“Did I shave today? No, no I did not.”
“Did I shave today? No, no I did not.”
Before kids, my husband would completely indulge my Christmas decorating extravagance. While I understand there is a fine line between festive and “someone put this lady on Honey Boo Boo,” I struggle with which side of that line I fall on each year. When we were dating, Aaron thought my need to use All. The. Decorations. was cute and charming. In those early days, he was willing to dangle from the roof to hang twinkle lights for me. He’d buy those extra yards of tinsel because I batted my eyes and said I loved it so. He’d laugh and find somewhere else to store yet another set of Christmas dishes. And that sweet man even let me put up a hot pink tree in his house. Now that, my friends, is love. When my son and daughter arrived on the scene, my obsession for all things twinkly and bright on Christmas hit an all-time high.
The tree needed to be bigger!
More lights on the house!
More presents for everyone!
We need more tinsel!
But with kids comes crap. All kinds of crap. Crap in the literal sense, and crap in the way of your house slowly morphing into Toys R’ U. With this newly acquired crap, my husband’s patience began to wear thin with my love of all things Christmas and my excessive need to show holiday joy through lights, glitter, and tinsel. Ebenezer Scrooge, anyone?
Since marriage is all about compromise (sham), we have instated a new tradition, the “Christmas Bargaining.” Like all good laws, it comes out of necessity and long fought battles.
While searching online for holiday decor I may have missed last season, I read that a local tree farm had a special event where families could choose their Christmas tree from acres of Douglas and Frasier firs, and once your O’ Tannenbaum has been chosen and cut down, a team of Husky dogs will happily pull the tree to your car. Imagine the holiday cheer! Surely the dogs will be wearing wreaths of holly around their necks and bells on their little leather harnesses. Mush, doggies! Let’s get that tree on our swagger wagon. Mamma has some tinsel waiting at home for this one!
However, there was one teesey, tiny detail I left out. We (and by we I mean my husband) would need to cut down our tree. Surely he wouldn’t mind this manly act. It was all for the sake of Christmas. Think of the kids! Think of me! Think of the tinsel! Let’s get to it, chop, chop!
Driving out to the tree farm, the kids and I loudly sang a few rousing renditions of “Jingle Bells” as my always doting husband tolerated his tone deaf carolers. That’s about when his Christmas joy ran thin.
When we unloaded the kids and headed into the rows of trees, we passed a heap of hot, panting fur. It seems the unseasonably warm weather was a bit much for the Husky dogs and they needed a break. A break for the rest of the day.
Through my best adorable pout I broke the news to him, “Bummer. I’m so sad the dogs can’t pull our tree to the car. Oh, by the way, we (and by we, I mean you) have to cut down the tree, drag it several hundred yards back to our car, and attach it to our roof.”
Hilarity did not ensue, and some may say he even turned a shade that resembled the Grinch. He looked at me and grumbled “No. Just no.”
But I had two babies in Christmas sweaters, a video camera, my best Christmas face on, and I was wearing reindeer ears. I mean, who could ever say no to that sweet image?
The teenager working the cash register handed him an ax and a few yards of twine. My man was trapped and the only thing left to do was cut down a dam Christmas tree.
You know, I always imagined tree cutting as a quick process. Turns out, it’s not. It involves a lot of cursing, sap, dirty looks, and near severing of digits. During a few of his breaks from the chopping, I offered some quality time under the mistletoe to make up for his hard work. That offer may have been enticing at first, but even after we all yelled “timber,” his work was not done.
While December in Maryland tends to be quite chilly, that day felt more like spring. And this warmth was ever apparent from the sweat pouring off Aaron’s forehead and he dragged the tree past the other families. “Happy holidays!” I chirped to the other wives we passed, while my husband just mumbled some inaudible groans in solidarity to the other fellows chopping and dragging.
After our escapades in the Christmas tree farm I was banned from ever suggesting such ridiculous ideas when all I was willing to do was sit in the car and feed Goldfish crackers to the kids.
So this year I agreed to get the tree from the place that all you do is point and pay and they do the rest, and my husband agreed to a giant inflatable Santa for our front yard. Compromise
Peace has been restored in the universe and the Christmas season. Now if only I could get him to agree to an inflatable Rudolph.
Namaste, friends. Please, come into the little Zen Garden that is my home.
Why the sudden nirvana —and I don’t mean the Kurt Cobain kind? Well friends, this new enlightenment stems from my son’s nap. Actually, it’s the release of his nap that has me in perfect chi. Sounds absurd, right? I’m really thinking Oprah is just minutes from calling me to share my “A-ha!” moment on her network.
After months of fighting the inevitable, reading All The Books and following All The Rules of sleep, after years of glorious naps, I have finally let go of my son’s afternoon nap. And then “Poof,” the naps are gone. It’s as if they never existed. Life in my house is still going on without these naps. So why was I holding on for so long? I have a couple of theories.
I am a moron who likes to drive myself insane. Apparently I enjoyed fighting with my son (for over an hour) to take a nap (that would usually last 45 minutes). Each nap turned into an epic showdown, and each time I was the big loser. I rocked that kid, sang sweet songs to him, and tickled and rubbed his precious face and chubby arms. Then after an hour of this nonsense I started to unravel. My blood boiled and that crazed, exhausted mother that hasn’t stepped out of her yoga pants in days and cannot remember the last time she showered reared her scary face and unwashed hair. Nothing says slumber like a mother on the edge screaming “GO TO SLEEP BEFORE MOMMY LOSES IT!” Oh, honey, you already lost it.
When the naps were coming to an end, if my son napped at all, it was a lame, short nap, but when it was bedtime, he was ready to Party! Party! Party! No. Just no.
I love my kids more than life itself, but dear Lord, —enough “togetherness” time.
On the days I won the nap battle, I’d start skipping (quietly, very quietly) down the hall for a few glorious moments of freedom. But as if on cue, I’d hear my daughter waking up from her nap.
Their timing would be hilarious if I wasn’t so busy dropping to the floor to weep, and I may be hearing things but one of those tiny humans may have sang “You got bags under your eyes and I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a nap ain’t one.”
I held on to those naps far longer than I should have because of my inability to break our schedule. From the minute my son was born, I’ve been the queen of schedules, and that was the key to good naps—our schedule. That was the key to good night sleeping—our schedule. I followed all the rules:
1.Follow a routine
2.Keep the room dark
3.Speak only in whispers
4.Never post on Facebook that your kid is a fabulous sleeper because that angers the baby sleep gods and surely your kid will never sleep again.
Aren’t kids supposed to nap every day? May I remind you that I read All The Books and I never saw the chapter that said naps come to an end! What a cruel, cruel joke.
I was afraid of doing something wrong and messing up that sweet boy for life. If I let him stop napping too early would he always make questionable life choices? Would he end up living the streets with a sign that said,“If my mom had only made me nap, I wouldn’t be in this mess today. Strangers that would throw him change and judge me for my parenting choices. So in reality, I was making him nap to keep him from spiraling into a life of bad choices, right?
His daily nap was the last “baby” thing. I knew that at three and a half my boy wasn’t going to pack his bags, fall in love with some terrible girl that I hate, and move across the country, but he really isn’t a baby anymore. WAHHHHHHH!
Whatever my well intentioned but misguided reasons for holding on to the nap for too long were, I am happy to say that life got a lot better around here. I took my daughter upstairs for her nap and he headed to his room for “quiet time.” However, quiet time really didn’t last too long because he’d come downstairs to tell me that “daddy penguins take care of the eggs while the mommy penguin hunts.” Thanks, Captain Random.
So we’d do things that we couldn’t do while my hurricane daughter was awake, like play Candy Land 584 times, or color without her eating the crayons. So he and I would snuggle and play rather than me being so angry he wasn’t sleeping.
Cue the Oprah “A-ha!”
Even the nights were better because he was so exhausted, he couldn’t keep his eyes open past seven. I LOVE putting him to sleep. He’d fall asleep quickly in my arms, but I hold on to him for a few extra minutes, kiss his sweet, sweet face, and whisper in his ear “I am only this crazy because I love you and I don’t want you to end up on the streets…. or marry some awful girl.”
Remember this adorable viral video? The little girl desperately tries to strap herself into her carseat, and when her dad offers to help, she barks back “Worry about yourself!” Girlfriend was on to something!
Parenting in this day and age means you are inundated with people telling you how you should raise your children and judging every decision you make. As a mom, it’s virtually impossible to make it out of toddlerhood without falling victim to the dreaded Mommy Wars. But enough is enough.
Let’s all say it together “Worry about yourself!”
Rather than keeping up with every mom on the block or taking a single side of the judgy-wudgy Mommy Wars, let’s focus on what we are doing RIGHT as Moms.
I’ve often said if I can get my kids through adulthood not marrying someone I hate or doing crystal meth, I will call this parenting gig a success; however, I have to wait a long time for that payoff. So, I’m taking the little winning moments where I can get them and focus on Motherhood: How I Know I’m Doing it Right.
Friends, let me get all Oprah on you now.
Here’s what I know for sure: There is no one in this world who would do a better job of raising, loving, and caring for my son and my daughter. Just like there is no one that is a better Mom for your kids than you. So trust that and the choices you make over someone judging you for a position they are simply not qualified for.
Worry about yourself!
When I was a brand, spanking new blogger, I pitched an idea to NickMom and patiently waited for a response. Then I got one: A BIG FAT NO. That’s the thing about being a writer, you hear lots of “nos” all the time. I would venture to say we hear more nos than we do yes, but this particular no really bummed me out because I loved the site and wanted a spot on their contributor list.
So I boo-hooed for awhile, and planned on never pitching an idea to NickMom again. But recently I got a little inspiration from another writer that “no” really means “not now.” I love this idea: “no” really means “not now.” So I submitted another idea, NickMom said yes, and I did a roundhouse kick in the air and landed in a split because I was so stinking happy.
Like millions of other Royal Family fans, I stalked the internet, news stations, and gossip websites for the name of the new princess. I oohed and awwed at the first precious pictures of that sweet, little face, and was blown away by Duchess Kate’s grace, fantastic hair, and ability to pretend she wasn’t wearing mesh granny-panties under that dress. But I wanted to know her name! Just tell us already! And when we couldn’t wait a minute longer, they released her name and it was PERFECTION!
I have to wonder how much time and energy, maybe even a pow-wow in a war room in the palace, went into naming the new princess. Sure there are all sorts of rules that the future king and his lovely Duchess must take into consideration when naming their daughter, but was it anything like the ordeal I went through naming my boy?
Naming a baby is a lot of pressure. I mean what if you pick a name and the minute they hit elementary school, some creep makes up an awful nickname for the kid and THAT is the name that sticks–Like A-Man-Da-Hug-And-Kiss–like I haven’t heard that annoying name a million times before, jerks.
Maybe your kid will make it through school nickname-free but you just so happen to pick the most popular name that year and your kid’s name morphs into their first name and last initial–Nice to meet you, I’m Amanda M. because there are 10 of us.
Or what if you have nine whole months and hours of discussions about the perfect baby name but you find yourself waddling into the hospital to deliver a baby that has no name. NO NAME!
There were no personalized toys in our nursery or little signs with our first born’s name waiting for his arrival because no matter how many baby naming books or websites we checked, my husband and I could not agree on a name.
I’d love a name and my husband would hate it.
He’d suggest a name and I’d suggest divorce.
I’d mentioned a name to colleague and some moron would say something really stupid about the name and immediately they and that baby name were dead to me.
I’d always hoped for a Junior but my husband shut that idea down quickly. He felt like having a junior might be a lot of pressure or an annoyance for our boy because he shared his dad’s name. So that name got tossed onto the pile of other no-names like Greyson, Charlie, Ben, and Noah.
So here we were, in the hospital, holding our nameless bundle of joy and my husband says,”Well what about Preston? We both didn’t hate that name. Wait, why are you crying? What’s wrong??”
Through tears and wracking sobs I forced out “He’s NOT A PRESTON”
And on cue, enters the chipper nurse, “Do we have a name for this boy? You know, you can’t leave until he is named but you have up to a year to change his name!”
My husband’s eyebrow’s perked up at her last comment and I snarled at him over the head of our sleeping newborn.
We were going to be released in a few minutes, but our inability to name our baby made my blood pressure rise so high I had to stay in the hospital until it lowered to a safe level.
Husband: “Well that just gives us more time to name this kid, right?”
Husband: “Should we grab another baby book?”
Husband: “So, no?”
Me: “No. Just. Name. This. Kid.”
I threw the paper work at him, rolled over, and silently plotted his demise. A half hour later, he furiously scribbled on the social security form, folded it up and slid it over to me.
Aaron. Just like his daddy, my boy became my Aaron. And it was perfect.
So that sweet dark-haired and tan skinned baby that I brought home from the hospital, here’s who he became. So handsome, right? And soooo not a Preston. Just a perfect Aaron. My Aaron.
Friends, a few weeks ago we hit a very critical point in the year. Are you familiar with this:
I call this look “It’s barely spring and you need to wear pants for a few more weeks. So where are the higher socks?” Or maybe you know this style as as “Sweet Baby Jesus, kid! I wasn’t aware that surviving on mac and cheese and chocolate milk alone could make you have such long legs?”
Even though I swore that come hell or high waters I would NOT buy new pants that would only be worn for a few weeks before my kid breaks out his summer uniform, shorts and muscle shirt–yes, muscle shirts, the man is a firm believer in sun’s out, gun’s out–
I found myself hitting up the sale racks in search of pants of appropriate length; however, my main man has some specific requirements when it comes to pants. And friends, it’s getting a little tricky because all pants that enter his closet MUST meet the following description:
1. Pants with the color orange will be given preference before all others.
2. If it says “skinny leg” or has a more trendy name like like “rockstar” or “preppy,” it’s still a skinny leg and you need to walk away, Mom. Walk away.
3. And the most important rule: All pants purchased must be “comfy pants” i.e. pants without buttons, zippers, snaps, or clasps.
So at this point we are anti-jeans at all costs and have a closet full of active pants or basketball pants or lacrosse pants or whatever they name pants that don’t contain buttons or zippers.
On the particular chance that we have an event or a holiday that requires my boy to wear real pants, I approach my son with caution and a long list of reasons why real pants are the way to go. Negotiations ensure and they tend to be long winded and often end in tears and bribery. Usually I cave and allow corduroy or khakis.
But sometimes, friends I win these arguments and I have brief glimpses of the stylish dude I know is hiding behind those swishy, athletic pants. Seriously, his pants are so noisy I can always hear him sneaking up on me.
Sometimes when I get him all dress up I even get hilarious pictures like this! I call this picture “My mom made me wear pants”
Really I should be more understanding. After all, I spend most of my days in yoga pants and get a little grumpy when I have to wear real pants with buttons and zippers too. Apparently he gets his style trends from his Mama.
So point me in the direction of “comfy pants,” please. I’ve got a man with long legs and ankles that need to be covered for a few more weeks.
Well hey there, friend! Are you new around here? Did you wander on over after seeing my TLCme Life Hacks webseries or catch one of my appearances on the Today Show? Great, I like you already! We love new people over here at Questionable Choices in Parenting. Let me give you a quick tour.
I’m Amanda: Candy Land loser, yoga pants enthusiast, a mom of two, Life Hacks Expert, a Lifestyle/Mom/Family writer and personality. You’ll find a lot of my life hacks and parenting tips posts here or over at my other site AmandaMushro.com. You can see some of my TV appearances here!
Something important to note: I’m all about fun. Even if that means turning myself into a turkey for morning TV!
So stop and stay awhile! Check out my TLC webseries or check the Can You Hack Motherhood tab for my very best life hacks. If you want to giggle, click on the Laughs tab and check out some of my funniest posts. If you want something a little more heart warming, check out the Family tab.
I really love every part of my birthday. I love cake. I love being the center of attention for an entire day. I love using my birthday as an excuse to get out of things:
“Sorry, I can’t do laundry. It’s my birthday”
“Sorry, I can’t cook today. It’s my birthday.”
“Sorry, I can only eat cake All. Day. Long. It’s my birthday”
While I’ve never been one to get hung up on age, this particular birthday has given me reason to take pause and all because of a little box.
The other day I was filling out an application for something– I cannot remember what the application was for because momnesia, it’s real and it’s wicked– and when I went to “check the box for your age,” I paused because I realized, I was moving up a box! Normally I fall into 30-34 or the 27-34 box, but now I’m moving on up to the 35-40 box. Yikes! How did that happen?Really, at what point did my box officially become “mid-thirties” and closer to 40 than 25? 35, huh?
Really, I usually have no hangups about getting older, mainly because I’m too busy, frazzled, and exhausted to really contemplate age, but I was definitely taken aback. And to be honest, I don’t really know why.
So instead of feeling down in the dumps and being an emotional eater all day today, I’m going to think of all the awesome shit people did when they were 35. Like this:
Maybe all of these accomplishments will inspire me to simply eat all the cake out of joy and anticipation of what this year of life has in store for me– I already have a few fabulous things brewing personally and professionally, and did I mention I’m eating cake all day?
So this new box, it ain’t no thing because much like a fine wine, I get better with age. Which is ridiculous because I only drink cheap wine, but I digress.