempers may flare, we always come back to one another. We always come back to that sofa, with your breath in my ear, your weight on my belly, my hand tickling your back. We always come back.

We’ve had a hard year here in the Gelato House. Our hearts have all been hurting. But you keep me going, Son. You keep ready to face the day; you keep a smile on my face, gratitude in my heart, peace in my soul. Sometimes, Life forces us to grow up a little faster than seems fair, but you have handled it all so well while continuing to grow into a Fine Young Man. And while I certainly wish that you could brush your teeth without somehow managing to get toothpaste….pretty much everywhere (how?)….and I could do without the daily reminders to please eat over your plate….and you know where the damn glasses are, get your own water….and for GOD’S SAKE PLEASE STOP FIGHTING WITH YOUR SISTER….you are pretty solid for usually putting your laundry away, taking a shower without first engaging in an epic battle, doing your homework with little complaint and giving me a break on the math because you know I’m just a lost little puppy dog. I have to say thanks for always being respectful to your teachers, kind to your friends, and…only when it really counts…a good buddy to Sister. Because one day, and I know this sounds CRAZY-the two of you really will be good buddies. One day, I hope you both have bustling households filled with love. And, it must be said-may you have one hell of a stubborn Offspring, Son, so Grandma can sit back and smile. And probably laugh. Okay, smirk. I’ll be smirking.

You’re pretty much the greatest thing that every happened to me, Son, because you made me a Mama. (Don’t let that go to your head, though.) And while you were laying on my belly last night giving me an extremely detailed and surprisingly lengthy play by play of a football game that happened 3 years ago, I still saw that baby face looking back up at me. 

I just bet I’ll see it forever.

I love you to the moon and back. And back again. (And again.)

Happy 10th birthday.


Monday, October 3, 2016

I was a little anxious for some reason. A little unsure, a bit worried if I would remember how to… do everything.  I kept telling myself that it was nonsense…it’s just like it always was. It will feel just like it always did. It will feel…like magic. 

And it only took one glance at that magnificent skyline as I drove into the city to know that my anxiety was misplaced; my doubts were foolish. There she was, in all her beauty, always taking all of our breaths away-my favorite place. New York City. 

As my foot touched the pavement when I stepped out into the night, it understood. It knew where we were. It felt as though every day that had passed since my last visit melted away; it didn’t matter. I was back. The whole of my body understood. My soul understood. I know that sounds hopelessly corny, but it’s helplessly true. I felt like I was home. It has alway felt like coming home.

I happen to live in a beautiful place, a Beach Paradise, and I adore it. The sight of the Pacific Ocean each day is equally irreplaceable to the sight of the New York skyline. The sight of My Children with their tanned little bodies so comfortable with the ocean, so pleased with their salty, sandy lips, so happy to be living where most people only vacation, is something this native Iowan girl never takes for granted.  

But that Beach Paradise where I reside does not reside in my soul. It does not get under my skin. I never laid awake as a little girl, night after night, dreaming of this beach life. I laid awake night after night, chasing the chance of New York City. I got my chance and I loved every second of living there. Even in the pouring rain or the freezing snow. In the crunch of Autumn. The sweat of Summer. The sweetness of Spring. I loved it all. It’s not always an easy place to live. It can be dirty and tiring and claustrophobic. Your body longs for space and less movement. Also, New Yorkers can be downright arrogant assholes about their city. They wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. At times you wonder to yourself if they’re even aware that there are many more parts to America than the island of Manhattan. (I have to say though, having lived on each coast, the East and the West are both guilty of this particular crime. The sight of a rolling cornfield on a September day in the bright midwest sun is a glorious thing to behold. Every place has it’s own beauty. All you have to do is pay attention.) 

While in New York last week, I was playfully calling my days there my Pretend Life. After all, I was there alone, my kids were being well taken of, I had no agenda, I had no commitments. I did what I wanted. I had surprise encounters and met interesting people. I saw old friends and current friends. Made some new Instagram friends. I strolled what felt like every block in that city, loving and remembering how each block, each neighborhood has it’s own life; it’s own heartbeat; it’s own routine. I felt playful. I felt sexy. I felt fun. I felt open. I felt strong. I felt confident.  Surely this was Pretend Life. Real Life would be waiting for me soon enough, let me take in this fantasy just a little bit longer. Let me live in this place just a little bit longer….

I drove back to the airport. And as much as I could really, really not wait to see the faces of my Two Beautiful Children, as much as I wanted to feel their arms around me and kiss their sweet cheeks, I started to deflate, bit by bit. Real Life can still be Real Hard right now. I got Real Shit to deal with. Real Life Changing Shit to deal with. I boarded the plane. Real Life was coming back whether I was ready or not. Real tears were filling my eyes. Real anxiety held it’s grip. Stop, I tell myself. I plead with myself. Take this week as what it was-a gift. A true gift. Don’t leave that girl who felt so free and fun and playful in New York. Take her back to the Beach Paradise. It’s okay if you don’t always feel like you belong there, that you’re an outsider looking in. It’s okay if you don’t know what Real Life has in store. It’s okay that you’re taking the long, windy road to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. It’s okay. 

It. Will Be. Okay.

After all, Real Life in Beach Paradise has given me so much. I could never regret being here. I never will. It’d be impossible to ever regret the gifts, the relationships, the experiences I have in my life because of this place. But that sly, little magical place called New York City…well. I will never regret the way it makes me feel. I will never regret having it live in my heart and my soul for…ever. 

It’d be impossible. 

Friday, July 29, 2016


One day at a time. This is what people like to say during trying times in your life. Just take it one day at a time and time heals everything. Really? A whole day? Can we narrow that down, maybe? Like, let’s say…make it until happy hour? Make it there and you’ve been successful. Congratulations. Here’s some rosé. Because for real, let’s face it, sometimes you gotta take things one hour a time. Sometimes, for me, I gotta take it one stoplight at a time. I don’t know what it is but something about sitting and waiting the eternity it takes to make a left on Sepulveda opens the floodgates for me. Maybe it’s the silent hum of the car or the monotonous click of the blinker. Most likely it’s just because I’m a hot mess. But sitting in the car, alone, waiting the 27 minutes for that damn green arrow to come on…fuck. I didn’t know it could ruin me. And the wave of emotion is followed by a wave of anger. A feeling of weakness. I don’t want to cry at stoplights anymore. Why can’t I stop? Why is it so heavy upon me?

But the days that I don’t have aggressive emotional breakdowns at seemingly innocent stoplights, the weeks where I have mostly good days…it feels so good. So, so good.  Like jumping into a cold pool after doing manual labor in 100 degree heat. Like, holy Jesus, how does this feel so good? I want to feel this good! Look at me! I’m feeling good! Like for real! I swear! There’s no crying! There’s no crying at stoplights! There’s just good tunes and the windows down and fresh air. There’s just a sense of lightness. There’s just a feeling of freedom. The shackles came off for the day. For the week. This is the feeling I try to come back to when I’m feeling down. This is the feeling I’m trying to force my body to remember, to have it stamped upon my soul. 

So here we are today. What is today? How am I feeling today? 

I woke up in a quiet house that misses the little feet running up and down it’s hallway. I sat on the sofa in Son’s self proclaimed spot and read the paper. I let my gym buddies lighten my mood in the hot sun of a killer workout. And I swallowed my pain knowing that The Children are going to see their cousins today and I don’t get to be there. And that made me sad. That made me angry. I could feel the shackles tightening against my ankles. I closed my eyes and let out a scream. Silent at first, but then audible, neighbors be damned. Hot tears down my cheeks. A deep breath. I want to scream again, but instead I just breathe again. I feel the shackles loosening. It’s okay. It’s okay, I tell myself. Today will be okay. The Children will have a good day. And I want them too. Of course I do. I want, more than anything, for them to be happy. To feel unburdened by the pain that is surrounding them. 

As Daughter hugged me goodbye this morning, she put her face close to mine and she looked me straight in the eyes. She was checking, as she does. She was looking for the watery eyes. I smiled a big smile. I forcefully instructed my eyes to remain dry and they miraculously agreed. Have a really fun time, I told her. Okay, she said. I love you. I love you, too. I’ll see you tomorrow, I said. I’ll see you tomorrow, she said.




Friday, July 22, 2016

Alone, again

I spent the last ten years of my life fantasizing about trips alone to the grocery store and a night on the sofa solo with popcorn and the Housewives. Dreaming about a quiet afternoon while The Children miraculously have plans with friends at the same time. I spent the last ten years tucking my kids into their beds each night. Ten years of knowing that they were there, right there, in the next room, their presence a peaceful reminder that I’ve done at least two great things in this lifetime. Each day for almost twelve years, I’ve been a wife and a mother. I’ve made a thousand dinners. The doors to this house were always open and I loved that people were always going in and out. Each day for almost 13 years, I had a partner. 

And then one day I was Just Me again. 
I was able to go to the grocery store alone. 
I had way too many nights with popcorn and housewives, solo on the sofa.
I had too many quiet afternoons while The Children were away with their father.
Because then one day, not every night was a night my kids could be tucked into their beds by me; their empty room beside mine a reminder that life had changed forever.

I used to be really good at being alone. In fact, I’ve always been someone who needs time alone. I like to be with myself. I like the solitude. I enjoy being alone with my thoughts. I’ve never had a problem going to the movies alone, preferring it, actually. I’m happy to keep myself company at lunch or saddle up to a bar for a glass of rosé. I think my years in New York taught me that. Moving to a huge city by yourself at 18 requires one to figure shit out. And then another move at 21 to another huge city by yourself, those lessons repeat themselves. 

But suddenly faced with so much alone time at age 35 after a decade of Raising Children, well, let me tell you. Shit is hard. I have very well meaning girlfriends who tease me that they’re jealous of all this time I have and my only response is-don’t be. It’s a difficult thing to grasp when the purpose of your life for a decade suddenly changes shape drastically. I’m still surrounded by so many things familiar, but that’s just a facade. Just because the outside looks the same doesn't mean the inside isn’t a tore up, hot mess. Kinda like these thoughts I’m trying to express. 

I’ve spent so many nights the last many months with a new appreciation for loneliness. It sorta…creeps in slowly and then suffocates you. Each morning I wake up to the sunlight streaming through the windows and I think…okay. Here we go. Another day. We can do this. Because I still have so many happy moments in each day. I still have so many things I’m grateful for. I look at My Children with even more wonderment now. Every kiss and hug and plea for a back scratch makes me smile and happily oblige. Because they’re looking at me. Daughter especially. She’s checking in, asking Mama if she’s happy. And Mama…well Mama just has to swallow her tears sometimes and remind Daughter and Son that they will always make her happy. Every time. Every day. Every minute. 

But now these days I have alone, I need to figure out how to make me happy again. I admit in a way, it’s somewhat exhilarating to have an opportunity to…rediscover yourself. That’s what my therapist and I are working on. I’m so L.A. now, with my therapist and everything. (Only took 15 years.) Therapist likes to give me pep talks. Remind me that I’m ONLY 35, not ALREADY 35. (Still..holy shit.) Remind me that there’s a whole lot of life yet to live. And I will live it happily. Remind me that, yes, this experience I’m experiencing is awful, terrible, sad and…lonely, but now I have to admit that I’m more than a wife and a mother. I’m…Just Me again. I always knew that girl was still down there, somewhere, waiting for her time to jump back out. I guess it’s time. I guess I gotta go find her. 

I think she’ll be happy to see me.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Few Good Men...

I knew I was having a boy.

After the shock of my surprise pregnancy wore off, I distinctly remember standing in the shower, the thought hitting me like a grenade-it’s a boy. And nine months later…well, I was right. A baby boy. My Son. And here I sit, nine years later, to the halfway point. Can it be that in the same short amount of years I’ve been graced with Son, he will soon be off to adulthood? To college, to travel, to discover who he wants to be? And, oh my God, will he ever learn how to close the damn dresser drawers? Or will he forever just fling them open, toss his clothes around, and…leave the room?  On the flip side, 87% of the time, he puts both the seat and the lid down, so…yeah. You’re welcome, World. 

For those first few years of Motherhood, your main focus is sanity, keeping The Children safe, sanity, trying to do the right thing, sanity, keeping the Children healthy, and, of course, sanity. (With a few hundred bottles of wine mixed in for good measure.) But now, nine years later, I realize, oh shit-I have to not only make sure my baby boy goes to bed at a decent time, but also guide him into becoming a Good Man. Because, as fore-mentioned, I’m halfway done before I release him to the world and he for real can’t eat cereal without milk dripping down his chin. I AM FAILING HIS FUTURE PARTNER. 

As Son grows older, I realize more and more that although he has a Kick-Ass Mother (a-hem), a young boy also needs a few Good Men in his life to really set the pace for becoming a successful human. And I only need to take a small glance around me to realize he has examples abound.

There are his uncles, who can teach him a good golf swing and a better fastball. He can look to his Poppy for unlimited lessons in Italian cuisine; he has grandpas who delight in showing him how to build a birdhouse or the best way to hook a catfish on the side of the dock, feet dangling in the lake. There are the neighbors who need little temptation to toss a ball around with him or play some Fifa soccer. And, of course, he has his father, a man who will protect him at all costs, and whom he can thank for his tenacity, intelligence, and an unhealthy obsession with UCLA. (Go Bruins.)

But what these Good Men so generously show my Son, besides a good fastball, is that to be kind is to be good. To be loyal is to be good.  To be present is to be good. And most importantly, to take the time is to be good. So today, I raise my glass to all the Good Men in this world. Once in awhile, we gotta give you a liiiiittle credit. Cheers.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

But...the fries!

On the eve of Daughter’s 7th birthday, I of course am thinking of all the mushy, gushy reasons I love her and Son so much and how my life has been forever altered by them both and the thought of being without them is unimaginable and all that other lovey dovey stuff.

But what about those….other reasons…why having kids is so great? Sure, they’ll make you crazy and long for uninterrupted minutes of silence, but they also bring with them an abundance of opportunities to eat french fries, which is kinda awesome. So, in honor of that….for your reading pleasure….

A Few Unconventional Reasons Why Having Kids Is Kinda Awesome

One: The Kids Menu

Listen…we all WANT chicken fingers and grilled cheese on a somewhat very regular basis, but we can’t eat like that anymore! Especially after knocking out a couple kids! Having Children allows you the great pleasure of not ordering fries, but getting to eat them anyway. Because, you know, the KIDS MENU. I can’t tell you the disappointment Son can see in my eyes when he has the AUDACITY to order fruit instead of curly fries. And I can’t even talk about that period of time when he said he didn’t…like…chicken fingers…anymore. A dark, dark time in my life. Luckily, Daughter’s macaroni and cheese addiction helped me through it until I got him back on track. A Parent’s Golden Rule: order the salad so you can eat the scraps from the Children. You’re not above it. Trust me. 

Two: You Get to Say Because I Said So

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I really want you to think about it for a second. Remember all those times your mom or dad would say that shit to you and it would just MAKE YOU SO MAD? Like-how is that a reason? How can they just say that? 


And also, kids are insane and will do shit where you’ll find yourself saying things like ‘Please don’t tape your sister’s hands together’ or ‘We don’t use a fork to comb our hair’ on an alarmingly surprising basis and “normal” reasons just don’t apply to Small Insane People, so you just gotta pull out the Mother Card: Because.I.Said.So.

Try it out.
It’s fun. 

Three: You can leave anywhere at anytime and throw your kids under the bus

Oh…that solicitor who won’t stop stalking you in the Trader Joe’s parking lot? Yeah, sorry, I don’t have time to fund your “college education,” I’ve got to go pick up my kids.

Oh…I’d love to stay and talk to you about how to save the dolphins, but…I’ve got to go pick up my kids.

Oh…shoot…I would sooooooo love to come to your tupperware party but…Son isn’t feeling that well, so I should stay home.

Oh…would you look at the time? I would loooovvveee to stay a little longer at your Great Great Aunt’s 97th birthday and talk to people I barely know but it’s nap time for the little ones! You stay, honey. I’ll take the kids home and see you later.

Oh….gee, Mr. Politician, there is nothing more I would like to do than have you stand in my doorstep convincing me of your worth, but my kids are in the bath! Gotta run!

This list could be endless. Use your imagination. 

Four: It no longer looks like you’re talking to yourself

You know when you’re out and about mumbling to yourself, most likely not even aware of it and you get a strange look here and there before you realize your lips were moving and sound was coming out? Yeah, well, stick a kid in that cart and voila! Instant conversation partner! A newborn, a toddler, a teenager…it doesn’t matter! There is a PERSON next to you! Once they pass 5 years old, they stop listening anyway, so go ahead and talk about anything you want! Out loud! Now-I’m not saying you should be embarrassed or anything about talking to yourself-I’m just saying…why not look just a little less crazy sometimes? 

Five: Every day, they let you try again to do your best

Listen, I’ve been a Bad Mom so many times. So, so, so, so many times. Whether it’s a small moment of impatience, or a lingering regret over a way you handle a situation, you will also be a Bad Parent here and there. But, Small Children are perhaps the only people on the planet who not only forgive, they forget. Like, in two seconds sometimes. And not that you want to go to bed at night thinking-shit, I really screwed up today-on a regular basis, but when you do…and you will…those squishy faces will be all new and fresh in the morning ready and willing for you to try again to do your best. In fact, they’re depending on you to always try to do your best. Because, look, they’re Small Insane People and we can’t count on them to make the best decisions. Let’s be real: you need to do your best because if you don’t, something might start on fire. 

And if that happens, just go ahead and order your own curly fries.

You deserve them. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Common Compromise

Dear Offspring’s School, 

Hey-what’s up? How’s everything going? Pretty good, I hope.  And me? Well, you know, I’m fine, I suppose. Just plugging along in this school year. Hot DAMN the years just FLY BY, am I right? I mean, weren’t The Children just in preschool painting pictures of rainbows and dinosaurs?  Oh man…those were the days. THOSE WERE THE DAMN DAYS! Because now, there are no rainbows. There are NO RAINBOWS. I mean, Son is certainly drawing things in school these days but-funny story-it’s for Math! Oh my God I know!! Like-what the….? And no, he’s not in middle school, silly. He’s in 3rd grade-remember?  And, geez, this kid is smart. Like….smart. I mean-he’s pretty much been smarter than me for at least 17 months now. Don’t tell him I said that. He’ll use it against me. I know I know…everyone thinks their kid is a Beautiful Genius, but…how shall I say this…..they aren’t. I’m not throwing the G word out there for Son, but kid is smart is all I’m saying. 

And WHY am I saying this? Well, because, here’s the thing, School. I’ve got this Smart Kid who does well in school, is kind to his peers, respectful of his teacher, an adamant Rule Follower to boot, and each night, anywhere from 60 to….120 minutes, he is doing His Homework. And each night for about 60-120 minutes, we’re sitting at the table together talking about tape diagrams and some other shit I can’t remember right now and my Smart Kid is getting more and more frustrated because he would pretty much rather be doing….almost anything else…than tape diagrams. And guess what, School? Me too. And guess what again, School? He already did them. In School. While it was in session. He gives you a solid 7 hours, five days a week, and I cannot disagree with him that at the age of 9 years, in 3rd grade, Son should be able to come home from school, have a snack, watch his TV show and go outside and play until I tell his cute little butt it’s time to come in for dinner. You’re pretty much destroying his Childhood with this silly math homework you are RELENTLESS about sending home. Congratulations. Let’s take a nice, Smart Kid and make him hate school. In 3rd grade. Slow.Clap.

So, here’s the thing, School. Can we make a compromise? You can do aaallllllll the Common Core you want from 8:30 to 3:00 and then he gets to come home and not do it again until 8:30 the next day. I know, I know…that’s not quite a compromise, but…life’s not always fair now is it?  Don’t you worry too much; The Children will have plenty of time as they grow older to devote their Beautiful Genius Selves to homework. But please, for now, let’s just go outside after school and have a game of catch, shall we? 

Glad we got that cleared up.


Gelato Mama on Behalf of All Parents of The World.