Sweets for my sweet

It happened again, last night… the inevitable pre-birthday sadness. This is the first year you tried to put it into words: It’s too big of a deal, too much pressure to be a happy day and too many eyes on you. You didn’t want it. Don’t want it.

“I look at the past year, the past three years, and… nothing’s changed,” you said, voice low as we lay on the floor of my office together, pretending to be starfish, because for some reason that made talking easier. “I’m still me. I haven’t fixed anything.”

“Of course you’re still you,” I said, trying to keep the alarm out of my voice. “That’s a GOOD thing! And things have changed. It’s just not changing as fast as you want.” I flung out my starfish arms and struck what I hoped was an evocative starfish pose, drawing a small smile as my reward.

I don’t write about you much anymore, kiddo. I want to. My fingers itch, sometimes, poised over the keyboard, desperate to share something wonderful or terrible so that someone will say, “Us, too!” This new habit of holding back (or writing, when I must, but not sharing) makes me feel a bit unmoored, sometimes, but it’s what we need. (more…)

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Thou shall suck it up and talk about it

There’s this magical time period when your little kids start becoming more self-sufficient and fun to do things with that do not involve Candyland or being a pretty pretty princess, and for a few years, you can totally be lulled into feeling like being a parent is totally awesome and not that hard after all.

And then they become teenagers. (SURPRISE!) So then you’ll find yourself saying things you never imagined would need saying, and doing things like putting a condom on a banana and then watching your kid eat the banana afterward because, hey, that’s a very safe banana and it shouldn’t go to waste.

Yep.

In an effort to spread the horror joy, I’m over at Alpha Mom today, outlining the commandments of talking to your teens about sex.

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Waking up is hard to do

I commented to someone the other day that I really never know how to react to the (often placating) usage of the phrase “All teens do that, it’s totally normal.” Do they/is it really? On the one hand, I don’t appreciate challenges we face due to my kids’ “extras” being brushed off as no biggie; but on the other hand, it turns out that I have no idea what normal teens do. It’s doubtful that I was ever a normal anything, myself, and my kids are not neurotypical, so how the heck am I supposed to know if they’re being normal teens or being their special snowflakey pain-in-the-butt YOONIQUE selves?

The one thing I have managed to learn is that a little humor brought to even the most aggravating situation can help a lot. I’m sure the kids don’t think it helps them as much as it helps me, but it helps me not to strangle them, so it’s all good.

Without further ado: Feel free to head over to Alpha Mom for the ballad of the school morning teen.

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The best-laid plans

Or, Things I did wrong recently.

Or, Life is hard because I am dumb.

Or, Allow me to make you feel better about your life choices.

I keep telling myself that I should just come over here and post some dog pictures and call it a day—after all, who needs content when you have furballs, right?—but it hasn’t happened and now all of that procrastination has paid off, because it turns out that while no one day has been blog-worthy, lately, taken in sum total I have a veritable epic of life-and-how-to-do-it-wrong to share.

Every day is a new opportunity to do something else stupid, as I always say. (I never say that. I should, though.) Without further ado, various illustrations of my suitability (or lack thereof) as a functional adult: (more…)

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Attack of the giant toddlers

Come closer, so that I can share a great secret of the universe. I just figured it out, because I’m brilliant, and so naturally the next logical step is to share it with all of my closest friends on the Internet.

Here it is: Teenagers are a lot easier to deal with when you realize they are just overgrown toddlers. (I KNOW. I was super impressed with me, too.)

Over at Alpha Mom, I’m expounding on this great revelation, because my teens may be LOOKING more like adults, but their behavior is giving me deja vu.

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Sometimes I am a delightful jerkface

I think I have discussed here before a certain… shall we say… philosophy difference in parenting between myself and my children’s father. Said difference manifests in a hundred different ways, but one of the most frustrating for me has been—and mind you, we’ve been divorced for ELEVEN FREAKING YEARS—this pervasive feeling that, as the custodial parent, I do most of the “hard” stuff and he gets to do the “fun” stuff. This is not a problem unique to us, of course. But as someone who really enjoys giving gifts to people I love, it has been a small but sharp point of contention all this time that I’ve essentially been unable to give “good” gifts to the kids since the split. Because the other person in this equation 1) buys stuff for them constantly and 2) is willing to spend way, WAY more money than I am.

This is perhaps a silly thing to get annoyed about, and I know that, too. Also, things have changed over the years, and that whole mythical “figuring out some basic truths about the way different people move through the world” thing that everyone told me would eventually come to pass is happening now, and so the sting of “I never get to be the hero” has lessened, of course. Still: Every electronic or “big” treasured thing my children own did not come from Otto and me. And that’s fine, but it can make occasions worthy of present-giving kind of challenging.

It’s fun to give someone something that makes them happy. I like to make my children happy. Lord knows I don’t get a lot of opportunities to balance out the “WHY ARE THERE DIRTY SOCKS ON THE COUCH?” and “ARE YOU TRYING TO FAIL THIS CLASS OR CAN YOU JUST NOT BE BOTHERED?” moments. (more…)

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Sing it with me

Being an adult is complicated, man. While I appreciate that I don’t have to ask anyone if I feel like having ice cream for dinner (this IS the marvelous future I imagined!), there are other aspects of adulthood I don’t relish quite so much.

Like, the older I become, the more I realize I’m responsible for my own behavior, regardless of how anyone else has behaved towards me. In a word: BUMMER.

Teaching these lessons to my kids feels a bit Sisyphean. Today I’m over at Alpha Mom, talking about what respect really means, and how much it’s not about the other person. It turns out that sometimes other people are jerkfaces, and that doesn’t entitle us to be jerkfaces right back. Weird, right?

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Almost like a horror movie

Last night Otto and I were lying in bed after a very long day. Usually that’s when we have our best conversations, you know—side by side in the dark, chatting about nothing and everything just before we drift off for the night. But on those long, hard days, we just kind of sink into the silence and both try to pretend sleep is coming.

“Well,” I said, finally, desperate to find a bright spot before the inevitable next few hours of insomnia, “at least spring is coming! Listen to all of those peepers!”* It was true, the frog symphony outside was impressive, given how chilly it’s been. If I closed my eyes and emptied my head, it sounded like it was almost summer. “It’s weird there’s so many, already,” I continued, “when it’s been so cold.”

“Yeah,” agreed Otto. My conversational opening had been scintillating, clearly.

We continued listening, and then… it stopped. I don’t mean it trailed off, I mean one minute there was PEEPpeepPEEPPEEPpeepPEEP and the next minute: dead silence.

“What happened?” I said, my voice dropping to a whisper without conscious intention. “Why’d they stop? Why did they ALL stop? That’s weird, right?”

Poor Otto, he just wanted to sleep and he had no idea he’d married a neurotic frog detective.

“Maybe there’s a BEAR!” I said. “Do bears eat frogs? Are frogs afraid of bears??”

“Maybe there’s a feral neighborhood cat,” Otto answered, with a sigh. That made more sense, I guess. Still, that transition from cacophony to silence was unnerving. Then again, I pretty much find everything unnerving these days. “One time,” Otto murmured, rolling over, “we were home… and there was a BEAR!”

That made me laugh. And one by one, the peepers started up again.

*If you’re a city slicker or otherwise confused by “peepers”, they sound like this.

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Dear kids: don’t read this one

Today over at Alpha Mom I’m sharing the naked truth about keeping romance alive when you have teenagers. Spoiler: It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be (and not in a “that’s what she said” kind of way, either). This would be a good time for nosey children of mine who like to read my blog to NOT go read that particular post. Consider yourselves warned.

By way of apology, I offer you this picture of my breakfast.

(They let me eat about half of it.)

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Gravity sucks

I’m having one of those “Oh, we are getting older and saggier and falling apart” sorts of weeks. To wit: I finally got my hair cut! It looks great! But I’m astounded anew by how gray it is. (Does that seem weird? I didn’t so much get my hair trimmed as I had it… de-bushed. Thinned/textured/layered, so that after the cut it was the same length as before but there was half as much of it. And for some reason the gray seems more prominent now. Because OLD.

Fortunately I am saved from feeling completely decrepit by the fact that Otto just got a new pair of glasses, and for the first time he’s gotten progressive lenses. His new frames are adorable—he’s always adorable, so that wasn’t hard—but he’s still getting used to to the lenses, so he spends a lot of time adjusting his head this way and that, and somehow watching him do that (okay, fine, laughing at him while he does that) is helping me to feel less old. Because at least I don’t have confusing glasses.

If I were smoother, now there would be a great segue here to encourage you to check out this this round-up of healthy dessert recipes I did for Alpha Mom, but all I can say is that there used to be a time when I could just eat an entire box of cookies and not gain an ounce, and that time… is long past. So now I have to be a little more judicious with my choices (without giving up dessert).

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