Who Knew I Was A Cool Parent?

Most of the time, I feel like a dinosaur.

I still own a flip phone (my friend tells me I should donate it to the Smithsonian), I prefer talking rather than texting, I don’t drive a car (they won’t let epileptics have a license – with good reason), I’m always at least one season behind in styles and technology.

I even parent in an old-fashioned style: my kids don’t have cell phones (ages 11 & 15 – though the 15 yr old will probably get one this year), they don’t have ipads, or the latest in fashions either.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we live in a relatively wealthy area, but we aren’t wealthy. My husband and I joke all the time that we’re bring the property values down. My kids probably won’t go to Ivy League schools, like many of their classmates, unless they get a full ride scholarship. They don’t get to join every club and every sport around…it just isn’t affordable. And I’ve always felt a little guilty about that…not enough to keep me awake at night, but enough for it to bother me.

I am not the definition of a “cool mom.”

So, when my daughter had a friend spend the night this weekend, she “allowed” me to hang out with them. Actually, I told her that she could have a friend over, but that I wasn’t going to go hide in the bedroom, and be pushed out of the living room, so that she and her friend could take over the TV and the living room.

It was one of the few chances I got to talk to her and her friend. Since I don’t drive, I miss out on eaves-dropping on their conversations while running them from place to place. As we sat on the couch, channel surfing, I tried not to insert myself into their conversation, unless I was invited. I even waited until the next day for my daughter to explain some of the slang they were using, including one term that in my generation (GenX) meant something completely different than it does now.

My daughter has told her father and I that she tells her friends that her parents are “cool.” Truthfully, I thought she was just giving us lip-service for the next time she screws up. But even her friend mentioned that she heard we were “cool.” (Unless her friend is in on the scheme – but I’m choosing to believe that’s not the case).

Apparently, my husband and I have decent taste in music, and that scores big points. And I guess it helps that my husband is a gamer, and the two of them can talk for hours about RPGs and stuff like that. I have always been a little jealous of that.

I guess it’s nice to be “cool” in your kids’ eyes. I mean, we all say it doesn’t matter, and we’re the parent and not their friend. But I think it does matter to us that they like us. Hopefully, they’ll like us enough to come to us with the hard questions, and the hard problems of life.

Who knows how much longer I’ll be “cool.” I’d better enjoy it while I can.

Taking care of an aging parent

 

It’s been simmering for quite some time…the idea that my mom should not be living alone. There are a myriad of reasons to reconsider her current living situation.

The first and foremost being that her quality of life is diminished because she just can’t afford it anymore, and my brothers and I can’t afford to keep sending money to the money pit. There are also, of course health reasons that come with many septuagenarians that need to be addressed and watched over.

It’s a hard line to take: when the child becomes the caregiver of the parent. No one likes the ramifications of what that entails. There will be power struggles, the first of which is actually convincing her that her quality of life would be better living with one of her adult children. No parent wants to give up their independence, and having to rely on an adult child is not part of their plan usually. You don’t raise your children thinking “I can’t wait until I can get under their roof.” But there’s a whole generation of parents right now, who didn’t save enough for retirement because they didn’t have to. I know it sounds foolish to our generation, but for my parent’s generation, there was always going to be a pension that you’d rely on. It’s what their parents did, so why think to plan for anything different. But those pensions disappeared and here we are.

To my detriment, I’m a planner, and I woke up this morning around 6am and my brain started “planning.” My mom hasn’t even agreed to the new arrangement yet, and already I’m going through all the possible scenarios, the logistics, the financial and legal details in my head. I’ve made lists, and researched the possibilities, both good and bad, of taking in an aging parent.

But here’s what it boils down to: it’s my turn to return the favor. All the nights she spent pacing the floor, all the financial sacrifices she and my father made, all the emotional collateral they spent raising me has brought me to this moment. It’s time to give back.

I have a fabulous husband, by the way, who happens to share the same responsibility to family that I do. We decided long ago that whether it was his mom or mine (both of our fathers passed away years ago) that we would open our home if we needed to. It’s just what you do.

But convincing my mom to sell her home (that’s falling apart around her), move across the country, and move her entire life into one bedroom (basically) is going to be a hard sell. I get it. Would you do it? Things would have to be pretty bad for me to convince me to do something like that. The opportunity at the end of that bridge would have to be pretty encouraging. And my mom is not one that likes adventure – she’s a planner too.

Fortunately, my brothers and I agree on a plan for Mom. We support each other and her. We just want her to be better off. Her “Golden Years” haven’t been very golden so far, and now we have the chance to help her make them better.

I only hope I remember this when I’m aging and my kids step in to take charge. I hope I remember it’s because of love that they want to see me in a better situation.

Have you taken a parent into your home? I’d love to hear some of your experiences or advice as I go into these uncharted waters.

Mid-Life Observations

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I have a couple more years until I reach 50…the dreaded middle age.

Now, I’m not one for making a big deal of getting older. I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to physical upkeep. I don’t wear make-up, I don’t color my hair regularly, I live in sweats and t-shirts (flannels in winter)…I know, my poor husband. But he isn’t exactly working out everyday trying to impress me either. LOL

But I’m starting to notice a few things as I get closer and closer to middle age.

  1. I make noise when I get up off the floor. I mean literally. My joints creak every now and then. I have a bad knee due to a bouncy house accident (bolts and everything), and it pops and creaks from time to time.
  2. I groan more often than I used to. When taking out the trash, or reaching to pull the laundry out of the dryer, or doing some other unsavory activity, I groan a little. I’m not sure if it’s to express my displeasure, or it’s an involuntary action. Either way, I’m starting to sound like my mother.
  3. And that’s another one…I sound like my mother! Dear God, no! But it’s true. I hear things I say to my kids that sound vaguely familiar to me. And that’s when I remember where I’ve heard them before…my mom. She warned me this would happen. #momsalwaysknow
  4. I have gray hair that is growing along the edge of my forehead, and it’s about 2” long. I can’t tell if it’s growing in or breaking off. But when I blow dry my hair, it sticks straight up, and it looks like I’ve seen a ghost! #hairwoes
  5. My skin is starting to loose its elasticity…especially on my hands. It reminds me of the Stretch Armstrong Doll we had as a kid. My son likes pulling on it and watching in slowly…really slowly…go back into place. Thanks kid.
  6. Time management has gone all haywire. I go back and forth between wanting to spend time with my kids and husband, and wanting to be left alone. Okay, that may not have anything to do with middle age. #findingbalance
  7. Keeping a clean house, having dinner on the table on time, and making sure the laundry is done has lost its romantic appeal. Everyone is old enough to take care of those things on their own. It isn’t like when they were little and I HAD to do those things. They should carry their own weight, right?
  8. I find myself not understanding my kids’ humor. We don’t find the same things funny. The gap is widening, and again, I’m hearing my mother in my head.
  9. I hear myself saying “When I was young” or “when I was your age” to my kids far too often. Which is usually answered with “You just don’t understand, Mom!” I’m not the cool mom. #neverreallywas
  10. And finally, 10:00pm is my quitting time. I used to be a night person. But years of waking up early to get everyone ready for school and work have ruined that for me. Even some Friday nights I find myself ready for my pajamas at 7:30pm.

My biggest problem is I don’t know how to stop it, so I guess I better learn to embrace it. It’s just around the corner, and my husband will be there sooner than me. I do have to say that I like myself a whole lot better in my 30s and 40s than I did in my 20s, so at least there’s that. Maybe my 50s will be even better? Here’s hoping!

The Coffee Shop Vignettes – Jessica & Daisy

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Jessica wiped Jared’s pudgy face and he cooed at her. She’d already dropped the older two off at school, and had time to go to the gym. She wanted to enjoy her cup of coffee in peace, but Jared had a cold and couldn’t go to day care, so she had to bring him with her. So much for “me” time. She checked her lipstick in the review mirror one more time before getting out of the car.

She stood in line, with Jared perched on her hip. Two people ahead of her stood a woman holding a baby with out of control curly blond hair and a toddler, with equally crazy hair, hanging on her prairie skirt.

“Stop that, David…put that down,” she scolded. The one on her hip let out a single scream, and David laughed at him. Within minutes, David realized he had an audience with his brother, and began dancing in line. The woman struggled to control him, but it was clear she was going to lose that battle.

Jessica craned her neck to see the spectacle. Jared cooed and she shushed him. He obliged.

By the time the woman had gotten to the front of the line to order her coffee, David was in full entertainer mode, dancing around standing patrons. The woman struggled to give her order and then find her money while still keeping track of David. Other customers grimaced and gave her dirty looks. Jessica rolled her eyes.

“No control,” Jessica mumbled to herself.

“You got that right,” the well-dressed man in front of her said.

David continued to dance around the tables and the younger one screamed in delight as she made her way to the table. Jessica had to raise her voice over the commotion so that the clerk could hear her.

“David! Get over here!” the woman raised her voice.

Jessica watched her along with the entire café. She shook her head as she got her coffee and tried to find a table anywhere but near David and his Mom, but there was none. She was forced to sit right beside them.

Jessica no sooner set Jared in the high chair and he began to cry. She gave him a pacifier, but he spit it out. She gave a quick and inconspicuous sniff, but his diaper was fine. She could feel the eyes of other patrons on her and it made her uncomfortable. She was getting more flustered by the moment, and felt the need to leave, but she really wanted to enjoy her coffee. Still, what would people think? Even the older woman across the way waved at Jared and smiled at him, but he continued to cry. It was turning into a fiasco.

And then David came over to her table.

“Is he okay?” he asked.

“Yes, he’s fine, thank you,” Jessica said trying to shoo David away. She didn’t want people to think David was with her.

“But he doesn’t sound okay,” David continued.

“Thank you. I can take care of it,” Jessica said. Why wasn’t David’s mother attending to him?

As Jessica was struggling with Jared, he arched his back, knocking over her coffee. It spilled all over the table and onto the floor. Jessica was mortified. She reached for napkins, but only had a few.

David jumped back. “Mommy, Mommy! The baby spilled!” he announced to the café.

Jessica restrained herself from yelling at the child.

“Here let me help.” It was David’s mother. She appeared from nowhere and held a rag in her hand. Without a word she began cleaning up. David ran to the counter, got more napkins, and began helping too.

Jessica continued to tend to Jared. He’d started to quiet down as he was distracted by all the commotion. She didn’t want the woman helping her, but she really did need the help.

“Thank you,” Jessica said.

“No problem. This is nothing compared to the mess my boys make,” the woman said.

Jessica looked at the woman’s baby who sat quietly chewing on his pacifier. She felt guilty for judging the woman.

“I’m sorry. Jared’s not usually this much trouble. I don’t know what happened. But thank you for your help,” she said.

The woman handed the rags to David and he took them to the counter and handed them to the clerk.

David retuned with a cookie.

“Look Mommy! The lady gave me a cookie!” he said.

“That’s because you’re such a big helper. Thanks buddy,” she said to him.

“Again…thank you,” Jessica said.

“No problem. We mom’s have to stick together,” the woman said.

“Yes, I guess we do,” Jessica agreed. She held out her hand, “I’m Jessica.”

“Oh, I’m Daisy. I know, it’s a weird name. It’s what happens when your parents are hippy’s,” Daisy said.

“It’s lovely,” Jessica said.

“I’m David,” David said very loudly.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Jessica said.

“Do you have any coffee left?” Daisy asked.

Jessica looked at her cup which was empty. “Nope, so much for that cup of coffee.”

“Here, let me go get you another. What was it?” Daisy asked.

“Oh, you don’t have to…” Jessica started.

“It’s okay. I’m sure they’ll give you a free one.”

“Um…Mocha, thanks,” Jessica said.

“David, watch your brother,” Daisy instructed.

David dragged his brother’s high chair over to Jessica’s table and sat in the chair across from her.

“That’s my brother. His name is Riley,” David said.

Daisy returned with Jessica’s coffee and they spent the next hour talking about their kids, and Jessica realized they weren’t so different after all.

Sweet Boy, Moms Don’t Get Days Off

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This morning, when I woke up my 10 year old son at the crack of dawn, 6:30am to be exact, he groaned and made it very obvious that getting up for school was the last thing on his mind. Yeah, kid…I know just how you feel.

But a Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do, otherwise no one would EVER get up for school.

He then told me that he wanted to take the day off like me! What?! Day off?! In my dreams!

Oh, sure, I work part time, and happen to have Monday’s off from my paying job. But I would hardly call it a DAY OFF.

On Mondays I take care of all the “business” of being a homemaker.

For instance, today there were 7 loads of laundry, general picking up of the weekend clutter, not to mention a myriad of phone calls to doctors, insurance, doctor appointments, Spring soccer to enroll in, filing, cleaning, etc.

Oh, and lest we forget helping with homework once the kids get home, planning dinner…whew…I’m pooped.

Sure it’s not digging ditches, or saving lives (not everyday), but it never stops.

I know this is nothing new to millions of moms and dads out there, but apparently it is to our kids.

So if you’re having a busy day, don’t forget to take a few moments and put your feet up, and do something for yourself, because you are the only one who can make that happen. And you deserve it. Because it starts all over again in a few minutes.

Sliding towards Christmas

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I know, I know…we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving means that Christmas is only a MONTH away! #dontjudge

It was only a few months ago, when my husband was laid off, that we weren’t even sure how we were going to provide Christmas presents for the kids. So shopping was the LAST thing on my list. But God provided, and my husband’s back at work, and I’m WAY behind. #Godwillprovide

My family has already started harassing me about what is on my Christmas List. My List isn’t “Christmasee” enough for them (whatever that means). You can read about last year’s List here. It’s not my fault. I never grew up making Christmas Lists…you got what you got. Somehow, Mom and Dad and Santa just knew what we wanted. Maybe because they were engaged with us, or maybe because you got what you got and you were grateful for it. If it had a bow on it, and it wasn’t clothes, you scored! #Barbiedreamhouse

I blame my husband for this whole “List” thing. It’s HIS family tradition. On Thanksgiving, every year, everyone is required to submit a Christmas List so people know what to get you. Where’s the fun in that?! Surprise…I got exactly what was on my list! No thank you. I get it…it’s practical, especially for people buying for me, because apparently I’m hard to buy for. But not for reasons you’d think. It’s not that I don’t LIKE or I am ungrateful for the gifts, it’s that I’m physically hard to buy for. You can’t buy me clothes (I’m 5’10” and 130lbs – I have to try things on), I don’t really wear jewelry (I work at home, and rarely go out – no need), quite frankly, I don’t really want for anything, at least not in the “gifty” sense.

For instance, this is my List so far:

  1. A staple gun – I don’t have one and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed one.
  2. A handheld sander – for the same reason as number 1.
  3. A cheese slicer – you know the kind that is a wire on a handle attached to a wooden base. Then the kids could make their OWN sandwiches without me worrying about them losing a finger with a knife.
  4. Wire cutters – I’m sort of crafty, and end up having to use my scissors and I cringe every time I do.
  5. My book published – okay, I know they can’t do that one, but maybe Santa has some pull.
  6. Sewing Box – mine is old and the latch and the handle are broken. I’d love one of those fancy wicker ones with the quilted top – but I’m not picky. One that stays closed would be fine.
  7. Slippers – who doesn’t need slippers?

As you can see, it’s a work in progress. I’ve been told it needs to be much longer. #whatever

Now the Kids’ Lists are fairly full. But they have listed things like iPad, phone, new 3DS and games, and that’s just the 10 year old’s list. Surprisingly, the 14 year old’s list is rather fiscally conservative, except for the digital drawing tablet, but even that’s not too bad, if you shop around.

My husband, or as I like to call him…the Instigator, hasn’t even started his list!

So what’s on your Christmas List (aside from Peace of Earth)? Does your family think your gifts are weird? Are you easy to buy for?

Best wishes to you and yours. Think I’ll make sure my husband reads this. LOL

10 Things that only a Mom (or Wife) can do…apparently

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*Disclaimer: Or maybe it’s just at my house.

  1. Change the toilet paper roll.
  2. Make appointments (this includes doctor, home repair, parent-teacher, play dates, etc)
  3. Wait for the cable guy, the plumber, and all home repair personnel.
  4. Make school lunches, unless you’re kids are old enough to make their own.
  5. Plan for meals ahead of time.
  6. Find necessary paperwork (i.e. the home repair that just fell out of warranty, the receipt for school pictures, etc)
  7. Be the Keeper of All Schedules and then keep everyone on schedule.
  8. Notice when the trash is actually full, then nominate someone to take it out.
  9. Change the toilet paper roll…I felt it needed to be mentioned more than once.
  10. Know where the secret stash of Bandades is kept.

Now before any Dads or husbands send me nasty emails, please see my disclaimer at the top. It’s entirely possible that this is only happening at my house, but I have a sneaky suspicion it’s not. And to those Dads and husbands that resemble the list above…good for you 🙂