Friday, November 21, 2014

Why I Celebrate My Kids' Half Birthdays

When we tell people we celebrate our kids’ half birthdays, they say “What the @#$& is wrong with you?”

They don’t, but they don’t have to -- I can see it in their EYES.

My kids are exactly eighteen months apart to the day.  Which means that one child's birthday is the other child's half birthday. Pretty cool, huh?  

Actually, it’s become a monster. It was supposed to be a sweet way to acknowledge both children, but has morphed into an indulgent mess of 21st century over-parenting.  A habit that breaking, like pacifiers and rubbing backs at bedtime, is like trying to stop an avalanche with a teaspoon.

Our little snowball started when my son came to the hospital to meet his baby sister. We hoped and prayed that instead of feeling betrayed, Mr. R would walk into the room, gaze lovingly upon his sibling, and feel complete.  

But when he walked into the room and saw me breastfeeding Lady A, a look of confusion and despair took over his sweet little face.  "Who the hell is this, and why is it sucking on my mom?" his wide eyes and frown asked. He immediately tried to hoist himself up on the hospital bed to sit on top of me. And his sister.  

As a peace offering, we whipped out some presents for Mr. R. 

Six months later, when Mr. R turned two, he had a party at home.  Lady A got a gift or two, not so she'd feel acknowledged – she was six months old for Pete’s sake -- but so we'd feel like we acknowledged her.  

But then it happened.  Lady A turned one, and it killed her brother that his sister was in the spotlight.  He was pissed OFF to see the house decorated for her little party.  He wanted to help her blow out the candles. The few presents he got were not enough. 

That should have been our cue to put the kibosh on this half-birthday crap, but no-o-o.  We were only children, and wanted each child to feel equally special, even if that child acted like a total brat.  Instead of the “we love you just because” kid feeling happy to get anything, it made him less respectful of, and just as entitled as, the top dog, ready to pull a Tonya Harding at the first opportunity.     

Call us criminals, but we love to go whole hog on birthdays, especially the kids’.  We live vicariously through their happiness – satisfying the needs that as an adult are so hard to fill.  It is a real kick in the ass to see envy and disappointment – suffering on the part of one kid, when we’ve worked so hard to make them both feel treasured to the endth degree. 

And we keep trying, when we should probably stop.

The thing is, life has a way of teaching us that we are not, in fact, that special. That’s why childhood is such a treasured and unique time in our lives.  Similar to Santa Claus and company, one day we will explain why we celebrated half-birthdays when the ritual is a thing of the past. 

Someday, I know my kids will celebrate their sibling’s birthday, remember a lovely tradition, and wonder what the hell they had to complain about. 

They better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

50 Reasons We Moms Deserve An Award

I was born in the 1970s.   

The early 1970s, which today seems positively medieval.    

We got spankings. Hours upon hours of the day went by with out a single children's television program on the air.   

And if you sucked at something, not only did you not get a trophy, but your teacher, or your coach, or maybe even your mom told you so. Told you so and then told you that you were a big girl and needed to stop all that ridiculous crying. 

As for "just showing up," that was what you were supposed to do, and you weren't going to get any goddamn award for it.   

But now, looking at these coddled millennials, not to mention my own brats cherubs, I feel cheated.   

I want to be not only acknowledged, but actively celebrated, for all the mundane and dutiful shit we moms do. Every. Day.   I mean, come on people, don't these things deserve some recognition?

1.      We took two kids trick-or-treating. When it was 40-degrees, gale-force winds and SLEETING.
2.      We eat their Halloween candy in moderation. That’s why it’s still here!
3.      When a few pieces of candy turned our kids into a couple of rioting prisoners, we reacted calmly instead of screaming.
4.      We cobble together great, healthy dinners with stuff we have in our pantry.
5.      When our house looks like a crime scene, we at least try to remain loving and kind, before screaming, “Do I look like the maid to you?!!”
6.      We managed to take twenty-minute nap today. With one kid at home.
7.      We remembered to order the kids new snow boots. Before the first major snow!
8.      We turned off the TV/iPad/X-box when we said we would.
9.      We exercised today by involving our kids. Sure, we only burned off three tic-tacs, but how our effort was completely magazine-worthy!
10.         We tried a new recipe, and everyone asked for seconds!
11.         We arranged a playdate with that girl our daughter loves, the one whose mother is a huge "rhymes with glitch."
12.         We grit our teeth and left the house with our daughter in an outfit so garish our ego is bruised and our eyes are practically bleeding.
13.         We got off Facebook and played with our children. And then got back on when they stopped playing fair.
14.         We cleaned the fridge. And only bitched about it a little.
15.         We finally downloaded all those photos onto the computer.
16.         We put our phone/keys/wallet in the right place.
17.         We left enough time to get where we needed to go.
18.         We packed enough food for everyone. Including ourselves.
19.         We remembered to ask them to go to the bathroom, before getting on the road.
20.         We had some alone time.
21.         We trusted our gut, and got them out of harm's way. FAST.
22.         We let them cook/clean with us, even though it made that ten-minute task take 90.
23.         We remembered to call Great Aunt So-and-so.
24.         We answered with a firm "no," and put it out of our head.
25.         We finally read that book.
26.         We found "him" on Facebook, and realized he isn't, and probably never    really was, all that and a bag of chips.
27.         We stopped complaining to your friend and did something about whatever "it" is.
28.         We went to bed early for once.
29.         And woke up ready to take on the world.
30.         We drank more water than yesterday.
31.         We wrote.
32.         We meditated.
33.         We paid bills.
34.         We saved money.
35.         We let it go (and didn’t even think about the song).
36.         We checked several items off our to-do list.
37.         We spoke our mind.
38.         We brought more whole foods into our diet, bonus for not spending your whole paycheck at the store of the same name.
39.         You learned something new.
40.         We got rid of stuff we don't wear anymore, bringing our closet out of 1999 and up to maybe 2010.
41.         We forgave.
42.         We danced, just because.
43.         We stopped caring so much about what everyone else thinks.
44.         We finally cleaned out the fridge and cabinets.
45.         We walked there instead.
46.         We ordered it on the side. And used it sparingly.
47.         We went on a date.
48.         We got organized.
49.         We sent a thank you.
50.         We realized we don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.

Now it's your turn!

Why do you deserve an award?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why I Will NOT Make My Kid's Halloween Costume

My mother made my fantastic '80s asymmetrical prom dress and several Halloween costumes.  And she didn’t do the unskilled crafter thing that I can do, as in going to Michael’s and trying to make something out of aluminum pans and glue.

She sewed.  On a MACHINE! 

The costumes she made were gorgeous. I couldn’t have been prouder in my mom’s creations, especially when the alternative was a glorified plastic tablecloth and a horror mask printed with some cartoon character. You forty somethings remember those? No thank you.

When I was about nine, my friend Barbara and I had a joint Halloween birthday party. Both of our birthdays were at the end of August, which meant everyone was out of town.  Our parents decided to postpone our birthday celebrations until Halloween so we wouldn’t feel like total losers.

Heyell no was I going as a bulbous koala or a raccoon.  I HAD to be a roller disco girl, rocking purple satin pants, a pink satin jacket with “Boogie” or something scrawled on the back with glitter paint, and white Capezio jazz shoes.  My mother sewed the entire thing. It was everything I’d hoped for and I felt HOT!

Positive I had the coolest costume in the room, I showed off a bit by doing a big Russian split – squatting down and then jumping up into a straddle split in the air. 

Higher and higher I rose until I got to the top of the jump, and snapped my legs wide open. I looked cool, and I had SKILLS, people!

Unfortunately, the satin was far too delicate to survive the force of a muscular girl launching herself into the air.  The seat of my pants burst open like a frankfurter in the microwave. 

My roller girl satin jeans were ruined.  My panties were on full display.  Barely ten minutes in.  The kids howled with laughter.  Not only did I want to go home, I wanted to die.  At my own party?  Really?

I spent the rest of the party with someone’s shirt wrapped around my waist, foreshadowing the days of wearing a butt shirt because I’d bled through my clothes like a stuck pig. 

Lesson:  Homemade sometimes means made to stay at home.  As in on a hanger.

Thirty-two years later that lesson was forgotten.   

You may recall how I resolved to be some combination of Martha Stewart/a martyr/an idiot by making my almost five-year-old son’s knight costume. 

Well, it turned out amazing!  Look:

My knight in shining armor.
You are blinded by my talent, I know...

Except my poor son could barely walk down the stairs, and couldn’t see for shit.  When we got to the party where the costume would debut I definitely got to feel like a rockstar with all the ooohs and aahs. (What do you MEAN you didn’t have me pegged for a crafter?!  I have many talents, don’t you know!!) 

But when my kid knelt down to eat his pizza down I winced, stifling my desire to yank him to his feet and feed him like an upright armored baby.  All I could think about was getting more wine to calm my nerves over my soon-to-be ruined handiwork.

Eventually, Mr. R took off the leg armor and walked around with just the breastplate, which had an awful lot of the white underside of the foil candy cups showing.  He looked a knight who had lost a battle with some poopy birds. 

It was ironic that Mr. R and I had wanted this outfit to be museum-worthy. A mom friend quipped, “Looks like you made him a suit of armor -- not necessarily a costume.”

For his school party on Thursday, and for actual trick-or-treating a friend took pity on us and offered to lend us a costume from her son’s dress-up arsenal.  We might wear a few elements of the costume I slaved over, like the helmet, but the rest of the getup was bound for its life in the closet.  

Note to Martha, kids like to DO things on Halloween.  Like MOVE.

Doing battle against Martha for her
 beautiful, yet unwearable, costume.

As for me, I’ve learned my lesson.  Halloween costumes should be bought and not made. 

At that's what I think this year.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Mom in the Spotlight: Writer, Kathy Glow

You are a mom of all boys, correct?  How old is everyone?  
Slim is 10, Knox is 9, Lil’ C will be 7 soon, and Edgie is a “threenager.” LOL, he’s three going on 13.

The death of a child is every parent's worst nightmare. You write with rawness, strength, grace about living after the unimaginable tragedy of your son Joey, then 5, losing his battle to cancer in June 2010.  How do you find balance both in terms of grief within life, and everyday stresses?  How does writing figure into that balance?  

Writing definitely helps – it’s my free therapy. I’m not sure I am finding balance, to tell you the truth. I really struggle with depression and being inside my own head a lot. I just try to stay focused on my family and appreciating having them in my life. As much as they frustrate me, they do make me laugh. We have a great time talking about Joey, so that helps, too.

What does a newbie blogger need to know about what it takes to run even a moderately successful site? 
I think it’s important to decide what you will write about. I went through a very schizophrenic phase where I couldn’t find my voice. People want to know what they will find when they visit your blog. Sometimes surprises are nice, but not every time. Quality writing and a visually appealing site are a must, too.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Besides an author? 
I would love to be a professional organizer. I live by the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” It’s also possible that I’m a little addicted to the Houzz app.

What TV show past or present does your life most resemble?  Which one would you like it to?  
Hmmm, this is hard. Honestly now, probably a show where there is a lot of chaos, everyone fights a lot, and no one respects their elders – basically any show currently on Nickelodeon is us. I always fantasized about having a Brady Bunch family though – boys and girls and everyone gets along and is happy. And maybe sings, too. That would be cool.

I grew up in dance studios surrounded by girls, and didn't have boys as friends until college.  What's the secret to living in a house full of dudes? Check before you sit on the toilet, get used to fart jokes, and always have enough snacks. Snacks are key.

Statement that comes out of your mouth 76 times a day? 
“Will you guys knock it off?!!!!!” Followed closely by, “Who forgot to turn off the basement/bathroom/bedroom light?!” I guess those are more like questions – rhetorical ones in this house.

Someone gives you cash for a two-week dream vacation.  Where do you go, and more importantly, who gets to come with you? 
I go to the Greek Islands with Hubby. Did you know it’s sunny 350 days out of the year there?? Second would be a safari in Africa to which I take the whole family in honor of Joey. Joey loved the big cats.

A first-time reader comes to your site.  What do you want them to come away with? 
I want them to feel understood, wowed, and inspired. I want them to feel like someone gets what they are going through. And most importantly, I want them to be waiting anxiously for my next post.

Oh, we are, Kathy.  We are. . .

Kathy Glow is a freelance writer, blogger, and mother of five boys, including one lost to cancer. When she is not driving all over town in her mini-van, wiping “boy stuff” off the walls, or trying to find the bottom of the pile of laundry, she writes about what life is really like after all your dreams come true on her blog, Kissing the Frog. A 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year Honoree, her writing has been featured on BlogHer, Huffington Post Parents, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Her View from Home,, and Mamapedia. She is a contributing author to the anthologies I Just Want to Be Alone and Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother.

You can find her trying to be socially adequate on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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