Thursday, March 28, 2013


Apparently I needed to clarify that "Put the stuffed animals away" did NOT mean "Pack them in the bathtub, and while you're at it, yank down the shower curtain."

Silly me.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wherefore Art Thy Brains, Romeo?

The other day I was at Costco when I picked up a counting book for toddlers called Romeo & Juliet: A BabyLit Counting Primer.  Not because I wanted to buy it, mind you.  Mostly because I saw it and thought, "Romeo and Juliet for toddlers?  What could possibly go wrong??"

It turned out to be a highly sanitized version of the story that inexplicably started out with "2 loves" instead of "2 houses" and ended with "10 kisses".  Which is good, I suppose, since explaining that Romeo and Juliet committed suicide over a days-old adolescent crush would be a little awkward for the under-three set:

"And then Romeo takes poison because he is a complete and utter dingbat and thinks he can't live without the girl he just met five pages ago.  And Juliet, seeing that Romeo is dead, stabs herself in the chest, because if you don't have your new boyfriend, you don't have anything... the end.  Okay, goodnight, sweetie!  Sweet dreams!"

Yeah... no.

Honestly, could this be anything but a cautionary tale?  Romeo and Juliet:  How Not to Handle a Relationship.

In fact, when I have teenagers I think I am going to assign book reports based on this play, with points for discussion like:  "Romeo and Juliet are morons.  Discuss."  And "List twenty-five reasons why this relationship cannot be considered 'love'."

If they complain I'll hand them some Windex so they can work on getting the light to break through my yonder windows.

Can't let them off too easy...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Holiday From Guilt

Women have a thing for guilt.

They do.  They get on Pinterest (which is basically a forum where women gather to see who gets the award for Most Creative Mom) and then they feel all guilty that they didn't spend St. Patrick's Day playing leprechaun.

The question is why?  Why do we feel like bad moms because of things like this?

Admittedly, I did play leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day, but you know why?  I wanted to.  No one was making me do it.  I just like holidays and excuses to eat dessert (Mmmm.... Pi Day).  Always have.

But, if you don't like holidays or you're the kind of mom who has trouble moonlighting as a toothfairy (never mind putting on wings and leaving actual notes sprinkled with actual fairy dust), let me ease your conscience:  None of these things actually matter.

Why on earth do we feel like bad mothers for not measuring up to what the-mom-down-the-street is doing?  Nowhere is it etched in stone that all good mothers must handcraft party invitations and make perfectly decorated cupcakes from scratch.  There is more than one way to be a good mother.

Good mothers buy pre-made Valentines from the store.  They make sugar cookies from a mix.  Sometimes they don't make sugar cookies or even allow sugar at all.  Sometimes they're crafty and sometimes they're not. Sometimes they feed their kids high-fructose corn syrup and macaroni and cheese from a box and sometimes they slip beet juice and kale into everything.  Good mothers use the television as an occasional babysitter while they work from home and hire an actual babysitter when they work out of the home.  They home school and they send their kids to public school.  They volunteer and they don't.  They formula feed their infants and they breastfeed their toddlers.  They use disposable diapers and they use cloth diapers.  They use Windex and they use all-natural cleaning products.

I'll say it again:  there is more than one way to be a good mother.

We all have certain causes that are important to us, and we all have things we enjoy doing and things that we don't.  So why can't we give ourselves a break when our likes and dislikes don't match up exactly with what Holly Holiday is doing?  Our parenting style is different from that of every other parent on the planet because we are different.  Not wrong, just different.  And totally, perfectly fine.

So if you don't want to play leprechaun, don't play leprechaun.

And ditch the side of guilt.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of Thy Parents in Vain

This morning, as David was reading aloud from the scriptures, Leah kept saying, "Dad!  Dad!  Dad!"  Finally, after the sixth or seventh time, he paused mid-verse.  "Yes, Leah?"

"I'm being quiet!" she said.

Then there's Matthew.  He likes to say my name.  A lot.  Mostly in threes.  "Mom!  Mom!  Mom!"

"Yes, Matthew?"


It's like he just wants to do a sound check.  Can you hear me over there?  Back row?  Good.  Resume playback.

He also wants things done on his terms, which means I can offer to help him with something and he will say no.  Three seconds later (after I've sat down, of course) he's yanking on my arm going, "Mom!  Mom!  Mom!" and asking for whatever it is I just offered to do.

Last time he did this to me I said, "Matthew, I just offered to help you and you said no.  What makes you think I'll help you now?"

From the other room Michael piped up, "He's just trying to make it harder for you to be a mom!"

Oh, is that it?  Because that explains a lot.

Like why my kids only want to drink from cups of a certain color and why they like to hide my car keys and run with scissors.  And why going to the bathroom attracts them from all parts of the house.  I honestly wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have at least twenty toes peeping under the door while I availed myself of the facilities.  Michael even likes to slip me pages of artwork.  And once he slid the i-pad under the door.  I guess he was hoping I would forget he'd already met his electronic devices time limit for the day and he could dupe me into typing in the pass code.

Instead I snatched it from his surprised fingers and said, "Thanks!  I'm going to be another fifteen minutes."


Sorry, kid.  Finders keepers.

And you should know better than to hand me an entertainment device if you ever want me to come out of the bathroom.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal (And Take Them Off Your Kids Once in Awhile)

Sometimes I feel like I must be from an alternate universe.

I was reminded of this when a recent discussion at church turned to how we, as women, focus so much time and energy on our children that we never do anything for ourselves.  "I never get a minute to myself!" one woman lamented while the rest nodded their heads in agreement.

Um, you don't?  What's wrong with you?  Once 1:00 hits all my little darlings are sent to their bedrooms for one blissful hour of quiet time, whereupon I do whatever I darn well please.  I don't clean.  I don't cook.  I don't do anything that could be classified as "work."  I read or blog or do something else I enjoy.  Sometimes I even take a nap.

And guess what?  It's not just good for me, it's good for them.

Yes, most things have to be done with the children tagging along (especially when they are young), and children have to come first a lot because they tend to have pressing needs (most of which are discovered as soon as you set foot in the bathroom), but I'm not going to spend my entire day attending to them.  As my sister likes to say, "I am not the entertainment committee!"  Yes, I play with my kids.  I read to them and play hide and seek and jump on the trampoline, but if I'm up to my elbows in dirty dishwater and they complain that they are bored I will not stop what I'm doing to pull out Candy Land.  I'll send them to clean their rooms.

Children need to learn how to entertain themselves.  They need to learn how to play and navigate friendships without their mothers running interference for them every 5 minutes.  This is why I have no problem going to the playground, parking myself on a bench with my i-phone, and shooing them in the direction of the slides.  We are not there so they can play with me, we are there so they can play without me.

Of course, an attitude like this can get you in trouble these days, because there is a huge percentage of people who get all judgy if you're not staring at your children 24 hours a day.  (Hence blog posts like "Dear Mom on the iPhone", the purpose of which is to make everyone who has ever looked away from their little cherub's face feel guilty for doing so).

Today's parenting mantra:  You should never take your eyes off your child!

Are you enjoying that game of Words with Friends?  You shouldn't be!  You should be watching (and cataloguing) every single moment of your child's existence!  No picking up a book when you could be watching your kid play freeze tag.  And don't even think about sending him to the park by himself!  Besides missing out on whatever bliss is derived from watching him go down the same slide 97 times, if you are not there he might get hurt!  Or kidnapped!  Or worse!

My sister and I were discussing this and decided that it's pretty ironic that today's parents tell their kids they can do anything, have anything, be anything, and yet, when it comes down to it, these same parents actually don't believe their children can do anything at all.  You want to walk to your friend's house by yourself?  No!  You might get kidnapped!  You want to go to the bathroom by yourself?  No!  You'll get molested!  Don't talk to strangers!  Don't use that butter knife!  Let me tie your shoes!  I brought your coat in case you get cold!  I called the teacher and got her to change your grade!  

Instead of arming our kids with knowledge and giving them reasonable amounts of responsibility, independence, and accountability, we do everything for them.  "You might hurt yourself!" we say, as we continue slicing apples for our teenagers.  And then we wonder why they graduate from high school and park themselves on our couch for the next fifteen years.

What is the goal of parenting?  To produce an independent adult.  And how does one produce an independent adult?  Well, it's a process.  But you can start by taking your eyes off your child once in awhile.

So take a few minutes for yourself.  Go on.

And don't feel guilty for doing so.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tis the Season

People regularly ask me how I keep my sanity during the 5+ months a year that David is working a million hours a week.  I'm happy to let you in on a few of my secrets, but first let me get my arms out of this straitjacket...

Ahem.  Behold, Bonnie's guide to surviving single parenthood:

1 - Recognize sugared cereal as a legitimate food group.

2 - Take long bathroom breaks.  As far as my kids know, it takes me a minimum of fifteen minutes to pee.

3 - No nonsense at quiet time or bed time.  If you stick your sweet little face out of your door once you're supposed to be in your room, I will tell Santa Claus that we don't believe in Christmas.
That's right, I said it.  I will destroy Christmas.  Bwahahahahahaha!  
Whew, sorry.  I think it's the effect of the straitjacket...

Mostly I survive because there aren't a lot of other options.  (Option one: survive.  Option two:  Die.  Um, door number one, please).

And besides, like I have it so hard?  My ancestors would be like, "Oh, your husband works 16 hours a day and can't help you with the kids?  You poor baby.  I'll be crying for you when I'm dragging my starving family across the plains and amputating my frozen toes."

Seriously, our lives are soooo comfortable.  We go from heated house to heated car, we have machines to wash our dishes and laundry, we don't ever have to chop any heads off of chickens or rip out their insides, our toilets are indoors and flushable and we have things like contact lenses and ibuprofen and antibiotics and tampons.

I guess what I'm saying is that I really can't complain.  Mostly because if I do, when I get to the other side, Mary Fielding Smith is going to whack me in the face with a baseball bat.

But hopefully we could at least chat after that.

I could use some adult conversation.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Mother of Perfection

Is your child a perfect angel?

Has he lived his entire life without making a single bad choice?

Did he come out of the womb saying "Please" and "Thank you" and "Of course I'll share with you!!"?

If you are nodding in agreement, lucky you!  You have been blessed with a perfect child just like mine!  I mean, my child would never chuck a fork at his brother's head or whack him in the face with a plastic baseball bat, let alone do both in the same day.  Never, never, never.

Nope, my kid is a perfect angel.

When he was two he never tested out his chompers on any of the kids in nursery class.  He never hit anyone who had a toy he wanted to play with.  He never threw rocks at someone's head or played in the toilet when he was supposed to be napping.  He never screamed in my face or refused to eat his peas.  Now he is six years old, and yet he has still never broken a toy, told a lie, yelled "I hate you!" or stolen a cookie out of his sister's cup.  And he has certainly never said a bad word, called someone a name, pushed someone down, or purposely popped his brother's birthday balloon.  Nope.  Perfect angel.

So you can understand why I'd be upset if your abnormal child did any of those abnormal things, especially to my innocent little angel.  And you'll also understand why I would hop onto Facebook and make judgmental, passive-aggressive comments about what a horrible mother you must be for raising such a menace to society.  My friends will rally around me in a sympathetic show of solidarity -- after all, only a terrible mother would produce a child who would do such awful things -- and you deserve to feel humiliated by all of the people who care about me.

They say there are two sides to every story, but when one of those sides is perfection, it's obvious where the problem is.  So there is no need to discuss it privately.  I am actually doing you a favor by letting others know to expect failures from you and your child.  That way they won't be caught by surprise when your child does something abnormal again.

And don't worry, perhaps someday you will be as perfect as I am and then God will see fit to bless you with a perfect child.  You'll understand if I'm not sympathetic until then, won't you?

After all, it's just so hard for me to relate to you, with me being so perfect and all...

Monday, March 4, 2013

The One Where I Agree With a Celebrity (and Explain the Divorce Rate)

Stop the presses -- I agree with a celebrity!

Reality star and E News reporter, Guiliana Rancic, is ruffling feathers.  Why?  Because she had the sense to make the following statement:

"[My husband and I] put our marriage first and our child second, because the best thing we can do for [our son] is have a strong marriage."

Cue exploding heads.

No, really.  This is the sort of article you should never read the comments on, because it will make you fear for the state of humanity.  Even if you discount the dozens of idiots who insist that making such a statement is akin to roasting one's child on a spit -- "So she's saying if there were a fire, she'd save her husband over her baby?!!!" -- there is enough whirring of propellers from over-involved, child-obsessed parents to make you understand exactly why the divorce rate in America hovers around 50%.

Consider this comment from "Athena":

"Bottom line is that you are [a] parent for life and husbands come and go, life happens... Children always come first, and there's always time for the parents, it's called priorities and planning."

Did she seriously just say "you are a parent for life and husbands come and go..."?

Lady, children come and go -- if you've done your job correctly.  Eventually they will grow up, move out, and have families of their own.  But husbands are for life (or as I believe, for eternity).  Or at least they should be.

Besides, Mrs. Rancic is not suggesting you should waltz off to the Carribbean for a week to romance your husband and leave your two-year-old to fend for himself, nor is she saying you should let your newborn sit in a soiled diaper for hours on end so you can play footsie with your husband under the table.  (And she is definitely not saying she'd let her baby to burn to death in order to save her husband.  Don't you people find it exhausting putting so many words in someone's mouth?)

Mrs. Rancic is saying that having a good, strong marriage benefits children.  Having a mother and father who love each other benefits children.  And that kind of marriage cannot happen if parents exist solely as planets revolving around their offspring's sun.  A husband and wife are the foundation of a family; if that crumbles, so do the kids.  Therefore, the relationship between a husband and wife is the most important relationship in the family and must be put first.

Doing so does not mean ignoring the needs of your children.  It just means you won't let the needs of your children cause you to forget the needs of your spouse.

A person who puts her spouse first will still hug and kiss her children, she just won't forget to hug and kiss her spouse.

She'll cheer for her kids, but she won't forget to cheer for her spouse.

She'll help her kids with homework, but she won't forget to make time for her spouse.

She'll praise her kids, but she won't forget to praise her spouse.

She'll remember that her spouse is The Best Thing to happen to her, and she'll treat him that way.

And her kids?  They'll feel secure and loved and cared for.  And they'll grow up knowing how to have happy, healthy marriages of their own.

That sounds like good parenting strategy to me.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Tale of Two Cuties

Matthew and Leah's favorite primary song at the moment is called "I Love to See the Temple".  They walk around singing it together throughout the day -- wherever we are -- which means renditions have been performed at full volume in grocery stores and Target (though I did manage to convince them they must whisper if they wanted to sing at the library).

Most of the time, they sing the correct words:  "I love to see the temple.  I'm going there someday, to feel the holy spirit, to listen and to pray..."  Nice, right?

Ever since we came back from Disneyland, these sweet, spiritual renditions became mixed with, "I love to see the Disneyland, I'm going there someday..."

I Love to See the Temple: Babylonian Version.

But seriously, does it make me a bad mother if I can't wait until they sing the wrong words in primary?  Because I sort of think it's adorable.

Also adorable?  The fact that they spent yesterday's yearly doctor visit trying to reassure each other that there was nothing to worry about:  "It's not scary, [the blood pressure cuff] is just going to give your arm a hug!" and "It's okay, she just wants to see if there is a duck in your ear!"  And, as a bonus, they made me look good when the doctor asked them what they had for lunch.  "Strawberries!" Matthew said enthusiastically.

"Carrots!" added Leah.

"What a healthy lunch you had!" said the doctor, approvingly.

Meanwhile, I found a mysterious spot on the ceiling and began whistling innocently.  (In reality they had grilled cheese sandwiches and cups of milk, but I didn't feel like jumping in to say, "Actually, I'm a terrible mother and I didn't feed them any fruit or vegetables!"  Besides, they had strawberries at lunch the day before, and their snack that morning had consisted entirely of fruit).

Then, when the visit was over, Leah turned to Matthew and said, "Do you want to hold my hand, Matthew?"    And they did, all the way to the car.

Twins are the cutest thing ever.

Everyone should have a set.