It is this question that puzzles me: If I have become this person who is all work and no play, a place where fun comes to die, why am I so happy experiencing this amazing gift of life that God has granted me? Why do the days fly by even when I’m not having fun?
My son left for summer camp in the big woods of northern Wisconsin last week. We have no contact with him, no email, phone calls or texts and although I can write to him as much as I like, “Mom, I’m not writing you any letters.”
Today, July 13, is the birthday of the original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut. And knowing that makes today just a little bit sweeter.
It’s a perfect day — a slight breeze stirring the trees, 73 degrees, sunny. I should be at peace, grateful, full of joy as I soak up the sun, the children’s voices and the gift of greeting my kids after school. I’m not.
Sunday is Father’s Day. Despite the media onslaught, I did not realize this until my dad told me. I am faced with the decision that has haunted me since second grade, “What do I get my dad for Father’s Day?”
It’s minus something outside. Cold enough to cancel school, cold enough to stay indoors all day, cold enough to wonder why we live this far north of moderate and cold enough for my kids to invite that other kid, “I’m so bored” over to not play.
A few days ago my son said something inappropriate to his little sister. She tattled. I yelled. His father asked, “Where did you learn to say that?” “Where?” “Who taught you to say those words?” “Well, who was it?”
A heartfelt Christmas wish.
The decision to give my daughter her own cell phone was a big one in our family and I am still conflicted about a 12-year-old having their own phone. After we purchased the plan, bought the phone, and I resigned myself to the decision, I realized that though I thought I was ready, I wasn’t.
My children and I spend hours each day driving around their over-scheduled lives. I try to use the time in the car productively. They watch educational videos about light sabers, learn about Barbie and work on conflict resolution. I also try to talk to my kids without yelling, making a directed effort to work on the art of conversation.
I never used to care about being the bad guy. I never cared if my children liked me or not. I assumed they did, even if I was the bad guy. But my older daughter is now in junior high and I’m beginning to sense she doesn’t like me anymore. All of a sudden I care about being the bad guy.
I so want to get this right. The breakfast, the lunches, the 20 questions game that I wish he would play with something more appropriate, like a cheetah. I want my older daughter to be kind and generous to a crying little sister, and I so do not want to set a tooth fairy precedent of 20 bucks a tooth.
We pride ourselves on our good sense and parenting. We never yell at him about practicing more or missing shots in a game. I’m thinking about all this, the kid whose dad yells at him and our own smugness about our great parenting as my husband is yelling “restaurant” at my son this morning. They are reviewing spelling words.
I’m an easy one for ice cream stands on a summer afternoon. I’m partial to soft serve, the kind that comes in a twist on a flat bottomed cone. The kind you lick all the way down to the cone and then get the treat of eating the combination of soft ice cream and a crispy, sugary cone.
I don’t like being a homemaker, whatever that is. I am not a housewife, I can’t fold a fitted sheet and I massacre the grocery budgets. Stay-at-home mom is a complete misnomer, I am never home. There really isn’t a simple title for “I made a difficult choice to quit my career. A choice that challenges me to stand up for something I believe in, something I decided to do eight years ago, raise children who spend more time with me than with the nanny.”
Gone fishing. In Maraya Steadman’s absence this summer, please enjoy one of her retro columns, first published in September 2009.
It’s late summer so we are doing summer things, like going to art fairs when its 90 degrees outside. There is no dad in America who thinks this is a good idea.
A Mom’s Guilt-free Diet for Summer Vacation.
I read a lot of parenting books. Books about what to expect, what to say, what to buy, how to talk, how to listen, setting limits, setting goals, setting standards, counting blessings, counting costs and counting to three. Now that I’ve been a parent for a while and I’ve read the books, I feel qualified to comment.
As I pushed a cart around the store’s produce section, I wondered where she was, the mother of C.J. Boyd, which one of these women was she? Which one lost her son? Or maybe it’s a father or a sister who is here in the store with me, carrying their grief as they shop for ordinary things.
I don’t like being cold. I don’t like being wet and cold. Ergo, I don’t like water parks.
Whoever came up with these things anyway? Probably not your neighborhood environmentalist and not me either.
My scars, the jagged edges, illuminate paths I want my children to take and shadow those I want them to avoid. I don’t want my children jumping fences. I want them to act sensibly, walk around, use the gate, that’s what gates are for.
I’m making a “healthy breakfast” recipe I pulled from the New York Times. I core the apples, slice them in thin circles, cover the slices in peanut butter, layer them on top of each other, sprinkle them with brown sugar and cut the apple slices in half. The coffee is brewing, the dog has been out and fed and he is now asleep in the front room, the heat works and I’m happy. I’m having a good time, until my kids show up.
Mother’s Day is supposed to be about me, so I’m not supposed to do anything. My family tries to do the stuff I would normally do: make dinner, clean the house, pick up the dog poop in the backyard.
My kids think a great vacation is staying anywhere that has a pool, a vending machine and a television. But we decided to super-size that idea and instead of just taking them to the Holiday Inn Express on the back side of Phoenix, we went to an all-inclusive family resort in Mexico.
I have an organized linen closet. It’s the only thing in my life that is organized. I’ve got the sheets folded and stacked according to size, the towels sorted by color, baskets for washcloths. Every time I open the door it makes me happy, this microcosmic fantasy life in my upstairs hall.
I can’t deal with broccoli. My son will only eat the bottoms not the tops; my older daughter will only eat the tops and not the bottoms, and only if it’s raw and slathered in ranch dressing. My youngest has now decided it doesn’t matter what I do to it — tops, bottoms, cooked, raw, ranch dressing, maple syrup, ketchup or cream cheese frosting — she won’t eat broccoli at all.
B drives the girls to hockey practice on Tuesdays and I drive on Thursdays, so I get to enjoy Tuesday afternoons. I make dinner, help the kids with their homework and wonder if this is what life would be like if we weren’t scheduled into the abyss. But this Tuesday, B didn’t show up.
I am in the car on a Saturday morning driving my daughter to ballet class. “Mom, I don’t think I’m going to follow my dream.”
Yesterday I took my son and his friend skating outside where it was 18 degrees under the lights. My son is ready to go; he’s wearing a light warm-up jacket. I tell him to go get his winter coat. He runs around the house and arrives in the front hall ready to go, again, in a light warm-up jacket.