Name one thing about you that would surprise your readers.
Probably that I have a penchant for watching reality shows (both of the trashy and less trashy variety). Cops, Celebrity Rehab, Hoarders -- I love programming that can give me a good chuckle or a little unexpected insight but that I can also zone out to if I'm changing a diaper or trimming a toddler's fingernails.
Nothing (in my humble opinion) is more frustrating than having to re-watch shows I sincerely adore (Parenthood, Nurse Jackie, The Tudors, or anything on HBO) because I'm interrupted two minutes in with pleas for juice or help on the potty. No such problems with trash. I can pick it up, leave off, and resume viewing without feeling like I've skipped a beat!
What's your proudest parenting moment?
I'd have to throw this one to my 5-year-old, Maria. Typically, she and her 3-year-old brother, CJ, either fight like cats and dogs or ignore each other. CJ was diagnosed with autism at age 2, and he has a seizure disorder to boot. However, there are still enough "typical" aspects to the sibling relationship that spatting is fairly routine at our house. But when dear, sweet, little Maria feels someone is threatening her baby bro, it's best to steer clear and hope there are no loaded weapons laying around.
About a month ago, we were at the playground, and the two of them were hanging out in one of those little wooden forts. Suddenly, a group of "big kids" who were way too big to be playing on see-saws marched over to them. I kept my distance at first, but three minutes in, I heard Maria shouting in a voice that would have caused the likes of Stalin shudder.
Apparently, they were making fun of the fact that CJ is still in diapers, and my trooper of a daughter took them to task. By the time I got over there, I caught Maria yelling, "DON'T YOU DARE MAKE FUN OF MY BROTHER!" The culprits looked a bit stunned that this midget of a child was schooling them, but they backed down and moved on to whatever poor toddler they could find to pick on next. Now, it broke my heart that my son was being teased, but it made me proud as punch that Maria was demonstrating a killer combo of guts and compassion.
What's your secret coping mechanism?
I find little things to look forward to. Sometimes it's something as silly as an episode of my favorite TV show or the idea of going out to breakfast with my husband and kids every weekend. Over the past few years, I've learned not to look too far into the future. I'm trying my darndest to enjoy the here and now, and part of that is locating bright spots -- no matter how small -- throughout the day. Granted, the bigger bright spots (think Memorial Day weekend in Sarasota with the hubby or forthcoming paychecks from publishers) are nice, too ...
When your baby is old enough to Google, which blog post are you most afraid of him reading?
Well, as of now, I've yet to author anything that's really damning in this regard. I suppose I shudder to think any of my kids will roll their eyes at the general insanity/chaos that seems to characterize my life in my posts. That having been said, there's a chance I'll have an extra glass of Pinot Noir one night and will go off the online "deep end" by typing about my exploits at college parties, etc.
What is the best piece of parenting advice you can give?
Be patient with yourself as a parent. The biggest trap moms (including myself) fall into is expecting too much of ourselves. We should always strive for the gold standard, but we shouldn't expect it every moment of every day. Nowadays, we struggle to be caregivers, workers (at home or in offices), supportive wives/girlfriends, cleaners, financial planners, and cupcake providers at the local bake sale. Well, you can have your cake and eat it too, but you shouldn't tell yourself that you'll always be able to do it without snapping, swearing under your breath, or occasionally kicking the Barbie that someone left on the floor. Better that your kids grasp that it's normal to periodically shed a tear or shout . Unless you plan on raising them to be canonized, you may be setting yourself up for a lot of long-term therapy sessions if you don't let them know that we're all humans. And that means that they -- like us -- are always wonderful but occasionally flawed.