Take it mamas, take it in: Underwear, a stuffed animal, kids’ mala beads, legos, one shoe, candy wrappers, sucked-down lolly pop sticks, a purse, empty food packages, actual food, a crayon and a California Republic flag – represent! I’d clean it, but, let’s be honest, my kids are disrespectful little beasts who are only pacified by my perpetual state of meltdown. My time is better spent heading to yoga 💁♀️
Problem: Husband has a super early meeting and is long gone, Kid 1 is in the nasty throes of hormonal tweenhood, Kid 2 is down for the count with a double ear infection and a violent stomach bug, and Kid 3 is tired.
Tired leads very quickly to tantrum, which escalates at lightning speed into I HATE SCHOOL AND I’M NEVER GOING AGAIN. And throwing things.
Oh, and you? You have a new business pitch for a major account, an hour away, and it’s snowing steadily overtop of this week’s Polar Vortex ice sheet. You must get these kids dressed and out of the door.
Solution: Cupcake breakfast! Instant cooperation!
Plus, you’ve bought yourself 10 minutes to transform into a savvy marketing boss. Just hold off on treating yourself to a cupcake… blue tongues go over better in preschool than they do in pitch meetings.
OK, OK, I get it. The 100th Day of School celebration is a marvelous idea from a pedagogical standpoint. It’s a timely opportunity for cross-curriculum learning centered on a common theme that allows for reflection, creativity and all the math. I was totally on board last year when Henry was in kindergarten, if a little confused by this relatively newfangled milestone. Admittedly, Henry was only partially on board:
But let me tell you, mamas, my enthusiasm was partly due to the fact that I assumed this 100 Day extravaganza was just a kindergarten thing. Imagine my shock and horror when the 100 Day papers started coming home in the almighty folder last week. And the first grade teachers? They are upping the game. Now we have to make a project (entirely at home in our free time) that uses 100 of any object AND the kids are supposed to dress up like they are 100 years old, which surely makes for some totes adorabs social media posts but is truly about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. What does a 100 year old look like? Wear? And how does that translate into actual clothing and accessories my 7-year-old boy can don for a day? Especially when I shoot down his request for a pipe? And is there something at best reductive and at worst ageist and offensive about this whole concept? Welp. Now in addition to the 3,117 things I need to accomplish in any given week as a parent of three school-age children and who also has a full-time job an hour away in the middle of a winter, I get to figure this out.
Fortunately, Henry is two steps ahead of me.
“Aren’t most people dead by the time they’re 100?” he asks, after the pipe idea is nixed.
“Yes,” I say, and his eyes light up with that mischievous glint that melts my cold heart every time.
“Can I go as a zombie then?”
We already have a zombie costume from Halloween. My heart flutters. I will try to say no… but, mamas? I can’t be 100 percent certain that I will.
Pro Tip: When tasked with making a project that involves gluing 100 of any object onto a poster, purchase something that comes in a pack of 100! Get self-adhesive for a double win. We went with googly eyes.
Listen closely, mamas, because this is how it’s going be. You will give birth to your baby by whatever means necessary – medication, ass tearing, raw, clawing pain, in a tub, on a bed, in a car, literally whatever needs to happen to get this brand new human safely out of your body – or another woman will birth your baby by whatever means necessary and you will accept this baby into your arms forever, and whichever way it goes, at some point in all of this mess of ripping and fluids, someone will ask about cutting the cord. It will be a moment. Squish. Snip. Done. Cord, cut. Baby, untethered. You will be two separate people somehow.
Only… this untethering? It’s a big fat lie. You will feel like that cord is still inside of you, tracing a line from your heart to this terrifying creature’s forever. On days when your baby’s fever reaches 104, you’ll feel that cord tighten around your chest. That first big booboo, the one that makes you call your mom in a panic and ask if you need to go to ER? The cord will run straight from baby to you and through the phone to your mother, faster than velocity broadband. When your child sleeps in the crook of your arm, the cord will slacken, falling loosely around you both like a wilted daisy chain.
But. There will be days, mamas. Oh, there will be days. Days when your children take, take take. Days when from sun-up to sun-down, you don’t get a single solitary second to yourself, not even to use the bathroom. In fact, you will use the bathroom with a child (sometimes two!) sitting on your lap and possibly simultaneously drinking from your breast. Days when the sweet sounds of their chirping voices feel like a cheese grater to your ear drums, days when they throw the impossibly small pieces of diced fruit and cheese you just spent too long preparing on the floor because you used the wrong goddamn fox plate, days when they smear pizza grease on your favorite sweater, days when they break some special thing someone essential gave you before you even knew these stupid kids. Days when, if you have more than one, your kids will fight about every thing, not “everything” but every actual thing. Days when your kids fail. Days when you fail. And on these days, that cord will tighten around your wrists, trapping you so firmly you’re certain if you push your sleeves up, you’ll see ligature marks from the struggle.
You will never be free.
Your children will grow, their problems will grow, the cord will grow and shrink and sprout barbs and get hopelessly tangled. Motherhood will get less physical but the worrying will get darker and more complex. Your child will insult you, maybe tell you they hate you, speak to you like you’re nothing. You will worry if you’ve made them strong enough, confident enough, kind enough. You’ll worry, all the time. The cord will all but strangle you.
Except that, mamas, it won’t always be hard, even when it feels that way. One day you will come home from work and before you even reach the front door, you will hear it. Music. Laughing. You will walk into your house and dinner will be simmering on the stove and the warm paprika and cayenne will flood your nostrils and wake you up – for real, from the inside. Your partner will smile over his shoulder and your smelly dog will rush up and butt his head against your thighs. Your children… your splendid, imperfect children, they will be dancing. Honest to god dancing to some old song you and your partner used to listen to when you were red wine drunk and a hundred years younger and you will see pieces of each of you in each of them and – get this – you will join in. You won’t even take your coat off. You will toss your bags willy nilly on the counter top and rush in to meet their laughing eyes and clumsy limbs. It will only be music and laughing.
As you move, you’ll feel that tangled cord start to unravel, smooth out, pull itself taut and poised like a nickel-plated electric guitar string and you – you! – will rock the fuck out.
In that moment, mamas, you feel it, OK? Promise me you'll feel it. These generous moments come without warning and need to see us through. You let that shimmery guitar string cord cut right into the fleshy part of your heart and form a callous so that the next time you feel this, your body remembers the soft miracle of your own unraveling.
If you're thinking that holiday shopping will be a fun outing for your children, a wholesome family adventure that will tire out your kids so you can have an easy bedtime, as well as deliver a splendid lesson in giving and non attachment as you generously shop for others... check yourself. The following images represent a recent holiday shopping excursion, just 45 minutes in:
Zero parking? Heinous crowds? Exhausted workers getting paid minimum wage? Ain’t no MOTY got time for that! No thanks, we’ll be living it up in our favorite sweatpants, eating leftovers and perusing the good ol’ internet for gift ideas while our kiddos watch too much TV today. If you’re doing the same this Black Friday, and you happen to have a badass MOTY or two on your shopping list, take a look at our top gift recommendations for the fierce, the compassionate, the exhausted and the brave:
1. Calm Down candle
Because every mama needs a little aromatherapy… to help her calm the F down. Plus, a portion of the proceeds goes to Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit that helps women around the world get access to maternity care.
2. YETI® cups
This beautiful invention actually keeps your coffee HOT. And because of the lid, you also don’t have to worry about your kids knocking the damn thing over. We’ve all felt the woe of spilled coffee from a bumbling, chaotic child.
3. Secret weapon socks
We like these because the message works for so many audiences… your child, when she takes for-fucking-ever to tell you a really boring story, strangers who give unsolicited parenting advice, your partner when you disagree… These socks empower you to just nod your head and smile with that vacant look in your eyes.
Open Letter to the Lunatic Who Published a Huff Post Piece Declaring We Ban the Kids’ Table this Thanksgiving
Dear Lee Breslouer, aka the aforementioned lunatic:
Thanks for sharing your perspective on abolishing the concept the kids’s table at large family gatherings. How timely! However, as I scurry about making last minute preparations for the Thanksgiving dinner I’ll be attending tomorrow along with approximately 30 close family members, I can’t help but wonder why in the name of all things pumpkin spice Huff Post Life published this nonsensical drivel… er, I mean, can’t help but feel a little stuck on a few of your points. In fact, all of them. Let’s go ahead and run down the list, you know, just to be sure we don’t do anything drastic before we’ve really thought this through.
1. “It’s better to pay attention to your kids than your phone.”
You, sir, are a noble man! I commend you and the worthy brigade you’re leading. In fact, I’ll even stand on my chair and “Captain, my Captain” your efforts to banish phones from the dinner table and reinforce our need to repair our dwindling ability to connect with one another, face to face. So much yes. Only… tell me again how placing kiddos at the adult dinner table accomplishes this? I see you’ve linked to a lovely study that points out how too much smartphone usage by parents damages kids, yet you conveniently left out any research indicating a correlation between kids sitting at the adult table and a decrease in phone usage. Because there likely isn’t any, right? Methinks perhaps you’ve begun your argument with a little post hoc ergo propter hoc. You may want to brush up on those freshman year of college logical fallacies before you publish your next argument. (Just Google it on your smartphone!)
Side note: Having my kids at the table with me would probably increase my smartphone usage based on (1) my desire to take photos of my adorable children, (2) their request that I look up something for their li’l curious and digitally native brains and (3) my desire to escape their inevitable assholery.
2. “Kids should be leading the conversation at the table.”
We grownups just talk about our boring old jobs and office politics, you say. OK, but do you know what kids talk about? Poop. And farts. And the wet boogers they are actively removing from their nostrils and slurping down right along with the mashed potatoes. Sure, kids do ask some really cool questions and deeply engaging in conversation with kids can absolutely be refreshing and inspirational. You know what else is refreshing and inspirational? Adults listening to one another’s day-to-day challenges and triumphs with empathy, kindness and generosity.
Listen, mamas. I just don’t give a fuck when my kids swear. For a while, I felt like I “should” care. But, as a mindful mama and yogini, I have learned to let go of the concept of “should.” Authenticity is where it’s at, and if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t consider using swear words to be a behavioral problem.
Yesterday, as I was struggling to get my preschooler and her big puffy winter coat into the car seat, she yelled in exasperation, “THIS FUCKING COAT!!!!!!”
I KNOW you mamas MUST feel me on the winter coat/car seat scenario. It’s the worst! And I thought my daughter was a freaking rockstar in that moment because she voiced exactly what she (and I!) was feeling... THIS FUCKING COAT!!!!
Today, my 2-year-old son dropped his toy and said, “Oh, shit. I dropped it.”
Now, that’s just funny.
And I’ll take any fragments of joy I can get in the midst of my annual winter depression. Because it’s not even winter yet and I’m already having meltdowns alone in my car.
As parents, it’s our job to teach our children how to navigate the world. Respect is important and I make sure my kids know about societal rules and expectations. I explain that if they swear at school or in front of most other adults like grandparents or their friends’ parents, people will likely get angry and they’ll get in trouble.
But, here... with me... we’re not having battles over swear worlds. We’re laughing our asses off.
Why did the little brother inexplicably puncture the milk jug with a pencil? Why did the big sister write such a haughty note about it… yet not dispose of the milk herself? Why is the note written upside down on the paper? Why is there a dog hair stuck in the piece of tape? Why is the kitchen table so scratched?
"I don't want to buy a poinsettia from my 4-year-old. I don't have to do any fundraising until they are in the school long enough for me to be embarrassed about it. Let's hold out for the k-12 tchotchke."
We love our kids. They drive us crazy. We write about it instead of going insane.