Monday, April 30, 2012

My Mother's Day Card to You

So it’s almost Mother’s Day. This is always a time of year that fills me with so many jumbled up emotions. I am struck by this complete humbling and deep well of gratitude for the two amazing children I’ve been blessed to be a mom to, and a silent selfish longing to get the chance, even one more time to be a kid and celebrate the day with my own mom. But it’s not to be – at least not the last part. She passed away about four years ago now. That seems so hard to believe. In the time she’s been gone I’ve become a mother and had to put into practice every lesson she ever tried to teach me and strive to do it, if I’m lucky, maybe half as good as she did it. Mom was like the Ginger Rogers of Motherhood, doing it all backwards and in high heels with an unmatched grace and elegance.

I miss her a lot but still want to stay focused on the positives of the day – the wonderful mom I had, the kids I’ve got, and the other mothers I’ve been blessed to have in my life. I’m sad to say that for years now since she’s passed, for whatever reason I’ve been completely unable to drag myself into the card store and even glance at any of the mother’s day cards. I have this completely visceral and irrational reaction that if I can’t buy one for her, than no one should get one.

But that’s silly and because of that, I’ve let too many mother’s days go by without letting those other mothers in my life know exactly how I feel about you and why you amaze, inspire, and encourage me each and every day. So here it is – an open mother’s day card to all of you:
To My Sisters
I’ve often joked that growing up I was really blessed with not one but three mothers. You both have taught me so much in life from the practical (how to drive a car or memorize all the lyrics to Slippery When Wet), to the less tangible and uber-important. Watching you both become mothers to my amazing nieces and nephews was like a roadmap for me that taught me how I was supposed to do it. I couldn’t and cannot do it without you. Thanks for loving me, listening to me, and picking up the phone at odd hours to help me diagnose rashes on my children from sometimes thousands of miles away.
To My Aunts
You are the original “other mothers.” You were always an amazing support to her, and now to me. You call to check on me and play with my kids. You tell me it is okay to not know everything or get it right. You fix broken pooh bears and make me laugh and fix a kugel like no one I know. While you weren’t my mother or maybe even anyone’s mother, in every sense of the word you fit the bill.
To My Mother In Law
You are wonderful and loved. I am grateful you shared your son with me. Watching you be a grandmother to my children is a gift. Also, you make tasty pancakes!

To My Nana
Thank you for sharing Mom with me. She was loving and sentimental, yet so strong at the same time. I suspect she got this, in part, from you. As you approach your 90th birthday, I am still thinking about our most recent visit and your advice to me: “You can’t go back. You can’t change it. You must move forward.” I am still thinking about this as I watch Ruby run her hands along a public toilet seat. There is no use in screaming. I can’t change it – I can only move forward.
To My Friends (both the new mommies and not so new mommies)
Thank you for everything! Thank you for laughing with me and admitting your Jewish daughter is similarly obsessed with the Dora Christmas show. You are my sanity check on life. You help me figure it out, and encourage me to feel good about laughing at myself while I do. You don’t mock me when I send you 7,000 unwanted pictures and/or anecdotes about my children that are oh so amusing to me, but perhaps less so to the outside world. You are all hard working both in and outside of the home, but share a common goal of trying to raise good, kind, healthy little people which is just about the hardest damn thing I think we’ve all ever done. Thank G-d we’re in it together.
And to you Mom
Thank you for it all: for kissing boo boos and broken hearts, for soap operas and grilled cheese and lots of laughing and a lifetime of loving. I am grateful to have had you for a mom.
So there you go – my giant sloppy almost mother’s day card to all of you. I wish you a wonderful day filled with all the people you love, a little extra sleep and chocolate:)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do As I Say, Not As I Watch

My children have watched television for most of this day. Based on current pediatric literature and thinking, I'm assuming they will now grow up to be mute serial killers.

The whole day I obsessively calculated the total amount of hours watched and by how much it exceeded the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of two hours or less. I stopped counting somewhere around four hours. It wasn’t continuous and was broken up over what felt like a very long and busy morning but still—it was a lot. I think and obsess a lot about this particular guideline issued to parents—about how or whether or not the more I let them watch, the less likely they’ll be able to communicate, grow fat, violent—and ultimately become all around horrible people. Honestly, in fairness that Ruby from Max and Ruby really is a bitch. They’re not learning anything from her.

I know I’m using it as an “electronic babysitter.” I know that’s wrong and that frankly nothing about Yo Gabba Gabba equates to “preschool on TV” as Nick Jr. would have me believe, lovingly stroking my conscience as I fret about their futures and potential seizures from the flashing light sequence during the Dancey Dance. But I have to shower. And I have to go to the bathroom. And I have to check my email and Facebook account. I actually don’t have to do that last one but at some point during the day, I have to just do a pulse check with anyone who is not currently having a tantrum about the batcave.

I also stress about this particular guideline because it definitely falls into the do as I say not as I furtively do behind your back category. I lecture them about how we need to turn off the TV and only watch certain shows and yet mindlessly watch hours of The Learning Channel at night about programs as useful as Extreme Couponing and I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. I can literally feel myself getting more stupid as I watch but sometimes after a long day I want to check out mentally and unplug—it’s trashy and comforting and an escape.
I love my children. I would do anything for them and sometimes I honestly believe they need the same kind of escape. When we are overtired and cranky I’m sure some quick yoga followed by a wholesome craft will snap us right out of that funk. But it’s not always that day. And so they watch TV. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it anymore because your kids watch it too. If you claim they don’t well then you’re a liar, like that know-it-all animated bunny Ruby.