Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Good Mother

About a month ago, Tom, the girls and I were at a birthday party for Tom’s grandson. It was a family/friend party and the kids were running around, flipping on mats, wrestling, etc. You know, all the usually things kids do when they get together.

I was sitting next to my step-daughter-in-law’s grandmother (that was kind of like saying I heard a story from the cousin of my best friend’s sister-in-law’s neighbor’s grandson, wasn’t it?)

Anyway, this woman and I were making small talk and she glanced over at her granddaughter, who happens to be my step-son’s wife. Let’s call the granddaughter/wife K. K was sitting with her oldest child, the birthday boy, as he opened the presents people had brought to the party. They were reading each card before he opened the present attached.

It was a sweet moment between a mother and her child.

K’s grandmother leaned over and said to me, “She’s such a wonderful mother. Her children know so much love and yet they also understand boundaries. She makes them mind while reminding them of her love every day.”

I hope with all my heart that K’s grandma tells her this. It’s great that she whispers it to distant relatives at parties but I hope she’s says those words to K.

Every mother deserves to hear that someone out there thinks she’s a wonderful mother.

Honestly…I’ve never actually heard those words from someone close to me.

I doubt myself as a mother every single day. I worry that I’m too lax, too strict, too lazy, too busy, too tired, too involved, not involved enough.

Sure, I’ve read the words here, from friends and strangers alike, who tell me they think I’m a good mother through reading the snippets of our life that I choose to share.

But those closest to me, my husband and my mother, for example, have never said those words to me. I think (I hope?) they assume I know they think I’m a good mother.

But I don’t know this. I suppose if they thought I was a terrible mother they’d intervene and keep my children safe from me. So I can assume that since no intervention has ever happened, they think I’m at least good enough to keep mothering?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that mothers need to hear these words. They need those closest to them to say the words, “I think you’re a wonderful mother.”

We moms are often so hard on ourselves. The voices in our heads are so shrill and uncompromising. It would be nice to mute them every once in a while by hearing from those we trust, those we respect that the voices are wrong, that we’re doing this important job well.

If you know a really great mom, please tell her. Tell her how great she is, tell her how much you admire and respect the job she’s doing raising her children. Let her know that you see how hard it is and that she’s amazing just because she keeps doing it day in and day out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Minecraft; Punniness; A "Funny" Dad

Alyssa and Olivia tried to explain to me what Minecraft is all about.

“Mom,” Olivia said, “it’s more than just breaking blocks. You build stuff out of blocks too. And you’re a block head!”

Alyssa laughed and agreed, “And the animals are blocks too. Weirdly, “ she continued, “the younger animals have bigger heads than the adult animals.”

“So their heads get smaller as they get older?” I asked, confused.

“Pretty much,” Alyssa shrugged.

“And the animals are block heads too,” Olivia laughed, loving her own joke so much she couldn’t stand it.

Yeah, I’m all clear on the lure of Minecraft now.
While we shopping last weekend, the girls and I were looking for my mom.

We passed a rack of Christmas-themed shirts. Olivia started giggling. “Did you see that shirt?” she asked through her laughter.

“I didn’t,” I said. “What was so funny about it?”

Still laughing, she said, “It had a dog on it and it said, ‘Bah hum pug.’” She laughed harder and asked, “Get it? Bah hum…PUG!”

She found that pun so hysterical she had to share it with my mom and even attempted to explain it to Alyssa, who wasn’t laughing and, as far as Olivia was concerned, must not get the joke.

Upon Olivia’s second attempt to explain how funny the shirt was, Alyssa snarked, “Yes, Livie, I get it.”

Olivia raised her eyebrows and inquired, “Then why aren’t you laughing?”

Alyssa just rolled her eyes.
We’ve received a few packages from Amazon in the past couple of weeks as online gift orders are filled.

Each time a new one comes in, Olivia will ask, “Who is that one for?”

And Tom will inevitably answer, “That’s top secret.”

Exasperated, Olivia will tell him, “Dad! I’m not asking what it is. I’m asking who it’s for!”

This exchange is often repeated several times before Olivia gives up and finds me to ask who the package is for. I’m not nearly as ‘funny’ at Tom is and usually just give her a straight answer the first time she asks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Alyssa made this picture the wallpaper on my phone a few days ago.

When I really looked at it, I was surprised to see how much she actually looked her age, instead of several years older, as she usually looks in pictures these days.

See? She doesn’t always look like a sullen teenager. Sometimes, she just looks like an eleven year old who is happy to have a unicorn that’s bigger than she is.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Not-So-Restful Weekend

Whew, I feel like I needed to go to work today just to get a break.

This weekend felt like it sped by, what with shopping with my mom and the girls on Saturday, a family gathering on Sunday and baking during the very few downtimes we managed to find.

When I finally sat down yesterday evening to watch Once Upon a Time with Alyssa, I felt like I’d been going all day long. Why does being in a car for over an hour each way tire a body out so much?

But cookies were baked (and eaten, which is the best part), fudge was stirred, gifts were exchanged and hugs were shared.

When we got home baths were taken, books were read, backs were scratched and little girls slept.

All in all, a pretty darned good way to spend a couple of days.

This morning when I woke her up, Olivia mumbled, “Is today Monday?”

When I told her it was, she groaned. Then I told her that she only had this week before she got two whole weeks off for Christmas break.

That woke her right up. She said up and gave a vigorous, “Yay!”

Do I know how to turn a frown upside down or what?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Least Blurry of All the Blurries

I took probably a bazillions pictures of Olivia on Monday evening before her program, hoping for just one decent picture.

That child...she loves to pose silly and go all Top Model on me.

But it wasn't her fault most of the pictures didn't turn out. It seems I'm a crappy photographer. Ah well.

Here's the least blurry of all the blurry pictures I took of her that night.

She's cute even when she's slightly blurry and being silly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finding Her Star

We put up the Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Olivia was beside herself with excitement over getting to put on the first ornament.

Alyssa was too busy playing a game on the computer to get too excited but once I pulled her away from electronic devices, she participated pretty well.

All was well as we strung lights, hung bulbs and snowflakes but toward the end of the evening, we still hadn’t found our star.

Olivia couldn’t stand it. Where was the star? What about the star? Why hadn’t we found the star yet and put it on the tree?

I have five boxes of Christmas decorations. FIVE. I know, it’s ridiculous. I was lucky that the first one I opened contained the ornaments for the tree.

But it took me several days (you know, what with having to leave the house for work and all) to go through the rest of the boxes.

And of course the star was in the fifth box. Of course it was.

But all is well in Miss Olivia’s world. The star has been placed on top of the tree and Christmas can commence.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Olivia had her Christmas program last night at school. Tom had to be away from home around the time the girls would have gotten off the bus, so they got off at my mom’s instead.

When I arrived to pick up the girls, my mom informed Olivia, “Livie, if I thought you’d actually sing at your program, I’d come and watch you.”

Olivia smiled at her and said, “I’m not going to sing, Gram.”

And she didn’t. She stood there on the risers, a fellow first-grader on her right and a second-grader on her left. She didn’t make a single movement to any of the songs, her lips didn’t even pretend to move along with the lyrics. She stood there and I think she might have even yawned once.

It was sort of hilarious.

But then it got kind of sad when we got home. See, several kids in each of the grades (grades one through four performed) were selected to come down from the risers to sing into the microphone.

When we got home, Olivia asked if we still had an old microphone Tom picked up at an auction (seriously, I think almost everything in our house is something Tom picked up at an auction…)

She wanted it brought up from the basement so she could sing into it.

My girl wants to be more outgoing. She wants to be the kid picked to do a solo but we all know that even if the music teacher had chosen her, she wouldn’t have been able to bring herself to actually sing in front of all those people.

I was that shy kid too. Granted, I didn’t also have 5p- syndrome hampering my goals to be a star but I wanted to be noticed without having to do the actual work it takes to get noticed.

She wants to stand out, she wants to sing into a microphone but only on her terms. And in the end, that’s okay. She’ll work it out, one way or another.

But hey, she rocked her blue dress as she stood on that riser and yawned while all the other kids sang and danced their hearts out.