Life in General

Have you checked your handbag lately?

EF90678B-E4F8-4D6F-BC05-C417DA04D786I’m at a red light, looking for my lipstick. I know this light will last for over a minute, and that’s more than enough time to feel for my lipstick and quickly put it on, a time-saving mommy trick when free minutes are few and far apart.

I start digging through my handbag and feel a round small container…what is that!? It’s definitely not my lipstick and not my wallet either…I pull it out and give it a quick glance.

Nutmeg.

McCormick nutmeg, to be exact.

Um, yeah, nutmeg.

And I even remember how it got there.

I had dashed into Walmart to buy a few things, and having finally reached the stage of having a child old enough to stay in the van with my baby (with the windows slightly open on a nice brisk day!) I had the luxury to park and run into the store, alone, skipping the many minutes it takes to disconnect the carseat, lug it over to a cart, hoist it safely and securely into the cart, discover after a few feet of pushing that it is the squeekiest and rickitiest cart in the store and therefore go back and switch it, once again hauling the backbreaking car seat out and in, and then finally make my way with my oversized vehicle through the aisles. This time, I just hopped out of the car, ran into the store, grabbed a cart and zipped through the store in no time. Boy did I earn this!

I needed diapers in size 4,5 and 6. I stacked the cart with the three jumbo boxes and passed the fall baking display, and that was when I saw the nutmeg. And I remembered that I was out of it. I added it to my cart, did the self checkout (which for sure saved me at least 40 seconds) and decided not to splurge on the 10 cent shopping bag just for my little nutmeg. So I dumped it into my handbag, and wheeled the cartful of diapers to the van. And that was the last I had thought about the nutmeg, until that moment at the red light.

And the truth is, there’s lots of other miscellaneous and equally misplaced items in my handbag.

Two lego guys, one lego head and a tiny workerman’s hat. Don’t ask me why.

Three Sharpie markers, weapons of mass destruction, that I had had to quickly get out of sight and therefore dumped into the closest and  safest out-of-reach spot – my handbag.

A tube of glitter – Why haven’t I destroyed it already?? – was hastily added there when I needed to get it out of sight immediately.

Two light up menorah necklaces. The type that has those little button batteries that I’ve read way too many terrifying articles about, so when I see any toy with those batteries out in the open, I get rid of the item, regardless of how well sealed the battery compartment is. Reading too many articles about anything can do that to you. And  I guess when I had spotted them, my handbag was the closest and safest spot.

A sheet of four stickers from Trader Joe’s.

Receipts. For food and diapers. Food we ate. Diapers we used. Items we can’t return. Receipts I do not need.

Sticky…argh lollipop stick. I don’t even eat lollipops.

One laffy taffy. Hard as a rock. I haven’t eaten a laffy taffy in about 10 years. I must’ve found it somewhere and wanted to make it disappear real quick so I dumped it in my bag.

A ziploc bag with 12 foreign coins. I don’t collect coins. My 9 year old does. And I guess he also knows where to store valuables so that they stay safe.

Three grey baby socks. There’s nothing particularly symbolic about having three of them together … I assume that’s just the amount of stray socks I’ve found in the car over the last week.

Two glow sticks. The glow part is gone, but the stick still remains, a memory of a Chanukah menorah lighting, and I vaguely remember one of my kids stuffing it into my bag so he shouldn’t lose it at the event.

The untrained eye might mistake my bag for one big clutter mess.

Truthfully, sometimes I do too.

And I decide that that’s it, I’m getting a smaller handbag so that it simply can’t hold that much.

And then I get a smaller one and after not having enough space, I decide I really need a bigger one.

And then after having a bigger one for a while, I decide I must get a smaller one …

You get the idea.

But here’s the truth – if there’s anything that shows what life as a mom is, it’s my handbag. There’s love and tears and trust and secrecy and safety all held together with sticky wrappers and tissues. My wallet, my license, my identity all safely zipped in, surrounded by so much trust and love and spice … like nutmeg. Every handbag has a story. Next time you have that extra minute at a red light, check out what goodies you have in yours.

 

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Life in General

The Mommy report card

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Probation.

My two year old is on probation.

Well, she didn’t actually use those words. But I’m pretty good at reading between the lines.

The preschool director is really a good friend of mine. I know she would do anything to help me and make my life easier. But she was stuck.

My adorable and mischievous two year old was making life in the toddler class very difficult for his teachers. And no form of discipline was working.

So maybe he needed a break from school…

I couldn’t argue much because I knew  exactly what they meant. When I blink, he’s on the counter.

If I blow my nose, it costs me a bag of cereal spread across the floor.

He’s the second of all my kids to master climbing out of his crib before he should be.

But you see, he’s the happiest kid around. He doesn’t even know what the word tantrum means. Because life is FUN and he doesn’t want to waste even one minute of fun to have a boring tantrum.

And his smile. He’s a charmer. He knows how to put on the sweet as sugar smile with the matching tone to shout “Mo-mmyyy!” as soon as he sees me in the morning. He makes my heart melt.

But he’s the reason that every cabinet, refrigerator and door handle in the house has a lock.

And now the preschool was telling me that he was on probation. If he couldn’t follow the rules, he would need to take the month off.

I try to get control of my thoughts.

He’s on probation, not me.

So then why do i feel like I’ve been given the dunce cap?

Why do I feel like I just got a big fat red F on my mommy report card?

Hold on a second! I tell myself.

This is not your first child!

You’ve already proven yourself to yourself.

This is your 8th child you are raising through the lovely toddler years, with the ninth to follow not far behind.

You’ve done this before without probation!

This is not an F!

So then … why does it feel like it is?

I make a mental note to speak to my husband about it later when the house will finally  quiet down.

Eventually they’re all asleep.

I start quizzing my husband.

You think we messed up with this one? Was I not strict enough? Did I do something different?

My husband is pretty amused. Something tells me I’ve put him through this string of questions before…

He assures me that there’s this thing called P-E-R-S-O-N-A-L-I-T-Y. And it’s something you’re born with. And this two year old was born with a lot of it. And it has nothing to do with him or me or my husband or his siblings. This is his nature, not a result of nurture.

I know he’s right. But it’s so hard to separate myself from it!

It’s an interesting phenomena.

When our kids achieve successes we want, we pat ourselves on the back.

But if we take credit for their successes, then that means we are to blame for their failures too.

And I disagree with both. The lines often get blurred and there’s something we easily forget.

Each child is their own person. Their. Own. Person. Not a copy of ourselves. Not an outlet for everything we meant to do as a kid. Not a make-up for what we missed out on while growing up. But their own person. Their successes are theirs. And so are their failures.

We are the cheering squad. We encourage, we guide, we lead by example.

But the outcome?

It’s not our report card. It never was and it never should be. Because if it is, then we’ve really missed the point. I know it’s not possible for me to really be there and help any of my children if all I’m seeing in them is me.

I need to see them for who they are and help them be the best version of themselves. And I need to be OK with them not fitting the mold I want to stick them into.

My toddler is on probation. Not me.

He’s adorable. And he was born with a personality and energy that surpasses mine. And it will serve him well through life. 

Right now, his preschool teacher can’t handle him. There is no report card.

And that’s life. We’ll figure it out. He’ll be ok, and so will I.

Life in General

Boys will be boys…and maybe that’s ok!

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The house is spotless and I try to hold on to this weekly moment in time – the minute after my house cleaner leaves and the seconds before the kids sail through the door; the moment when every toy is away, the counters are bare and sparkling and the floors are swept and mopped – and the smell of shabbos is in the air.
Cooking is done. Challahs are ready. And there’s actually some time to just enjoy the Friday afternoon.
I happily realize that I will be getting more than just a mere 20 seconds of quiet and a clean house; since the sun is shining and the rain has finally stopped, the kids decide it’s a perfect day to play outside.
I couldn’t agree more!

Continue reading “Boys will be boys…and maybe that’s ok!”

Life in General

Book Review – Is It Shabbos Yet?

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If you have little kids, chances are you can recite the book “Is It Shabbos Yet?” quicker than you can remember your cell number.
I’ve been reading it out loud for 13 years now and I offer you my personal book review.
It starts off with sweet little Malkie waking up Friday morning and wanting to know if it’s Shabbos yet – to which her mother says not yet, first we have to go shopping.
Now, in this day and age, we all know the power of the written word on little impressionable minds.
Do you understand what we are teaching our kids here??

Continue reading “Book Review – Is It Shabbos Yet?”

Life in General

It used to be MY kitchen…

 

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I used to be in charge of my kitchen. It was my domain; simply put, I ruled it.

My husband does some frying and creative cooking but ultimately; I have full control.

Or had.

Until  the kids got bigger.

The joy of not having to make lunch for everyone – they can do it themselves! Oh yeah, I’m was determined not to spoil them. These kids I’m raising, I want them to know how to make their own breakfast or lunch and clean up after themselves. I’m a proud non-helicopter mom; I foster independence! And my boys-their lucky wives!

I watch admiringly and feel quite proud as my older 5 hustle around the kitchen, preparing their lunch menus.

And they are quite creative, complete with secret recipes and sriracha sauce.

I sit on the couch and stare, and then it hits me.

Who’s cleaning up?

I know they will attempt to. Of course, I’ve taught them how to clean up after themselves.

But I also know that it is I who will pick up the slack.

And suddenly it’s not so exciting anymore.

I look at the counters; there’s the panini maker, the pop-up toaster, the Ninja blender, the can opener, 2 cutting boards, three knives and half a dozen egg shells. 

My 6 year old is making his secret tuna recipe that includes every squeeze bottle from the refrigerator,  my 7 year old has some avocado concoction going on with half my spice cabinet, my 9 year old is making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, my daughter is peeling potatoes and my 12 year old, whose appetite seems to be growing by the hour, is making a protein smoothie, 2 bagel sandwiches and some other things I can’t keep track of. And someone is opening sardines.

Sure I’m proud of them; and amazingly overwhelmed with the action in what used to be my kitchen.

I want them to do this; but do they have to use every utensil I own? And appliance?

I hold back from at least 2 dozen “don’t forget to clean up” reminders; I don’t want to spoil their excitement. And independence.

But I don’t want to be left cleaning up sardine spills, it’s my absolute pet peeve!

I look at my 2 little ones happily munching on cream cheese sandwiches that I made for them with the use of only a plastic knife. So simple! Suddenly I’m having second thoughts about this independence thing..Maybe being a helicopter mom isn’t so bad after all…

I know they’ll clean up.

I know there will be slight oversights that I’ll be dealing with. Yucky ones. 

I want them to this.  But I want my kitchen the way I want it.

I don’t want them to be asking me to make their sandwiches. But I don’t want to be cleaning 12 bowls and 14 forks that only 5 people used!

I know the answer. I know what I have to do.

Like everything else in motherhood.

We give. We teach. We hope. We pray. And most important of all, we learn to let go.

To let go of things being the way I want. Letting go of the reins and letting them be their own little selves.

Even at the price of my kitchen.