It takes a village. Or at least in my case it took a neighborhood. Back in the days when I started my day with Mr. Rogers instead of Mr. Coffee, I was fortunate to grow up in a house that resembled Leave it to Beaver. Dad worked hard and mom stayed home and took care of us and the house, minus the heels and pearls. She was always working while we were outside playing from sun up until the street lights came on and we stayed within earshot of her, or else. Dinner was always made at home and was served at 6pm. We played in a giant Pepper tree, used eucalyptus leaves as currency, and had bikes for transportation. You didn’t need a phone to communicate with us. The only text message we knew was typing “boobies” on our calculators, and you could find us by seeing which house had a pile of bikes on the lawn. We had a neighbor that yelled at us whenever we went in her yard, day or night, but all and all, life was easy.
I had a best friend on each side of my house. On one side there was chain-linked fence between our houses. We started climbing it around 3 years old and stopped the day I got married and left the neighborhood. Her and I are 10 days apart in age, which I hated that she was older when I was little but am totally cool with now that we are in our 40’s. Even as a really little kid she had chores to do before playing and I didn’t. I think it was because I am the youngest of 4 and was able to sneak out on chores. She did things like water plants, sweep the pool and wash cars. Every day I waited impatiently for her to get done so we could play, “Ok but Rainbow Brite was hoping to hang out withTeddy Ruxpin so bring him over when you are done.”
On the other side of my house, on top of a hill, was my other best friend. She had 6 siblings. That house always had a lot of people there so adding one more wasn’t a big deal, and they never locked the door. I used to show up early in the morning and sneak upstairs to wake her up. Then we’d lie on the floor of her huge family room and watch TV and play board games until everyone else got up.
All three of us turned out to be successful, hard-working adults and I know that the neighborhood raised us well. I use the lessons I learned as a kid every day raising my own kids. They know that working hard and having dinner as a family is important, having chores to do as a kid builds adults with integrity, respecting other people’s property is a must, and locking the doors at night is probably a good idea.
The 80’s.The time when a stranger came to your house and offered you ice cream and candy and your parents were cool with it.Our ice cream man’s name was Danny.He wore a pinky ring and a short-sleeved button up shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve that he left open to his mid chest.He had a tattoo of a naked lady on his right arm and wore his dark hair slicked back like Craterface from Grease. We thought he was so cool although looking back, he was probably straight out of prison.
We would stop what we were doing when we heard the high-pitched jingle of the ice cream truck’s arrival. We’d yell, “ICE CREAM MAN!” and race to find money and catch him even though he drove only about 5 mph. If we missed him as he drove by, we’d wait for when he came back down the road on the other side.I wasn’t allowed to cross the street so my brother would carry me piggy-backed to the other side so I wouldn’t miss out. We’d impatiently wait in line hopping from one foot to the other trying to avoid burning our bare feet on the hot asphalt as we waited our turn.I usually got something that had a rock-solid frozen piece of gum in it or a push-up.It didn’t matter which one I got since it was so hot any ice cream melted all over my dirty hands before I had a chance to finish it. I loved it anyway.
Those were some of my best summer memories although, as a parent, I can’t help wondering what in the world my parents were thinking?
My kids hate it when I watch shows like Hoarders and Tidying Up. They know that right after I’ll be on a cleaning rampage and I don’t communicate with our belongings or thank them. I don’t even want to analyze why we have so much stuff. I don’t care. Thanks to Marie Kondo and Gladis the hoarder from Hoboken, I have donated, sold, and trashed most of our stuff. I can host one of those help messy people clean up shows, I totally could. However, I would take it to the next level. I’ll just grab at random items and sling them over my head into a giant pile without much thought. I could do this so easily and the show wouldn’t take up an entire hour. It would be more like 10 minutes. I’ll call it “I’m Throwing Out Your Crap-You don’t need it, it’s gone, get over it.” Tough love. So, hey, if anyone needs help, I’m your girl.
There are 3 times in a mom’s life that her kids need her the most. When she’s on the toilet, on the phone, and the instant she turns on the vacuum. When my kids were little it was always something urgent like watching a dance that was made up on the spot or listening to a play by play dialogue of the show they just watched for the first time, again. It always starts with “Hey, Mom?” Followed by a question that could be very easily answered by dad but since he’s watching TV, or sleeping, or doing nothing at all, they don’t want to bother him. Of course not. They bust into the bathroom and ask, “Hey, Mom? Can you sign this?”Go ask Dad! Come on! He has opposable thumbs and has been signing his name since the third grade.I’m not sure that they understand “parent signature” includes him. Or when I’m on the phone and I finally get through to an actual human after navigating a thousand options and being on hold for 30 minutes, “Hey, Mom? Can you help me with my math homework?” Did you just walk past your dad to come in here? But my favorite is when I’m vacuuming and my kids, who have basically ignored my existence for the entire day, pick that exact moment to ask me a question. I can’t hear you! I swear if I have to turn the vacuum off for this it better be good. The only time the kids ask dad first is when it involves something cool they want to do that they know I will absolutely say no to. Like my son’s latest, “Hey, Dad? What do you think about me bull riding?” Uh, go ask your mom.
Raise of hands of those who have kids that clean out their reusable water bottles and don’t leave them scattered all over the house. No one? Ok, neither do mine. Half the time the inside stinks because they just refill them a million times without cleaning them. We have been a plastic water bottle free family for a while now. It was purely to save the planet, which is necessary, and keep water cold for 4 days, which is not.Instead of 27 half empty plastic bottles littering the floor of my car, I now have at least 2 heavy, metal, possibly deadly projectiles if ever in an accident, reusable water bottles rolling around my car. Each kid has a few different colors and sizes so no one can ever complain about being thirsty as I remember being for most of my childhood. We would ride our bikes for miles and stop at the park to drink hot water from a crusty water fountain that barely spouted any water or find a random hose and fight over who got the first drink after hours of playing Red Light, Green Light. We couldn’t drink that water fast enough. That’s probably why us 80’s kids are so awesome. We drank dirt, lead, and whatever else came through the pipes in our tap water and we survived. Recently, my daughter had the nerve to complain at a soccer game that her water was warm because she forgot to add ice to it, which immediately prompted a “When I was your age” lecture from me. She was disgusted that we actually drank from hoses. Whatchu talkin about Willis? Really, she was commenting on what I did when half the time her water bottle smells like Sea World?
When I was little my mom used to mix up my name with my siblings all the time.She didn’t call me by one of my sister’s names, it was more like a morph of all three of our names and then a sigh. “Ro-Nae-Me, ugh, whatever your name is, come here!” This was years before Hollywood started doing it and I think my mom should get the credit as being the first. Somehow we always knew who she actually needed to talk to. When it came to other people, if she accidentally called them by the wrong name, they might as well have it changed because that’s what she would call them, forever. My nephew Brandon became Brian and that was it. As the youngest of four I guess I’m lucky she ever remembered my name at all, or that I even existed. There was a lot going on in that house. So many times she’d stop in her tracks and look for me in a panic. I was always right there following behind her. The littlest has to be smart like that or they can get left behind. As a kid I swore when I grew up and had kids I’d never forget their names. Well here I am and dang it if I can’t get their names straight to save my life. This also includes my animals. I don’t morph names but I definitely change them. My dog Ryder is called Louis and the cat Sullivan is Wheezy.Lou and The Wheeze. Who the heck knows why? I think it’s genetic. I hope it stops with me because it can get a little embarrassing in public. Just ask my three kids Coco, Boo, and Stinks.
Laundry’s done! Washed, dried and folded! I don’t know where I went wrong with this one, I really don’t. It’s my Middle. You’d think a normal human would know how to undress. She’s always had a slight flair for the dramatic so I can just imagine the scene when she was attempting to take off these skinny jeans. What was the emergency? Who was she angry at? Certainly it wasn’t the jeans fault. Mostly she does her own laundry because I am tired of the extra effort it takes to fold her clean clothes. I’m on a tight schedule here people and I don’t have time for laziness. Today, I was on a cleaning roll and didn’t want to leave any surface uncleaned, which included everyone’s laundry. I ran around gathering dirty clothes and shoved them in the washer without really paying attention to what was going in. I rarely even sort it. What? It’s not really necessary. I don’t check pockets or turn anything right side out so how you give it to me is how you’ll get it back, minus the stink. This really came back to bite me two soccer seasons ago when my Little turned her clean soccer socks right side out and a gallon of grass shavings flew everywhere. Lesson learned after a mom freak-out and she agreed to take them off the right way and shake them off before putting them in the dirty laundry basket. All of her clothes are taken off like that now. She’s my perfect angel.
So yes, I’ve posted a picture of my middle daughter’s clean pants. Inside out, underwear attached, with the ankles twisted and stuck in the leg. Think it will make her think twice next time she changes?No, probably not.
I’ve been a mom for so long I can barely remember who I was before then. I remember I had nice nails, and no gray hair or wrinkles but that’s about it. The rest is such a far off blur I’m not sure if it even happened. Did I really sleep until after the sun came up? Did I know where everything in the house was at all times and what people were asking before they uttered a word? Before becoming a mom, did I know that the fridge is actually 3 dimensional inside? “Mom! Where’s my?” To which I reply, “It’s in dryer”. “Mom! Where’s the?” “Look behind the ketchup.” “Mom! Have you seen my?” “It’s in the car.” I can do this all day. The one thing I wish I remembered though and possibly the most perplexing is whether or not I knew how to change the toilet paper roll when it was empty before I was a mom? Cause clearly male or female, there is no one in my house except me that has that God given talent. Does the skill accompany motherhood? Seriously, all the time. Which also brings up the question of why is so much being used and what do they do when it’s empty and they need it? I don’t even want to know. Day after day there’s an empty cardboard roll hanging on the holder. Occasionally there’s a new roll sitting on the counter above it waiting to be rehung. Who do they think hangs the new roll? I asked my son what they do in his apartment when the roll is empty and he just stared at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. How do all-men households manage it? My kids are so smart, why can’t I teach them this one easy skill? I’m so confused.
I guess as much as I try to make my kids responsible, self-sufficient people, there will always be certain things they just can’t do without me. I think it’s God’s way of letting moms know that we will always be needed.
“Mom! You are the worst!” Ah! Motherhood at its finest. It’s the first week of January and I’ve already dropped out of the running for Mom of the Year. I usually make it a little longer. This might be a record. Whatever the definition of Mom of the Year is will never be me anyway. I can’t fly a helicopter and I’m not real great with a lawnmower. You’ll never see me hovering over my kids making sure they don’t experience anything unpleasant or mowing their way clear of any obstacles. I might, however, point out some big rocks in their path, but I won’t move them. They need to figure things out for themselves.
My kids set their own alarms and make their own lunches. They know how to clean the bathrooms and cook the basics. If they are cold it’s because they forgot a sweater and if they don’t bring their PE clothes they wear the loaner ones from the school. At least the loners don’t have a big L on the front like they did when I was in school. Forgot their homework? Bummer. They will have to explain that to the teacher. I’m not bringing anything to school that they forgot and I won’t sign anything in a rush in the morning. They know they need to be prepared for their day ahead of time and it works for us.
I can’t help with their math homework because it’s not how I was taught it and It doesn’t make sense to me. I can only understand History since I was there for some of it and English since it hasn’t changed very much. Mostly, my kids are on their own for things like this just as I was at their age
My kids have plenty to eat even if sometimes its take-out, lots of clothes, even though they aren’t all name brand because who cares anyway, and they are loved. That’s the best I can do. We spend a lot of time laughing and enjoying life. My kids are happy and I think we have raised some good people. I think if you are a mom and you aren’t called the worst once in a while you might be doing something wrong.
It’s officially Christmas Break today. I look forward to this time all year when we can spend time with our kids without the hectic schedule that we live the rest of the year. To prepare for this special time I have already shopped, wrapped, baked, sent packages and cards, and cleaned the whole house. This week I planned to do nothing but watch cheesy Christmas movies and play games with the kids. Then I woke up this morning. I thought I somehow I ended up in someone else’s house. I’m not sure what happened when I went to sleep last night but it wasn’t good. I know it wasn’t the elf because quite frankly he’s been a little lazy this year and hasn’t caused any trouble at all. He barely moves. As I turned a 360 in my kitchen I couldn’t believe my eyes. First of all, the dog hair on the floor was like a light dusting of snow. The kitchen counter had groceries all over it like someone delivered the supplies for 6 meals and scattered it everywhere. The sink was overflowing with dirty cups. It’s not a crime to use the same cup twice people! The kitchen table, oh my beautiful kitchen table, could barely be seen with the amount of random stuff on it. Among the chaos was a hanger, art supplies, a laptop with headphones from the 90’s attached to it, the cat, candy wrappers, and a tube of toothpaste. Toothpaste? I found a bowl in the fridge with half eaten mac and cheese and the spoon still in it. Ugh.Therewas a fort in the living room using every blanket, pillow, and chair in the house. I wondered why I woke up so cold. My bedroom had 12 stuffed animals in it and I didn’t even hear that happen. Next to the toilet was a Target bag with a sandy wetsuit and Dora the Explorer towel in it. I’m confused as to why that is 1. In the house at all and 2.Next to the toilet.Alexa! Beam me out of here please! I can’t even find my husband for moral support because he’s off coaching some team doing something. Who knows? I pushed open my son’s bedroom door to ask what in the world had happened overnight and quickly closed it again because it was causing me to have heart palpitations. I mean really, I offered to do his laundry when he came home last week from college and he said he’s an adult now and would take care of it. The look of the mountain of dirty laundry explains why he showed up last night to the water polo game in dress slacks. My little woke up just then and asked me to make pancakes. I don’t even know what the look on my face was exactly but she walked away mumbling that she’d have cereal but went back to sleep instead. I quickly shook off my anger cause, you know, it’s Christmas, but I know I taught them better than this. I rushed around the house cleaning up because the mess was driving me crazy. I scooped the litter box with the cat constantly trying to use it while I did. I don’t even know why that happens. It’s not like I have the urge to go while I am cleaning the toilet. I vacuumed and found my $25 lip liner that the cat took off with, mopped, washed, took out the trash-which isn’t my job, dusted, and organized everything. Perfect. Clearly Christmas Break is only a break for the kids. For moms it’s more like Christmas Work. So if you want to stop by my house you better do it now before they all wake up. After that I make no promises.