Archives for category: Family

After all the appointments and labs and testing and we did manage to live it up in Austin and Waco. Because as Toodle said, “Mom, let’s jump into the fun!”

Agreed.

And so we did.

IMG_1380

So did we stalk Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper? That’s the big question. And for an answer, I mean, define “stalk.” Actually, don’t do that because I’ll probably end up on some list somewhere. Ope, too late. I’m already on it.

So, if we define “stalk” as going to the market and perhaps craning our necks to see if they were there, then, yes, we totally stalked them.

But, alas, they were not there. The stop wasn’t a total waste, however. The store was beautiful. And I know they have the big silos now, but I gotta say I’m happy we saw the original location, where it all began.

Tree Trunk Tabletops

“K-Hubs” did a lot of shopping. He wanted to see all the things, and “he” bought an inordinate amount of home decor.

K-Hubs at Magnolia Market

I cannot even with how adorable and peaceful and relaxing and happy and BUSY that store was.

Magnolia Market Peaceful

I also love that K-Hubs took a picture of his ladies under the word “unexpected.” This photo op, he said, was totally planned because as far as his life went, the girls and I were not. Getting married and having children were completely unexpected. In fact, by the time we met, he had moved on from the idea of ever having a wife and children.

Unexpected

So there you have it. The girls and I were a “surprise.”

Back to unstalking. Okay, so, many people. Lots of crowding. So much to see.

One of the amazing sales associates totally played with the girls so “K-Hubs” could shop. Thank heavens because “K-Hubs” wanted to look at all the things a few times over.

We didn’t come away empty-handed. Please also notice my amazing photography skills.

Magnolia Market Storefront

We did get the skinny on what happens behind the scenes. For example, Chip is more likely to visit the store than Joanna, who is typically busy holding down the homefront. I believe they were filming while we were there, so neither Chip nor Joanna was in the store. One employee actually looked a little like Joanna, so I kept seeing her thinking, oh! There she is. Nope. Same employee. Still not Joanna.

What about prices? Well, “K-Hubs” scored some pretty sweet deals. Prices were totally reasonable.

We also stayed in nice hotels, especially in Austin. Although, I mean, honestly, who even cares about our hotels when we can talk Fixer Upper. But just so you know, Austin rocks some pretty amazing accommodations.

Palace hotel

Like this one. Toodle thought it was a castle. I kind of thought it was, too. “Queen Mama, we must dance,” she told me. So we did. We danced right there in the lobby. Labs and medical appointments were done. OVER. So, yes, we danced and celebrated, just the two of us, right there in the lobby in front of the highbrows. Because we could.

Palace Hotel 2

Queen Mama We Must Dance 1

And then we dined out for the first time since starting this new lifestyle. Whole Foods in Austin is like Grand Central Station. Place was huge. Okay, but this is the amazing part. I went to the meat counter, and still learning how to order for Toodle, I told the guy I wanted chicken or turkey with as few ingredients as possible. He said he had one in back but it wasn’t prepared and ready to be sold. Okay, I said, no worries. And then there was another kind right there. It had a few more ingredients. I said it would probably do for us. So I bought it.

Whole Foods Austin

As we moved around the salad bar, filling containers with fruits and veggies, this same guy came over to us, invited us back to the meat counter and pulled out the turkey from the back, had it prepped, and then gave us a sample. “I just think you’ll like this one better, and it will meet your dietary needs better.” Holy cow.

So then he took back the inferior meat we had just gotten and gave us the new stuff. Then he said, “I am going off shift, and I get to wow people, but I haven’t wowed anyone today. How about I wow you by giving you another package of this turkey for free?” Wow, in-freaking-deed. We got two pounds of meat for the price of one. Someone check my pulse.

Dining Out for the First Time

Guys, if you ever get a chance, dine at Whole Foods in Austin, Texas. It’s a madhouse. But it won’t disappoint.

Seriously, the girls thought it was Times Square. Their heads were exploding, what with the fancy hotels, amazing Magnolia Market, and Whole Foods.

And this has nothing to do with anything I have written so far, but on the way down, we hit crazy cold weather. During one lunch at a truck stop, the girls and I plopped ourselves in the back of the rented tank while K-Hubs sat out in the cold, in July, and ate his avocado chicken like the good husband and father he is. And this would be why we love K-Hubs.

K-Hubs takes One for the Team

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This blog post has been in my head for about three weeks now. After today’s shenanigans, it’s just time to write it.

I’m calling it. The summer. Fun. Gloriousness. It’s all over. We are in the throes of the dog days of humid hell. Toodle was all, “I’m bored with all the things,” and I thought, how can she be bored with all the things? How can she not love every fun thing we’re doing? We traveled to Texas and visited the Magnolia Market from “Fixer Upper.” We went to a family reunion at a water park. And then went to a reunion of K-Hubs’ college buddies, which included my cousins and their children. How can that not be so much fun? Well, it was. But that was then and this is now. Plus, she knows school is just around the corner, and school means friends and socializing and probably learning, but mostly socializing.

Wait, how does she know that?

Perhaps because we already bought her school clothes, and she’s dying to wear them NOW. Or perhaps because we bought school shoes for dressy days and gym days and whatever days. And she wants to wear them NOW. Or maybe because we bought her school supplies, and they are packed in her book bag. This book bag, by the way, is double her size in weight and about three times her height. But it was cheap at Costco and super-cute. So that makes it okay. I think by middle school it should fit her just fine. And, yes, I labor under the assumption that she will hold onto this book bag until then.

We wanted a large rental car for Texas or a smallish rental van. We got a tank instead.

We wanted a large rental car for Texas or a smallish rental van. We got a tank instead.

It was unseasonably cold on our way to Texas. So while we huddled in the back of the tank to eat, K-Hubs took one for the team and ate atop the cooler.

It was unseasonably cold on our way to Texas. So while we huddled in the back of the tank to eat, K-Hubs took one for the team and ate atop the cooler.

Psychedelic skee ball? Yes, please. What else are family reunions for?

Psychedelic skee ball? Yes, please. What else are family reunions for?

Unexpected? As a later-in-life husband and father, this is how K-Hubs describes us ladies appearing in his world. Thank God he's the calm one.

Unexpected? As a later-in-life husband and father, this is how K-Hubs describes us ladies appearing in his world. Thank God he’s the calm one. Also, this is Magnolia Market. I die.

We have discussed all the issues, including why my butt is big (thanks, 5-year-old), who gets which books in her bedroom (stop whining, or I’m taking all the books out of both your rooms), and whether Ed Sheeran is better than Taylor Swift. We are now over it. These major conundrums no longer matter.

In the words of my 3rd cousin (remember her?), “I need to be with the people.” For Sinas, that would be her network of peeps in the retirement community where she lives. Perhaps that’s why she is 102 years old and still going strong. I love her. For Toodle, it’s kindergarten, and could it be here already? Geez.

We’ve done the zoo only a gazillion times. A 45-minute round-trip drive for 15 minutes of a whining good time. Because humidity. Because eczema. Because why did I think that would be a good idea?

We’ve done Bass Pro Shops. Because indoor aquarium. Because no indoor humidity. Another 45-minute round-trip in a rain storm for 15 minutes of indoor exhilaration.

Today we went to the last of our summer camps. Another sports-related one. You know, gross motor skills and following directions and all that (teachers, we really are trying, I promise we are). And Toodle managed to get stuck IN the soccer net. Did I snap a picture of it? No. Like Toodle, I have a case of the summer screw-its. Please note: wear white shorts when sitting on a grassy lawn. Always a smart choice.

Oh, and another reason no photos? Twinkle was bawling her eyes out that she couldn’t play with the others on the field. She, too, is SO OVER this thing called summer, which in her world, translates to “follow my older sister to ALL HER THINGS FOR 12 WHOLE WEEKS!”

We are done.

This is not a photo of today's shenanigans because I didn't take any. But notice how there are no blue shirts around us? That's right. Because we decided to root and cheer for and otherwise join a completely different set of teams. Because of course. Coach K-Hubs had his work cut out for him.

This is not a photo of today’s shenanigans because I didn’t take any. But notice how there are no blue shirts around us? That’s right. Because we decided to root and cheer for and otherwise join a completely different set of teams. Because of course. Coach K-Hubs had his work cut out for him.

Dear All the Teachers,

We love you. We really do. We so eagerly send our cherub babies your way. K-Hubs and I want to be homeroom mom and dad. We can’t wait to sign permission slips for field trips or chaperone fun night at school. We are so there. Because this? We are so over this. PLEASE HELP US FIND STRUCTURE AGAIN. I keep looking for it, and it eludes me every time. I’m ready to put my best self forward for this year. Toodle as well. Honestly, it will probably last for four minutes. But we really believe we can do it this time. Because optimism.

This is how bad it has gotten: I caught myself with the television on and it was sunny and beautiful outside. What in the actual what? And then I just didn’t even care. Probably Disney Jr is educational. Except that it was just me and the girls were down for quiet time. I still didn’t immediately change the channel or turn the tv off.

K-Hubs came home and asked how the day went. I replied that we watched every episode of Mickey Mouse Club House known to man or woman, but the kids were mostly fed (picky eating much?) and we were all still standing. His response? “Sounds like a successful day.” Because he gets it.

Last year, I was so emotional about sending Toodle into the world, as evidenced by this blog post. Bless my heart. It was so true for me then. And, yes, I have a few little bittersweets running through my mind as an era comes to an end. Homeschooling was so fun for the two years Toodle and I did it. I’m grateful we had that choice. But mostly? She can’t wait for the new school year and neither can Twinkle, who will also be in her own two-year-old program at the zoo. So, it’s hard to feel too sad about this when our little monkeys are so excited to go to their respective jungles.

Even now, as I write this, the two-year-old is lifting my shirt up because I don’t know why. Sofia’s on, and she just can’t care about that.

School year, are we there yet? Please take the wheel, for we have no more gas.

Me and K-Guy

Look at these young pups. We think this is the first photo of us. Selfies hadn’t been invented yet.

Before K-Hubs, I had never heard of a golden birthday or a golden anniversary (unless someone was talking about being married for 50 years). But apparently celebrating 15 years of something on the fifteenth of that month is kind of a big deal. In honor of this golden business, it was 15 years ago today that K-Hubs and I met.

I have a little theory about the whole deal. When Mom went to hang with God, she said to Him, “I had a lot of work I still wanted to do down there.” And God said, “I know. But you’re needed up here.” And Mom said, “I’ll trust your plan. But, um, could we send someone to Morgan? A friend? Someone she can partner with? I sort of overshot my mark when I raised her to be independent.” God said, “I know. And, yes, I have someone in mind.” And then Mom said, “Oh, good. I’m relieved. And by the way, can you make him a little older?”

Fast forward four months to a party, hosted by my older cousin and his wife, consisting of college buddies from marching band, their spouses, and their children. There were so many people, I couldn’t keep names straight.

We started at a park shelter and then moved the shindig back to my cousin’s house. Cars were packed with kids and food. This guy from the party offered to give me a ride.

GUY: Do you know how to get back to your cousin’s house from here?
ME: No. [Mental head slap. Unh, he clearly thinks I’m an idiot.]
GUY: Great. Well, let’s follow one of the others and hope we don’t get lost.
ME: Nice car you have. It looks new.
GUY: I never buy a new car. Depreciation. It’s ridiculous.
ME: Oh, sure. Right. Depreciation. Um, well, you keep a very nice car.
GUY: Take care of the car, it’ll take care of you.
ME: Yes, that’s, um, that’s true.
GUY: We made it. Didn’t get lost.
ME: Phew, right? Well, thanks for the ride. I’ll just, um, go find my cousin, let him know I’m here.

Later, I’m talking with my cousin’s college buddies, the few I knew, and Guy joins us. Did he even talk? I don’t remember. But, surely I was talking. And then I stopped talking long enough to notice he was STARING AT ME, amused. I figured it was because he still thought I was a directionally-challenged passenger who didn’t fully respect depreciation until I noticed that nope, no person had EVER looked at me that way. And plenty of people have known over the years that I am directionally challenged. A friend recently suggested I join the 21st century and purchase a smartphone just to have Internet access while getting from point A to point B. It’s that bad.

So while he was staring at me, I was entranced and then forgot what I was talking about. But, as parties go, we got separated by other conversations, and I didn’t see him for the rest of the evening.

Poor God. He was like, “For the love of Me, you two, I’ve got other things to do. How dense can you be?”

Pretty dense.

So, the party went overnight, and because families were in from out of town, no one left. Couches were dripping in children who overran all the comfortable spots to sleep, as kids are wont to do. Tents were popped in the backyard for brave souls who suffered through an unseasonably chilly July night. Lay-Z-Boys were reclined. Blow-up mattresses were in place.

No one slept with the people they came with.

ME [to Cousin]: I didn’t know they were married.
COUSIN: They aren’t. They just fell asleep like that.
ME: Where are their spouses?
COUSIN: Over there. And there. And there.
ME: Oh, sure. Right.
COUSIN: We all traveled across the country together on dingy, crowded, stuffy buses. 10 years later, we’re all still good friends and conditioned to sleep anywhere.

Bless my naive little heart.

Aside from couches, tents, and mattresses, there was one lone futon.

And what are the last two singles who are still awake on Earth supposed to do with said futon? Split it. Yep, Guy and I shared the remaining place to sleep.

Be cool, I told myself. Wow, he’s really good looking. Was he that good looking on the way back from the shelter? Already I don’t remember. Probably he just holds everyone in a trance with that gaze. 

ME: If we’re going to split a futon, probably I should know your name.
GUY: I’m K-Guy. Nice to meet you. Again. So, what brings you to this party?

In one of my more brilliant moments, I had, what is it called? Diarrhea of the mouth? Yeah, I had that. Because cool.

ME: Well, my mom passed away four months ago and my cousin and his wife thought I’d enjoy hanging out here. Live life NOT under a microscope. It has been very stressful and overwhelming and Cousin thought I should get away and then he suggested this party and then, well, here I am.

FOR THE LOVE, that is not what he’s asking, I said to myself, as the words continued to flow. Just say, ‘My cousin, your friend, invited me here.’ That’s all that’s needed in this situation. Geez.

I may or may not have been going through a phase at the time where I told EVERYONE who came into contact with me what had happened to Mom. Grief, denial, and disbelief are powerful tools, and they engulfed me. I’m pretty sure I told every stranger my story because I couldn’t believe it myself. It was a great conversation ender under almost all circumstances. But I was slow to let it go.

Expecting this to be another ended conversation, with awkward silences and uncomfortable humans, I tried to reel the words back into my mouth, mentally head-slapping myself and wondering why I was even speaking in the first place. Because I should never speak. Ever. And then K-Guy does this one.

K-GUY: Omigod, your mom just died?
ME [still trying to recover from that bout of verbal overload]: Uh, yeah.
K-GUY: I had no idea. Wow. How cool of you to come to this party. That was cool of your cousin to think of this. Omigod, wait. Your mom must have been very young. Because, well, you’re not exactly old.
ME: She was young. Two days after her 49th birthday.
K-HUBS: That. Is. So. Sad. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m pretty sure I’m older than you, and my parents are still living, and I don’t know what I’d do if I lost them.

So, there we were on the futon, staring silently at the ceiling while HE PONDERED WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO LOSE HIS PARENTS. Seriously. Could this guy have had any more empathy for a stranger?

Okay, fine. I’ll give him that. A caring personality AND good looks. Fine. He can have those. But that’s it. He’s just another person on this earth. No big deal.

K-GUY: I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you’ve managed to have a good time, in spite of, well, you know.

I suppose if you’re going to put it that way and be wonderful, then I guess you get to be special. Or something.

So what happened next? We talked. All night. “Really?” you ask. “That can’t possibly be.”

Well, okay, you caught me.

WE didn’t talk all night.

I did.

Love at first sight? That’s not what we call it. More like, click at third sight.

This first appeared on the Spirited and then Some Facebook page.

It is a wonderful pleasure to honor parents in May and June for all their hard work. Tonight I’d like to give a heartfelt shoutout to parents for doing all the things we don’t like to talk about. The guck and the ick and the hard of parenting. All those times we questioned ourselves and wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. To all the parents, stepparents, caregivers, and grandparents, this is for you.

Soup Contest with Dad 2015

For all those time you had to let them work it out while you literally and figuratively stood on the sidelines, debating whether or not to intervene, K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you had to walk away because your sanity was waning, your patience gone, K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you were pulled away from work or a deadline to take care of your child but wondered how it would impact your job, K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you thought, “Wow, it really takes a village. Hey, I wonder if the village would adopt ME for the night?” K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you had to take away a privilege and it really broke their hearts and yours but you knew you had to do it, K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you wondered how your kids get along when you’re not there, especially if they are acting like THIS right now in front of you, K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you swore your kids would never make it through that horrible, but necessary, phase, K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you did the really hard parts of parenting and wondered, “Where in Sam Hill is my cheese/wine/chocolate?” K-Hubs and I are with you.

For all those times you thought, “I don’t have any cheese/wine/chocolate, but, man, I’d really like to sleep one off in the Mayberry jail next to Otis,” my mother is with you.

For all those single parents out there saying “Holy buckets, I have nothing left and it’s only 9:30 on a Saturday morning,” my mother is with you.

For all those times you said, “I am so embarrassed, I feel ashamed of my child’s behavior, oh wait, now I feel ashamed for feeling ashamed,” K-Hubs and I are with you. And we know how much you love your kiddos, how proud of them you really are.

For all the times you’ve been on the phone, pouring your heart out to someone, The Gram is with you. She’s a mighty good listener.

Parenting is rewarding. So rewarding. I don’t think Mom or The Gram would have traded it for the world. K-Hubs and I feel enriched beyond measure with our two littles. We love them in a way we could not envision before we had them. But parenting IS NOT EASY. That which is a reward often comes with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. For what it’s worth you are not alone. For what it’s worth, K-Hubs and I are with you.

In honor of Mother’s Day (or as I call it “Crazy Family Celebration Day”), I bring you a three act play, and totally true story, titled “The Night Nothing Happened and Other Delicious Drinks,” along with family photos that have absolutely nothing to do with this story.

I love this photo of Mom and me.

I love this photo of Mom and me.

The Night Nothing Happened and Other Delicious Drinks, Act 1:

MOM: I don’t see why I don’t get to go to her 85th birthday party, and you, Mother, and Auntie do.
ME: Well, I’ve been visiting Sinus with The Gram since I was 4.
MOM: Do you still call her that?
ME: Well, yes, the mispronounced name I gave her has kind of stuck over the years. So, yeah, sometimes.
MOM: Maybe don’t call her that in front of everyone tonight.
ME: I don’t think she cares, but I promise to be on my best behavior.
MOM: You got an invite and I didn’t…
ME: Can we move on from that? Besides, I think it was just a natural following. She is The Gram and Auntie’s cousin. I visit her often with them. Ergo, I got an invite. When was the last time YOU saw her?
MOM: There was that one time…well, when I was a kid…fine. Whatever. Just keep them out of trouble.
ME: Trouble? Why? It’s two old ladies, okay, three old cousins, who are hanging out tonight with extended family, in a private party room at a fancy hotel or something. What could possibly go wrong? Hey, does my dress look okay?
MOM: It looks great, and I’m telling you, keep them out of trouble.
ME: Sinus never gets in trouble.
MOM: I’m not talking about Sinus.

Once we arrived at the party, it didn’t take long for Auntie to discover the private bar and for The Gram to realize her clip-on earrings weren’t going to stay balanced.

THE GRAM: Okay, are they even on my ears now?
ME: Um…yes? Yep, they sure are. They look great.

And then someone begins to tell the story of Sinus’ birth 85 years ago. The Gram and I look around to see who is starting it, and to our horror, it’s Auntie, three sheets to the wind with a butterless butter knife in hand for pointed effect.

AUNTIE: 85 yearsh ago…it was me and Frieda and Mattie and we knew something BIG wash happenin’ that day. We wurh told to go outschide to play, but we knew something BIG was happenin’. Sho I schaid to everyone, c’mon kidsch, lets go schit outschide thisch window and wait. Somethin’ big ish happenin’. I know it.
THE GRAM: Oh, Sister, um, maybe let’s get you a roll to go with that butter knife.
AUNTIE: Why would I need a roll? I’m tellin’ a schtory!
THE GRAM: Yes, well, you’re….
AUNTIE: I’m the oldest pershun in thish room ish what I am, schtill your older shister too, and if I want another Manhattan, I’ll have another Manhattan! Sho anyway, Sinus wash born just a few hoursh later…
THE GRAM: Oh, bravo, good story, Sister! Loved it!
ME: Is she done yet?
THE GRAM: Oh, dear God, I hope so.

We. Were. Wrong.

First Intermission.

Auntie was formidable, but oh, so lovable. She called me Sunshine. :)

Auntie was formidable, but oh, so lovable. She called me Sunshine. 🙂

The Night Nothing Happened and Other Delicious Drinks, Act 2.

AUNTIE: Then a few yearsh later, our family got another baby and SHE wash born!!!! [Auntie points her butterless butter knife at THE GRAM who begins to groan uncontrollably.] I DIDN’T LIKE HER WHEN SHE WASH BORN!! Not one bit!!!! Mother, I said to my mother, you’re too old to have another baby with a new huschband. This ish WRONG! I’m 17 and I don’t want a schibiling now!

Speaking of siblings, The Gram is now nervously and uncontrollably laughing. And the room is dead silent.

ME [whispering to The Gram]: Is this true?
THE GRAM: Oh, God, yes. All of it.
ME: What happened?
THE GRAM: Well, a divorced Danish woman (our mother) married a poor Italian, and together they had me. It was a little scandalous for the times, I guess you could say. And it was hard on Sister. Her father had abandoned her and Mother years ago. When he was around, he wasn’t very nice to them. But my dad doted on me and was very good to Mother. It was hard for Sister to see. Some wounds take a long time to heal. So, she stayed away and we didn’t really talk much over the years.
ME: Omigod! Then what happened?
THE GRAM: Well, her husband died and I guess one of us called the other. I think she called me. And we started spending time together, and all these decades later, we haven’t really stopped.

I LOVE THEIR STORY. Auntie was always so brave in my mind. That night I learned why. It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable. To pick up the phone, let go of the bitterness, and say “hi” to someone.

And I always knew The Gram was unconditionally loving and forgiving. That night I also learned why. Love is best when it’s shared.

AUNTIE: Scho!!!! I didn’t lichke her scho much for a lot uh yearsh!
THE GRAM: So true, dear Sister, but um, well, we’re so good now, aren’t we? Just two peas in a pod now. Okay, now…
AUNTIE: We are!! We are!!!!! When my huschband died, oh, nearly 25 yersch ago, I descheided I wash going to get to know my dear little shister. And, sho, all theesh yearsch later, we’re good friends.
ME: Umm, Gram? Are you going to grab the butter knife or should I?
THE GRAM: I’ll go for it.
ME: Actually, I’ll grab it. Wait, no, you grab it! It’s by…she’s flailing it by you!

We both missed the butter knife.

SINUS [approaching us cheerfully]: I’m so glad you three could make it tonight! Where would I be without my cousins?!
ME: Umm…
THE GRAM: Are you…
ME: Sure?
SINUS: Of course I am. You three are always a fun time. Why, I am just so glad you could all make it.
THE GRAM: Well, we won’t stay long. Must get Sister home in one piece.
SINUS: Nonsense. My dear older cousin is right. She’s the oldest in the room and can drink whatever she likes.
THE GRAM: Speaking of drinks, I need one. Maybe a fruity one. Without alcohol!

 

ME: So, Gram, what did you get?
THE GRAM: Something summery and sweet.
ME: Mmmm, it’s good. I want one. Does it have alcohol in it?
THE GRAM: I don’t think so. I didn’t tell her I wanted alcohol, so I would assume not. I’m not much of a drinker, unlike my SHISTER over there who is retelling that lovely story on a continuous loop.
ME: Well, I’ll go up and get one myself.

 

ME: I would like the same drink you made for my grandmother. It’s wonderful. What’s in it?
BARTENDER: Just a little peach schnapps and pineapple juice.

Second intermission.

When I was little, there was absolutely nothing in my life The Gram couldn't fix.

When I was little, there was absolutely nothing The Gram couldn’t fix in my life.

The Night Nothing Happened and Other Delicious Drinks, Act 3. 

ME: Well, that answers our question, Gram. The drink doesn’t have alcohol in it. I went up and asked for the exact same thing you got, and the bartender didn’t even flinch. Didn’t ask for an ID or anything. So, that’s that.
THE GRAM: Well, sure. Of course she’d ID you if it had alcohol in it.
ME: She did say it has a little peach and pineapple to it.
THE GRAM: I thought I got a hint of peach.
ME: You know, we have a pretty great family. I mean, you can’t take us anywhere, but we know how to have a good time.
THE GRAM: We sure do. And who wants to be boring? Not I.
ME: Me either.

Afterward…

MOM: So, how’d it go? Did you have fun? Where are Mother and Auntie? Go out and help them up the stairs.
ME: Um, well, The Gram is taking Auntie home.
MOM: They could have come up for a while and talked about the evening. I can be big about it and hear all the details.
ME: Yeah, well, I hope you still feel big and mature and open-minded, you know, later.
MOM: Why? What happened?
ME: The Gram is taking Auntie home to sleep it off.
MOM: Auntie got DRUNK tonight?
ME: Oh, yeah! She drank her weight in Manhattans. Speaking of drinks, The Gram and I had the most wonderful summery drink tonight. You should get it the next time you’re at the store.
MOM: Hold it a minute, you were supposed to look out for them!
ME: I tried! I didn’t know there would be alcohol. And anyway, I went after the butter knife.
MOM: What?
ME: Never mind.
MOM: I just, okay, fine, what’s this drink you guys liked so well?
ME: Peach schnapps and pineapple juice. Would the schnapps be in the fruit drink aisle or with the produce?
MOM: OH MY GOD! MORGAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s BOOOOOOZE!!!!!!! Schnapps is booze! This is getting worse. This whole evening is getting worse. You drank booze tonight.
ME: I did?
MOM: Omigod! You got drunk with MY MOTHER!!!
ME: Nope, no I did not! We only had one!! Auntie is the one who got drunk!
MOM: That. Is. Not. Helping. Who drove home?
ME: Gram did.
MOM: You didn’t drive them home?
ME: Why would I drive them home? I just started driver’s ed.
MOM: Omigod, you’re all three drunk.
ME: I’M NOT DRUNK. Nothing happened tonight, except for the part where Auntie…
MOM: I get it. I get the picture. Oh, good Lord. I cannot believe this. One night. One night out, and you three…..

She went to her room and closed the door, muttering, “My daughter got drunk with my mother. My daughter got drunk with my mother….”

But, WHATEVER, because I thought that evening WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD as were the women who raised me. And just, whatever, man, because The Gram and I were not drunk. That is my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Happy Crazy Family Celebration Day!

Curtain.

Now that I have been eating like a true 21st century cavewomen for approximately 14 days, I want new kitchen appliances. I officially hate (wait, make that “immensely dislike” as per childhood language restrictions as per Mom) my current culinary machinery. K-Hubs and I have been “remodeling” our kitchen for three years now, which is so say we keep eyeing but never buying things. Probably okay. Until one starts eating like a cavewoman in the 21st century. I already said that, didn’t I?

Sunny Happy Room 2015

What does this photo have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing. But the remaining photos are so hard on the eyes, I wanted to give you at least one happy photo to look at. Eye health is important.

For example, I have yet to figure out how to bake two things at two different temperatures at the same time without two ovens. And do not even get me started on stove coils. WHO CAME UP WITH THOSE THINGS? I just can’t. I couldn’t when we didn’t eat like this, and I most definitely cannot now. OMIGOSH, the coils.

You want to eat a meal here, don't you?

You want to eat a meal here, don’t you?

And then there is our poor dishwasher. It has been on its last legs since we first moved into the house. It was old when it was new. Officially, it is impossible to hear over should one want to converse or watch television. Just know, if you come to our house while we are running it, you will get nothing accomplished. I want this particular appliance to conk out. Like, really conk out, without flooding the kitchen, of course. Toodle wouldn’t know what to think if we got a silent dishwasher or one THAT ACTUALLY CLEANED THE DISHES.

OMIGOD! This thing. Please just bite the dust. Get us all out of our misery.

OMIGOD! This thing. Please just bite the dust. Get us all out of our misery.

That’s the other problem. It doesn’t dry or clean well. K-Hubs took it apart and cleaned it and made it all shiny and new. No. Dice. It really doesn’t like that we run it approximately two times per day now. Sometimes, um, maybe three. That is if it’s baking day. Yes, I’m Laura Ingalls Wilder, thanks for noticing.

Actually, I do want to ask her about how she structured her days. I guess I need to go back and reread “Little House on the Prairie.” I’ll be the one with a pen behind her ear and a notepad in hand as I read about Ma and Pa and little Carrie. I have almost all the books in her series. Even “Farmer Boy.” To the basement I go. They’re in a tub somewhere. Probably next to high school art projects, namely that one where I tried to draw Nicole Kidman in her curly hair days.

Do not try to draw Nicole Kidman with curly hair unless you are a true artist. I am not. She looked so angry by the time I was done.

ME: “Mom, my project turned out horrible. Mr. Wong will not give me an A.”

MOM: Who is that supposed to be? Wait, yes, I remember, you’re drawing Nicole Kidman. She, um, well, she looks like she’s PMSing.”

Thanks, Mom.

Sorry, Nicole. The fault is ALL MINE. You are wonderful, no doubt.

Then there is the refrigerator. It works just fine. But it’s maxed to the max. Yes, that’s a real state of mind for a fridge. We actually want to keep it. “Phew,” it sighs. But put it in the garage. “What in the actual what?” it asks. Everything we buy is fresh. We store non-fridge fruits and vegetables in the pantry because we no longer put anything in there. If it comes in a box, $10 says we don’t eat it anymore.

And then our microwave. I know, I know. Some can and do live without these. I like having one purely for convenience, although we hardly ever use it now. But two years of breast pumping (because, yes, I pumped and then bottle-fed milk for 12 months with each daughter), plus the freezing and then thawing of milk has left that poor puppy high and dry. The gizmo literally has no more juice. I’m also misusing the word “literally” in the previous sentence. But the thing, well, it doesn’t work so well anymore.

Four appliances. All needing to go to the appliance graveyard or join a buddy system (hi, fridge, we love you). What was a cosmetic dream has turned into an “I NEED NEW APPLIANCES NOW!” state of mind. Although at the pace we are going with the kitchen, it will probably be another three years before we do anything about it.

OH, AND I FORGOT! We ruined our formica countertop! How sad is that? Not very sad. I made bone broth in the crock pot and left the crock pot on the seam of the formica. Oops, buckling. At least we bought our granite tiles to replace it. But, you know, three years. That’s our timeline. Snail speed.

However, now that we prepare EVERY SINGLE FREAKING MEAL FROM SCRATCH, even K-Hubs is weary from half-baked (pun absolutely intended) appliances that are constantly on the brink. Nightmarish comes to mind.

We have an affinity for old things, like cars (I’ve had the same one since high school – it will be old enough for its own driver’s license this year), phones (I got a data plan only because my original phone died), and houses (this is the only house either of us has ever owned). But appliances? Give me new. Brand new.

Every time I start to feel guilty for thinking of upgrading, I remind myself they get the job done if we run the dishwasher twice and stay up late so the second round of food can take its turn baking at the proper temperature. Also, we foster-adopted orphaned elephants, so maybe a few new appliances is okay. Because elephants and kitchens are totally alike, and that’s how the system works.

So, seeing as how we are going to need three years to pick out appliances, do tell. What are your favorite brands? Glass top or not? You already know how I feel about the coils. But from what I’ve read, people have strong feelings about their stoves. Also, will I burn the house down if I get a gas range? This is me, so it’s a fair question.

Toodle insisted on coloring an elephant page to honor her new sibling, Ishanga. "She is just soooooo cute!" ~ Toodle

Toodle insisted on coloring an elephant page to honor her new sibling, Ishanga. “She is just soooooo cute!” ~ Toodle

Naturally, yes, when I envisioned my family, I always thought a husband, two daughters and four elephants. Don’t we all? Yep, we’re a family of eight trying to be seated at a restaurant, which is hard enough itself without four members being 200-pound baby pachyderms. Never mind babywearing. If these new siblings grow any more, my size seven wraps won’t cut it anymore.

A little over a year ago, a friend posted an article about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on her Facebook page, and I was hooked. K-Hubs came home from work, and I said, “I want to foster orphaned elephants who live in Africa.” Without missing a beat, he said, “Sure, okay. Elephants it is.”

Here’s my thing. After having Twinkle, our family felt complete. While K-Hubs and I often talked pre-children about not having any children, we later changed our tune to wanting children and, more specifically, two. Once we had our two, that story didn’t change. But the feeling of not wanting more children didn’t seem right either. I realized it isn’t that I don’t want more children. Without having anything against either, I simply do not desire to be pregnant or give birth again. But the maternal-ness. Omigosh, the maternal-ness. The floodgates have opened. I have all sorts of motherly love to impart on any little who is interested.

Apparently, this includes pachyderms.

I also had that moment last year where it dawned on me, for as hard as it was having K-Hubs laid off, our worst days were still better than some regular days for individuals of the human and animal varieties. How could we just hoard all our “stuff” when others struggle to survive on so little?

So, over to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust it was. We started researching them and learning how our donation would go to help orphaned elephants return to their natural habitat. K-Hubs and I decided each of us would foster our own elephant so we each have a story to follow (Please note, I have provided links to each of our elephants, which are complete with photos and videos, some of which may be upsetting to some viewers).

K-Hubs selected Boromoko, a lost little newborn male. For Twinkle we decided on Sities, a fellow snuggle-bug. I selected Zongoloni, my soul sister, and Toodle selected Ishanga through the following process:

ME: Would you like a boy elephant or a girl elephant for a sibling?

TOODLE: A girl, just like me!

ME: Okay. Do you want this elephant to be your age, younger than you, or older than you?

TOODLE: My age, just like me!

ME: Perfect. I found two girl elephants who are close-ish in age to you. I’ll read their stories to you, and you pick the one you like.

One story was about an elephant who was separated from her family, but little was known about her. The other elephant was literally rescused from the jaws of a lion. I thought the gruesome nature of that rescue might be a little too much for Toodle.

I was wrong.

TOODLE: Oh, definitely Ishanga. She was rescued from a lion. And I can help! I can rescue her from a lion, too, because I am a brave elephant!

I die. It’s moments like that that totally make up for sass and the “I want the OTHER song on the other station on the OTHER radio!” Of course, you know what this means, don’t you? Toodle will really think she is an elephant now living in a human household.

We cannot wait to begin fostering our elephant families and start getting updates on where they are in Africa, who they are befriending, and how they are making it back out into their natural homes.

Here’s an adorable video, narrated by Edward Norton, of a baby elephant, a member of the the Trust, warming up to Yao Ming. (If you have trouble playing the video, either refresh your page or click the video in the upper left of your Animal Planet screen.)

I cannot even with this overload of pachyderm cuteness. Stop it already. Because, seriously, I cannot handle it.

Frozen 2014

K-Hubs was laid off for seven whole months last year. I’m just now writing about this because it has taken me that long to percolate my feelings on the subject. You’ll be shocked to learn, I had a lot of feels about it. During that time, though, I WAS THE MOST EVEN-KEELED WIFE EVER!

Except exactly the opposite.

I was all, “Yay for new beginnings! Yay for self-discovery! This is exactly what I meant when I took my vows for better or for worse. This is so what I envisioned when I said I wanted an adventure! I love this! It’s going to turn out great.” That lasted for 12 minutes, at which point I then said, “BECAUSE OH MY GOD AND I JUST CAN’T EVEN, DO YOU HAVE A FREAKING JOB YET?”

Precious.

A writer by trade, I was the amazing wife who helped craft resumes and cover letters, delicately leaning over K-Hubs’ shoulder while he applied for those first few jobs. It was just like you see in stock photos. So incredibly beautiful.

That is, if you think it’s beautiful when the wife leans over the husband’s shoulder saying, “YOU MISSED A FREAKING COMMA! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? HOW CAN YOU GET A JOB IF YOU’RE MISSING A COMMA? WE’RE GOING TO LOSE THE HOUSE BECAUSE OF THE COMMA. PEOPLE CAN’T HIRE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW COMMAS.”

As Mom would say, “Bless your ever-lovin’ heart.” Yes, bless my ever-lovin’, high-strung heart.

I knew the layoff was a good thing. But at the same time, it was downright frightening. A layoff means CHANGE. And change is not SAME. Same is predictable, safe. Even if same isn’t the healthiest option, there is an odd comfort that comes with knowing what to expect. It’s like Hot Pockets. Are they the healthiest choice for dinner? Probably not. (However, may I just insert an “omigod, yum!” in here?) We know how to make them, and the results are quick. There isn’t much to worry about in the process of nuking a Hot Pocket and its delicious goodness for dinner. Maybe I should eat broccoli. But I know what I’m getting with my Hot Pocket. Because I know I like Hot Pockets. What if the broccoli is past its prime? Wilted broccoli is not cool.

With shout-outs to dads who always know when to call, my dad wisely said to us last year, “It will all work out in the end. It’s the unknown that dogs us.” So. True.

The unknown dogged me, kept me up at night, shortened my fuse, and heightened my temper. The same happened to K-Hubs. There were days we worked side by side, heads down, getting it done because that was all we knew how to do. There were days where the vows to stay together, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, were all we recognized. Our marriage and family life as we had known them were over. Our future was uncertain.

But, we slogged through. K-Hubs applied for an average of 25 jobs per week, opportunities that spanned both coasts, and studied for certification exams to strengthen his resume. He worked his butt off. I took on extra writing projects and navigated Toodle’s new dietary restrictions. By the way, always plan to do allergy testing on your child while your spouse is laid off…that is if you are a glutton for punishment and sheer insanity does not bother you.

Over the seven months he was laid off, something incredible began to happen to us individually and then together. We grew. K-Hubs, ever the introvert, started, and I kid you not, going door-to-door at businesses where he could drop off his resume, a quick note, and some candy to brighten the day of whoever acted as gatekeeper. Omigosh. Seriously, omigosh. I was SO PROUD OF HIM I NEARLY DIED. He really was the smartest bear in the west. The brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. The sharpest tool in the shed.

And I, ever the extroverted control freak, learned the hard way, I could not control this. It wasn’t my job to get. Even if we traded places and he stayed home, I knew K-Hubs needed to learn to put himself out there. And I needed to learn to let go.

Eventually, we worked side by side to learn these valuable lessons. And all of a sudden, the fear, although still there, changed. We began to attack the fear together, drawing on our newfound skills to find an outcome. We changed the fear into an actionable energy. We built trust.

K-Hubs worked with a recruiter who ultimately found him the job he would take. The job wasn’t originally what K-Hubs had set out to get. But one night, I found myself worrying again about money and which would happen first: we go broke or K-Hubs finds a job. I pulled out my devotional book and went to the section on money. A light went on.

I went to K-Hubs and said, “I think we need to look harder at this job you interviewed for. You like it. They’ll train you, and you’ll have another colleague starting with you. A comrade of sorts. I think this is God saying, ‘Buy a lottery ticket.’ This isn’t the job you set out to get because you didn’t know it existed. It isn’t what you envisioned. It’s better.”

K-Hubs’ face changed and that was the end of that. He found a job that happened to be right in the heart of the city where we already lived.

I would love to say I no longer fear the unknown. But that would be lying. I still fear the unknown. Perhaps now I at least know what K-Hubs and I are made of. And if it’s true that that which does not kill you makes you stronger, I say, agreed, as long as you let it.

I don’t know how your day was, but mine was full of ups and downs. Or rather, too much parsley and not enough strawberries. Literally. You guys, I tried a new set of ice cream recipes today. And the experience was a TRAIN WRECK. And, no, I’m not just being dramatic or anything. It really was end times in this kitchen. Also, apparently, I don’t know how to spell parsley without spellcheck.

As is with many bittersweet motherhood moments, I was all stoked to make some new ice cream for the family (read: frozen smoothies affectionately renamed “ice cream” that become a repository for hidden vegetables and other covert healthiness). I bought extra fruit in bulk at Costco and set to work while the girls were down for naps. I was getting down with broccoli, parsley, and kale.

One recipe called for four broccoli florets, I added eight. And because another recipe called for a 1/2 cup of parsley, I’m pretty sure I added two. Because, you see, I’m a mom. I freak out about Toodle having had an autoimmune disease since she was three and a half. And I worry that Twinkle could end up with one, too. Littles with diseases freak my freak and break my heart, no matter the severity. Much as I try not to make my emotions their burden, I flat-out get emotional over them. Just ask K-Hubs. I get a little wacko. Although, he’s not much better, so we’re two wackos together, and now you know why we’re married.

I want my kiddos to be healthy, just like every other parent out there. This “mom-worry,” protective nature, and wanting the best for my littles manifests itself in recipes – I don’t always follow the directions when it comes to vegetables. I try to sneak a little more. [I promise when you come over for dinner, I will follow the recipe..unless you have told me you have health issues, and then you should just eat before you come.]

When I don’t follow the recipe, shockingly, it doesn’t always work out at first. My good intentions work against me, and I work like a mad woman to catch back up. And I think to myself, “Why didn’t I just follow the damned instructions? Why didn’t I just follow the rules? Why did I try to make it better? I shouldn’t have even tried this anyway!” And on. And on. And on. Followed by, “And I just wasted SIX POUNDS of strawberries [true story today] trying to correct my mistake. Great job at motherhood.” And on. And on. And on.

So now my fun afternoon of exploring and doing good has turned into a festival of berating myself. And the girls are waking up. And the strawberry smoothie looks like the result of grass and mud getting together to play a game of Twister.

Pasrley Before 2015

And I just think, how did this go downhill?

This morning, the girls and I were at the library. It was peaceful. Enjoyable. They played together, did crafts, played with other kids, did more crafts. It was good energy. I was a “good” mother this morning. This afternoon, I’ve become a total screwup with no one to blame but myself. This morning, I was trying just like the other moms and dads were at the library.

And I blew it.

But then I had a moment. A moment where I finally started to listen to how I sounded. How unkind I was being to myself. And I realized, I didn’t really screw up this afternoon. It wasn’t like I was a good mother in the morning and then a screwup mother in the afternoon. I’m just a mother. And there are ups and downs.

Every single one of us parents is trying. Trying our very best to make the world a better place for and because of our kids. Sometimes those efforts will be natural and seamless, like today at the library. Other times, we’ll need to add more strawberries and lots of agave nectar. But in the end, parents are just doing their best with whatever they’ve got and whatever they’re facing.

I finally accepted I didn’t really waste six pounds of strawberries. My ice cream is just “heavily fortified.” I finally got a pretty decent shade of purple, courtesy of blueberries to even out the atrocious color. So I didn’t blow the directions. Okay, I did. But I figured out a solution. Kind of. And I love my kids, and I want them to be healthy. I want Toodle to continue her upward growth spurt. And I want Twinkle to feel that eating the way we do is second nature. I tried to improve on something to help my kids. And maybe next time, I don’t need to. Also, I now have lots of ice cream because…six pounds of strawberries.

Finished Parsley Product 2015

I’m going to remember this little talk I had with myself today when I go to the store tomorrow for another six pounds of strawberries…and avocados.

To all the parents who go to bed wondering what the hell they’re doing and still get up every morning ready to try again, I absolutely, completely, and wholeheartedly salute you. I really, really do.

Spirited Face 2 - 2014

She beats to the rhythm of her own patterns.

 

Before kids, K-Hubs and I would stay up late watching reruns of The Virginian on The Hallmark Channel or I Love the 80s on VH1. Because we were down like that.

Then we had kids, and our world was forever changed.

In the same breath I’d find myself saying, “Parenting is so hard” and “I love being a parent.” I couldn’t figure out how something like parenting and a little someone I loved so much could leave me so happy and empty at the same time.

I thought to myself, I need to be more laid back. I need to enjoy this more. I need to love EVERY FREAKING MINUTE OF THIS BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT GOOD, HAPPY PARENTS DO. Total. Crap. I am who I am. Become more laid back? Oh, bless my heart, that’s a good one.

I can no more become laid back and easy-going than K-Hubs can become the extroverted party animal of the evening. It ain’t happening, people. Except, I didn’t know that at the time. And I thought I was maladjusted, which, considering my affection for Murder, She Wrote and cheese, one might have a solid argument. But let us stay on point.

Enter Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child. I love her. I don’t actually know her. But I do love her. My own mother was a wonderful woman. However, if Sheedy Kurcinka ever wants to adopt her fans and their children, I’m signing us up.

Sheedy Kurcinka’s book saved my faith in myself as a parent.

While reading her book, I realized I DO love being a mom. And parenting IS hard…on the energy bank. Both statements are true. And they don’t have to be at odds with one another.

I’m free to admit I love my children with a fervor reserved only for them.

And I’m free to admit that parenting often leaves my energy bank dry. Flat. Out. Dry.

Admitting both statements doesn’t make me a hypocrite or ungrateful or unloving. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. When the energy runs out, the answer isn’t more love or more gratefulness for the children. Those are already there. The answer lies in refueling the energy bank, something completely separate from the love and gratefulness.

According to Sheedy Kurcinka and Anne Kangas (whose newsletter highlighting Kurcinka’s work is here), much of the dynamics we experience as parents (and in any relationship, for that matter) is derived from temperament. It is born in each of us. Both kids and parents have their own, and we have it the minute we come into the world. This cannot be changed.

There are a lot of ways to analyze temperament. But two common categories are introversion and extroversion. Again, traits that are assigned naturally. “Why can’t you be more like your sibling?” Because, honestly, genetically, she can’t.

Temperament influences how we derive our energy throughout the day as well as how and when we refuel. It also influences how we respond to our environment. This might also explain why and how parents can be so different from one another. Those feelings of comparison are unnecessary. The self pressure undue. We each have our own temperament, our own individuality. That is beautiful. It’s something worth celebrating.

Being a parent isn’t 9 to 5. Kids need us ALL THE TIME FOR ALL THE THINGS. What happens to the energy bank? It depletes and needs to be refueled, often more than once inside of 24 hours. That is totally me, for the record. Lots of daily refueling. There is no guilt in this. It’s natural. It’s human.

According to Sheedy Kurcinka, extroverts, like Toodle and me, fill their energy banks and express themselves through outward interactions with other people. They crave feedback, not because they are insecure, but because the feedback is a source of energy to keep going with whatever physical project they are working on or train of thought they have. They may walk around a lot or talk out loud to themselves. That chatterbox in class? Yep, he may legitimately be processing information. Helping him do so appropriately is a whole different blog post. But Sheedy Kurcinka has you covered. Her book covers all of that and more. Isolation, lack of conversation or feedback, and quiet can drain extroverts of their energy. Being still can be torture.

Introverts, on the other hand, like K-Hubs, fill their energy banks and express themselves from within. They need time to themselves. They often seek breaks from people, not because they are negative but because their energy is drained. Teaching them how to exit a crowd in an appropriate manner is also another blog post. And, yes, Sheedy Kurcinka’s book has you covered on that topic as well. Crowds are overwhelming. Conversations are exhausting. Introverts take weeks to process information. So, if you ask them about their day, they may not have an honest answer yet. Give them two to three weeks, and by then you should know.

The sticky part and why we often think we suck as parents is because our energy banks and those of our children are constantly tapped and in need of refueling. I got it into my head that being tapped was a mothering fail. Having a zapped, drained child was also a failure. I’m ready to do a craft with Toodle, and she wants to hang in her room by herself. She wants to make cookies, and I want to sit in a dark closet with some Coke in a wine glass. She needs help zipping her coat, and I just want to get her to school on time. Our energy banks aren’t always in sync. How can they be? We’re two entirely different people.

It was easy for me to think a good parent just matches his or her energy levels and styles to that of the child. But it is unnatural. Well meant, but unnatural. This post doesn’t do Sheedy Kurcinka’s work any justice. But I can tell you she’s got your back, whether you officially have a spirited child or not. I learned while reading her book that who I am is enough. I can learn new temperament skills and introduce those to my child. But I don’t need to become a new person. I’m not failing. And neither are you. Being drained isn’t failing. It’s being human.

It’s also human to refuel even if our way of refueling is different from those around us. You’re entitled to go out with friends or hang out on your own to watch a movie. No guilt. No shame. It’s needed. It’s healthy.

According to Kangas, when we ask children to be someone other than who they are, we encourage them to create a false sense of self, which creates a host of long-term problems. I will add that the same can be said for parents. If we try to be someone other than who we are, we also run the risk of becoming a false self. And there is no need to be someone other than who we really are. What better way to encourage kids to be themselves than by being ourselves, too?

As a point of reference, my mom was not much of a housekeeper. The Gram, in the context of her generation, infamously told my mom she should have been the boy because she didn’t keep house, cook, sew, or do “girly” things. Mom liked sports, being outdoors, loud clothes, and takeout.

As a single mother she caved to the Pinterest of the day, magazines and their amazing spreads. She decided when I was in elementary school that she was going to be a “good” mother to me and cook meals that required HER to add the ingredients. By golly, we were eating those amazing casseroles on pages 63 and 75, and she was finally going to be a good mother like everyone else around her.

You guys, her cooking sucked. There was one recipe that called for freezing or some such thing. But Mom didn’t know how to defrost it properly. So it burned around the edge and remained frozen solid in the center. We begrudgingly ate edge pieces.

Then there was the taco pizza debacle. I have erased most of that memory, except for when I finally looked at her and said, “Mom, you are a wonderful mother [she was]. You are the best listener. You are so empathetic. You have expectations without judgment. But, for the love of my need to eat, can we please have dinner from a box tonight?”

All of a sudden, she stood erect and came into the moment. Our energy banks were drained (and we were starved). She opened a box of Mac ’n Cheese and never looked back.

The moral of the story is stay away from magazine recipes and you’ll be fine. No, actually, just remember you are special. You don’t need to be a better parent. You don’t need to be like other parents. Your kids don’t need to be better. Feeling energy zaps throughout the day isn’t failing. It’s being human. And you are worth a refuel or 5,000. Chin up because you do not suck as a parent.