There’s No Such Thing As Normal

“Just stand like a normal person so I can get a quick picture before you leave with your friends.”

 

What’s NORMAL Mom?

 

“It’s not making faces at me and just standing still so we can be quick.”

 

Why do you want to take pictures of me anyway?

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“Because I want to remember you just like this at 11. My brain in getting mushy and old so I want pictures to remember 11.”

 

Well then you need to remember that I wasn’t normal at 11.

 

“No?”

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Because nobody is normal. Normal doesn’t exist. Normal is nothing. I’m me. Just me and for sure not normal.

 

“Really? Do you like being not-normal?”

 

Yep – it’s always good to be not normal. Maybe we should not even say normal anymore. Maybe everyone should just be weird. Because EVERYBODY IS WEIRD! I’m weird. So weird. I like being weird. I like weird friends. I like weird people. What if we just replaced the word “normal” with “weird” and then like nothing else would matter. Because you’d be all “Hey, act weird(instead of normal) and I’d be all like “No problem” – I can just stand here and I’m weird because I am weird and then everyone would laugh. Because the word “weird” is kind of weird, right?

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“You’re weird.”

 

I KNOW, right? See, now I can pose “weird” for you – because I don’t know what normal means. But weird – everybody can love being weird. Normal is nothing.

 

“So we should remove normal from all the books, all the dictionaries, all of our vocabularies?”

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I think everyone would get along better if we did. Normal makes me worry, makes me compare, makes me feel bad. Weird makes me happy and I like when people call me weird. I like people who like being weird.

 

“Sometimes I wonder why you’ve never had the girl drama at school like I did growing up, or like I hear about from my friends and their tweens lately. Why do you think you don’t or I don’t hear about it at your school?”

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Because we’re all weird mom. And we like being weird. I think people worry and feel jealous when they try to be and define normal. When it’s not their normal. I’ll never be normal because it doesn’t exist. So I don’t think anyone else is normal either. I find their weird thing. I have lots of weird things. My friends and I laugh about all of the weird things.

 

“I love you.”

 

Because I’m weird?

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“Because you’re you.”

 

So do you want just one ‘normal’ pose. Your definition of a ‘normal’ pose?

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“No because I don’t think there’s such thing as a normal pose anymore.”

 

I can stand still you know. For you.

 

“Okay.”

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But now I’ve got to dance again because I’m weird.

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Dance Moms

I’m immersed in all things Dance this week. I enrolled my kids in dance about six years ago – not knowing if it was something that would stick. You know when they are in preschool and you dabble in bit of this and that – some they tolerate, some they hate and it becomes painful to even take them, some they are really, really bad at – but you pretend they are awesome, and some they just love.

 

When she was three, we signed Eloise us for soccer. She hated it. She hated every.single.second of it. If the ball was going that way, Eloise would go this way. For weeks she would run in the opposite direction of the ball – and thus the mob of children around the ball. I would ask her “Eloise, why don’t you go towards the ball?” and her quiet reply would be “But if I get the ball, then the other kids will chase me. I don’t want to be chased!” ‘We’ quit soccer.

 

We tried gymnastics and my kids decided that they had limited upper body strength and both asked to stop the madness of early Saturday morning classes, so we stopped.

 

I’ve tried to convince Eloise to try track – with her long legs and speed, I know she could be awesome. But again, even at 10 she voices her angst about people chasing her. I get it. Kind of.

 

So six years ago I walked down the steps into a dance studio to find out more.

Recital time - my mom is in town to help

I wasn’t a child of ‘lessons’ or ‘classes.’ My parents both worked full-time, we lived in a very small town, and honestly I’m not sure it ever occurred to any of us to pursue other..well pursuits. My brother did play Little League – because that’s what you do in a small Midwestern town as ball diamonds fit easily into cornfields, but dance studios were lacking. But my neighbor did teach me The Hustle. My childhood was filled with going to school and then just hanging out with friends or family and playing until dusk, swimming in the neighborhood pool, or sitting on top of the monkey bars during one of my brother’s baseball games.

 

Recitals, costumes, rehearsals, classes, and nude tights were foreign to me.

 

But within a month of their first dance classes, I knew this is where we would be spending a significant amount of time.

 

And now all three of my girls are dancing. Eloise and Esther love it and cannot wait to hit the stage for recital time. Astrid still seems a bit confused about why she is going out on stage…but I think that everyone still just comes to see the three year olds because what’s not cute about a little girl dressed up as Shirley Temple? Nobody can resist a little “Good Ship Lollipop!”

I die from cuteness

I’m proud of my kids and I’m glad they’ve found something that they love. I may never be able to understand what they are doing – I have no clue what a chasse is and seriously, I cannot pin a damn hat to their head or do a proper bun..or keep their tights clean. My god.

 

But I can sit backstage and give them lots of hugs and word of encouragement, and keep quiet in my little corner of the room as my biggest goal really is to never become THAT Dance Mom..and by not doing that, I think we’ve all accomplished quite a lot.

 

Now go break a leg, girls!

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A Glowing Party with Disney Paints By Glidden #DisneyPaintMom and a Giveaway

As you know, we finally finished Esther and Astrid’s room this Spring. What had been Astrid’s nursery – is now a very cool, yet still rightfully girly, however kind of hip, place that is appropriate and fun for both of their ages. And it’s a room that can grow with both of them.

 

You can see the transformation below!

Huge difference right?

 

We also bought a twin over queen bunk bed as their room is too small to fit two separate beds. We love this bed that we purchased ourselves at Walmart. It’s working out great for both of them (even though, yes I know, changing sheets on a bunk bed is some kind of mom-torture..seriously!).

 

The final touch to the room was adding some glow in the dark accents above Esther’s bed and also on the ceiling fan. The girls now love to go to bed and have a little glowing light to help them fall asleep.

[Read more...]

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Tween Lessons

I have to remember.

She came downstairs, first stomping, then with loud sighing, and then her hairbrush was thrown unto the vanity. Next came a loud “UGH” and a very harsh comment to her baby sister, who was just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have to remember.

I had a decision to make. Should I just ignore her and let her work through whatever was bothering her this time? Or should I ask her what was wrong, when I know that her answer will either be “NOTHING” or “NEVERMIND!”

I have to remember.

So, I chose to ask her what was troubling her because I wanted to appear caring, even though truthfully my first instinct was to grab the smaller children and run for a safe room where we could just eat chocolate and watch the Disney Channel until this all blew-over. Don’t tell me I’m not strong and brave, when here I am taking on a tween tantrum without any protection, ammunition or even a morning bloody mary as a vice. Truly, there is no better way to start the day.

I have to remember.

“THESE SHORTS!” She shouted. “I HATE THEM, and they just are making me so mad!”

“Your shorts?” I responded. And then I followed up with the ridiculous “But you just picked those out last week and you loved them?”

“Yeah, well now I hate them!” She said as she started crying.

“Well go change into something else then.” I answered with the obvious.

“You just don’t understand! Everything I have for Summer is just WRONG! WRONG! UGH! You hate me!” She sobbed.

I have to remember. Try not to snicker. Try not to yell. Try to stay calm. Remember.

“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m sure you’ll find something to wear today.” I said with a slightly exasperated tone to my voice.

SHORTS! SHORTS! She’s having a fit about a pair of shorts that she LOVED and HAD TO HAVE just a week ago. I want to yell “This is stupid!” But I don’t.

I have to remember.

Just last Thursday, I remember I stood in front of my mirror and tried on outfit after outfit after outfit, and nothing looked right. How I piled the discarded clothing on the floor and was nearly in tears over how much I hated it all. All the clothes that I had also picked out and loved and bought. Clothes that now looked stupid.

Eloise wasn’t witness to this. I was in my closet with the mirror and the door was shut. She’s never seen my fits of rage with my own clothing and insecurities. 44 going on 10, and nothing has changed.

I have to remember.

That hating a pair of shorts suddenly is not very silly, even though it sounds that way when you say it for someone else to hear.

I have to remember.

That this is just one of many mornings of tears, frustrations and silly things that she’ll experience from now until eternity.

And I will not discount, brush-off, overlook, or ignore those frustrations, because there in that moment on that Sunday morning…it’s important to her. So it’s important to me.

I have to remember.

It doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and buy her a pair of shorts that fit better, or make her feel better, or are a better color or style.

It just means that the shorts will soon be forgotten and we’ll move onto the next big thing of tomorrow, and I’ll just do my best to just be here when she needs me.

Because I know how it is. I remember.

And I’ll remember the smile after the storms, her playing with her sisters instead of fighting with them, the picnics in the backyard and not when she refused to eat her vegetables, and the unexpected hugs that come when we least expect it.

I will always remember.

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Making Babies

I saw the scene playing out in the family room. I kept to my business in the dining room while I listened to Astrid speak to her sisters. I kept my hands busy, my eyes diverted, but my ears were very busy listening and my mind was spinning, hoping that no one would seek me out to further explain Astrid’s lesson.

 

“So, see Sisters. See the baby is under my dress just like a baby would be in a mommy’s belly. The daddy put it in there, ya know. And then when it gets super big, it kicks and kicks until the mommy poops it out her crotch!”

Astrid stood in front of her sisters with her baby doll and demonstrated the baby making scene several times, just to make sure she was understood.

 

The sisters – nearly five and seven years older than Astrid just sat on the couch in silence. In disbelief. In confusion. In disgust.

 

“Weally Sisters. This is how it all works. My friends at school told me!”

 

Astrid goes to a preschool where she is the ONLY one (I swear) who has only older siblings. All of the other three year olds in her class have babies at home. Babies that were pooped out their mommy’s crotches. Astrid wants to know why she doesn’t have a real baby at home. And she’s asked me for one.

 

Eloise finally speaks up “Astrid, I have no idea what you are talking about, and I have no idea how babies get in a mom’s belly, but I do know that a doctor comes with a big knife and just cuts that baby out. Why would you think a crotch would be involved? Also, I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

 

Eloise and Esther quickly exit the room, grabbing books on their way out and I find them in the office snuggled on the couch quietly reading.

If you were to ask Eloise and Esther the difference between boys and girls – they would tell you that boys have shorter hair.

 

They have no curiosity about their bodies, about other bodies, about babies, about mommies, about daddies, about anything to do with anything to do with how people work. When I was pregnant with Astrid, and they were 4 and 6 and I expected questions..and received NONE. NONE. I even tried to prompt them, thinking it would be good to talk about it, and they both just would quietly walk away.
When I was FIVE I begged my mother to tell me ALL about the birds and the bees..and I still remember following my mom around reading literature about how my body was going to change. And bless my mother’s heart for never telling me to shut-up, even at the grocery store when I was yelling excitedly “MOM, MOM – I have EGGS that are going to travel down my fallopian tubes to make a baby! Seriously, this is the coolest thing ever.”

 

By 10 I had read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret at least 2465 times that the binding was broken and the front cover had been ripped off. This knowledge about my amazing and beautifully sprouting body was powerful and I could not learn enough. (Which is why I also talked my mom into buying Forever for me when I turned 11).

 

Eloise currently views the thought of her period as more of the curse my grandmother acted like she carried heavily with her each month. And I admit, at 44 my monthly visit is a damned and awful curse.

 

I think Astrid will be that girl like me though – and she’s going to embarrass the crap out of her saintly sisters.

 

And don’t think I haven’t tried to let the girls know about their bodies. Oh, I was so excited to give Eloise a ‘gift’ on the first day of first of fourth grade – I bought the the American Girl Book – ‘The Care and Keeping of You’ – just to give her a little information on the changes that will happen to her over the next few years.

 

24 hours after receiving the book, she quietly handed it back to me. She’s a fast reader, so I wasn’t’ shocked that she had finished it so quickly..and my god, if I had owned that book at 10 I would’ve already read it forty times and called ALL my friends to share the news of OMG the cool shit coming to my body! As Eloise placed the book in my hands I asked her if she had any questions or anything she’d like to discuss, because that’s good parenting, right?

And Eloise said, as she looked at the floor, and then at me, and then at the wall, and then at the floor again…”Mom, there’s not one thing in that book that I want to know about…NOT ONE THING…not ever…so don’t even bring it up again and you can return the book.”

 

Okay.

 

“Well, Eloise you know this isn’t like optional – what happens as you as a girl beautifully become a woman, right? I mean eventually you’ll need to know some stuff??” I gently said while trying not to giggle or cry.

 

“Yeah, well I’m perfectly fine how I am and yeah, this stuff is not interesting to me at all.”

 

Okay.

 

So my plan is to have Astrid, when she’s fully five of course, to have the big talk with her big sisters..because maybe they’ll take it a little better from her.

 

In the meantime I’m okay with them knowing that the difference between boys and girls is all about the hair length.

Is it so horrible to stay little for just awhile longer?

 

I’ll just need to find a new preschool for Astrid.

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Girl Rising

“So what did you think of the movie, Eloise?” I asked quietly as we exited the theater all holding hands, all three of us in a row – Eloise, me, and Esther.

 

“You know, I would’ve liked this movie so much better if it was fiction.” Eloise responded very quietly, with her head down, avoiding eye contact. “I didn’t like seeing all of the moms(like you) crying. And I know you were crying because you saw us, saw me, in those girls. I don’t like movies that have sad parts. But I guess that is the point..this really isn’t a movie. It is a reality. That part I didn’t like. But I liked that all of the girls wanted more. Oh, and I think that if Wadley and I went to school together, we would totally be best friends.”

 

Eloise is 10.

 

Fiction. It’s easy for us to see this as fiction or want it to be fiction. We live thousands of miles away in warm homes, with food we don’t walk days for, with water we don’t stand in line for hours for, and with the right to a free education. We can close our eyes and dream it away, that there are girls being married off at 11, having no education, living in garbage dumps, being raped, being sold basically into slavery, and being held-back as a second class citizen. Because they are girls.

 

Girls.

 

Educate girls and change the world.

 

I took my older daughters to see the screening of Girl Rising last night. My daughters are 8 and 10. There were warnings in advance of ‘mature topics’ as well as warnings at the venue from concerned moms wondering if the subject of the movie would be appropriate for young girls as a PG-13 rating was recently applied to the film.

 

I had no concerns. If there are girls who are 6,7,8,and 9 who are living this life of poverty, and lack of opportunities – well an 8 and 10 year old watching a film about their plight and being able to ‘handle’ this ‘mature topic’ – well that seems kind of silly of me to worry about.

And I’m glad they watched it. And while I had trouble remembering each of the girls’ names in the film – Sohka, Ruksana, Wadley, Suma, Yasmin, Senna, Azmera, Amina, Mariama – my daughters remembered all of their names…just like they could be their friends, neighbors and classmates.

 

Just girls. Just girls like them.

One girl with courage is a revolution.

And the strength of the human spirit and the power of an education can change the world.

Educated girls dramatically improve the well-being of their families, their communities, and their countries–multiplying the impact on society.
Educating girls will..

  • reduce poverty
  • reduce child mortality
  • reduce population growth
  • reduce HIV infection rates
  • change the conditions that lead to terrorism
  • reduce corruption

Girl Rising is a groundbreaking film, directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, which tells the stories of 9 extraordinary girls from 9 countries, written by 9 celebrated writers and narrated by 9 renowned actresses. Girl Rising showcases the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change the world. Explore the film in detail at girlrising.com.

If you are interested in seeing Girl Rising – there are screenings all over the country this weekend. You can also bring a screening to your area or even your school. In the meantime, read, learn, share, donate and talk – and bring awareness and change for the millions of girls in the world who just need a few more opportunities to be superheros…and to change some horrible realities.

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Esther climbed on my lap last night before bed and we chatted a little more about the movie. “Mom, do you think we can go visit Suma in Nepal someday? I’d really like to sing with her. She’s so strong and talented..she’s a girl that I want to be like someday, and she’s got the coolest bike ever.”

Girls. So many beautiful dreams.

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I want to make it clear that I am not involved with the 10x10act/Girl Rising organization at all nor was I asked to see the movie or even write about my experience. I just want to share it with you because it’s important and I want to share our experience in viewing the film. I know many are worried that it is not appropriate for young girls to see. And I want you to know that in my opinion, it’s not only completely appropriate- but it’s important for your girls to see.

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Finding Beauty

Eloise got her braces off yesterday. These were her phase one braces that stayed on for six months. She now has a retainer and then will get her phase two braces around age 13 or so when she has all of her adult teeth.

Phase one basically expanded her mouth so her teeth would fit and also straightened out her existing adult teeth top and bottom. Mainly the teeth in the front – that you can see.

 

Eloise is home from school today because she’s been crying almost non-stop from the pain of the retainer and it’s given her a headache.

 

And she’s screamed more than once at me “Why do I have to do this?! I don’t want straight teeth! Crooked teeth are just fine!! What’s the big deal about straight teeth? It’s not worth the pain!!!”

 

So how do you answer that? Are there studies that show that people with straight teeth get better jobs? Make more money? Get into better colleges? Excel in ballet? Do people with straight teeth date more? Have more friends? Do they marry better? Do they get teased less?

 

Are people with straight teeth happier?

When you get botox are you happier? Is your spouse happier? Do you get noticed more? Did you get that job?

 

We all want to feel more confident sure. But where does it all end. Am I comparing apples to apples here?

 

Braces have always been acceptable. Kids have been getting their teeth straightened for decades. But how do you tell your child they look just fine they way they are when you’re spending $8000 for straight teeth and watching your child in agony? Are we sending a mixed message. Truthfully I’ve never thought about it until Eloise through her tears asked me last night why her crooked teeth weren’t just good enough. And explaining the medical reasons still fly over the head of a 10 year old who feels so invincible. And in pain.

 

And Botox for us moms – well I’m 44 and have never considered it but have many friends in their 30s who already have and I tell them “If you think you need botox now – well 44 is going to scare the shit out of you!”  And maybe I’m weird because I kind of like my wrinkles and lines and the permanent number 11 on my forehead. I’m 44 – not 24 and no amount of ‘work’ will take me back.  I look at pictures of Diane Von Furstenburg and see beauty. Natural, natural beauty. I look at Cher and don’t. I look at Courtney Cox – who is my age and is now starting to look like Cher and it’s honestly not pretty.

 

Maybe there’s no such thing as aging gracefully, but that doesn’t mean I have to apologize for doing it at all.

 

And I know in a few days Eloise’s pain will subside and she’ll show her smile again and someday she’ll be grateful for straight teeth. I know I am grateful for mine.

I get that self-confidence has a lot to do with happiness – and I can only hope that her straight teeth will be a part of that as she becomes a teen and an adult.

 

Just like I hope her gorgeously earned wrinkles will give her confidence in her 40s.

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What Do You Like About Your Sister

The girls have been playing school a lot lately. Eloise shuts her bedroom door but I can still hear them talking quietly inside. Eloise has the big desk because she is the teacher and she has two little boxes set upon the floor that Esther and Astrid sit at and do their work.

 

Eloise insists that Esther work on math. She bought her two new 3rd grade math workbooks and I hear Eloise carefully explaining some complicated problems and assigning no less than five pages of homework per night.

Astrid has been given an alphabet workbook filled with pictures of animals and lots of letters to trace. Eloise patiently tells her each letter and slowly makes their sounds, gives her examples of words that start with that letter, and makes up a story about that letter for her. Then she helps Astrid take her crayon and trace the letter as they say it together. Astrid already knows about 10 letters and can recognize almost all of her numbers but Eloise gets frustrated when Astrid gets her ‘P’ and ‘D’ and ‘B’ confused. Astrid reminds Eloise that she is only three years old.

 

So Eloise lets her just color for 30 minutes. But not a minute more.

 

They do this now. The three of them disappear upstairs to quietly play school or American Girl dolls and I won’t hear from them for hours and hours unless they get hungry. Sometimes I might just peek upstairs to make sure they are still there because the quiet can sometimes be too quiet. But they always are. There. Together.

I interviewed them asking what they liked about their sisters for MamaKat’s vlog prompt this week. You could tell how quiet they are. I cannot turn the volume up enough and encourage them to talk louder enough because it’s them. The quiet ones. Except Astrid can be a bit of a card sometimes.

But what you cannot hear you can still see. How much they love each other and like to be near each other.

 

And I hope when they are very, very big with families of their own that they make time for their sisters and remember the days they spent playing simple games in their rooms…just the three of them.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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How To Order At A Restaurant

I took the girls out to eat on Saturday night. And by ‘the girls’ I don’t mean my breasts because no matter how insignificant they are, those ‘girls’ come with me everywhere I go and can’t stay home while I’m dining out even though sometimes it may look like I’ve left them behind. When I say ‘the girls’ I mean my children and since I only have girls I just say girls instead of my kids or my spawn or my offspring or my rug-rats or my children or the short-ones or whatever.

 

I asked the girls where they wanted to go eat and they mentioned the usual suspects – Pizza Luce, Noodles, The Nook, D’amico. I groaned that groan that kids groan when you mention something they don’t like. I love making that groan. Because frankly I do love those places but I’m getting sick of going there as we go there a lot knowing the girls will all find something to eat that they like. And bitching is minimized. Bitching minimization is usually a key component of all meals.

So I told them that they didn’t have a vote on Saturday as I was taking them to Salut because I wanted a decent glass of wine, linen napkins, and a salad made with something besides iceberg. As we were walking into the restaurant on this fine Saturday night I noticed the crowd was mostly filled with people in suits and dresses – the pre-theatre crowd and I smiled inside while I looked down at my girls thankful that I don’t have to remind them about manners and expectations and napkins on their laps. The relaxing glass of wine was just minutes away.

 

The four of us sat and enjoyed our beverages – one wine, two Shirley Temples and one milk – as we chatted softly and ordered our dinners. We discussed the menu in depth and they ordered pomme frites, fresh bread, linguine, an American Cheeseburger, a bowl of fresh fruit and an order of profiteroles to share. I studied the menu carefully and decided on a beautiful Nicoise salad with seared tuna.

 

Best Saturday night ever.

 

And then their food came – their food looked glorious. I helped get everyone situated – noodles cut smaller, ketchup poured, waters refilled and I waited and waited for my meal. The girls were nearly done with their meals and I started stealing grapes and pomme frites. When our server came back again, I had decided that enough time had passed and my meal really should be here, so I inquired as to it’s arrival time.

 

And she said “Um, ma’am – you didn’t order anything for yourself. I guess I just assumed you were treating the girls because they all ordered and then you smiled at me as you handed me the menus and said ‘thank you so much!'”

 

“I never ordered? Really?” I replied.

 

Eloise interrupted “Mom, it’s true, I never heard you order.”

 

“So I brought you all to my restaurant of choice for the ONE TIME IN 2012 and I did not order a meal?!” I cried.

 

Esther started laughing “Well you can bring us back and try to order again sometime because the food is AWESOME!”

 

So I finished my wine and we went home. I ate a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner after the kids went to bed.

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Have you ever forgotten something so basic?

 

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I’m honored to be featured on BonBon Break today talking about how moms rarely take the time we need for ourselves.

 

Isn’t it about time you like Sellabit Mum on Facebook?  I’ll pay you in cute puppies. Maybe. Or kittens if you go that way. Because I go that way.

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Four More Years

I watched as Barack Obama became president in 2008. I watched with my daughters who were nearly 6 and 4 years old (and they didn’t have a baby sister).  They watched these other beautiful young girls in awe as they stood with their father. The President. Those girls were 7 and 10 and looked so big to us.

 

We were busy with kindergarten and preschool, very early bedtimes and play-dates, twirly dresses and bows galore.  Little girl things.

 

And then I blinked and four years went by and those girls on the television who inhabit the White House have grown from adorable girls of 7 and 10 to young ladies of 11 and 14. They caught me off-guard.

Did my girls change that much while we were so busy just living our lives. And I realize that my girls are now the age the Obama girls were when their father took office. I barely remember these last four years. The days and years speed by without fail. School years move forward, hair grows, babies are born, twirly dresses are handed down to the the little ones.

 

Because here we are now with our own girls so big on the verge of becoming young ladies in the next four years.

 

And I am overcome with the changes that will take place in our household by the year 2016 and how I cannot wait to see just how beautiful they will become.

 

My beautiful girls.

For now I will just try not to blink so much because I don’t want to miss a second of it.

 

It goes so fast these four more years.

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I’m Beautiful

We stopped at McDonald’s on our drive last Thursday.  An extraordinary treat for the girls. We feasted on a meal of chocolate shakes(Esther had strawberry) and fries because that’s the kind of meal that women like best.

 

The girls were all seated in a row like they always do. They mush together in a booth while I sit across feeling quite lonely but enjoying the view.   I went to get 12 more cups of ketchup. Because hello ketchup. And when I came back I saw them all there sucking down their shakes. Their bodies touching on their sides.

I sat down across from them and really felt quite overwhelmed by the view and said “you know you all are so beautiful. All of you. Your hearts. Your minds. Your eyes. Your everything.”

 

Astrid said “No, I’m just adorable.”

 

Esther said “I know, everyone says so.”

 

Eloise said “There’s nothing beautiful about me.”

 

And I corrected her immediately because Eloise is so very beautiful. My heart broke that she thinks she is not.  And then she said “well Esther is so much prettier than I am.” and I told her that I wasn’t really talking about physical beauty but since she brought it up I didn’t see how she thought anyone was prettier than she was.

And then Esther interrupted us to say “But I am prettier than Eloise, ask anyone” and Eloise said “she’s right, I totally agree with her.”

 

Truthfully I didn’t know whether to be angry at Eloise for being so negative about her looks or angry at Esther for being so boastful or really proud of Esther for loving herself so much because really what women say anything good about ourselves ever.

 

So I just kind of dropped the subject and ate a lot of fries.  Because McDonald’s makes the best fries. No one can debate that.

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When You Don’t Produce A Tomboy…

Jed bought the girls a small motorcycle to share.

 

I get that motorcycling is kind of important and I am totally down with the girls learning to ride.

 

I used to ride and just sold my bike this Summer because we needed a new washer and dryer. Turns out that I have a lot more laundry to do than I have time to ride a motorcycle.  Although sitting on the washer is not nearly as much fun. But much more convenient. ahem.

 

Anyway – being that Jed is all about safety when riding he asked for some sturdy over the ankle boots for the girls to wear when he took them out riding the first time.

 

I gave him the choice of UGGs or tall dress fashion boots.

 

“Don’t they have any hiking boots?” He asked.

 

“Why would they have hiking boots?” I replied “We don’t hike like on purpose.  And if we take a walk that is a measured distance they can just wear tennis shoes.”

 

Esther piped up “but that is the only time we would wear tennis shoes unless it’s gym day because well, they are like tennis shoes.”

 

“Well maybe we need to get them some hiking boots” said Jed.

 

“That’s funny!” I replied. (But then I started googling for awesome black motorcycle boots in their sizes because those would be super cool..)

 

“But I don’t understand why you don’t have practical shoes for them. What are you teaching them?” He asked

 

“Well they may not hike or motorcycle their whole lives but they sure as hell are going to get dressed everyday so I’m giving them the gift of knowing how to put outfits together with the proper fashionable footwear. It’s truly a life skill…like math” I replied highly.

*******

So this morning I ran to Target for the Jason Wu for Target collection launch. When I walked back in the house Jed was trying to convince Esther to have me bring her to the motorcycle show today so they could see all of the new bikes.

 

I didn’t say a word.  I actually thought it was a good idea.

 

But as soon as I walked in Esther turned her back to Jed and start rifling through my bag and pulling out my purchases and oohing and aahing over the dresses and handbags.

 

So I took the girls shopping for the day instead.   It’s like our special home-school program.

 

And I’m still totally okay with them riding a motorcycle…as soon as we find the right boots of course.

*******

And instead of spending time out in the woods on these so-called hikes…my girls are working on becoming Katy Perry’s back-up dancers.  Pretty sure Astrid is on the short-list. (totally worth watching the video…especially at 1:45)

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One of These is JUST like the Other…

I’m good at math. I love math. I have an engineering degree if you could not tell by my accent. And it’s also why my grammar is lacking.

 

If I may do some easy math – it has always been my understanding that if A=B and B=C, then A=C. Yes?

 

So let’s do the math here…

 

I bought this fabulous Mini Boden jacket for Eloise last year. She acted like I was killing her slowly that I would make her wear POLKA-DOTS on her body and OMG BROWN AND BLUE together – HOW UGLY can that be. Like, OMG she would die if I made her wear this ugly jacket. So I let her be cold and put the jacket away for a younger sister to wear someday.

Two weeks ago Eloise chose her new backpack and lunchbox from Pottery Barn Teen.  It looks like this.

Take a moment.

 

Yes – it is brown with blue polka-dots.   When it arrived I was like “OMG  I have seen something just like that somewhere…now where, where might I have seen that…..”

 

Oh yeah – this backpack and lunchbox you chose LOOKS JUST LIKE THE JACKET I BOUGHT FOR YOU THAT YOU REFUSED TO WEAR!

 

I ran up the stairs taking them two at a time to fetch the rejected coat still perfectly sealed in plastic and said “LOOK – you now have a backpack and lunchbox to match your new Fall jacket!”

And she replied “OMG I would never wear anything in brown with blue polka-dots. That is so ugly!”

 

GAH!!!!!!!!

 

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Is it hard to be a girl dad…

Jed is the lone man among four women in our household.

I really hate talking stereotypes, but somehow these girls are very stereotypical girly girls.

When Eloise was three we signed her up for soccer – you know to expose her to sports.   She cried the whole time and expressed her issue with the sport and why she always seemed to run the opposite direction of the ball “why would I ever want the ball, because if I had the ball everyone would chase me. Why would I want to get chased.” Well okie dokie then.

So we didn’t give up exposing our girls to sports and tried baseball. Both girls spent a fair amount of time crying about it at the games and after a very painful season so eloquanty said “but it’s so boring. You just sit there or stand there most of the time. And why would I want someone to hit the ball at me? And again, if I hit the ball everyone chases me. I seriously do not get the point.” Can I get an A to the Men that I don’t have to sit through baseball games.

Now I also know that watching a dance recital can be as painful as watching a baseball game. Don’t get me wrong as girl things have their limits.

And Jed tries to get them to do thing that he likes – offering a dirt bike, some motorcycling, a car show, downhill skiing, a hike in the woods. His requests are usually met with “it’s too cold outside, it’s too hot outside, that sounds boring, I could fall or I have a hangnail.”

Did I mention that our kids are rarely outside as THERE ARE BUGS outside. I know.

So the girls spend their time mainly inside reading, writing in journals, making up plays, doing make-overs, painting nails, doing artwork, making jewelry, baking,  They hear the neighbor kids running around and playing outside and never even seem that interested to go out and play WITH THE BUGS.

And Jed hangs out in the garage alone.

And I wonder if one of the girls will join him there someday.

You know, after their nails dry.

Entering in the I heart faces let’s hear it for the boys week.

*****
What would you buy daddy for father’s day?

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You Can’t Take the City out of the Girl…

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After skipping the customary pumpkin patch/orchard trip last fall, we instead enjoyed our urban patch a la Target..I promised the girls a real farm this year…

******

The conversation from the backseat early Sunday morning on the way to the farm…(me, alone with all 3 kids…)

Esther:  Mom – we are leaving the tall buildings, why are we leaving St. Paul?

Eloise: Esther, the pumpkins do not grow in St. Paul.  We need to find another place – mom said we were going to the country. She might mean Mexico as that is another Country.
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Esther:  Mom, we have been driving for like, forever(it had been 10 minutes) how far is this country?

Eloise: Yeah Mom, you didn’t tell us we were going far away.

Esther:(we have finally left the freeway and are in the country on a 2 lane road with very few houses…) Mom, is it safe here?

Me: What do you mean, safe?
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Esther: It just seems lonely and if something happened, there is no one out here to help.

Esther:  Do you know what I like about the city(evidently reminiscing and missing her home), we have big swimming pools and we don’t have cow poop EVER in our front yard.

Eloise:  Yeah, and we can walk to the grocery store and get coffee with friends.  Where do you think people in this country grocery shop?  It would take FOREVER to get anywhere.
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Esther: I think these country people grow food, so maybe they can just make everything.  You know at school, whatever food we don’t eat, we put in this big bucket that goes to feed pigs at a farm.  On Friday I put my whole ham sandwich in there because I figured they would be hungry this weekend.

Eloise:  You cannot feed a pig a ham sandwich – HAM IS MADE FROM PIGS – it would be like eating yourself. That is so gross. There is no way that pig ate your ham sandwich.  Mom, do you think they sort out the ham before feeding the pigs?
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Esther:(now in tears..) Mom, Eloise made me sad. I just wanted to give the pigs some food, I didn’t know we can’t feed them ham.  See, I don’t like this country place at all.
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Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice…

I never really wanted children.

I would dream of an apartment in Manhattan with white carpets and black tiles, and both a black and white Persian cat on my lap.

Sterile. Pristine. Quiet.  I would read for hours, days, weeks at a time uninterrupted, when I wasn’t flying around the world for my high powered job.  Alone.

But if I ever did have kids, I wished them to be girls. All girls.

I looked at awe and a bit of jealously at my mother and her 5 sisters. These 6 girls – as sisters to have forever.  Because that is what sisters do. They stay together.  And girls, girls come home for Christmas with their families.

I grew up with just one sibling, a brother whom I adore – but it wasn’t the same.  And my life was filled with a dozen cousins – all boys.  Every single one of them boys, until at 24 years old a baby girl was born.  But too late for a playmate for me.

No one to play barbies with, or to do my hair.

So I did not play with kids much – I played with my aunties.  They were my older sisters…older than me by only 8-17 years – I hung out with them.  I sat at their table, I learned to knit, to cross-stitch, to braid hair.

But then we went home.

And I played Hot Wheel cars and wrestling.  My brother did play Barbie’s and GI Joe with me, but never Ken. Thank god.

*******
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My friend Molly has 3 boys and she contacted me to write about the biases in raising kids all of the same sex.  And I laughed a bit because I wonder if sometimes we are really given the perfect family that we secretly hoped for?  I look at my brother with 3 boys and cannot see them any other way.  Their lives seem complete that way.

I frankly love the biases I hear —

“Gosh, you must have a lot of pink in your house!”

“Drama central I bet, huh?”

“Girls are fabulous when they are little – but just WAIT until they are teenagers! You will have to lock them up!”

“I could never take all of the emotional stuff that comes along with girls.”

“Loosing hair bows a lot?  And Polly Pockets everywhere?”

“I bet Jed is going to lose all of his hair when you have 3 teenagers in your home – and I bet you all with have your periods at the same time each month – he will have to move out.” (I will probably have entered menopause by then – so no worries about me;)

I have girly girls.  Super girly girls – and because of that, yes the biases are mainly true.  We have pink coming out of about every orifice of our home and ourselves.

Do we EVER have drama – there is morning drama before 8am in our home then is on daytime TV the entire year.

Emotions – I already see it and yes, the hormones of the teenage years may be rough – but aren’t they tough for everyone.

And it is true – we don’t have wrestling in our home, or toy cars or crazy play at all. It is actually calm, quiet and still most of the time.

Toys get picked up.  They can sit and color for hours.  A 3 hour meal will keep them politely in their seats the whole time without fuss.  They are sweet girls truly made of sugar spice.

At least my older 2 are.

And about those teenage years – Sure, I was a teenage girl once and frankly drove my parents quite made I am sure.   But I still loved them, and them I..and we survived. There are some pretty awesome teenage girls out there..and making comments about “keeping them locked up” or “just wait they will be trouble” is pretty counterproductive on raising independent, mature, capable and fabulous women.   We are trying to build them up – their spirits, their abilities, their love, and prepare them for an amazing life of adulthood ahead.  We cannot keep them locked up so they don’t have the chance to experience life and love, success and defeat. Heartache.

Sure, will I be a wreck the first time a boy comes over – um yeah, but I get it – I totally get it.

******

Now, I have no idea whose child Astrid is, but she is determined to crush my girl biases to hell and give us all a run for our money.  I have glimpses of hope though.  Her first word was necklace, followed quickly by bracelet and her first sentence was pretty clothes.
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She is driving her sweet sisters quite mad. And I am starting to doubt if she will come home for holidays.
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We may have to send her away to the zoo for a few years to be with her people.  Or maybe a nice home full of wild boys.  Takers?

So what do you think, do the gender stereotypes affect our kids and us and how we raise them?  Is it harder to get past these with only 1 gender being raised in your household?  Do you find it easier to raise just girls or just boys?

Linking back with Molly today – go read about her life with 3 boys…

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Always A Princess…

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I look at my daughters and they are perfect.

Their skin, their hair, their knees, their smiles, their hearts.

They are carefree and happy.  Not self conscious.
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Kids love themselves.

Babies kiss themselves in the mirror.

I wish for my daughters that everlasting love for themselves – to know that they are perfect, just the way they are.
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To not care what others think.  To not worry about the norm.  To not be 40 and worry if a skirt makes them look fat.

But is that impossible to ask for?  Knowing that I care. I look in the mirror and see my flaws and worry that others see them too.
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When does it change?  Why does it have to change?

These are the things I worry about as  a mother of girls.
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I want them to feel like a princess their whole lives and to know they are perfect just the way they are.

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesday
Sweet Shot Day

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