12 Days: 8 Things to Say to a Mom

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We spend a lot of time talking about the crazy-stupid-insensitive-mean things people say/do/imply/think/intend when they deal with Moms. Like I have said before, you can read a million lists of things not to say or do or think about “this particular person.” These articles and blog posts help draw attention to a terrible disease: diarrhea of the mouth (DOM). Every Mom hears it and every Mom does it every once in a while. Sometimes it’s our attempt to connect/sympathize and/or identify with a bosom buddy and sometimes it’s just our way of saying, “Wow, I don’t know what to say so I’m going to share an inappropriate story that involves forceps and my husband fainting.” You know the ailment, you’ve seen it before. In line at the post office, the bank, the nail salon- people attempt to make conversation and end up making–everyone uncomfortable.

So, once I had my first go at the whole “my belly and my babies are a conversation piece,” I made a promise to myself. Tell any pregnant woman you see how great she looks. That’s it. Don’t tell her how many kids you have or how much you gained or how she better “get sleep while she can.” Just tell her she looks great, end of comment. Someone else will tell her that day that she’s carrying high/low/gonna pop/ has dropped. Stick to: She. Looks. Great.

And I have stuck to that– well, sometimes. We all have out DOM moments now and again.

But something that got me thinking was how come we have so many posts of what NOT to say to _____ group of people. What about what you should say to them? Isn’t it better to look at the bright side? Look for the positive ways we can affect each other’s lives?

Don’t worry girls, I’ve got you covered. Today I bring you:

8 Things to Say to a a Mom, ANY Mom:

1. You’re 33? GET OUT!!!!

2. I don’t know how you find the time to do all you do while also being so interesting and capable of such titillating conversation.

3. Clearly, your children should be baby Gap models.

4. How do you manage to stay so stylish and youthful?

5. Why don’t you eat more, you skinny thing!

6. Does your husband know how lucky he is?

7. What a clean house! Your home is beautiful!

8. Your butt looks ah-maze-ing in those jeans.

Thirty Three: A Post About Me

 

Lake Placid shortcut girl

Me at our hotel in Lake Placid, NY

Anyone who knows me (and pretty much everyone who reads this blog knows me), knows I am very into my birthday. I blame my semi-only child upbringing and two great parents. Parents who celebrated everything. Every. Single. Thing. Let’s put it this way. We went out to dinner to celebrate my cross over the threshold of womanhood. My Mom grew up poor and liked to celebrate and reward good behavior, good grades, milestones, awards. My father was proud as a peacock to have a daughter who did anything well and was never really known for his modesty. “That’s my girl!” he would say. I lost my Dad in 2009. And I think it’s at my birthday when I really, really miss him.

So the product of all this: me. A big girl with a desperate, little girl trapped inside who wants me, me, me and more me. (You do know that’s why I have a blog, don’t you?). God help my poor husband at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas and, of course, the only day that is about me all day long: my birthday.

So yesterday I turned 33 and have to say I was very lucky to be so spoiled by my husband and children. Mike took me away for a night and it was Just What the Doctor Ordered. Couple time, me time, quiet time and relaxing time. Much needed and much appreciated. Nine years with me, Michael has learned my affinity for my birthday. And although he doesn’t go all out every year (to keep me guessing, I suppose), he really made this year top-notch.

While we were away, I played the “question game” with Mike. A chance for us to talk about things we never get to talk about. With questions like, what have you learned most about marriage? and what have you learned most about yourself as a parent?, we ended up talking about things we never get to talk about—how we are both feeling about this whole “marriage and family” thing that we have been a part of. A time for genuine reflection and analysis.

It made me think of a list I started in July. I was doing a writing prompt activity with a local author who I follow on Facebook. She challenged everyone to complete one writing prompt a day for August. In this prompt, she asked you to write down things you’ve learned over the years. As I wrote, it kind of took the shape of advice I would give my children, but more evidently my daughter. Once I started the list, I could not stop. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Forgive and forgive often.
  • When you have a negative thought, don’t feel compelled to share it.
  • “Knowing who you are” is not always an accomplishment. Keep finding out more about yourself. Never be content. Keep changing.
  • Don’t mistake your husband as a best girlfriend. He can be your best friend but only a girlfriend can be a girlfriend.
  • Say thank you. For everything.
  • Be careful with your words.
  • Listen. Don’t just hear what you want to hear.
  • Apologize for your moments of weakness in life. Recognize them.
  • Pay close attention to regret. It’s a powerful feeling. It tells you when to be more kind, more gentle, more adventurous, most dutiful, more direct, more loving, more loyal. It’s those regrets that help program your future behaviors.
  • Be available. Even when you are busy, don’t tell everyone how busy you are. People who are too busy all the time end up very, very lonely.
  • Your sibling is the only person in the world you have shared your parents with. Value this relationship and its ebb and flow. It’s a rich and powerful one.
  • Take care of your money. No one else will.
  • Always drive slow in your own neighborhood.
  • In the tough times, take a 15 walk or a 15 minute shower and see how things look afterwards.
  • Travel. At every age. Not just when you are young.
  • A friend is not someone you want to be like. They are someone you like because of how they bring out the things you like in yourself.
  • Trust your gut- always.
  • Bake cookies from scratch. It’s what your Nana would want you to do.

As I write these down, I can pinpoint which ones came from my mother, my father, my friends, my own unique experiences and even my own children. Even at 33, I feel young. I have learned a lot, seen a little but know that the best is still yet to come. So, I thank my Mom and Dad for instilling a sense of excitement and need for celebration for silly things like birthdays. Because, without them, there might not be a chance to reflect upon how far you have come and how much further you have yet to go.

At last year’s birthday, I never would have thought I would start a blog that would be my primary artistic outlet and recreation. At Shortcut Girl’s inception, I was skeptical, even of myself and wasn’t sure it I would keep it up. But here I am, about to publish post # 87, and feeling really, really excited to have a new frame for my life. I always wanted to be a writer. And look at that. Here I am. “That’s my girl!”

 

Judgy Mom-ness and Other Jewels of Parenthood

What would you say about the Mom who allowed THIS?

Guilty Confession: Once, to a friend of mine, I complained about a Mom  reading her Kindle while her kids were playing in the library playroom. I thought she must have not wanted to engage with her kids or pay them attention. I didn’t think that she might be trying to conserve and salvage the two good brain cells she has left and actually read a book that does not have a giraffe, a moose, a cat or a dragon in it. She was squeezing in me time. I totally get it. Now.

Dear Kindle Mom at the library,

I am very sorry I was so wrapped up in my mother-of-a-one-year-old self that I did not project I, too, someday would be dying to read a magazine while my toddler was busy not sharing trains with other kids in the library playroom. I owe you a coffee.

Sincerely,

Humbled Mom of Red Headed Toddler

The Library: So there I was this past Thursday, reading a new magazine called Working Mom (Irony much?) while Parker played with other children. I was attentive in that Thank-God-my-child-is-playing-nice way and inattentive in the I-need-something-in-my-head-that-is-not-work-or-kids way. I was having blatant and public Me-time right there for all Judgy Moms and God to see. I kept my eyes on the other Moms—some were playing with their kids and some were taking my cue for Me time. But, I was still feeling guilty. Even as I write this I wonder if my Mom readers will agree or say “Only Shortcut Girl would come up with a way to entertain herself and her children. She’s so lazy.” But I’m willing to let y’all do that because well, I think we all do it from time to time.

The Grocery Store: I’ve rolled my eyes before at the loud screaming kid. I’ve said to myself “Just leave.” And then, like karma, I’ve been the Mom just trying to pick up a couple things at Target in the middle of a major meltdown. For weeks, Parker said, “I was kye-ing and you took me out of Target?” Yes. I was there, little boy. That’s what happened.

The Neighborhood Party: This summer, at the lake, we were invited to a barbeque. While most kids are teenagers around camp, there is one boy just eight months younger than Parker. He was excited to play with him and like the awesome-I’m-so-cool-and–pack-extra-stuff Mom that I am (or was that day), I offered him a juice pouch since Parker was having one.

Smug Mom:“No, if we let him have that then we will have to give it to him at our house.”

[Avoiding the implication that I feed my kid crap and his teeth are going to rot out of his head]

Shortcut Mom:“Oh well, it’s our summer treat, I guess.” [While shoving said juice pouch deep in my bag she can’t see the cookies and lollipops inside]

Smug Mom:“He has only EVER HAD milk and water.”

Shortcut Mom:[Look at kids and smile in the hopes that my head does not explode with embarrassment slash anger]

The Best Friend’s House: A close friend and I had babies three months apart. The boys are best friends and go to day care together. Whenever we go to their house, I play the worst tug of war of behavior you have seen with Parker. He always seems too rough, too bossy, too contrary or just too toddler-y compared to his sweet blonde counterpart. This week, she invited us for a nice dinner. And by nice I mean the food she made, not necessarily my experience. The experience included repeating-ordering-demanding-asking-bribing-begging Parker to just eat, take bites, consume, sip, smell, look at or even touch something to eat. He didn’t. His buddy did. His buddy got chocolate milk (my idea to bring) and he didn’t. We’re talking Stage 4 Toddler Nuclear Meltdown. We departed quickly. No words were spoken by Michael or myself on the way home. I shed a few tears of embarrassment. Of frustration. Of complete and utter—what am I supposed to do?

25 hiccupping-chocolate-milk-requesting sobs later, I was putting Parker to bed. “I have bad buh-have-orr, Mommy? I didn’t have chocolate milk?” Yup, buddy. I was there.

The Conclusion: Judgy Mom-ness is like karma. You get back what you put out. You criticize the family bed that your hippy dippy neighbor has, your kid then spends two weeks spooning your head. You don’t understand why your work friends kids won’t sleep through the night? Your baby girl begins waking at various half hour intervals on the same night you decided to stay up and watch Real Housewives.

They are kids and there are no guarantees. You only really have today. Today he is not pushing his sister. Today all he ate were three bites of grilled cheese. You can’t make predictions, assumptions or guarantees about any person. We all have our days of perfectly civil behavior and we those of yelling, through tears, while cleaning up poop on the floor.

A wise Mom once told me, EVERYthing is a phase. The good, the bad, the ugly. It’s all temporary. So, don’t spend too much time worrying–or gloating. Because sure enough, it’s going to bite your little Kindle-reading-in-the-library-playroom Mommy butt.

 

 

If you like this post, you might like:

Beach post

Summer Cheats

Career Advice

The Summer She Lost Her Mind

You spilled WHAT?

Where’s Daddy?

15 Shortcuts My Mother Doesn’t Know

 

 

Mommy Monday: “Where’s Daddy?”

Celia’s first minutes in the world.

Cape Cod Flying a kite, 2011

Daddy and Parker at Gore Mountatin

Fireworks 2012

My husband left on July 7th for about a month. He’s teaching in California in two different colleges: San Diego State University and California Polytechnic State University. We miss him desperately. Face Time has been our lifeline, Parker gets to say good morning and good night to him. But, Parker is definitely affected. He asks for his Daddy ten times a day. When he wakes up, when he goes to sleep, when he gets hurt, when he’s had enough of me. All the time, really. We all miss him, but seeing the kids miss him hurts double:(

In looking for Mommy Monday inspiration, I stumbled upon this blog and fell in love. If Michael was a blogger, he would defintely blog these complaints/rants/jokes about me as a wife. I laughed at the couple of posts I read and thought about how laughing at ourselves is what keeps us:

a. sane

b. from killing each other

c. liking each other (Liking each other, I have learned, is not the same as loving each other)

d. being good parents

So, my shortcut for today is showing gratitude. Gratitude for my husband as a father and central person in my life. Don’t worry, this won’t be THAT gushy, it’s more jokes than mush.

Things My Husband Does to Make My Family’s Life Better:

1. Taught my son that I have a tattoo. Not my favorite thing at first, but when your pants hang down and reveal your lower back and your son says, “Mommy, you have a butt tattoooooooo!”— is there really anything funnier?

2. Taught my son to call his poop “Turd Birds”: With the semi-New Joisey accent that two year olds adopt, Parker actually says the word like, “tawd bawds.” A bonus is that my husband also started showing my son his poop in the hope that it would make him want to go on the potty. Not the case. Now my son asks to see his turd birds at every diaper change.

3. Takes the Kids for Loooooong Walks: He took my son recently on a two mile walk to the town where our camp is. For me, that would be a stressful event. For them, it’s a little QT.

4. Is Uber-Affectionate with his Son and Daughter: My family is full of huggers and kissers. Mike is not as much of a cuddler-kisser-hugger as I am. Imagine my delight to see that he gives the kids sometimes more hugs and kisses than I do. For Parker he has invented the “shaker hug”, “just one kiss” and “wompin” which have all been hits with our little redhead.

5. Is a Teacher, Always: He has taught my son his colors, animals, numbers and letters. A lot of it has been through the use of the Ipad. Parker is just as technological as his Daddy.

6. Makes My Kids Try Different Foods: Mike is relentless in getting the kids to try/like different foods. He likes Parker to put olives on his fingers and eat them and I am sure, with Celia (who appears to be our big eater) he will have her eating oysters, sushi and any ethnic food she can.

7. Daddy’s Eggs: Among many things Michael cooks well, his eggs are the best. You have never had eggs like them. Fluffy, slightly runny scrambled eggs, yum!

8. Makes up Songs for the Every Day: Along with everyone’s favorite, “My Mama Has a Butt Tattoo,” Michael has also made up the songs: “Milka Milka Please” and everyone’s favorite, “Butt Shaker Butt Shaker.” Also, Parker getting pumped up would probably fit in this category.

9. Dances See #8. There are dances that go with each of the above songs.

10. Daddy’s Ability to Document Our Lives: He was quick to bust the video camera out to take a video of Parker’s first steps or when we heard Parker’s first profanity.

We miss you Daddy!

Word to Your Mother

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Mother’s Day weekend is about to kick off. Get ready to get your shortcut on!

My Mom just came last weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day and it was fabulous. Seeing my Mom with my kids is the best thing a girl could ask for. These are some not-all-that-creative ways you can celebrate Mom without breaking your bank or spending hours in the Hallmark store. Some of them are great for the last minute shoppers out there!

1. Pics– This is especially for long distance kids and grandchildren- send pictures/emails of kids holding paper that says “I love you Mom, Happy Mother’s Day.” Separate pics for each word work best.

Setting up a blog for your child’s pictures is a great idea too. You can add email addresses to your profile that will get notification when a new pic/post is up (this works very well for the non facebooking family members). And you can set it up so that you can post by text or email. This helps you to put all those pics you send in a text or email chronologically in a blog- it’s your own online scrapbook! Ours is here.

2. Pamper date– Mother’s Day. Last year (and this year too actually!), my Mom and I went together to the nail salon and paid for each other’s treatments. It was the best memory because my daughter kicked for the first time during my manicure. Best. Mother’s Day. Ever.

3. Shopping Date– Since my Mom lives two hours away, I never get to shop with her. We stole away some shopping time last weekend and it was heavenly. Your Mom’s opinion of you in that dress you’ve been eyeing is something every girl needs to hear. Well, only if it’s good!

4. Cards-My Mom and I are card people. I would rather have a beautiful card (with a personal note, of course) from my kids or my husband than any gift you could buy.

5. A nice meal– My husband is a fabulous cook. Meals for special occasions are my favorite gifts from him- a special cut of meat or seafood or fancy side dish. It’s the best way to celebrate.

6. Manual Labor- My Mom turns 70 this year. She looks about 55. She works so hard on making a nice home for herself. Having had heart issues in the past, I get worried when she does too much physical work in and around her house. If I lived closer, I would give her the gift of taking care of her yard work or planting. I would offer to haul her junk from the basement or paint a room she is remodeling. Not that you wouldn’t do for your Mom anyway, but sometimes making it an IOU makes it so she doesn’t have to ask and it forces you to pick a time to get it all done.

Happy Mother’s Day Moms! Sending Shortcut Girl love to all my readers and their mothers!