The Crazy Kid Years

Kids. I had three in five years, two of them boys. I was dealing with colic and the terrible twos at the same time.

God how I miss that.

Crazy, right?

Today I made a sauce. My daughter is still away at school. The kid who turned me grey is living in Florida. My other son, the good one, worked all day and is now out with friends. He’s 25 so there’s no curfew, no waiting up, even if there is still some nagging.

Where I’d once be trying to cook while breaking up fights over game controllers, tv remotes, who is standing in front of the tv, and all of the other things that three kids fight over, today I made sauce and didn’t have one fight to break up, no, “Maaaaaa,” from the other room. No kid coming in to sneak a meatball out of a sauce that wasn’t ready.

I would have loved to have a kid coming in to sneak a meatball. I would have handed one over willingly.

It isn’t the first time that it hit me, but it still hit pretty hard. My kids are grown. They’re not underfoot driving me crazy, making me wish it was almost bedtime.

Instead they’re off doing all of the things I wanted them to be doing, and I wish I had more time.

I would give anything to be pleading with them to stop killing each other, wiping up a spilled juice box for the 57th time in an hour, or even to be yelling at my son to please learn how to pee in the toilet, even when he was 18.

It goes so fast. Like way too fast, and we don’t realize it because we’re so busy worrying about a bunch of stupid things that we probably shouldn’t be worried about, like if the house is a mess or they’re peeing in the toilet or all over the damn bathroom. Ok, so I don’t actually miss the pee part, just the mad pee-er.

My daughter lived in Germany last year. My little baby girl, who hated dance and could give her brothers as good as she got, sent me a text one day that she was in Italy. I laughed remembering waiting up for her and wondering how we went from her being at a party two blocks over to being a continent away and not always being sure which country she was in.

It goes so fast, like so freakin fast! Did I say that already?

We worry about stupid things as our kids grow up, things like if other parents would be horrified at how often we dropped the F bomb in frustration, or not even in frustration. We stress over how many times our kids peed in their pants while being potty trained  as if they were going to be walking at graduation in a Pull-Up.

If I could go back, I’d let them pee wherever they wanted, and I’d probably drop the F bomb at a few parents I thought were idiots, well maybe a little more than I probably did. I’d worry less about the fruit snacks and cheerios that always seemed to be scattered across the living room.

I would have enjoyed it more. I mean I enjoyed it, but all that nonsense sometimes took away from the moments, the important moments.

I remember trying to remember all of the moments, as they happened, the way it felt when my son put his little hand in mine, the way my other son knew to throw his arms around me when he did something bad, that my daughter always seemed to know who she was, even at 5.  I spent a lot of time freezing moments in my brain knowing there was going to be a time I’d want to relive them.

That time is now. I made a sauce today and instead of breaking up fights or pleading with them to let the meatballs cook, they are all grown and doing their own thing. I’m proud of who they are and what they are doing.

Still I’d give anything to be screaming at them to please stop killing one another. I’d give anything to go check on them because they are being too quiet and find them laughing together, because, at the end of the day, they loved as hard as they fought.

So if you’re breaking up fights, pulling your hair out, or wondering how long before you can pour a glass of wine, or two, or even three, take a moment and freeze it, look at those faces, those little hands, and cherish the moment. One day you’ll miss it. Pour that glass of wine too. It will definitely help.

This goes for parents of teenagers too, especially parents of teenagers. I’m pretty sure tequila is a better option than wine, but that’s another conversation.

Seriously though, while you’re wishing for nap time or bedtime to come so that you can have a little freedom, some peace, or even a moment to breathe, know that the day will come that you will be sitting there doing whatever you feel like doing, and its really really awesome, but you’ll still miss those other days where you were sure that your life was a potential reality show.

It goes incredibly fast. One day you have a newborn on your chest. The next, you’re wondering where the time has gone.

If you’re lucky enough to have your kids there, go hug them, tell them you love them, right now, even if you can’t stand them. Because this is a moment you are not getting back.

 

 

 

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Squads, Crews, BFFs

My squad is ever evolving. Or is it crew? Or bunch of BFFs? I don’t know what to call them. I only know that I can tell you I love them all madly.

I believe in the beauty of women and the beauty in friendships among women.

Out of all of the wisdom I have tried to impart on my daughter, it has been that women are strong, beautiful, loyal, and to surround herself with the ones who will always have her back, even when they know she’s messed up.

Don’t believe the myth that women can’t be friends. We can be. We are.

I have surrounded myself with women who are accomplished, smart, amazing, and loyal. I know that the women in my life have my back. They know that I have their backs.

In a major way.

There is a narrative out there that women can’t be friends, that we’re catty, that we cut one another down. Do those women exist? Sure. They do. But they are the minority.

My friends are beautiful, not just Christie Brinkley beautiful, but beautiful in the ways that matter. We  look out for one another.

I had a friend recently help me out at work. If that wasn’t enough, she was telling everyone she thought I was gorgeous.

I’m 50. I look in the mirror and see crows feet, an extra chin, maybe a little muffin top. My friend missed all of that. She sees other things, things that she loves me for, and I love her for that.

In return, I look at her and see a beautiful person who is generous and kind. I don’t notice her hair or if her boobs are sagging. Actually, I noticed how great her hair looked and that she seemed to be glowing.

And if anyone thought differently, I’d tell them where to go, maybe with some strong language. Ok, so definitely with some strong language.

Girls rule. I believe that, like in my heart of hearts. I look at all of the women in my life that I love, that love me, and I am grateful. I want that for my daughter. I want her to have friends who will have her back, who will love her no matter what, even when they think she’s wrong, especially when they think that she’s wrong.

Because we all need friends who will tell us when we mess up, even if they use different language. We all need friends who will tell us to get it together, that we deserve more, that they deserve more.

That’s what friendship is about. That’s what sisterhood is about. It is about unconditional love.  It is about knowing that your friend’s truth is really about loving you, even while giving you the hard truth.

If you cannot look at the people in your life and know that their love is unconditional, you should walk out the door, like immediately, and find people who will love you no matter what.

Girls rule. Like really rule. Don’t buy the crap that women can’t be friends. We are amazing friends. We are the kind of friends who will cry when your heart is broken, hold your hand when you need lifting, glare at the person who did you wrong, and lift you up when your options seem limited.

If you don’t have that now, go out and find it, because there is nothing better than a woman who loves and supports you. Or women. You deserve them.

If you don’t have them, go find them.

I believe in girl power, not in the exclusion of men, but in addition.

 

Women rock. We may not rule the world, yet, but we should.

We are smart, accomplished, beautiful, loyal, and amazing. I have a squad. I love them. They love me. That’s how it should be.

Girls rule. We totally rule!

 

The Love You Take

Love. Its all about love. Always.

I sat with a friend recently who doesn’t know how incredible she is. Like, she’s amazing. So why doesn’t she see it?

I was her once. I spent years in a relationship that broke me down. I believed the worst things about myself because a partner, someone who was supposed to love me, made me believe I was less than worthy.

So I sat with this person I love, this amazing person who is strong, this person who has overcome so much, and I had trouble with the fact that she doesn’t see what I see.

She’s not the only one. I talk to so many fabulous women who downplay what they are, who they are.

Why?

What is so wrong about recognizing our worth? What is so wrong with saying, “I’m friggin awesome!”

I know I’m awesome. It took me too long to realize that though. Why?!

We need to build up our daughters, our sons, our sisters, our brothers. No. Not in an everyone gets a trophy kind of way, but in a way that we all know that we have value, even if we are flawed.

We are all imperfect, but those imperfections make us human.

I sat with someone last week who made me cry. She made me cry because of the things she saw in me, things I did not see in myself. And that was even with believing I knew my worth. I guess I didn’t because she saw things, said things, that shook me, in a good way.

We all need someone who sees those things in us. Yeah, so we should all be able to see those things in ourselves, but if we can’t, well, we need a reminder, a friend who will say, “hey, you’re incredible, and here are all of the reasons why.”

I can give every person I love a list of things that I love about them. A long list.

Its all about love. We go through life working, learning, trying to figure stuff out, but its about love, who we love, who loves us.

If you can’t figure out what it is that makes you lovable, ask someone who claims to love you. If they can’t tell you, run, like immediately, run, really really fast, and find someone else. Because you are worthy of love.

Love makes the world go round. It really does. If you don’t feel loved, something is wrong. If you don’t love the people in your life with all of your being, something is wrong.

We are all worthy of love, of being loved. Every single one of us. So go get it. Accept it. Own it. Demand it. And never apologize for it.

It is always about love.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff. So they say. Wait. Who’s they? And what’s wrong with the small stuff?

Yesterday I went to lunch and then did some shopping with my daughter. Today I did the same with a friend. No. I’m not loaded. No. I’m not even close to loaded. So if I’m not loaded, what am I?

Grateful. Yup. Grateful that I did an inexpensive lunch with my daughter after shopping in an outlet store. Grateful that the next day, I had enough cash on me, after losing my debit card for the 800th time, to go have a cheapie bottomless brunch with one of my closest friends.

So why do I feel this is something worth writing about?  Well, because I feel like we are all running around like chickens without a head. I feel like we are all worried about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

You know what matters? The time I spent with my daughter where we tried on outfits that we hated, but laughed about our bellies or arm fat or any of the other stupid things that don’t really matter. I was in a dressing room with my beautiful daughter. She was happy. There was no outfit that was ever going to match that.

You know what else matters? That I sat across a table from a friend who rebuilt her life, a friend who is beautiful in every way. She doesn’t see it, yet. One day she will. For now, I see it for her. And I sat there with her, admiring her growth, loving the person she is, and feeling grateful that somehow she found her way into my life.

How many times do we hear, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” I spent a weekend paying attention to the small stuff, to the way the light fell on my daughter’s face when she laughed at something silly I said, to the way my friend’s eyes lit up when she talked about a triumph at her new job, the way she was beginning to see what I see, that she is amazing, that she is incredibly strong.

I sweat the small stuff, all of it. I believe that the love is in the details, all of the details. So sweat the small stuff. Ok, maybe don’t sweat it, but pay attention. Notice what makes your heart skip a beat. Pay attention to the smile your kid is sporting. Look in the mirror and love what you see. All that stuff, well, that’s what makes the world go round.

Love makes the world go round. Forget being the change you wish to see in the world. Be the love you want to see. Sweat the small stuff. It matters.

 

Kids Making Their Parents Look Bad

My kid was an a******. There. I said it.

What I am grateful for is the fact that my kid grew up in a time when kids had the freedom to be a******, and then get over it.

Now? Forget it. So much is in place to be sure that EVERYONE in the world knows that your kid is the a*******. Forget that it could be their kids, or that it is often their kids. For now those holier than thou mothers have some kind of proof that its  your kid. Oh, and by proof, I mean, their kids told them.

We have come so far in terms of recognizing bullying and how it can affect our kids. We have come so far in understanding that victims deserve to be heard and believed. But there is no balance. Where is the balance?

Years ago, too many years ago, I wrote about a father calling me to apologize because he went out and his son raided the liquor cabinet. My son had actually made an excuse and escaped Dodge. It was probably the one time in his life that he avoided trouble, but that father apologized to me as if going out and having liquor in his house was a crime.

I sympathized with that father because I remembered my own teenage years. I knew some of the the things I had done. And no parent should ever be a prisoner in his/her home because they have a bottle of wine, a six pack, or even a fully stocked liquor cabinet.

Also, I was realistic. I knew that kids were going to try to find ways around the rules and do things that they shouldn’t do, things we, as parents, tried to protect them from. Still, I knew that there were going to be things I could never prevent. And I said silent prayers that my kids would come through the other side of it and be ok.

It was not always an easy road. One out of three of my kids gave me a run for my money. There were sleepless nights, a lot of cursing, more cursing, legal fees, and most importantly, a lot of love, unconditional love, even when it was tough love.

What I am grateful for is that my kids escaped the “social media” years. They were teens right before the smart phone and social media explosion. Oh, my, God, am I grateful for that because I’m reasonably sure that even my smartest most centered kid would have done something stupid on social media or something that would have been social media-worthy. Oh, and that means they would have drawn the attention of some parent who was oblivious to the fact that their own little Jane or Johnny was capable of the same behavior.

So I don’t write about my kid being an a******** because I have this great desire to out my kid. I write it because I know a lot of parents with kids who are going through some of the things I went through. The difference is they are doing it now with smart phones and social media, and parents who are, well, a********.

So parents and potential parents, please remember what you did as a kid. You were perfect? Ok, I’ve stopped laughing hysterically. If you were perfect, have some compassion. For the rest of you who had normal teenage years, where you did stupid things, but didn’t have to worry that colleges and jobs were stalking your social media, you know, when you posted your stupidity, please have a little patience, some understanding, and maybe show some generosity towards those who are human, who have behaved in a human way.

My kid was an a******* but how I love him. He has great things in him, but even if he didn’t, I still love him, just like you love your kid.

I promise not to judge yours if you promise not to judge mine. And I promise to help yours through whatever stage he’s going through if you promise the same.

I’m a mother. That’s what we do. That’s what we all should do.

Where to Sleep in the Snow

IMG_5007If you live in the Northeast you were inconvenienced by the snow. You had to worry about how to get to work, how to get home. You had to worry about how you’d pick up the kids from school.

Then, if you were like me, you said a secret little prayer that your job would be closed, and you could stay home and spend a glorious day in your pajamas.

If you had to go to work, oh well.

What  you didn’t have to worry about was whether or not you were trying to find someplace warm to sleep, the train station, a supermarket, a 24 hour fast food place that would let you stay if you ordered something from the dollar menu.

I was taking pictures tonight of the snow. You know, because Instagram would die if I didn’t post some picture of the snow, a picture that a million other people were posting.

While taking that picture I thought about all of the people out there who weren’t taking pictures of the beauty, but were instead wondering where to go to escape the brutal cold.

Not everyone had the luxury of posting a pic and then wondering which filter to use. Not everyone had the luxury of taking a pic and then pulling up a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and turning up the heat.

Some people looked at the snow and wondered how they were going to sleep tonight. Some wondered if the train station waiting room would be full, would be safe, would offer shelter.

Some looked at the snow and wondered how they could make the store by bus and get milk for their kids considering all of the people who could beat them by car, people who were worrying whether they had enough junk food to make it through a possible snow day. Those people weren’t worried how their kids would eat or if they’d be warm.

So while some of us were looking at the snow, while we were seeing the beauty, there were some who didn’t view it that way. They were seeing the hardship, living the hardship.

I posted pictures of serene scenes. Then I watched Netflix with my son. After that I turned up my heat. Then I thought about all of the people who didn’t have those options, the people who were trying to figure out if they’d be sleeping in a train station waiting room or a Dunkin Donuts. Or in the snow.

Then I felt guilty. Because we live in a country with unimaginable wealth. And we have kids living in homeless shelters. For years.

For now though all I could do was post pictures on social media and be grateful that I have a roof over my head, that my kids are safe, and that I am not sleeping in a train station.

But please feel free to like my Instagram photo.

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. We shouldn’t need a day. Every single day should be our day. What would that look like?

Imagine (yeah, I’m stealing from John), imagine we lived in a world where you’d be a hero for going out in  your pink robe and no makeup. You know, sort of like Hef did for years and years and years.

Imagine if while checking out the latest headlines, tabloid news wasn’t as popular, more popular, than what is actually going on in the world. And maybe if the tabs can’t be knocked off the top, we would hear more about Angelina’s work with refugees than we do about if she’s over Brad.

Imagine men worrying about showing up at the beach and if their beer belly is hanging over their bathing suit the way women worry if a stretch mark peeks out or if maybe their tummy isn’t as taut as it once was. And actually I don’t want men to worry about that, but the reality is that they don’t. Let’s be like them.

Imagine that the women who are attending marches are marching even for the women that don’t believe all of the things that they believe, and that they are marching for women to have different opinions, like, as in different, not the same. We don’t have to be cookie cutter. Gross. Why would we ever want that!

Imagine we celebrate the women in our lives, the women who empower us, support us, love us, even the ones that need a little help learning  how to be a friend, because, well, there are a lot of misconceptions out there that women can’t get along, and some women actually believe that. But we can. We do.

Imagine that International Women’s Day didn’t happen once a year. Imagine that we saw the beauty and the value every second of every day. If we did that, we wouldn’t need a march or a day or anything else.

Take a look around you. You know a lot of amazing women. I promise you that. Tell the women in your life how incredible they are. Some may know it. Some may need to hear it. Don’t just do it today though. Do it tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and keep going.