I remember the Kid Rules growing up in my house. With 6 kids, my mom kept it pretty simple.
Never interrupt Mom on the phone.
Never talk to Mom in the bathroom.
And, most importantly, never, ever, ever page Mom at the grocery store.
This last one is a practice that predates cell phones.
“Mrs. Ross, your daughter is on line 1. Please come to the Service Counter.”
My Mom abhorred this embarrassing practice. But, what’s a girl to do when she’s hungry? Fighting with her brother? Bored?
Ah, but sweet Lord, I never listened. I wanted her attention, when I wanted it. I was okay with just a nod of the head, a little Mhmmm action and barely any eye-contact sometimes, because I knew she was busy and I took what I could get. I didn’t love her less – I got it. She was a busy lady.
And now, fast-forward to Mom Rules 2014.
Make eye contact.
Turn off the cell phone.
Don’t respond to that ding!
Drop everything and listen. Now. Not in 5 minutes, now. Damnit.
We are all painfully aware of just how much damage the internet, the iPhone, the immediate gratification-nation is doing to us Moms. We’re like Dug the dog in Up jumping at the first “squirrel” we can.
Our kids need our undivided attention. Our spouse deserves our eye contact. Our coworkers need our response, not our half-listening Mmmhmms. We know it. We are aware of it. No one should need to wait. Not now, not in this day and age. Not ever.
But, it isn’t easy.
I think the New Techno-World doesn’t remember that most of us women (and men, for that matter) have been preoccupied long before the internet came to pass. To-do lists, around-to-its, deadlines, phone messages (remember answering machines?) and snail mail bills piled up high.
Laundry, unfortunately still exists. Family, friends and communal obligations never left. Moms have always been busy, overwhelmed and distracted. It’s – wait for it – NORMAL.
So, I am here to give you a freakin’ break.
If your pavlovian response is to take a moment to check that ding, just do it. Do it fast. Return to the moment in front of you (or turn off that phone) but, stop feeling so darn guilty. We have enough guilt on our plates without the news and our friends being all judgey.
If you can’t remember the colors of your kid’s eyes and you haven’t had a face to face talk with your husband in days – well, then maybe it is time to step away and do some techno-detox.
By the way, in my house those rules about phone calls, bathroom moments and grocery stores still apply. Although I do find I am way too accessible at the grocery store via text :
Mom, can you get snacks? There’s nothing to eat here.
Mom, this one is bothering me while I do my homework.
Mom, will you be home soon? What’s taking sooooo long??!?
Sure, there’s no page on that loudspeaker. But, responding to all those texts – I definitely take 3 times the time getting through those aisles and bump into a few nice old ladies in the aisles as I text and push.
It is my goal to be present in every moment of my life.
It is my goal to always stop what I am doing, set eyes on my beautiful child and listen. Be in that moment. I try very hard. Sometimes, I am really good at it. But, I am not perfect.
And, guess what? That’s okay.
Credit : Mondays At Racine, HBO Documentary
I am an avoider of pain and pretty much anything remotely near the stink of death.
Perhaps on some level, I feel if I stay far enough away from it I won’t have to succumb to the reality that those I love (and even I) will eventually reach an expiration date. But, as I get older, wiser and, a little more ‘in your face’ I think I’m learning to be okay inching somewhat closer to that reality.
Enter this trailer.
My sister-in-law sent this to me a few weeks back. I was so moved, I had to get in touch with the director of this documentary. She instantly made my fear of all things ‘deathy’ and scary, look so weanie next to these women who faced it head on.
Sadly for me, Director Cynthia Wade was on location in Ireland, but her lovely assistant, Dave (shout out to Dave!) sent me some interviews and information on how this amazing documentary (shown on HBO) developed. Here are some highlights:
As any woman knows, a bad hair day can literally ruin your day. The product gurus at Tresemmé actually performed a study that showed 23% of women don’t even leave their house on a bad hair day!
Director Cynthia Wade became interested in finding out more about women’s beauty and their sense of self-worth. She wanted to uncover how this all played into the lives of the women she followed for 2.5 years filming.
Why is hair so important? That’s really the central question in the film. In the face of a cancer diagnosis, in the face of potentially losing your life, does it matter that much that you’re losing your hair? And yet, it’s such a defining aspect of how we look and how we present ourselves to the world and how the world perceives us. And it was very disturbing for many of the women who would be going into a store that they’ve gone into five years prior with hair and they go in and they don’t have any hair. – Cynthia Wade via NPR.ORG
The women in this film are so open, so raw and so real that anyone who has a fear of being near touching death need not remain so after watching this. They are more full of life, tenacity, love and emotion, then anyone just b*itching on Facebook about cranky kids or bad hair days.
Speaking of those bad hair days:
They don’t have any eyelashes or eyebrows. And they’re not recognized by the storekeepers. They’re not recognized by the other customers. And it was so disturbing to them because, you know, who then am I in the world and how does the world see me? And if these defining features are being taken away from my face, how do I navigate that and how do I navigate my place in the world? - Cynthia Wade via NPR.ORG
So, 2 amazing store owner sisters, who just so happen to be daughters of a cancer survivor, decided to do something pretty awesome to help these women.
They opened their shop once a month on Mondays, as a spa day only for Cancer patients. The rule is these women cannot apologize for themselves or their feelings. What they can do is receive facials, massages, makeovers, spa treatments and hugs, as they say goodbye to old hair and hello to a new ‘do (synthetic or otherwise).
What happens next in this story is the best part. This shop, that started with the mission to make a woman feel beautiful on the outside, becomes a collective support support group for tapping into the enormous, unexpected beauty on the inside. The openness of saying goodbye to that hair opens the floodgates to the anger, the hurt, the pain, the love, the sadness and that will to fight. They talk about collective pain, how dealing with Cancer affects their relationships and their self-worth as a woman. How all women define themselves by a stick of beauty.
It’s not about the ‘hair’ but, its about what hair represents. Our hair helps to set us apart. In a sea of bald heads we’d just meld together, undefinable. But, our hair speaks for us - even before we do.
Curly and unruly, straight or wavy, up or down, short, painstakingly long afterwards. Blonde, brown, black, red or auburn. Highlights, low-lights, foils and touchups.
Hair helps define who we are today and who we were when we were younger. We always dreamed of that hair our friend had or we paid tons of money over the years to look like celebrities in magazines. We cried when we cut it poorly. We straightened it, we crimped it, we curled it and then these poor women shave it or lose it.
And, then in a moment Cancer. When it’s gone – then what? How does a woman express or define her beauty now? Watch and find out…
We all work hard as parents to keep drugs out of our kid’s repertoire. We educate them on the dangers of pot and harder drugs. We teach them to always ‘Say No’.
I discuss these things with my children from Day 1 and it’s incorporated into the very fiber of our family. So, when my kids had trouble falling or staying asleep I felt really ‘icky’ when my pediatrician recommended Melatonin for them.
I asked the usual questions, Is it harmful?, What are the side affects? etc. But, my doctor kept reassuring me that this was a ‘natural’ non-invasive pill that really just enhances our own bodies’ already prevalent Melatinon levels. “Essentially, it’s more like an herbal thing, than anything else” says my friend who swears that Melatonin saved her nights.
So I popped the top and gave my 10 year old her 5 mg pill. Then, a few days later when my oldest had trouble sleeping, I too popped the top and offered him a little purple sleep, as well. Suddenly, all groggy and sleepy we were basically all popping that top. Because, seriously who hasn’t had a rough night falling asleep and if a little purple friend can help us out, well why the heck not?
So, one evening about 5 days into our Melatonin-love-fest I saw my daughter aimlessly walking the hallway with one eye open. She wasn’t feeling at all well but, could barely put two words together in a sentence. She was about 2 hours into her sleep schedule and felt dizzy and nauseous. She wasn’t ‘awake’ enough to take care of herself and vomited all over. Obviously ill, we got her back to bed. But, it was clear that the melatonin was still in her system and making her ultra drowsy while she was sick. I decided to stop giving it to her, that night.
The next evening as I put the Melatonin away in a medicine cabinet, my oldest came up for a ‘hit’. I explained that I didn’t like how sleepy it made them in the morning and the fact that clearly we all were depending on something else to help us sleep. He huffed and went to bed. He was asleep in less than thirty minutes, on his own.
I did some research into circadian rhythms and how to naturally, truly naturally but, not pill-naturally, reset our clocks. With fortitude and a bedtime routine like warm baths, unplugging 1 hour before bed from screens and listening to the amazing power of Marconi Union (seriously, this is better than drugs!) we could all reset our internal clocks and get some much needed rest. Without the help of pills.
New research suggests that Melatonin may not even be safe and fewer medical professionals are recommending this non-FDA approved drug. Please do your research before you start anything and try some more natural ways to reset the clock before we jump on a pill. Let’s teach our kids that we don’t need drugs to help us do something as simple as fall asleep.
Dreaming of a vacation getaway? Someplace warm? Perhaps this Spring Break you’ll finally make your wish come true (I know I will!) Going away for Spring Break is awesome. Sitting in hour long car rides or planes trips, not so much. Some start spring break in just a few short weeks. Start project prep now and stay on top of boredom or bookmark this page and come back later.
Here are my top 5 faves for spring break travel plans to keep little and big ones busy when the iPad battery runs low or the videos have run out….
Keep It Contained
My travel motto, learned after years of road trips, is always Keep It Contained. Whatever ‘it’ is, it can’t roll around and fall to the floor every minute. So, here is a a genius plan-ahead activity that can be adapted to whatever projects or printouts your little one loves. This could be a fun pre-trip prep with an older one, as well. I would put my 14 year old or 10 year old on this project, I am sure she’d love making it ahead of time for my preschooler.
Solving, Are We There Yet?
You are about to say thank you. I know it. Who hasn’t almost stopped the car in hour 10 in the car, after the Are We There Yet and the I’m Boreds took over?
Create this little paper chain. Attach to back of your seat and let them rip off one per hour (or for shorter trips you can determine the intervals). You can include little jokes, projects, games, out of the window things to look for etc. and keep them entertained for hours. When you get there and they rip that last chain off, you’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief. Well, you’re welcome.
Have Lego Fans, Will Travel
My daughters love lego. It can keep them entertained for hours. But, with my Keep It Contained rules, well that’s a toughie. Until, I found this little smartypants article that solved my lego problem and made my spring trip plans oh, so much easier. And, for other amazing lego storage ideas visit here.
Paris, For Big Kids
This would be an amazing Euro travel idea or really fun for any preteen or teen traveler. Simply visit this site and print out a tiny little Paris to be colored, cut, folded and imagined. Placed in a decorated box this could provide a full trip of fun and imagination. Voila!
Bored Board Games
Depending on the age, dusting off those old trivia games could be an excellent time passer for kids. Worst Case Scenario cards, Trivial Pursuit (even jr. addition for the little ones) or Would You Rather can be played amongst the kids or read by the passenger in the front seat. You could go one further and have the kids make up the cards prior to the trip. Especially excellent idea if you’re older kids are home a few days prior to the trip. Stick cards in a ziplock and off you go!
Where ever you’re headed this spring break, make sure its warm & the snacks are plentiful. Have a great trip!!
11:00 pm Wednesday night. My son calls me from his room downstairs on my cell.
“Mom. My stomach kills.”
I go to his room and check on him. At nearly 17, this one rarely complains about ailments and really never needs my help for a stomachache. I’m on alert. I check on him and he doesn’t look ‘right’. Mother’s intuition kicks in and I touch the right side of his stomach. He looks pained, but not too bad. Something in me insists he must go the ER. I had my appendix out in 2010 and I know the signs. Off he goes with Dad.
I go back to bed. Exhausted, after an already long day caring for my sick daughters, 2 of 3 have fevers and bad coughs. I myself, have been sick for a week. I try to sleep, no avail. My phone texts back with hubby checking in. I doze off for about ten minutes when my ‘ding’ awakes me. “Appendicitis. Surgery in a few hours.”
I lay awake, wondering what to do. It’s 3 am and I have about 3 hours until surgery. If I leave now, my 14 year old will not be conscious enough to watch her sisters. I contemplate how complicated parenting and emergencies are – wake a friend? Call my sister in the middle of the night, who just started a new job? Just stay home and let my son handle surgery with just his Dad?
I suddenly freak out that my preschooler has Moms Day at school at 9. She’s been so excited, I can’t miss it.
Nothing feels right. And, at 4 am, exhausted and with one eye open, I call my parents. Thousands of miles away I just need to talk it out. I wake up my Dad and decide I want to go to the hospital. I want to be there. I wake up my 14 year old at 5 am, grateful to have a child old enough to help out in an emergency. She’s amazing and jumps to help.
Surgery successful, until the nurse tells me because my son is no longer a child, I cannot go in to see him in recovery. Ugh. Thanks for the painful reminder.
Once I do get to see his face and kiss his cheek, I run out the door to Moms Day. Pushing on adrenaline, I am oddly reminded of the following Different Strokes Episode where Arnold gets his appendix out, as I drive the car on going on 1 hour of sleep.
With Moms Day success, I run home to check on my girls. Then, run back to the hospital to relieve my husband and let him get some much needed rest. I sit next to my son as he sleeps, reminding myself that even though he’s almost an adult he looks so innocent and sweet and vulnerable laying there in that bed.
I am grateful, that I had my own appendix removed a few years earlier and by some miracle, immediately recognized the signs. I am thankful that he’s going to be just fine. I feel blessed that we are lucky enough to be surrounded with great friends as the texts and phone calls start to pour in. Offers of help, food, kindness and rest.
Lately, I have had this worry that as my children grow, I will no longer have a job as Mother. My job is 18 years and done.
Then, what? But, I am learning that truly being a parent doesn’t end, it just morphs. You go from Life Support to Life Coach to an occasional check-in, in the blink of an eye. I’m 39 and at 4 am, in crisis mode called my dad in the middle of the night. Total instinct.
I will try to remember, in a few months when we say goodbye to my son for a year abroad, that he really will still need us sometimes. My job as a parent isn’t ‘done’ - it’s just changed. He no longer needs me in the recovery room, but will let me know in longer term healing, how I can help.
I guess, we’ll see how it all plays out.
“You don’t know what you talkin’ bout, Sara” I chuckle to myself, as my head finally finds a pillow.
And then, I go to sleep.