Archive for March, 2008

Free time to Do More!

Monday, March 31st, 2008

This morning on my way to work I heard a radio commercial that ended with this sentence:

“It will give you free time to be more productive!”

That stuck in my head all day.

No.

No.

No!

Free time to rest. Free time to recuperate and gather up your energy for the next mission. Free time to do something you love. NOT to be productive!

The Best Time-Outs, Ever

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I’d like to explore the very best time-outs that I have taken or would like to take for myself.

This is important to do right now because I am FREAKING OUT. Why, you may ask, am I freaking out? Probably for the very same reasons you feel overwhelmed: an incredible amount of work (thank god it’s interesting!), three kids with three sets of issues (thank god I adore them), a grumpy husband (thank god he’s so great), a craaaaazy household that is in total disarray because of huge plumbing issues, and the biggest to-do list I think I have ever had in my entire life.

Okay, enough whining. Things are good, life is good. It’s just very, very full. So let me dream for a moment.

  • lying in the sun reading a book
  • running on a cool summer evening
  •  doing yoga and wanting the quiet time at the end to go on forever
  • getting a killer backrub
  • going to the ice cream store with the kids
  • sitting at dinner listening to their stories, and not having to rush them for bedtime
  • going out for a drink with my friends
  • cooking a delicious meal (I usually hate cooking)
  • having my hair blow dried
  • organizing my day so I don’t have to rush for anything (not technically a time-out, but relaxing nonetheless)
  • going to a really great movie
  • talking about it afterwards with someone who’s into movies
  • cuddling a tiny baby
  • lying on a beach in Jamaica

Sound good? Care to join me?

Homework

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

It’s 6:30pm.

I have sooooo much work to do.

My nine-year-old is sitting in the kitchen, supposedly doing her homework. She is probably watching her hair grow.

I feel guilty because I haven’t checked on her since my babysitter left half an hour ago.

Oh boy, the guilt… and work… never seem to stop! I think tonight I will watch my favorite show (In Treatment!) and give myself a mental break.

And for right now? Down to the kitchen, and on with homework.

School Blues

Monday, March 24th, 2008

We made it home from FL to MA in one piece. 21 hours, four pit stops, five movies, and a lot of down time! (I read a whole book!) It was actually kind of relaxing.

But now that we’re home and my son is back in school, I feel miserable. Why? Because he‘s miserable! It’s amazing how our own happiness and sense of peace is tied in with how our kids feel. It’s so hard to feel great when you’re kids are having a tough time. As a mother, you feel responsible for their happiness: if you can see a smile on their faces, you feel good… and when they’re down you feel you should be able to do something to make them feel up again.

Well, truth is, sometimes you just can’t. Especially as children get older (mine is a teenager now), you just don’t have that kind of control over their spirits. You have to learn to let go of that sense of responsibility and let them work through their feelings. I think often of a really helpful book I read called “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk.” It taught me how to respond: to nod, to repeat words my kid is saying, to validate their feelings and to SHUT UP ABOUT OFFERING SOLUTIONS.

“Sorry you’re bummed out about school starting up,” instead of “Look, everyone has to work! Can’t you just buck up?”

“I bet you wish you could be on holiday forever,” instead of, “But you had a great holiday… be happy for your good fortune!”

“It’s tough getting back to work, isn’t it?” instead of “Try to get over it. Life isn’t one long party!”

Moms don’t always have solutions to every problem. I’m trying hard to shake off that sense of melancholy I developed  by switching my mind to something else. And then, when my son gets home from school tonight, I’ll have a nice dinner for him and some relaxed family time.

He’ll still have to brace himself for homework, but, you know what? That’s life!

Togetherness

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Tomorrow we get in the car at 5 am and drive all day. The next day we do the same. Sometime Saturday, we’ll make it back to the frigid North East. It is 78 degrees here in Miami, and in the 30’s in Dedham. Need I say more? We’re looking forward to some serious car-time togetherness. For an insight into how I feel about driving, take a look at this link.

I’m doing this for my husband, the man who tolerates so many of my foibles. It’s his turn now–he gets to live his dream. He gets to drive. He gets to read the map and discuss the route endlessly. He gets to calculate speed and mileage, and how much we’ll spend on gas. He gets to do all those fun things, and spend 24+ hours in the car. And me… hmmmmm….. I think he owes me big time, whaddya think?

Screech!

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

So… the happy holiday train has come to a screeching halt (I’ve been so self-satisfied this past week, I wouldn’t blame you if you’re secretly delighted to hear that).

Today my nine year old pitched a dramatic, and I mean a Lawrence Olivier-worthy fit while we were trying to get ready to go on a picnic. This picnic involved us all being on bicycles–which we begged borrowed, stole, pumped up, broke (by accident) and re-adjusted over the past 24 hours.

But the readjusting did not suit Svenja. There were things about the situation that she didn’t like: for instance, the fact that we wanted her to get on a bike. A big bike. A bike for a ten year old. She prefers tiny bikes for tots on which she pedals like crazy and gets exhausted after five minutes. So we’re trying to persuade her that this bike is actually the right size for her and that she can do it! Yes she can! And she is busy sobbing, screaming, throwing herself on the filthy black tarmac and basically looking adorable and abused.

People in the garage area are slowing down to watch.  An old lady looks at me with a scowl and says, “You don’t want to put her on a bike that’s too big! She could hurt herself!” A man stares at me and says, “Why’s the little girl crying?” (What he meant was, “What kind of monster are you?”).

What do you think happened? Did we pedal off on our family picnic, all of us happy and smiling, or did we give in to our little monster? Did Svenja have her own chauffeur-driven picnic excursion just so we could ENJOY SOME FAMILY DOWN-TIME?

Taking a Time Out to Read

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Okay, so we’re on vacation. That’s usually a time when you can indulge a little and crack open a book or two. Or, well… in my case, three of four. I just can’t get enough of books. Reading helps me relax, it stimulates my imagination and I find it utterly engrossing. Eventually Kevin gets sick of seeing my nose buried in the pages and starts making comments like “Get a life,” and “Hey, remember me?” but I do a pretty good job of ignoring him.

So yesterday I rushed to get back to my book (the new Jeffrey Archer bestseller) and yelled to the kids over my shoulder as I scampered off to my room, “And, kids!  It’s time for you guys to read too!”

Half an hour later I started feeling guilty. Bet they’re on the computer, I thought. Better check on them. Not fair to ignore them totally now, is it? So I head into the hallway. All is deathly quiet. I peak into their rooms. All three of them are lying on their beds. Each one has a book propped open. EACH CHILD IS QUIETLY READING. Yes, reading. Quietly! So I go right back to my novel, guilt gone, feeling pretty darn happy.

Family Down Time

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Yesterday we were walking down the street after lunch, heading toward the 7-Eleven to get ice creams. Since the kids were tiny, every time we visit my parents here in Florida, this has been a tradition.

So, I’m walking along with “Tiny” (ie. Svenja) running ahead, hair flapping, blistered, bare white feet slapping the sticky pavement. Greta is bouncing along, oblivious to the stares from the men at the Cuban coffee joint (mental note to self: talk with her again about… well… about MEN).  And little Peter (who we have determined we can’t call little Peter anymore since he is now bigger than Big Peter, my father) comes up to me and grabs my arm.

“You’re a little flubby today, Mami,” he says.

Flubby? I think. I decide to ignore what I perceive as a criticism.

Peter starts waving my arm around like it’s a baton, grasping it in two hands. “How come you’re so soft, Mami?” he asks. “Your skin is just so soft.”

I realize flubby wasn’t a criticism. I imagine him as a grown man, and I think suddenly, I bet he’ll like soft women. I realize that my 14 year old, gargantuan son has hooked his arm in mine and is walking down the street, basically holding my hand. Family down time. Is anything in the world better?

Thanks!

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

We’ve been inundated with e-mails and phone calls since our website went live–thank you all soooo much. Your excitement and energy feeds ours! The best compliment we’ve gotten so far is that people read our site and immediately feel their spirits lift.That is a real coup for us! What more could we want than to give modern moms hope and encouragement, and validate their desire to be the best women and best mothers they can be?We love hearing from you. It’s your stories–your insights and experiences–that gave our book its backbone. So keep calling, writing, e-mailing… fill out a “contact us” form or blog with questions or comments. Tell us what you think and feel. We love your stories and your insights, keep ‘em coming.

Car Trip

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

1,000’s of miles. Countless hours. Maps, food, winter jackets crumpled deep into the corners as the temperature rises. Heading south toward greenery, heat and rest.

From the back:”Mami, in two hours will we be in Florida?”

“No sweetie, in two days.”

The middle one: “Mami, can we stop to get some FOOD?”

“No, hon, Papa packed egg salad sandwiches.”Groans all around.

Someone murmurs: smells like farts.

It’s been a while since the five of us have been alone like this. We’re having a blast. Being together in a miniscule space, traversing one tiny section of this gigantic country, laughing and crying at American Idol at night, trying to explain what the Governor of NY has been up to, pointing out the trees beginning to bloom, negotiating pit stops and souvenirs and how many ice creams/bags of cheese doodles it takes before you start to feel really, really, really sick (as opposed to just sick)…. this is the stuff of life.

I wouldn’t miss it for anything.