Tuesday, October 30, 2012


  I want the kids to do things for themselves. I really, really do. If they don't learn to put socks on by themselves they'll end up living in my basement, making messes and never running the vacuum. I can imagine how dramatically different our mornings will be when they make their own lunches and breakfasts and can clean up without making the "clean" version look worse than the original dirty that was already there.

But honestly, there are times when the words, "I want to do it myself!" terrify me. When Dominic says, "I want to cut the chicken with a knife! By MYSELLLLLLLLF!" That's scary.

And then there are the times when "doing self" is simply exasperating. We're already late so waiting for a kindergartener to painstakingly squeeze the perfect amount of toothpaste on her Firefly toothbrush (blue! not the red one!) is akin to agony. I know she should be encouraged to take care of her own oral hygiene, but we're LATE. 

Everyone with older kids keeps saying it's critical to do chores side-by-side so your progeny learns responsibility and the value of pitching in. Ok. Fine. But when I am scrubbing the toilet with the toilet brush and Dominic comes in and declares, "Oohhhhh!!! I wanna do it!!!" I'd rather be doomed to be his cleaning woman forever than to watch him brandish that sopping, toilet-grime covered brush.

When I think about Gianna, semi-grown-up, driving herself places....I kinda want to hit up Brad's Advair.

There has to be some happy medium between not letting your 16 year old ride their bike a couple blocks to the library and letting the same kid circumnavigate the globe in a sailboat

To be honest, I want to believe I lean more to the sailboat side of things. After all, for most of history teenagers have been treated as adults. Alexander the Great was 16 when he first led an army; Cleopatra was 18 when she became the queen of Egypt. Teens used to get married and have babies and work and not be on TeenMom. It was life, and in many parts of the world, that is still how it goes down. But their childhood! I know. I know. We have quite a luxury in this country, to basically extend childhood well into our early 20's. But I wonder sometimes what good that has done.

Others have written more profoundly and well-researched opinions about the importance of those in their teens years being given meaningful work, all I can say is that they are on to something. I want to raise my children so that when they enter their teen years they are ready for adulthood. How to do that in this culture, I don't exactly know.

Motherhood is such a paradox. My job is to form them and guide them into little mensches which means allowing them to goof up and get dirty and maybe a little hurt but every fiber of my being wants to keep them close and bubble-wrapped. It's almost super-natural, to help them grow up but not too quick, cuddle them but not coddle them, protect them but not make them soft.

I can see how behind the fears there is the good. Allowing our littles to venture out when they are ready sends a message that we are confident in them. That while we worry we are also assured that they can navigate this wild and interesting world. I was so nervous when I took my little two-and-a-half year old Gianna to school for the first time. She was so little, it was never our plan for things to happen that way. But now I see that because we pushed through the fears to what we knew would be best for her, she has the confidence that she can do anything a hearing person can do.

  Maybe sometimes we have to embrace what is scary so we can get to the good stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Fits and Starts

1. My baby is 3 months old as of yesterday. Boo. Newborns are the best. If you sit on the couch reading all day, you look lazy. If you take the same exact scenario, but add a sweet, velvety sleeping baby in your arms, you look legit.

2. Our basement is nearly finished which means I am thisclose to taking every.last.toy and throwing it down the stairs, and slamming the door. Glory will be mine.

3. The flood is coming. Watch out.

4. I heard this wonderful thing on NPR's Talk of the Nation about a company called TaskRabbit. Basically, you go on there and say, "I need someone to help me clean out this embarrassingly dirty closet." And the people who are employed by TaskRabbit bid for the job. You can also like, make people bring you a burrito and stuff. I love everything about this. Apparently it's also nice for people with special skills to find extra work within their specialty.

5. So of course I got to thinking...what are my special skills? I could soothe someone's crying baby while they make dinner. I am good at that. Also building block towers with toddlers and I don't even get angry when they get smashed.

6. I feel like I was doing really well handling regular life with a newborn but then I remember that I still have to do stuff like laundry or that I have been holding Gianna's homework folder hostage for a week when I organized it to an out-of-the-way place. Other things being neglected: showers, grocery shopping, mopping the floor, this blog.

7. I had big plans for the $20 I made writing that magazine article, but I keep forgetting to cash the check. I was going to go pay off my library fines so I can show my face there again now that I am getting perilously close to being out of reading material except now I think maybe I'll just go to H&M instead. My friends have books I haven't read yet, so I should be fine.

For more Quick Takes: Conversion Diary and have a good weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lower Standards, Greater Heights

One time after Dominic was born I was at daily Mass with him and Gianna and this very sweet, very put-together mom smiled at me and said, "Oh, two kids is hard." She had one four year old in tow, but before I could feel all judged she added, "It's so much easier now with four."

What the? I was thinking she was either delusional or a big, fat liar because 10 weeks in to my second kid I was still trying to figure out how in the world I ever thought I could handle more than two children. She must have sensed my confusion because she explained, "Well, the older ones get older, and they can help a little, and they play together, and you become more relaxed, and it's fine."

I was still slightly suspicious, but I'm an optimist by nature so I was happy to buy into her happy little folktale.

As I sit now, parked on the couch with my third baby while Brad and Dominic are dropping Gianna off at school, I'm thinking that this seasoned mom of four was right in at least one thing: standards have definitely been lowered around here

until you've eaten sprinkles off the floor, you haven't lived
does anybody feed these children?
very safe
But I am totally okay with that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Career Choices

I feel like I could really do something with my life. Especially if I had the power to be any.thing.I.want.

I'd like to be the coach of winning sports team. Preferably something intense, like hockey or basketball. I'd like to be the kind of coach who fires off lots of pithy life lessons and whose mannerisms are full of bizarre quirks. I'd want my athletes to tell crazy stories about me long after they stopped being my athletes.

I'd like to be the wife of a diplomatic attaché to a foreign embassy. Think of it; lots of fancy parties, no serious responsibilities. And probably a nanny? I would need a nanny.

I'd like to be a nosetackle on an NFL football team. Ohmygosh permission to be huge and take people out all day long. I could do that.

I'd like to be a guest star on a Law & Order episode. Particularly if I can lose it on the witness stand. Or maybe cause lots of disruptions from the gallery. Definitely need to be in some sort of interrogation scene, too. 

I'd like to be a book critic. I would sit in Starbucks all day, just me, a paperback, some technology (a smart phone?) and some self-importance. And a latte.

Good thing I'm a stay at home madre. I frequently have the opportunity to rattle of some life lessons whilst making crazy memories the kids can relate long after I'm gone. When I'm pregnant, I get to be huge and any violent behavior can be neatly chalked up to hormones. I drink coffee all day long so I can be there when my kids need me to watch them (over the top of my over-due library book) "do gymnastics" on their play set in the backyard. Children provide lots of reasons to have parties (birthdays, Baptisms, etc) though they also bring responsibilities of a serious sort. Maybe I am fulfilling my deepest desires after all, and I don't really need a nanny. Okay, maybe I'd still like the nanny.