Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In the Race

Ok, so I'm losing dismally, but that's only because I haven't spent enough time in blog-land to accumulate the points. So here goes.

1. I must get some points for going back to school--so utterly selfish. I mean, really, there is no purpose behind this MFA. I leave my children for 11 days straight twice a year, and ignore them when I'm home (so I can read children's literature. But not to them, mind you.)

2. The other day both my boys had nose bleeds. Now, I know the scenario would be better if I GAVE them the nosebleeds, but let's not be too ambitious here. We were driving to pick up the Gingerbread Man and when we got there, I got out of the car, talked to GBM for a bit, then saw Will's face when I got back in the car and there was blood smeared all over it. Nice. I hadn't even noticed through the entire drive. He's got a gusher and I'm crooning along to radio tunes. Later, just so he wouldn't be left out, Samuel had one too. Then he had another one. Then Will started crying so hard (probably because I yelled--another point?) that he started bleeding again too. I take no points or credits for Samuel's bleed. But maybe Will's sadly neglected state?

3. This next one might not qualify me for points either, but I spent the entire day reading Harry Potter. Will kept asking me very sweetly to come play with him.
Me: "In just a minute, sweetie." Then twenty minutes would go by.
Will: "Mommy, come play with me."
Me: "How about if you set up the train tracks and when you're all done, I'll zoom the train?"

4. Samuel asked to go for a walk two days ago. It's hot. Ok, let's go for a walk. We get two houses away and Samuel says, "It's too hot. My legs won't work. I want to go home."
Me: "No. You wanted to go for a walk, so we're going for a walk." Samuel immediately put up such a fuss that the entire neighborhood was probably recording it for Halloween music. Screams, etc. And Will and I left Samuel by the side of the road. He eventually followed, caterwauling all the way. When he tried to throw his stuffed lion at me, I let him have it and I warned him that if I heard another peep from him, he would be sent to bed when we got home. Well, when we got home, I sent him to bed.

I could continue and continue and continue, but I won't. Am I still in the race???

Child Labor Rocks

My house was clean this morning. Much cleaner than normal. Allison had to clean the guest bathroom as part of her Saturday chores. And then because she chose to "forget" to do her Saturday chores on Saturday and I had to make her do them on Monday, she had to clean the living room too.

Then at dinner she offered to do extra chores in exchange for not eating any green beans. She's always offering these types of bargains. "I'll pay you $5 if I don't have to eat any peas." and we are always telling her to stop being ridiculous and eat her peas. Well yesterday, because I was in a "I'm sick of this crap, and am calling your bluff" kind of mood (see post below) I said "Fine. No Green Beans. You can clean out Ben's room." which was a landfill of Thomas tracks, animals, cars and books. Because, nothing says par-tay to a 3 year old like taking your books off your shelves and throwing them across the room during nap-time. Allison stuttered and stammered about just eating a couple green beans and I told her the discussion was over, she shouldn't offer deals she wasn't willing to follow through on.

Then to put the cherry on the proverbial sundae, Brandon was late coming in for dinner. The rule is if you don't make it to dinner on-time you have to be the one to clean the kitchen. So last night I sat on the couch in my clean living room and read books to Ben while Brandon did dishes and scrubbed the kitchen.

I sure hope someone gets in trouble today. The fridge could use a good scrubbing too.

Administrative note

The points for this cycle will close out at the end of the week, and we'll restart WMPs on a monthly basis. We'll announce this month's winner on Friday. Feel free to post as often as you'd like!


"The parent I want to be floats in and out of my life, and some days it speaks through me, and other days I lunge after it like it's a shaft of sunlight I want to capture."

This is a quote from Catherine Newman's Column. She's very quotable that Catherine Newman. And yet this quote somehow isn't strong enough for how I feel this morning. Some days I can't see the shaft of sunlight anymore and I just plain don't like the parent I am.

Brandon's homeschooling papers are in stacks on tables and chairs waiting to be graded, filed, mailed in, waiting for inspiration on how to motivate him to do more, to be more...to want more. All my efforts at being inspirational, motivational, a driving force or even a consequence to avoid have failed miserably and I ended up yelling at him once again. And then the yelling seems to fester and grow inside of me and I find my that precious children, who are no different than any day, grate on me like sandpaper. And I am irritated and yelling and snapping at each of them about things that are so small. So very small. And I feel out of control. I cannot find the patience and the gentleness I prayed for just that morning. I cannot find the me in the dark irrationality whirling inside me.

Brandon and Allison know this person. They have seen her before and they head downstairs with looks of "Mom's gone crazy again" to stay out of the storm. And I know this, and I hate it. I hate that they can recognize this biting angry woman as one who has visited before. And Ben, sweet Ben, says "Why you yell, mama?" and that soft voice melts me, but just a little. Not enough.

I head off to my own room alone to pray again. "Lord help me find your patience, your gentleness. Rid me of this spirit of anger, meanness, of irrational irritation with my children, who are innocent. Help me be the parent I should be. The parent they deserve."

And when the storm has passed, and the craziness is over, I apologize to my children for yelling. I admit that I overreacted, but I cannot help but wonder if they are thinking they've heard it before. I speak kindly and softly, hoping to wash away their wariness and anger, that they will not regard me, remember me, as the mother who loses control. The mother that yells and is sometimes hurtful. I hope that the gentleness and love that visits most days, I do think it's most days, will be enough. Enough to cover the coldness like a blanket.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thought police

We took a walk this evening, and ended up at the home of Lauren's friends, twins, where we stayed until dusk. The walk home was punctuated by whining about how tired we were and how we didn't want to walk when Lauren announced that there was a bike behind us.

I stepped to the right with the stroller, and called for Lauren to do the same, but instead she tried to outrun the bike. When I yelled, "Step off the sidewalk!", she stepped left as the bike swerved and nearly missed her.

No worries about the Ivy League, I thought, and said, "Be careful!"

"I'm OK!" she responded cheerfully.

"Sorry," replied the kid on the bike.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Don't tell anyone Mama's in the closet...

"Mama, please come open the closet door."

"What's wrong with it?" I asked, pulling Lindsay's one-piece outfit on.

"I think the monsters must've locked it."

"Monsters?" I placed Lindsay on Lauren's bed. "Is there any such thing?"

"No." Lauren looked bravely at the closed door.

I gave it a tug. It came open easily, but I shut it again quickly. "Did you see that?"

She took a big step back. "No..."

I pulled the door again, but this time, I flew into the closet and shut the door. "Aaaack! Save yourselves!"

I reopened the door to find Lauren in tears.

"Oh, come on. You just told me there was no such thing as monsters..."

She didn't reply. She rubbed her runny nose with the back of her fist.

"Are you upset because you thought I was eaten, or because you thought you were going to have to take care of Lindsay?"

"I can't reach the toaster yet," she sobbed. "And I don't even know how to peel a banana..."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Calling the Bees

Bike rides around the block have become standard since the great melt-down. Returning riders are usually thirsty and happy, so imagine my surprise when I heard sobs of, "Mama! Mama!" following a recent ride. Ross entered, one hand clutching the other. "A bee stung me," he sobbed. Poor kid! He hasn't been stung since we moved four years ago (and that was a whopper set - more than 40 stings from stepping on a wasp nest). His finger was swollen at the sting point but he wasn't having any trouble breathing so I took him upstairs for a little anesthetic spray and a band-aid.

As I was patching him up, I asked how a bee managed to catch him while he was riding his bike. It turned out he'd been ahead of Chris and Lars, so he stopped at a corner to wait. While waiting, he was amusing himself by banging on the post of a stop sign with a stick. As he launched into an impressive imitation of the raucous noise he made, I assumed a horrified look, then changed to a mildly exasperated look and shook my head. "I'm not surprised you got stung if you were banging on the sign," I said. "Don't you know that CALLS the bees?"

Ross' eyes got like dinner plates. "It CALLS them? Like makes them come out?"
Chris nearly choked. I nodded solemnly. "Well," Ross declared, "I won't do THAT again!"

Save that date

Surely there's a point in here for me. Here's an IM conversation I just had with my brother:

[08:34] lastprovost: My baby is one!
[08:34] lastprovost: No more infants for me.
[08:34] keithvtc: I KNOW!!!
[08:34] keithvtc: It's on my CALENDAR!!!
[08:34] keithvtc: I smoked a cigar in her honor
[08:35] lastprovost: It was on mine, too. Shortly before we left for vacation I noticed I'd written it on the 27th.
[08:35] keithvtc: hahahah
[08:35] keithvtc: 1) You had to put your kid's BD on your calendar
[08:35] keithvtc: 2) you entered it on the wrong date

Anyway, it's Sarah's first birthday today! Love that kid. Check her out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chris, As My Second

We have two boys, ages 8 and 6. Our next-door neighbors have two girls, 8 and 4, and their next-door neighbors have a girl, 6 and a boy, 4. Six kids in all, two 8, two 6, and two 4; three boys, three girls; all good looking and personable. It's really disgusting and movie-like sometimes but we suffer through.

An afternoon of any weather will find this gang of kids roaming yards and forest, in search of adventure. Today's session was heralded by a ring on our doorbell and a tiny voice calling, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" through the screen (the youngest boy's superpower is an invisible helium tank - he constantly sounds as if he's just inhaled a balloon). I had my hands full of something and Chris was in the attic gathering things for our upcoming weekend trip so I called out toward the door that our kids were in the yard, which I thought would inspire our visitor to head for the yard and find the kids.

Alas, no - next thing I heard was our door creaking under the strain of being pulled open from below, by someone not quite tall enough to be comfortable reaching the handle. I poked my head out of the kitchen, into the hall. "Hello there," I said to the child (not mine) who was standing half-in and half-out of the house. "I'm sorry if you didn't hear me - the boys are out in the yard."

There was a brief pause in his struggle to manage keeping the door pushed open while he mounted the single step into the house but then he forded on, trying again with, "Excuse me!"

I have learned Mother Noises, so I cleared my throat in the attention getting way and calmly said, "Please stop. You were not invited into our house - you'll have to go back out." He stammered a bit but my gaze did not waver and he eventually let himself out, backward. Clearly, his saving throw was no match for my level 8 Mother Voice.

I thought he might call out or ring again from the porch but he didn't. Instead, I heard him meet up with Ross on the front walk and tell him that his mother is really mean! Ross instantly dove to my defense, making my heart swell about three sizes - it swelled so much that I didn't even care that mean doesn't earn any points (which Chris was careful to point out...).

All in all, no points for me today. Actually, probably no points for me this week; I've been letting the kids play with their Webkinz on-line and (you knew I would do this...) even logging in to get special items for their Webkinz if the bonus times happen while the kids are at day camp.

Chris, on the other hand, has been racking them up on my behalf. He single-handedly managed to make both kids cry during shower time tonight (Chris is a much better towel-snapper than he knew). He refused to let the kids play with their Webkinz until they'd cleaned up their real-life toys. He even - I hope you're sitting down - made each of them eat most of their pork chops before he'd let them have seconds on tater-tots at dinner! The Worst. Mama. Ever. couldn't be more proud of her spouse!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Going to the dogs

On the mornings I take the girls to daycare it's nothing but rush, rush, rush. I let them snooze until 30 minutes before we must be out the door and then the race begins. "Up up up!" I announce, turning on lights, opening blinds and sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly obnoxious, singing. There's the battle to get Kate to sit on the potty, the discovery that they both really should've bathed last night, and the ushering of everyone (Kate naked, usually, because the laundry, while clean, is still in a big pile downstairs) down the stairs.

Then I allow them both to have a little morning snack. Not because they need to eat breakfast, daycare will feed them, oh, something. No, this is so I can brush Kate's hair. I need her distracted while I get whatever that is out of it. This morning, Orangutan-Os! Yes, we buy earth-friendly kid cereal at Whole Foods because we are suckers. They taste almost exactly like Apple Jacks. Today, both girls eat them dry.

While frenetically brushing, I happened to glance up at Sarah and notice she was turning blue and doing that neck-lurching thing the cat does immediately prior to producing a hairball. "Oh crap," I thought "the cereal we bought to save the forests is going to kill my child". Just as I was realizing I was going to have to perform the Heimlich on her, she saved herself, sending the menacing chunk of food careening across the kitchen counter. I breathed again (and I assumed she did, too) and inspected the perpetrator. Nope, not an Orangutan-O...dog food.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Last week I made a chicken and black bean concoction in the crockpot to serve in tortillas. This is typically a hit with my family, so I made a large batch. It's a crockpot rule at our house, actually. We have to eat it twice. Well we were supposed to eat it this weekend but we ended up eating out instead. So, tonight I got out the Tupperware, peaked at it and dumped it in a pot to reheat. I stopped for a moment. How many days had it been since we had this the first time. 3? 4? Surely not 5? I couldn't remember exactly. I poked around at it, sniffed it, tasted it.

'Seems fine to me. I'm sure it's fine. Was it Thursday we had it or Wednesday? Wednesday would be too long. It was Thursday. I think.'

'Oh whatever, I don't want to waste it.'

Fast forward 30 minutes to my family seated around the table. Ben's nibbling crackers, Clara is eating mac-n-cheese (she usually eats what we do, but I thought this would be to spicy) and Shane, Allison and I are eating chicken tacos. At almost the same instant, Shane and I look at each other,

"This isn't good", I said.

"Yeah", he echoed. "It has a funny taste".

I looked at Allison who had was just finishing up her last bite.

Oh, dear.

So now I am sitting here feeling a bit green. I don't know if it's just the thought that I fed my family bad food, or the food itself, but I am hoping it's mental. Otherwise Allie is going to be really sick.

So, The moral of this story is:

When in doubt, throw it out. Even when it's a lot of money in wasted chicken and you spent too much time reading Harry Potter that day to have come up with something else to cook.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Just here to help

So I've been thinking I really need to jump into the fray here and contribute. Last night, as the girls ran roughshod over the house, I considered what I could share regarding my own ineptitude. As I was picking Sarah's pacifier up from a webbed, dusty corner, brushing it off on my shirt, sticking it in my mouth to be sure it didn't taste too weird, and popping it back in her mouth it occurred to me that I am actually the best mama ever.

This realization caused me to fret. How will I bond with these women, I wondered, when I am so clearly a superior matriarch? I considered the notion further as I was in the kitchen, granting Kate's request to have nothing but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner - I threw in a fully charged juice box just because I really am that swell. As I brought Kate's food to her in the TV room and let her eat it while watching a movie instead of doing the cutting and pasting activity I'd suggested, I tried to think of any poor parenting I'd performed. Would it be fair to talk about their father's failings? He's had a few, I must say...

I had to interrupt my pontification to relocate Sarah, who I realized I hadn't seen in a solid 5 minutes. A brief search revealed that she was once again face-down in the dog's water bowl in the kitchen. Whew, at least she was nowhere near the outlets! I've long since lost the safety covers to those.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, my conclusion - instead of being able to share tales of stumblings and errors, I will instead have to provide council and advice to all these other poor, wayward mamas. It's nothing to be ashamed of, certainly, not everyone is naturally endowed with flawless mothering skills. And that is why, no matter what, I will be here to help. I pledge that to all of you! Now if you'll excuse me I really need to call the pediatrician to get the list of recommended dentists again. I've lost it 3 times and still haven't gotten Kate in once. Not to worry, Kate has perfect teeth.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Second Glass of Wine

It's 9:30 on Thursday night and I am on my second glass of wine. (I obviously found my wine key, Karen, it was in the bottle basket...baby bottles not wine bottles.) I honestly can't remember the last time I drank more than one glass on a weeknight, but it's been that kind of day. That kind of week.

Clara was up all night long crying. Turns out she has a double ear infection. She was miserable all day. I was trying so hard to get all Brandon's homeschool stuff turned in today, but then I found out he was missing a lot of things he was supposed to do, so we went to war about that. He just finished taking a pie crust out of the oven ten minutes ago, for his cooking class. It was his attempt at being a Renaissance man. He failed. He's grounded for the missing work so he was sent downstairs to solitude, really for no other reason than to keep him from aggravating Allison. Ben was well, just normal Ben today, but I wasn't up to the task and he ended up going to bed eating no more that a bowl of corn Chex and a cup of yougert...all day! And his milks of course. The boy loves milk. And Allison, who bless her heart really didn't do anything wrong, just got the brunt of my stress. Maybe I should have started drinking earlier.

Then Shane came up complaining about his bad work day and all I could think was, no fair...this is my day to get to complain. You can have tomorrow. I'm a creep I know. He's currently downstairs playing pool with his cousin, while I am up here with the kids, so I didn't feel too badly for too long.

On the upside though, I planted Allison in front of her current musical fixation, "Little Shop of Horrors" and am typing this to the sounds of Rick Moranis singing "Down on Skid Row..." Good times. I am sure I will earn a WMP for letting my 10 yr old watch a PG 13 movie where someone gets chopped up and fed to a man eating plant, but it's in the name of sanity. Plus it is a peppy soundtrack.

So I am off now to drown my day in wine and bubble bath and the 6th Harry Potter which I am rereading to prepare for Saturday. At least the day will end well.

Curious playthings

What happens when you leave an unattended box of tissues on the coffee table? What? You didn't want them left in the box, right, Mama? They're so much more fun on the floor.

Honestly? I was more amazed that the box wasn't empty...

Yes, I made Lauren clean them up. "No fair, Mama!"

"Sure it is. Who do you think had to clean up after you?"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For Joy, That Her Spirit May Be Cheered

Ross loves a thrill. Last year, he rode as many roller coasters as Disney World would let a mother sneak her not yet 48" thrill-seeking kid onto. Ahhh...but I'm not here to talk about our trip to Disney World (aka the trip that severely depleted my WME points). I'm here to tell you a story about the baby days of Ross.

Cute, wasn't he? He loved a thrill then, too. He would giggle wildly when we swung him around. If it had been a while (three minutes) since we'd given him a playful toss, he'd wave his little feet around or stick his arms up so we'd grab on and swing him. He didn't weigh very much, so it wasn't at all taxing and he loved it so much that he got swung around on the Mama Coaster quite often.

One fateful day, while visiting Chris' parents, as I swung Ross around by his ankles, I suddenly found myself holding nothing but pants. Ross, who'd been squealing with delight at the site of his upside-down self in the bathroom mirror a moment before, was squalling the surprised and angry cry of someone who'd just been dropped on his head on the tiled bathroom floor. Worse, my mother-in-law watched the whole thing.

In the brief second (eternity) it took for her to cross the room to us, I wondered if I'd ever be able to look her in the face again. I'd dropped her grandson on a tile floor! When she reached us, she gathered me into a strong hug. "Oh, honey," she said, "Are you ok?" Me? Am I ok? Baffled (and wondering if *she* was ok...) I told her I was fine (embarrassment aside) and pointed out that Ross was the one screaming on the floor. "Oh, he'll be fine - he'll never remember this, but YOU certainly will!" In the days after, Ross was often found in overalls.

Wherein Epiphany finds herself in need of some guidence, or maybe just a solution to the climb out of everything phase...

It was hot and humid in Jersey yesterday. That does something bad to my mood. I had also decided that I was going to get some damn exercise already yesterday, which meant a walk to the library - about a half mile round trip.

Before we left, we were awaiting the delivery of a new mattress for Lindsay's room for the twin bed that had once belonged to my 22-year-old sister. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the mattress that was purchased with the bed when she was about 7 or 8. I heard the truck pull up, and Lauren ran into the foyer to see who had arrived when she tripped on the rug and fell on her face for the third time that morning.

"What the [censored], Lauren?! How many times are you going to trip on that [censored] rug?"

The screen door was open, and I caught the eye of one of the burly men dispatched to deliver the mattress. He looked away quickly. My face grew hot.

We went to the library, and then our errands were to the grocery store, the dry cleaners, and the bank. At the grocery store, I snapped at Lauren to stay next to the cart and drew stares. As I was trying to get my groceries in the bag (for some reason, they refuse to help you bag if you bring the recycled bags), keep Lindsay in her stroller, and Lauren from running back and forth, I said, "Cut it out, Lauren." a bit louder than I'd intended.

At the dry cleaner, Lindsay was trying to stand in her stroller while I was grabbing the dresses and signing the credit card slip. The result was the stroller fell backwards because of the weight of the groceries, Lindsay began screaming and Lauren sheepishly tried to lift the stroller back up.

That was before the bank when I simply began barking orders. "Don't touch that!", "Open the door.", and "Put that down.". I announced, "After lunch, you're both going down for a nap because I just can't anymore..."

Lauren replied, "Ok, Mommy."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Long Gone

I left my children on Friday with my in-laws while my husband drove me up to Montpelier, VT for a 10-day writer's residency. What's so bad about that you say? Nothing, except people keep asking me how my family is doing without me and if I miss my boys. Umm, I don't know how my family is doing since I haven't talked to them since I left.

I know you'll say that's not worth a WMP, as it's only WM by default. But while we're on the topic of childproofing (this is for you, Joy), allow me to relate a story from last summer.

I'm upstairs in my office, seeking solitude, or at least 15 minutes on the computer when I hear my oldest son saying, "Will, should you be putting anything in the outlet? Will, should you be putting anything in there?" I ignore it. Just a few minutes on the computer...

Then I realize what is going on. I run downstairs to find my 2 year old pounding a meat thermometer in the solitary outlet that I had not covered.

Points for me?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The worst Mom rambles on...

So, all joking aside, I am feeling depressingly like I deserve this title tonight. While I was getting dinner on the table, I heard Clara yelling at Ben and it sounded kind of far away so I went and checked. She was crawling halfway out the front door after Ben who had opened it and left (in his t-shirt and underwear of course.) I corralled him back inside quickly while hoping to avoid notice from the neighbors and calls to CPS.

And then no less than 5 minutes later when I was collecting the rest of the crew for dinner I discovered Ben with blood all over his face. After skipping a heartbeat, and much detective work we found out he had tried to shave his lip with his dad's razor. No joke. I feel nauseous even typing it.

Both of these scenarios were caused by doors not being properly secured (the front door by a child lock not reset by one of his siblings, and the razor thing by the bedroom door, which also has a child lock, not being pulled shut...potentially by me).

I have often heard people say they are surprised their child has made it to adulthood alive. I never understood this statement until Ben. That boy is mischief personified. I seem to be incapable of keeping him safe. Just this Saturday, before Clara's party, he pulled out a chair and stood on it to get scissors to set all the balloons free of their tiresome strings. The scissors were dull children's fiskars, not capable of real injury...but running half naked in the street or playing with razors, this is something to freak out about. And I have.

So once again I redouble my efforts at this new level of childproofing I have never had to attempt before. Because if I miss something he will find it.

Oh and on a lighter, less life and death note, last night he also colored on his carpet with marker. Crayola this time, that Allie left laying around. Washable unlike the permanent marker he decorated our bedroom carpet with. And the worst part is that he showed us his new drawing proudly when we walked in the room...

"Look Mom, it's a butterfly!" Apparently my punishment for the first marker incident had no effect whatsoever. Even after I punished him this time, he clung to me crying "But it's a butterfly". Such a strong spirit, this boy. I am at a loss as to how to handle it.

And in some cruel funny bit of irony, I lost my wine key. The only wine opener we have in this house is the old wine key I had from waiting tables 10 years ago. That's okay with me because I am quite good at using it and it fits easily into the drawer. But tonight, when I decided I really wanted that rare weeknight glass of wine. it's gone. Poof. I have no doubt I will find it one afternoon in Ben's matchbox cars, or under his bed, but for now it's with an empty glass that I toast my success at being the current reigning worst mama ever.

How depressing.
Edited to include this picture of Ben taken last night after the razor incident. Note the appropriately sad and reproachful look. This boy obviously knows a WME when he sees one.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

The funny thing is that he's a good rider...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A turn of phrase is a dagger to the heart

LAUREN: I'm going to sit with Daddy because he still likes me.

EPIPHANY: You don't think I like you?

LAUREN: No. You don't like me. You yell at me all the time.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"I don't think she'll ask me on another playdate since Mom got in her face"

My daughter Lauren has a classmate I'm not terribly fond of. We, of course, run into her at nearly every borough event. The street fair was no exception.

This interaction, Rachel kept hugging and kissing Lauren. For the first 5 (!) minutes, Lauren had no objection, though she wasn't really reciprocating beyond the first hug hello. This was while we were walking down to an event, so, it was making it hard for Lauren to keep up.

Finally, Rachel had pressed Lauren up against the brick wall of a restaurant, and Lauren was saying, "Please stop hugging me. I don't like it any more." And when that didn't work, "Hey, Rach, cut it out!" Her voice was beginning to rise and I could see from her expression that she was getting really angry.

I got down to Rachel's eye level and said, "Rachel, Lauren asked you to stop. Let go of her right now." I physically separated them as gently as I could. She was right back with her arm around Lauren's neck, "No, Rachel. Stop it RIGHT NOW." I separated them again. "You need to go back to your mom now," I said firmly.

Bathtime is processing time in our house. So, I decided I should broach the topic...

"Rachel's mom asked me if you wanted to have a playdate."

"Yes!" she said excitedly.

"Lauren," I said quietly, "I don't really like that you asked Rachel to stop touching you and she wouldn't listen. You told her 'No' and she wouldn't stop."

Lauren's eyes got wide. "I didn't like that at all. She was hurting me."

"I don't know that Rachel is a very good friend to you if she doesn't listen when you tell her 'No'."

"No. I don't think so, Mom."

"It's pretty important that people listen to you when you say 'Stop'. If you tell someone no and they won't stop, what can you do?"

"I can tell a grown up."

"Yep, that's a good answer. What if there's no grown up?"

"Um. I don't know what to do."

"I think if you've asked someone to stop touching you 2 times and they won't stop that it's time to make them stop by pushing them away."

She looked alarmed. "By pushing them?"

"If you've asked someone to stop touching you and they're hurting you, it is OK to push them away."

"Ok, Mom."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dinner for Two

Lars (6) is charged with setting the table for dinner each day, a task he generally allows his father to do all the prep work for and then defers the completion of until he's been commanded/begged 436 times. Since I have deemed this the Summer of Learning to be Responsible, a new rule has been instituted. If Lars needs to be told more than ONE time to set the table each day, he will not be eligible to eat the meal.

Ross (8) enjoys life in the summer without a shirt on. Actually, Ross enjoys life year-round without a shirt on, so we have a long-standing rule about wearing a shirt to the table. Even if you run around shirtless the entire rest of the day, you must put a shirt on to come to the table. If you aren't dressed for the meal (and we're not talking tux...), you don't get to eat.

Today, when I began making dinner, I called Lars to the kitchen. I let him know which dishes and utensils we'd need for the meal and let him know it was time to do his chore. As he brightly spun around to leave the kitchen, I asked if he remembered what would happen if he needed to be told to set the table again. He said that he did, and reiterated the potential punishment. I said I was glad he understood and told him there were 15 minutes until dinner.

With ten minutes left to go in the making dinner process, I went out to playroom and told both boys (Lars, not setting the table and Ross, not wearing a shirt) there were ten minutes until dinner. "Ok, Mama," they chorused brightly. I asked Ross if he knew what would happen if he was shirtless when dinner was on the table and he said that he did.

At the five-minutes-to-go mark, Chris made some Very Pointed Announcements, such as, "Dinner will be ready in FIVE minutes," and, "Lars, Mama said we'll need spoons and butter knives on the table tonight."

When there were only two minutes left, Chris again tried to spur the children into action. As I set the bread in the microwave to warm, I called, "Fifteen SECONDS to dinner," and the house shook as feet pounded upstairs. Ross appeared as the bread dinged, wearing a satin magician's vest but no shirt. Chris sent him to get a shirt. Ross argued that he was WEARING A VEST. Chris asked if a vest is a shirt? Ross hollered, "NO, it's a VEST!"

I didn't figure there was anything to be gained by calling Ross out on the shouting and left it to Chris to say, "You need to wear a SHIRT to the table."

As Ross stomped off to playroom (note: we do not keep shirts in playroom...), Lars appeared. He settled himself comfortably into a chair at our new table (!!!) and looked at his place setting, perplexed. "Hey...where's my silverware," he queried? I looked at him, my eyebrows raised. I asked where he supposed his silverware was. "In the drawer?" he offered. I nodded, gravely.

Chris walked in, surveyed the table (he'd set our half), looked at Lars and said, "You didn't set the table. Go." Lars dragged off, pouting but without stomping. Chris and I settled in to enjoy dinner, as best we could with the kids peering at us furtively through the playroom window. Shortly into our meal, we glimpsed a notebook flying across playroom, accompanied by escalating shouts. Chris walked purposefully into playroom and found the boys blaming each other for not getting dinner. "Lars, did you set the table," asked Chris? Lars shook his head. "That's why YOU didn't get dinner. Because YOU didn't set the table." Lars hung his head. "Ross, why are you not with us at dinner," Chris asked?

"Because LARS di...," Ross began but Chris cut him off.

"Did YOU wear a shirt to the table?"

"I WORE a VEST!" stormed Ross.

"A shirt is not a vest. I told you to get a SHIRT," Chris countered. "YOU did not wear a shirt; that's why YOU didn't get dinner," and he returned to the table. The boys spent the rest of dinner in playroom, alternately glaring at us and getting too many things out to play with - things they are now working on picking up. When they finish, I'm sending them up to bed. They're miserable when they're hungry and I'm just don't have patience for misery tonight.


Apparently the worst mama ever award is garbage. Invisible garbage at that. Sigh. Now I am not sure I even wanna win, Too bad I am gonna.

Just one of those dinners where you hope that people will say nice things at your eulogy after the floor swallows you up

We have street fairs about every two weeks during the summer. This particular one featured an ice cream cake eating contest that I talked my 4 AND A HALF year old daughter to participate in. I travel attached by stroller to my symbiont, my 13 month old daughter. Of course, when I signed up, there was no mention that as the parent I was supposed to help my competing child by holding her plate and her hair while she tried to scarf down the frozen cake. As the competition drew underway, I was about 4 feet from the table, a solid wall of spectators between me and my eldest daughter. Also, the competition was "under 12", so regardless of whether my daughter brought her game on, she clearly was outmatched by those who were 3 times her age.

"Where is your mother?" one of the volunteers demanded.

"I think she's over there." Lauren pointed.


"Here." I snapped. Lindsay, meanwhile, was staging an escape from the stroller by standing up and wriggling out of the five-point restraints. As she stood up, I scooped the seventeen pound babe up with my left hand while the stroller stubbornly fell backwards under the weight of the 10 pound diaper bag no longer counterweighted.

The volunteer considered demanding that I go up there. He looked away from my stare. "I'll assist this competitor," he said quietly.

"Thanks." I said over the sound of my wailing baby.

After the 5 minute competition was lost, we made our way to the end of the block to the local steakhouse for dinner, baby still stuck under an arm, crying daughter in the stroller to counterweight the diaper bag. "My past port [little yellow paper with star stickers from each business we visited] got dirty," she whimpered.

"You can have mine," I said, trying not to meet the glance of one of the mothers from her pre-k class.

The restaurant's entrance, up a half flight of stairs meant I had to collapse the MacClaren and sling it over my shoulder along with the diaper bag.

As we were seated, I tried hard not to knock into anyone with my nearly numb left shoulder, sporting a stroller and a swollen diaper bag. As soon as I placed the stroller on the floor and the bag on a chair, Potty was announced.

We returned to find although the drinks we'd ordered were on the table, the high chair and booster I'd requested still had not arrived, so I sat with the baby in my lap while my daughter complained she couldn't reach her milk. The high chair was surreptitiously placed while I tried to pour off some of my 4 AND A HALF year old's milk into a sippy cup with one hand and hold a squirming toddler in the other, desperate to grasp the cup.

I gave up and placed her in the high chair, which is a mistake until the food arrives to distract. As I turned to grab a toy out of the diaper bag, she stood up unsteadily shaking the chair. I reached to set her back on her rear and knocked a bread plate off the table. It hit the metal table feet and broke in 2 with a loud clang as every eye on the restaurant was suddenly on me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The post where you all realize, you are out of your league.

This evening I was rushing to get dinner in the oven. I had forgotten to put the chicken in the crockpot that morning and as a result was still, at 6:00 at night, trying to get it to thaw out so I could slop some salsa on it and put it in the oven. I needed to do this as quickly as possible because the cleaning woman, yes I said cleaning woman...we'll get back to that in a minute, was quickly approaching the kitchen and I needed to get out of her way, so she could clean up the slopped salsa, along with the rest of the kitchen.

You see, Clara's first birthday party is Saturday, and in true-to-Joy-form, my house was a disaster of epic proportions. And I mean it was funky. So, in an act of grace or desperation or both, my dear husband splurged to have the housekeepers he hired while I was pregnant come and clean before the party. And clean they did. For 5 hours they scrubbed, and polished and defunkified my home while I ran errands...doing my best to hide out from these women who were seeing the worst of me.

And lest you think that my domestic ineptitude is the peak of my worst-mama-ever claims today, there is more...

While I was trying to get the chicken in the oven, Ben started wailing. Well I, never being much for jumping each time my kids get hurt, looked at Brandon, sitting on the couch, and raised my eyebrows because he had a view of Ben. He looked back at me and said lazily, "You need to get Ben."

So I, up to my wrists in salsa and chicken, went off on Brandon about why he couldn't get Ben and he argued back at me, all the while Ben is still wailing in the background. Then Cleonice, our cleaning women, comes in crying and carrying Ben who's finger had apparently been shut in the front door (by her) the whole time Brandon and I were arguing.

Although I am not sure how this is posible, I STILL, was not grasping the entire situation (in part, I guess, because of Cleonice only speaking portugese) I took Ben from her, and continued to lecture Brandon about how he could leave Ben with his finger in the door, between saying, "It's fine Cleonice, it's fine!" while she was crying. Finally, in an act of desperation she takes Ben's hand, puts his finger in my face, to show me it's turning blue, and runs off to get ice.


He's really hurt.


So Ben spent the rest of the evening wimpering in my lap (and yes, of course I felt awful!) with frozen peas on his finger, after I comforted Cleonice, gave her a big tip fat and sent her on her way. I will never be able to show my face to her again. Sigh.

Loss of a darn good cleaning woman too.

No Fair!

"...I will win this competition hands down. I am the worst mama ever, just ask my older two children."

Just because Joy's offspring have already Made The Declaration, she thinks she will win. I think the rest of us can easily prove her wrong! I got two votes today, one from Rob and the other from my mom (who was too polite to post hers in comments...).

While I don't disagree that Ginger could be the W.M.E. (time will tell), I would like to open a debate regarding the equivalence of "worst" and "mean." Ging's taking off for ten days of bliss (where bliss = grueling intensive classwork and writing more in a day than I wrote during my entire high school experience). I figure we can probably settle the matter decisively before she gets back. Either that or she'll return and mediate us all down off the ledge, which could require a deduction from her cache of WMPs, which would move the rest of our standings ahead that little bit. Anyone with me?

Finally, I think we all agree that grocery shopping alone IS a night on the town.

Introduction #4

I am Ginger of Gingersnapspice, Haiku! Gesundheit, and Biblioblog and I totally belong here. If one didn't already know that, one would only have to listen to the cries of my two sons: "You're a MEAN mommy! Mean! Mean!" which, in most cases elicits a look of burning fire (you haven't even seen mean yet!) from me. Occasionally, I can ignore it. Today, the mix went from my oldest son saying I was mean to my youngest son fervently agreeing, to my oldest son crying and saying "Nice mommy. Mommy's nice! You're mean!" Sigh.

Now, if parenting weren't guilt-ridden enough, try adding a dash of autism to the mix to really lay the guilt on thick. My oldest son has Aspergers Syndrome and my youngest is 3. The age 3 is really almost comparable. I have been a stay-at-homer for the past 6 years, with my two sons, but as of Friday, I return to the world of graduate school. I'm beginning an MFA in writing for children and I'm LEAVING FOR 10 DAYS OF WRITING RESIDENCY! Did I mention guilt?Hmmmm....

Introduction #3

I am Joy, of Joy in Chaos. I have 4 children ages 15, 10, 3 and 1 (next week). I do not work outside the home and my hobbies, other than blogging and reading, have slowly disappeared with each child's birth to the point that I now view grocery shopping alone as a night on the town. I think just based on the sheer volume of children that I am screwing up, that I will win this competition hands down. I am the worst mama ever, just ask my older two children.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Introduction #2

Karen here, from Reason Enough and also Haiku! Gesundheit. I've been collecting Worst Mother Points [WMP] for over eight years! When not earning WMPs, I work full-time (although, luckily, quite often from home), play hockey, dream of renovating our kitchen, and live for the day one of my boys, currently aged 81/2 and 61/2, will declare absolutely that I am the Worst Mama Ever.

Mama After Midnight

My all-time worst parenting takes place after 12 AM. I don't function well woken out of sound sleep. My usually censored Mama-language falls to the way-side and the modicum of patience I display during the day is completely lost.

The sound of size 8 feet pound solidly against the creaking wood floors in the wee hours. I open one eye to realize the face of my 4 AND A HALF year old daughter, eyes at half mast.

"Can I sleep here?"

"Are you [censored] kidding me? It is 2 o'clock in the [censored] morning. Get back to bed."

"But Mama..." The excuses cycle through her mind hitting the anticipated reactions in her little head. Bad dream? Tummy ache? Can't stop coughing?

"There isn't anything to discuss." I say. "Just go back to bed."

"Ok, Mama."

And I sit up in bed wondering how 30 pounds of person can possibly make that much noise.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Hi, I'm Epiphany Alone. I write a personal blog called Abandon Hope, which launched in March 2006. I also contribute to Haiku! Gesundheit. which is written entirely (posts and comments) in haiku, and also to Erotimama which is an erotica site written for and by moms. Besides spending entirely too much time on the Internet, I am a stay-at-home mom to two girls, ages 4 1/2 and 1, own a technology consulting business, and a part-time college student.

I find among my friends off the 'Net, we spend a good amount of time sharing what we deem our less than stellar parenting moments. Sometimes these are funny stories. Sometimes they're not. Parenting is really hard stuff. This space is intended as a community to remind us that despite our insecurities (and what our kids say) we're not, in fact, the Worst Mama Ever.