Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let There Be Light!

Let there be light!

Okay, so apparently my God complex needs a little work. No matter how many times I command it, nothing happens.

Up and down the block, gorgeous, festive Christmas lights adorn garland trimmed houses. And then there is my humble abode.

Several years ago when there was still a husband and money to pay someone to hang the darn things, there was light! (You thought I was going to say a husband to hang them? Hmmm...not so much. But the professionals he paid did a good job.) In my attic I still have the boxes and boxes and boxes of strands and strands and strands of bulbs. The little clips to help making hanging easier are even still attached. Awesome. No problem. I can do this.

First, however, I have to borrow a ladder. That went with the husband. So I call my wonderful neighbor who frequently takes pity on me. Then I need need a detangler. I call my wonderful son who also frequently takes pity on me. Neighbor provides the ladder. Son detangles the strands and makes sure they work. And he also reminds me of how I threw a big 3-year-old fit and stomped to death the strand that wouldn't light for me last year right there on the front porch for everyone to see. He shakes his head, still embarrassed. I straighten up and announce that it is moments like those, when witnessed by pitying neighbors, that help us obtain things like ladders. He doesn't get it.

So I'm up on the ladder, still having to reach on tip-toe having my son hand me clips and keep the light cord from wrapping itself around the ladder or me or the landscaping. He's a good little helper. Every few feet, we have to move the ladder. We get to the overgrown Rose-of- Sharon bush at the corner of the garage--the one that has harassed everyone for the last 6 months by extending its branches and grabbing hold of any person who dared try to use the sidewalk leading up to the house. Its a very territorial shrub. The ladder can't reach the garage. Rose-of-Sharon forbids it. I call my quite, yet secretly cunning and vengeful daughter. I hand her the pruning shears. She smiles!

In a mere 2 hours we finish our Christmas lighting project. My son and I have successfully strung two strands of lights across the sides and front of the garage. It's the only part of the roof low enough for us to reach, even with the ladder. We are very proud. There is light!

For 3 days.

Not sure what happened. Maybe its karma for the violent slaughtering of Rose-of-Sharon.

I have to laugh. I HAVE to! In such a short time I've gone from a professional holiday gala illuminating the night, complete with a giant nativity scene, shining candy canes lining the path, perfectly placed colorful bulbs blinking a Merry Christmas greeting to two burnt out strand of twinkle lights and a butchered bush. No wonder my neighbors take pity on me.

But I am laughing, which means I'm smiling. And that's the point of it after all, isn't it.

And if you are reading this and it brings to mind your own holiday disaster, please post it here so we know we aren't alone!

Merry Christmas!


Friday, November 27, 2009

Gobble Gobble

I go to the grocery store every day. Sometimes more than once. Luckily, I live equal distance between 2 stores so I can alternate trips in an attempt to fool the checkers. It's quite an embarrassing obsession. Especially with S for a BFF, who goes to the store like once a month and then calls me all giddy and bragging that she just bought $500 worth of stuff for like 50 cents. She's truly disgusted with the amount of money I spend on groceries and the amount of time I spend at the store. Every week I promise to change. And then when she asks how I did, how many times did I go this week-- I lie!

D: I don't think my friends quite understood how much I really, really love food until yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner. Seriously everyone else is getting up from the table and I'm lookin around thinking, "Look at all this food. Ain't no way I'm stopping now." I shamelessly ate like three times more than everyone else there.

S: That's hysterical.

D: I think they finally caught on though, because when the host fixed me a piece of pie he literally served up a fourth of the pie. I told him it was too big. He just smiled and said, "I think you can handle it."

S: You know I tried to warn them. I told them they needed to have food available for you at all times or you get cranky.

D: I do get cranky, don't I?

S: If we ever go on a trip I'm gonna have to pack snacks for you like I do for my kids.

D: You better. And I don't think it's a blood sugar thing. I just like food.

S: No, it's a don't-get- between-D-and-her-turkey sandwich thing.

D: That's right!

S: Maybe that's why we have always hit it off so well. I grew up in a family where we plan food. That's what we do. My sister and I could spend hours at the store checking out everything we've never tried and how yummy it would be. And then we get the family together and we eat and eat and eat.


S: Oh my God! Why do I hear cash register noises? Why in the hell are you in the grocery store again? I swear I'm gonna have them post your picture and not allow you in more than once a week. What could you possibly need at the grocery store?

D: I heard they had food here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Punching Protocol

My son was punched on the playground today. I suppose if you are a boy and you spend enough time on a playground, you are going to get punched sooner or later. I suppose.

I have to admit I'm not really in-the-know about boys and playgrounds. Growing up I had no brothers, no male cousins nearby, no little boy neighbors. My only Grandpa was very old and sickly and my uncles lived far away. Although my dad was very present and influential during my childhood, he grew up with a single mom and two sisters. Which made him very, very good at going with the flow around a bunch of headstrong women. And so I'm clueless regarding punching protocol.

At home, I've handled it different ways. Sometimes I have actually told one kid that they could hit the other kid back--just as hard, but not harder. (And of course they follow this rule fairly!) This is usually after one child has gone through a hitting phase and I think repayment-in-kind is called for. Most of the time, however, I tell the kids not to retaliate because the second sinner is usually caught first.

So what do I tell a 10 year old boy who is equally fearful of getting in trouble for fighting at school and looking like a wimp in front of the guys? I told him he needed to learn to punch so that next time he could hit back. I immediately regretted saying that. I had just given my son permission to be the "second sinner." Contradicting yourself as a parent is really, really close to being hypocritical and if my son were just a couple years older, he would've called me on it.

I'm lucky enough to have a Manly Man Dad friend who willingly shares his guy wisdom with me. I learned I was half right. The trick, Manly Man Dad explained, is knowing when hitting back is the right thing to do. Good advice. Now, how do you know when is the right time? School, he agreed, probably isn't the right time or place to hit back. If it's one punch, walk away and tell someone. On the other hand, if you think it's gonna be a brawl, by all means, defend yourself.

What do you know, sometimes Man-speak actually makes sense. Guess I'll have to add that rule to my How to Raise a Boy Manual, which is quickly getting filled with pretty common sense stuff. Stuff that is much easier to explain, understand and practice than the How to Help Your Daughter Through Caddy, Petty, Snooty, Gossip and other Mean Girl Behavior Manual. I guess this is understandable considering that by now, my son has already all but forgotten the incident. His sister, however, is still fuming and plotting revenge.

That playground bully better watch it. My daughter may just decide a repayment-in-kind is called for.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah Palin: Roaring Rogue

Love her? Hate her? Thinks she's politically savvy? Or a complete airhead? One thing is certain about Sarah Palin. She is a mom who roars.

Sarah Palin is finally having a chance to explain herself. I most recently watched her on Oprah. Now, I happen to like what I know of Sarah Palin. I also happen to like what I know of Oprah. And I think that Oprah met her match in Sarah Palin.

I saw Oprah throw question after question about parenting and family issues and I saw Sarah Palin knock each fastball out of the park.

Didn't she think he daughter's pregnancy would be an issue? Yes, but she hoped America would see even more so that she understood the issues of the average family and dealt with them on a personal basis everyday.

Didn't she say in her book that she considered aborting her child when she found out he had an extra chromosome? No, she said she understood why other women might go there. She understood, she did not consider.

Didn't she think there was any truth to what Levi was accusing her of? Actually, she felt sorry for the way he was being handled at a young age and hoped he would find the right path back to being a good father and role model for his son.

Didn't she think as a mother, it was improbable that she could really step into the role of Vice President or President? No, not with the strong marriage and support system she has surrounded her family with.

Sarah Palin said that she had been taught that a woman can have it all, just not necessarily all at the same time. So she and her husband make decisions that are best for her family at the time given their current situation.

So what's the problem with Sarah Palin? Why do the media and politicians have such a problem with her? Maybe because she is good mother who isn't scared to speak her mind and live her convictions. And she does it from the heart. Whether you love her or hate her, you can't help but listen to her roar.

Tell us what you think of Sarah Palin's parenting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The First, Quiet Roar

I know the moment I turned from Raging Mom to Roaring Mom. Kate was young, maybe five or six. Her hard-headed independent spirit was in full swing as much as it is still today. She wanted to wear her favorite new tennies to church. But I had already compromised on the clothes. Surely, by now, after a lifetime of Sundays, she understood the unwritten Church Dress Code. She could certainly recite the lecture that went with it: "If you can dress up to go to a nice restaurant, or to the theatre, or to Grandma's, you can dress up for God." Of course, I would have preferred it without the sing-songy sarcasm, but at least she got the words right.

She stomped to her room to get the shoes. I followed because 5 years of being her mom had taught me something of her stubbornness. She put the tennies on anyway. Even after I had specifically ordered the Mary Jane's. I fumed. I seethed. I had already compromised on the clothes!

She huffed. Yes, five years old, and already huffing. She huffed. "Mom, are you going to be mad at me for not wearing the shoes you want me to?"

A voice that sounded a lot like mine answered, "No, I'm not."

I'm not? I'm NOT?

Then I was calm and I realized, no, I'm not. And we went to church.

It seems insignificant, doesn't it? Kate probably doesn't even remember it. But, in truth, it was a clarifying moment. My duty as Mom was not, is not to force my will on my kids--even in something as simple as shoe choice. My job is not even to shape their will. Lord knows I could not have shaped Kate's anyway. She was born with an iron will and a matching determination.

All I am called to do is to love them. Unconditionally. A simple responsibility and, because we've been trained for generations to rage rather than roar, the most difficult challenge of my life.

Just love them. And I'll roar that all day long, no matter what shoes they're wearing.