I got frustrated with my Fitbit recently when it recorded a gut-busting hour-long cross-training workout as "three very active minutes." If the Fitbit people are taking feature requests, I'd like to see an update that allows you to carefully fine-tune its definition of very active by telling it to eat a bag of dicks.
Anyway, this made me think how there are certain parenting activities that seem WAY more physically challenging than they actually are. Like if you bothered to enter them in a fitness/meal-tracking app, you'd probably learn that you burned the caloric equivalent of one slice of cucumber (no peel), but at the time, they feel as exhausting as running a marathon. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways.
Back in 2011 we said goodbye to our wonderful yellow Lab, and while I initially thought we wouldn't wait very long to get a new pet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn't ready. I missed having a dog, but then I'd think about the mess, the responsibility, and the overall work it would take to add another needy creature to my cacophonous household. No thanks.
We finally adopted another adult Lab a few weeks ago, and here's what I've realized: I had it ALL WRONG. Sure, dogs can gunk up your carpet and hose your vacation plans and charge up millions of dollars in vet bills, but they also serve the purpose of being incredibly rewarding in nearly every area of life your children are not.
My children used to earn allowances. The 8-year-old got $2 per week, and my 6-year-old got a dollar. For a while the biggest challenge was finding the cash (this is the same problem we always face when the Tooth Fairy's presence is required), then I found myself wondering why I was just blindly handing out money each week when the recipients weren't exactly holding up their end of the deal.
I don't do allowances anymore. This may change in the future, but here's what I ended up thinking: my kids shouldn't get paid for helping out around the house. Especially if they're continually doing a crappy job at it.
When I was a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Bill Cosby's Himself album. I had the LP and I'd play it over and over, laughing like a loon each and every time. Years later when I worked in a video shop, I'd put the VHS version on the monitors scattered throughout the store and watch as customers would cluster around a TV and snicker at Cosby's dramatic reenactment of his and his wife's Lamaze breathing: "Zup wuff snuff whoosh, push, push."
I listened to that stand-up routine so much I can still recite entire bits word for word, but it's only now that I have children that I truly realize the depth of his genius. Bill Cosby captured more parenting truths in that one album that anyone has ever published before or since, and I swear, not a day goes by that I don't find myself mired in some kid-related frustration and think to myself, Bill Cosby told me this would all happen ... 30 YEARS AGO.
The other day I was putting dirty clothes in the washing machine when I noticed the box of dryer sheets had gone missing. Not the contents of the box, mind you, the sheets themselves were strewn all over the place nearby: piled haphazardly on the shelf where I keep the detergent and whatnot, scattered across the tops of the washer and dryer, and drifting gently around the floor.
You've heard of the idiom the straw that broke the camel's back, right? The idea that cataclysmic failure is triggered by a seemingly inconsequential action? In terms of overall parental frustrations for the day, that stolen box of dryer sheets was definitely my final straw. It's always something dumb like that, something that in the grand scheme of things doesn't seem worth getting mad about. But that's the thing about having a breaking point … eventually, you break.
Have you seen the "No-Bullshit, No-Drama Friendship Manifesto" that's been shared all over Facebook? It's from a blog post published on Renegade Mothering, and I've seen it linked over and over from moms who are like, "THIS." Or "YES." Or "THIS. YES."
The no-BS friendship manifesto has some great stuff in it that I fully identify with. Like when she says "When you swear in front of my kids I won’t care. Because obviously." Or "Maybe your house is clean. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe who gives a rat’s ass?"
But the stuff about giving our fellow moms a free pass on being complete and utter flakes? Dude. No. No, no, no, no. Being a parent doesn't mean we should treat our friends like they aren't important to us.
The other day I was looking at some weird photo of Lady Gaga in her typical WTF makeup when my oldest son came up behind me and peered at the laptop screen. "I don't even think that person is real," he said, frowning. "She's just made out of pointy things and ... like, feathers?"
It got me thinking that it would be funny to show him various images of pop culture topics and ask for his opinion on what they're all about. You know, the Kardashians, Fifty Shades of Grey, Beyonce -- what do these things mean to a kid who has no idea who or what they are?
Without further ado, here's how an 8-year-old explains ...
My oldest son will be 9 years old next month, and I do not suffer from that common motherly state of disbelief that my precious little newborn could possibly be such a big kid. Sure, I get nostalgic over his baby photos and all, but the reality is that it feels pretty much exactly like it's been 9 years. The part I can't wrap my head around is my own age: if I add 9 to my age when I gave birth to him, it would seem that I am officially 40 and change now. What?
There's no point in wasting too much energy fighting the aging process, since the alternative is, well, DEATH, but that doesn't mean I don't have a few complaints. For instance, here's my list of the most annoying things about being a 40+ mom.
Two days into our family road trip vacation, I realized something: being with kids is far more enjoyable without the distractions and responsibilities of everyday life. Without housecleaning, grocery shopping, work deadlines, or school schedules, things are just ... calmer. Less grating. Richer and sweeter.
Duh, right? Of course everything's better when you're on vacation. But after nine days of driving around Oregon, staying in everything from luxurious ranch cabins to a $50 bare-bones motel room in the middle of nowhere, I feel like I got a much-needed parenting reboot that just might help get me through the rest of the summer -- plus some lessons in how I can bring some of that vacation magic into our regular life.
If you are a parent and you have a computer, I'm sure you've seen the article titled "6 Words You Should Say Today." Sometimes it's shared under different titles: "The Only 6 Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids," "This Is the Only Parenting Tip You'll Ever Need," "6 Words You MUST Say to Your Children or You're Literally the Worst and Should Go to Jail," etc. The gist of it is that saying "I love to watch you play" is the best thing you can say to your child when they're doing an activity like sports or playing a game -- much more powerful than praising or criticizing their performance.
Here's the problem with that oh-so-viral command: what if you do NOT love watching them play, not at all, not even a little bit? What if watching them play is so insanely boring, it makes your brain feel like it's liquifying and is on the verge of erupting from your eye sockets in a wall-splattering fountain of grayish-red gore?
Because that, friends, is exactly how I feel about Minecraft.