Search This Blog

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

i'd like to thank the academy...

So, we watched the Academy Awards with the smalls tonight.  We haven't done this before, but we were invited out, and it seemed like fun, and well, I had NO IDEA it was gonna get so complicated.  I mean, really.  They just hand out this damn gold statue, so how complicated could that be?

Well, apparently for a 7 year old, pretty damn complicated.

I had to answer why people wore fancy clothes, why people had matching dresses (J Lo and Cameron Diaz -- not really matching, but the same color), who votes for everyone -- and did they vote today and if so, where?  Were the produced bits in between the awards movies?  Why was one of them black and white?  And oh yeah, why was that other movie that keeps winning in black and white?  Why is that lady crying?  Why would you cry if you're happy?   How do they make special effects?  Are they real? Why is a dog there?

Then I gave up and just started humming to myself.  It was a long show, and not just for the usual boring reasons...

Note to self:  Academy awards should be watched alone until smalls age significantly.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

an open letter to a friend:

How could so much power be wrapped up in a package that only stands 3’8”?  Really.  How could a small person be so powerful, especially since their chronological age is only 1/6 of ours?  It’s remarkable—kind of like when ants carry things 10+ times their weight, but it isn’t nearly as cool.  Not one bit.

You’ve seen it too, haven’t you?  A successful, educated, reasonable grown-up is somehow brought to their knees resorting to behavior that’s, well, literally beneath them.  Suddenly, it is as if they themselves are children again, lying, cheating, ignoring – leaving the other adults in the room to eye one another knowingly: another grown-up has committed an act in the name of their own child that goes against everything they know to be right and responsible.  How could it be?

If you were out with a friend, husband, or sister, would you ever tolerate their crying or sulking if they didn’t get their way or what they wanted?  Would you acquiesce and give into their demands or would you recall that negotiating with terrorists never works out well for the negotiating side?  Would you bribe them with goodies so that they didn’t embarrass you in public?  Would you allow them to lie or hit, and then make excuses for their behavior, or even worse, blame it on the other guy?

Chances are that you wouldn’t.  See, that would be some sort of abusive relationship, or an enabling one at best.  Duh, everyone knows that, you smugly think to yourself.  Who would be enough of a moron to put up with or do that?

Uh, you.  Have you looked in the mirror much?

The scenario may be difficult to detect for those afflicted by it, but let me clarify in case there is some confusion --  instead of your friend, husband or sister, it’s your child that we’re talking about.  Your kid.  You know, the one that seems to cause problems in your familial relationships, or your friendships.  You know, the loathsome child who acts out because he or she can.  Because, even though it is harsh to say it:  you helped make them that way.

I know you love them.  Of course you do!  But if you really loved your kid you’d get them ready for the life that awaits them, so that they can be successful both socially and otherwise.  Because, that behavior that you think is cute, or at least tolerable, isn’t cute or tolerable to those who aren’t called Mommy or Daddy by your little munchkin.

This country got rid of being ruled by a Royal Family 200+ years ago, so why are you creating princes and princesses?  Do you think they’ll grow up to make edicts and that we’ll follow them?  I’m pretty confident that you’re smarter than that, which is why your behavior is inexplicable.  I just don’t get it, and frankly, those people around you whom you see raising their eyebrows, well, they don’t get it either.

And to make matters worse, when your kid’s behavior isn’t just obnoxious to the adults in the room, but is now affecting the offspring of those adults, well, things kinda go downhill from there.  Because as much as people, especially people who are more, shall we say, consequence oriented, don’t like wimpy parents, there is something they don’t like even more: the children of wimpy parents hurting their kids.  They don’t like it one bit, and, unfortunately, friendships and relationships pay the ultimate price, which is really a shame, and wholly unnecessary.  I mean, I still want to be your friend, and I want our kids to be friends.  Really.  You’re just gonna have to take some action, and remember one key thing…

If you wouldn’t want it happening to your child, chances are, I don’t want it happening to mine.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

all that need be said

New Year's Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  

Mark Twain

Sunday, November 27, 2011

traveling with children (formerly known as vacation)

Traveling with smalls is never easy.  Smalls usually ask way too many times how long it's going to take to get to wherever you are going.  Smalls also have a need to use the restroom at the most inconvenient times.  Inevitably, a small's hunger is inversely proportionate to how easily food is acquired, meaning:  if a small is hungry, there usually is no food around.

And while all of the above is challenging with smalls, nothing can compare to the actual travel itself. Namely, airplanes.  Oh yeah, and the irritating people you sometimes have to sit next to.

Take my most recent flight.  It was a red-eye and I was stuck as the odd man out; the only one not sitting next to a family member.  Instead, I was sitting next to a gentleman who slept the entire flight.  His eyes closed upon taxiing for take off, and didn't open until the seat belt sign went off upon landing.

Quite incredible.

Now, this gentleman clearly was not concerned with his airplane neighbors.  He hogged the armrests, splayed his legs open, and generally took up way more space than he was allotted, without regard for his cramped flight companions.  Miserable.

Nowadays, the average seat size, width, and distance from the other seats is meant for someone the size of Tiny Tim, which may be generous, considering that the smalls seemed miserable too.  I remember looking over at my smalls mid-flight, checking to see if they were ok.  They were squirming and shifting, complaining that they had no room and that they were so uncomfortable.  Wow, if THEY were uncomfortable, clearly we adults were going to be crippled.

Airplane travel nowadays is definitely an international Abu Ghraib.

Upon landing we had to go through customs.  The smalls were tired, not understanding why we had to wait on line.  And they were whining.  Oh, how they were whining!  We had a melt down at the car rental counter, and then the drive to our destination was charming.  And while we knew the smalls were tired and could barely help themselves, we were tired too, and on our very last nerve ending.

Not a good combo.

We made it to the house where we were staying; the melted turquoise Caribbean Ocean was calling and we all went to the beach to recharge. As I watched the smalls frolic, building sand castles, squealing with joy, it felt worth it -- the hell of traveling, and the hell of traveling with smalls.


Suddenly the sibling fighting began, complaints of hunger ensued, and I realized that it was really just like at home.  It was just like home -- except with a good backdrop.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

this is it?

After many sleepless nights, endless stressing, and various "what if" scenarios, I quit my job.  Or rather, I quit my career.  I blew it up with a metaphorical hand grenade.

People thought I was nuts.  Some still do.

My son was 3.5 and my daughter was 1.  I had juggled conference calls, meetings, and deadlines since the moment they were born.  At the time, I felt so under pressure that I could barely breathe, and now that I was able to breathe, I didn't remember how.  In hindsight, I think during the transition I created pressure so that I could just get things done:  HURRY, we have to get to the market.  QUICK, in the car, I don't want to be late...  We have to clean-up your room NOW, before we get ready for dinner...

The first year was honestly like a debriefing period.  I needed time to decompress.

And then the second year, it hit me -- what the hell was I doing?  Was I just a taxi service, short order cook, referee, therapist, nurse, laundress and maid?  Well, yes.  Apparently, I am.  I struggle daily with accepting that this is how life is now.  Not forever, but for this moment.

Reconciling this ain't for sissies...

That's why I started blogging.  Not to prove anything, or to get anything, but so I didn't go crazy and start believing the most important thing I had to express was whether or not X gym class for kids was better than Y gym class, strategizing battle on the latest diaper rash, or researching whether tea tree oil really does prevent lice.

Surely there was more to my life than this.  Had I become that uninteresting? Please, someone just shoot me.

I created the blog, because I decided that I needed some external validation.  Working life gave that to me every day...  Mommy life, if you're lucky, gives it to you once every six months, and that is usually in the form of some back-handed compliment from a competitive Uber-Mom type.  Not very satisfying.

Sometimes my smalls make me crazy, and the job of being a Mom is beyond stultifying.  But, I'm raising my kids.  They are being shaped by me, the good and the bad.  I am not missing out on their proud moments or their tantrums.  I get to watch them hurt and watch them heal.  I'm discovering their virtues and their vices, and slowly I'm starting to see the fog thin and a picture of who they really are become clear.  When one of my smalls hears or sees something funny and then looks at me, their eyes smiling, sharing their humorous thought just through a glance, or when one tells me they love me, but then adds for emphasis,"so, so very much" and I know they really mean it.   I love those moments...

Hopefully when the curtain of my life begins to close, I will look back on this mundane time and see that it was, strangely, the most beautiful because it was just every day. This is my gift, to them and to myself.

So, here I am.  Writing to prevent insanity.  It's as good a reason as any, I suppose.  I know I should write more often.  I should really set time aside and make it more "regular" than I've managed to do thus far. It's just that I'm still schlepping kids to 2 different schools, the house, the dog, lunches, the list goes on and on.  And when it's over, I'm tired.  I mean really wiped.  Jesus, I could barely decide between Pampers or Huggies.

But, I figure it's good to have something to strive for, and given it's November, I'm gonna need a damn New Year's resolution anyway...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

you like me, you really like me...

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a screenwriter in Hollywood.

It was a nice life.  There were ups, there were downs, but all in all, it was a good gig.  In my life prior to smalls, I rocked it.  Not all the time, but enough of the time to keep my ego satisfied.  I had an agent and a manager, a lawyer and an accountant.  I had meetings and lunches.  I knew who was who.  All the things that make one feel established, legitimate -- real.  It's only when the external validation is gone that one realizes that it was a pretty sweet perk.

Nowadays my life is perk-less.

Motherhood isn't filled with too much external validation.  No -- most of the time is spent second guessing yourself, dealing with other freaked out Moms, some of  whom are weird or competitive or the parent of a loathsome child who managed to just bite your small and punch them in the face.  See, not a lot of ego involved...  More the controlling of id.

When I made the very difficult choice to stop working I wasn't thinking about validation at all.  I was thinking about stress, and that I could barely breathe, and that if I really wanted to do the job "right" and be all that I could be, I'd have to see my children a lot less.  I might have humored that, but I wasn't seeing my children very much already, which didn't leave much wiggle room.

Basically, I was doing everything sorta fine.  Not great, not good, just "eh".  I was in damage control mode.  Kid sick?  Take 'em to the Pediatrician, stat!  Rush back to work.  Check.  Crisis at work?  Conference calls, wringing of hands, crisis averted.  Check.  Husband?  Ships that pass in the night.  Schedule date night, try and re-connect.  Check.

Week after week.  Month after month...

No one was happy with me.  As I tried to spread myself to cover all my obligations, everyone felt short-changed.  Especially my smalls.

This went on for a long time.  Through the premature birth of my first small, his hospital stay, evaluations, and therapy.  And then the birth of my other small, and through her first year.  I tried.  I really wanted to have it all.

Apparently, though, my Mother was right : You can have it all, just not all at the same time.

It took me awhile to really get that, and then, it took me even longer to own it.

One night, after a particularly grueling day, I was on the phone venting and lamenting to my Mother.  At the end of my diatribe I remember saying, "Ya know, when I'm 80, sitting on my porch thinking about my life, I'm not going to be thinking about how many screenplays I've written or how much money I've made -- I'm gonna be hoping that my kids talk to me and that they're happy, and that they're leading productive lives..."  There was a very, very long silence on the other end of the phone, and then my Mother said, "That's one of the sanest things I've heard you say in a very long time..."

I quit the next day.

****  I have more to say on this topic, but for now, I'm saying, "Put a pin in it..."