Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why My Husband Should Adore Me

This you must see. Really: don't read one more word until you check it out.

The note was found on the same NYC to CT train route that I took for one very sweet, very hot (and I don't mean sexy) summer. It would mark the only time I ever worked in Manhattan, which makes me both happy and sad, but no matter: I know this MetroNorth line well.

It's the route my father took morning and night over the course of a few decades, and it's the one that many of my friends take today. It is also the train I rode as a teenager when I would wander through Greenwich Village with my posse, all of us so incredibly cool -- in our LL Bean boots and ribboned pony tails. Oh lord: Chloe Sevigny, we were not.

I never found a list like that on the train (though I did once find a six pack in a brown paper bag and I was all, woot! woot!), and I doubt my dad ever did. Granted, this was in the olden days before cool computer links could instantly deliver your boyfriend to the thousand dollar pair of shoes you love, but still.

I sort of thought this world, people with "wish lists" like this, didn't really exist... at least I didn't think they rode the fucking train!

If I wrote a Christmas list for my husband, which I haven't (mostly because he's been out of the country for most of the month, including right now thanks to a little snow storm in Europe which has stranded him YET AGAIN), I can assure you it would not look like this note.

For one, I would embed pictures of the things I most covet.

Things like this:

Because my feet hurt. Lots.
And not from my Luhbootins (which I am not even going to try to spell correctly) but from the thump-thump-thump I do all day in clogs made by Scandinavian masochists.

Or this.
Because it's hard to whip up cupcakes or healthy whole-grain muffins (wink, wink) when the baking section of my kitchen looks more pock-marked than most meth addicts.

And this?
Because, um? Does this even require explanation? Oprah sayeth and I believeth: a good bra doth make me look skinnieth-er.

I can't ever seem to find these when I need them.
Or these:
I would like some. Please.

I haven't done the math, and I'd probably mess up the calculations anyway, but I'm pretty sure I didn't come close to the $20K tab my train riding girlfriend did. This, and the Delicious Miller Lite? I think I just might be the cheapest date EVER. Add it to my countless other amazing qualities, and I'm sure I have endeared my husband to me for life. (Can you endear someone to you? Have I just bastardized re-invented language again?)

But just in case he might read this, and is kind of wanting to, well, spoil me -- this is what I really, really want:

She? Priceless.

PS: Truth: I'd really just like him to make it home to enjoy Christmas. That'd be good enough for me. And also: I already bought the coat I needed. It's wrapped and under the tree: "Stay Warm Mom! Heart, the Kids"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Twelve Days of.... OMG? WHA?

On the first day of Christmas,

My true love gave to me –

A kiss as he left the country.

On the second day of Christmas,

Bad luck gave to me --

Two kids moaning

And a kiss as he left the country.

On the third day of Christmas

Bad luck gave to me

Three sick kids!

Two kids moaning,

And a kiss as he left the country.

(You know how this goes, right? Let’s skip forward to the grand finale…)

On the twelfth day of Christmas

Bad luck gave to me –

Twelve loads of laundry

Eleven buckets emptied

Ten ruined towels

Nine blown-off meetings

Eight shouts for “MOMMY!”

Seven gifts un-shopped for

Six chores a-waiting

Five…. Hours…. Of…. Sleep!

Four tummies rumbling

Three sick kids!

Two kids moaning

And a kiss as he left the country.

That’s right.

While solo-parenting three children during both a busy professional and personal time of year -- which is an understatement of epic proportions, the Grinch visited my Who(wouldathunk)ville and left the kind of gift that keeps on giving. And giving. And oh, yes, giving again.

In the interest of sparing most of the goriest details, let me simply say that it might have been better if each of my kids became sick all at once rather than in progressive order -- in the middle of the night. And it was not sugar plum fairies dancing in any our sleeps! It was sort of like the March of the Nutcracker but instead of ballerinas, I got a stinky parade of the flu- and fever-ridden.

And it wasn’t twelve days – I’ve taken some liberties in the interest of “musical genius” – but it felt like it was. (Come to think of it, maybe it was twelve days: I’m so sleep-deprived, most of the details are lost on me.)

I am pleased to report that the worst seems behind us. Like always, good will (and an industrial-sized can of Lysol) have beaten that nasty Grinch from our door. The tummy rumbling has subsided, the fevers are gone, and soon enough an airplane will deliver my True Love back from a continent far, far away.

In the meantime, I’ll be scrambling to finish all the things left undone this week, which are so many that there are some I will surely overlook. But come Christmas Eve, I know I won’t forget to set out a special plate of milk and cookies for the one who has done so very much for me this Christmas season.

My washing machine.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To Phone or Not To Phone: A Christmas Dilemma

I like to think of myself as a Christmas magician. Not the kind who makes the greens and holly and holiday lights appear in a poof – ask my neighbors and you'll know this is not where my magic skills lay -- but the kind who makes sure that that one very special, very much wished for gift gets dropped down the chimney. I think that's the kind of magician we all want to be.

Usually, it's pretty easy. I'll twist racetracks into gravity-defying loops or score the long-wished for Lego set. The Big Man with the Beard will bring earrings, even when the Mom has said "no pierced ears," and with a snap of the wand, another Christmas morning will become the best one ever. But this year, I'm struggling.

This year I'm not sure I can make the magic happen. To get my daughter a phone or not to get her a phone, that is the question.

If my daughter were writing here, she would tell you that she's the only kid IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD with a mother so strict. She would be partly right because while I know that she is not the only sixth grader without a cell phone, I also know she's in a very small minority. I've held my no phone ground for so long, that sometimes I'm not even sure where my reluctance comes from.

I suppose it's fear. I've read so much about what can and does happen with technology like that and it scares me, but yet, I allowed her to set up an email account, which is just as frightening. Maybe I'm more afraid that with a cell phone in her pocket, she will be even more grown up -- and maybe growing away from me?

Lately, my daughter's charts and lists and arguments trying to sway my decision have become more persuasive. She's started babysitting, has managed her homework and chores and practice schedules, and by all accounts, appears to be able to handle the responsibility. Plus, she's a pretty great kid and I still want to be that Christmas magic-maker for her.

And I don't think a Barbie Dream House is a going to cut it this year.

My friend Jessica, who has a daughter one year older than mine, and who has always been a trusted source, is helping my daughter's case. Like me, Jess was resisting the phone but finally relented last Christmas. She's set some solid boundaries and rules -- no cell phones (or computers) upstairs, mom owns the phone and therefore has access to whatever's on it and/or can cut it off at any time.

Jess said she's actually glad she finally allowed the coveted phone, especially because she's been able to successfully set a precedent for the teenage future when boundaries and rules will matter even more.

I guess the future is here. I am getting my daughter a cell phone.

I am going into it with the kind of optimism that has sustained a lot of my parenting decisions: which is basically that if I shore myself up with enough information and set and stand by some unflinching regulations then all will be okay. If I have to, I'll revise my strategy should something pop up -- which it will.

But for now, I'm hoping it's just the chime of a funny text sent by a daughter to her mom, who, as it turns out, will get to be a Christmas magician once more.

(This was first published here.)

Also personal to Laggin: I adore you.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This is my Bieber

My daughter was hugged by Justin Bieber tonight.

This is because I have a friend, who was once my roommate in high school and then a bridesmaid in my wedding and then a confidant and trusted source throughout everything that came after, who decided my little kid was worthy of her magic.
And then she put her wand to it and poof! My kid is now the happiest kid on the planet.

My daughter was not lucky tonight. Instead, she was the recipient of what happens when you nurture what you love. Or in this case, who you love.

There is so much talk in the giant, noisy world about the social network. Blogs and tweets and Facebook and geolocation and oh holy hell, it worries me. In just writing these words, I feel my heart beating the wrong way.

Instead my heart should beat like my daughter's did tonight and how mine does in grateful thanks for my friend -- with a passion.

How does your heart beat?

My heart does not flutter over twitter follows or Facebook "friends" or blog commenters.

My heart beats when I write. My heart beats when I feel magnetically moved to, when I can not do anything but... write. My heart beats when writing becomes the best puzzle and the best solve all at once. My heart beats when writing reflects the best part of me, or the ugliest part, or the nastiest part, or the sweetest.

Writing is my Bieber.

It's my meet and greet.
I am trying to nurture what I love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Wikkid Smaht Kids: Still Wikkid Smaht

The GFYO has very fine penmanship for a 1st grader.

He also writes bad guys this way: badgis.


Rory reminds me (on the eve of a teacher/parent conference) that she is a "good kid." I know, I say. I'm not surprised I say. But how do you think you are as a "student," I ask?

Um, mom? she drags out in the way that 4th grade kids like her do:
Do you not remember my award for studentness?

I do, I say. (I resist every impulse to correct that non-word...)
And I say, I'm still not sure you know what I mean ---

"MOM! omigod! I have studentness! Back off! Geez...."


Bridget, who is 11, wants a cell phone for Christmas. Her pitch to me?

I'll call you alllll the time, even when you don't want me to!


There will come a day when my wikkid smaht kids will be way smarter than me. Until then, and because of that? I'm making proof of how delightfully awesome they've been in the meantime.

Also: shoring up lots of material for the rehearsal dinner toasts. Yo.