Tag Archives: Parenting

The End Of Preschool

May 20, 2015

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When Waylon started preschool last year, I pretended to be confident in our decision when really I was just another sociopath mom suppressing nervous gas and ugly crying in the school parking lot. It was so hard to send my first baby off into the world. It didn’t help that the first few weeks we had to go through the Orphan Annie routine at drop off. You know, the PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME sobs followed by murder screams and sad, Disney eyes. It was a whole thing.

Then one day, a miracle happened. He stopped crying! They tell you it will happen, but like so many “it gets better” promises in parenthood, it’s hard to believe until you see it with your own eyes. A year later, and I saw the whole thing. I watched him want to get dressed in the morning and ask to stay for lunch. I watched him get braver, grow taller, and be a friend to everyone. A few months in and he even stopped looking over his shoulder to say goodbye. It broke my heart in all the best ways.

We know teachers are sent from baby Jesus, but there is a special VIP spot in heaven for preschool teachers who send you texts saying “He is having fun” and “Thank you for trusting us with him.” I will cry about it until the day I die. Women helping women.

I know I’m not the first overly sentimental mom to send my first, precious, newborn spawn to preschool, but I will never forget this first year of school. The feelings in my gut and the tears on my face. It was the start of something. The beginning of the very long process of letting go.

It’s a funny thing, to be in charge of a life. We hold it like a robin’s egg even though it’s more like the bird itself; wild, independent, slowly slipping away.

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Waylon is saying goodbye to his best friend Ginger next week. A look back on their four years together. There’s just something about that first best friend.

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11 Parenting Tips From Smart Women

April 30, 2015

Film Title: Baby Mama

You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.
Tina Fey

meryl streepWhen your kids come home, they don’t necessarily want to talk to you. They just want to know you’re standing there, ready to talk.
Meryl Streep

jodiThe best parenting advice I ever got was from a labor nurse who told me the following:
1. After your baby gets here, the dog will just be a dog.
2. The terrible twos last through age three.
3. Never ask your child an open-ended question, such as “Do you want to go to bed now?” You won’t want to hear the answer, believe me. “Do you want me to carry you upstairs, or do you want to walk upstairs to go to bed?” That way, you get the outcome you want and they feel empowered.
Jodi Picoult

gretchen+rubinSay “no” only when it really matters. Wear a bright red shirt with bright orange shorts? Sure. Put water in the toy tea set? Okay. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed? Fine. Samuel Johnson said, “All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”
Gretchen Rubin

Always remember where you put your kid. Don’t let your kid drive until their feet can reach the pedals. Use the right size diapers… for yourself. And, when in doubt, make funny faces.
Amy Poehler

Brene BrownThe real questions for parents should be: “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?” If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.
Brené Brown

angelinaSometimes, when I want to take on the world, I try to remember that it’s just as important to sit down and ask my son how he’s feeling or talk to him about life.
Angelina Jolie

ayeletEven if I’m setting myself up for failure, I think it’s worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obseessing about what will happen, or what has happened, and more time reveling in what is. A mother who doesn’t fret over failings and slights, who realizes her worries and anxieties are just thoughts, the continuous chattering and judgement of a too busy mind. A mother who doesn’t worry so much about being bad or good but just recognizes that she’s both, and neither. A mother who does her best, and for whom that is good enough, even if, in the end, her best turns out to be, simply, not bad.
Ayelet Waldman

dianeMotherhood is the most completely humbling experience I’ve ever had. It puts you in your place, because it really forces you to address the issues that you claim to believe in — and if you can’t stand up to those principles when you’re raising a child, forget it.
Diane Keaton

annieYou’ve got to learn to let go and let your children fall, and fail. If you try to protect them from hurt, and always rush to their side with Band-Aids, they won’t learn about life, and what is true, what works, what helps, and what are real consequences of certain kinds of behavior. When they do get hurt, which they will, they won’t know how to take care of their grown selves. They won’t even know where the aspirin is kept.
Anne Lamott

File photo of Nora Ephron posing for a portrait in her home in New YorkWhen your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.
Nora Ephron

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How To Talk To Your Grocer About Sex

February 4, 2015

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A few weeks ago my three-year-old son asked how babies get inside your belly.

This is not an unusual question for a three-year-old, but I still paused to consider its milestone. Before I was a parent, I had pictured this conversation very tenderly, with plenty of self-righteous joy. I imagined us sitting together, hands clasped, talking openly about our bodies. No honey, penis is not a dirty word!  Look at what a wonderful mother I am.

Of course in reality, the conversation looked a lot more like a three-year-old bouncing up and down on the couch and misunderstanding everything I was saying.

“But YOU don’t have a spray, Mommy. Only Evie and I have sprays.”

“Not sprays, sperm,” I explain for the 30th time. “A sperm from the daddy and an egg from the mommy make a baby. Eva doesn’t have any.”

“But Daddy’s spray is in his belly and mine is in my belly and yours is lost, right?” His face is sincere but he is still bouncing.

Eventually I give up.

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Sex is not embarrassing to me. I don’t want it to be embarrassing to my kids either. Which is why a few days later when we are in the grocery check-out line and Waylon asks if Grandpa “has any spray,” I try to be nonchalant. “I’m not sure,” I say, trying and failing to remember when you run out of sperm. “Maybe.”

Waylon pauses to consider this while I unload our groceries onto the conveyer belt. “When I have a baby in my belly, I’m going to be as big as you!” he concludes proudly.

“Actually honey,” I say quietly, “Only girls grow babies in their belly.”

He looks disappointed so I offer him a conciliatory gatorade. “What about him? Does he have spray?” Waylon points to our 17-year-old cashier.

“What spray are you looking for?” our cashier boy answers without looking up. He appears bored.

“He’s just confused,” I say quickly, throwing a jar of tomato sauce onto the bread bag.

“Do you have spray in your belly? Because only boys have it. Not girls,” Waylon continues, presenting the information at hand.

“I’m so sorry,” I apologize.

“It’s cool,” answers cashier boy, clearly not understanding that this three-year-old wants to discuss his sperm. “Does he want a sticker?”

“Oops, I forgot!” Waylon says, smacking himself on the forehead like a cartoon version of himself. “It’s not SPRAY, Mommy said. It’s called SPERM!”

“Did he say sperm?” Cashier boy looks alarmed. Ah, this is how you get a 17-year-old’s attention.

“Sperms are in your belly to make babies if you want to,” Waylon offers politely.

I try not to notice the redness creeping up cashier boy’s neck and swipe my credit card. “Um, yeah. I don’t know. He’s three so…”

The machine does nothing. I swipe my card again.

Waylon: God made sperms at school with Miss Danielle.

Cashier Boy: I think you’re holding it backwards.

Me: I don’t–

Waylon: But when we get bigger we don’t have sperms, ONLY babies. Buzz Lightyear does not have sperms.

It’s always good to leave the check-out line on a good note.

Moral of the story: Always be open and honest with your kids about sex.

Secondary moral: Self check-out. Every time.

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Dear Friend (Letter To Moms Of Toddlers)

January 29, 2015

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Hello Mamas. I come in peace.

No judgements. No agenda. No advice on potty training or vaccinating or how to get your toddler to stop peeing in the house plants.

I know just as little as you do, which has actually ended up being quite revealing. You can read all about it in my new book, “Honestly, You Just Wait It Out.”

Because that’s what you do. You wait and wait and wait, and then one day they stop throwing peanut butter sandwiches on the kitchen floor and your google searches on child personality disorders seem a bit dramatic.

It is so startling when your precious, newborn baby suddenly becomes a toddler. It sneaks up on you at first; a small tantrum in the Target parking lot, minor hysteria over the inconsistency of socks. Then all of a sudden they are pointing their finger, stomping their feet, and throwing all their raisins into the toilet. Sometimes I feel like, who invited this guy to the party? I am not cleaning up after this guy.

I know there is a lot of great stuff out there about how you’re supposed to carpe diem or not carpe diem or how we’re supposed to stop yelling or cut ourselves a break.

Here is what I want to say to you today:

1) It gets better. Those nuggets eventually do grow up enough to communicate that they do or do not want the red crayon. One day you will wake up and realize you can have a whole conversation and maybe even clean the kitchen without someone standing in the dishwasher. And restaurants? Let me tell you about restaurants. Suddenly going out to eat becomes less like crying in the parking lot and more like eating your chicken sandwich with two hands. I cannot overemphasize this small and important joy.

2) It gets worse. Oh, did you think parenting was going to get easier? Wishing away the toddler years is easy when you’re getting kicked in the mouth during diaper changes. The thing is, every stage of parenthood has its pros and cons. I have learned the hard way that you will never enjoy parenting if you are always wishing they were older. Kids will forever and always be annoying. It just appears in different forms. If you’re feeling despondent, remember the restaurant thing.

3) Friends help. Are you so tired of hearing how it takes a village? I remember thinking, “A village sounds great, but I’m too tired to make small talk about The Bachelor.” Honey these are the golden years, but you will drown without help. Single moms, married moms, working moms, stay at home moms–everyone needs a buddy who says, “This is normal” or “Yes, me too” or “You get the wine, I’ll bring the pizza.” Suffer through the small talk to find your mom soul mate. She is out there. Just a girl, standing in front of another girl, asking for a babysitting swap.

And finally, if you are wondering if your two-year-old will ever stop pooping in his underwear, the answer is yes. Definitely yes.

Honestly. You just wait it out.

Keep on keeping on.

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Let’s Make Room

January 19, 2015

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I’ve been seeing all these op-ed pieces lately on how it’s okay for boys to wear tutus. How no one is going to tell my son what he can and can’t wear. How girls can play with tractors so who cares if my son is breastfeeding his cabbage patch doll? EVERYBODY BE COOL.

Of course these articles are fine and good; I’m all for celebrating our three-year-old boys acting like drunk fairies. But there’s also a part of me who thinks: It’s 2015. Why are we still talking about this?

Here’s why.

Last month in Folsom, California, 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu took his own life after being relentlessly bullied by his classmates for joining the cheerleading team. Not only did they shout gay slurs and physically assault him, he was called “disgusting” and told he was “going straight to hell.”

After years of this anti-gay assault, Ronin’s parents found their son dead in their home.

The police immediately ruled it suicide. No note was found.

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It is so easy to live inside my safe bubble with my young, innocent babies and mugs of hot tea and think this world is safe. That we’ve come far enough. That we’ve made room for everyone.

Then when I hear stories of children being tormented over the idea that they might be gay, I am shocked and enraged. How could this happen? Why would anyone say such hateful things? What world is this?

There is still so much work to be done.

We need to make room. Room for our little boys with bright orange tutus and little girls with overalls and dump trucks. Room for change, safe places, and open arms. Room for the idea that we are not in control of our children’s sexuality any more than we’re in control of our own.

Recently a pair of identical twin teenage boys came out to their dad in a taped conversation that went viral on YouTube. What struck me the most about their story was not so much their father’s response, but the proof that who we are as sexual beings is in our DNA. That these identical pairs of genes led to the same sexuality. That who you love is, of course, not a choice.

Wearing tutus does not make you gay. Joining the cheerleading squad does not make you gay. Dressing up like a fairy or taking ballet or wearing bright pink does not make you gay. Being gay makes you gay. A difference in genetics, just like the color of your skin.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A day we have set aside to celebrate a man who made room for a lot of people. Last month a 12-year-old boy took his life because there was no room for him. We remember his life today. We weep for his mother and all the other mothers who have lost their sons and daughters to hopelessness.

Let’s make room.

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Ronin

Ronin Shimizu
2002-2014

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – MLK