Dear Lord, Not Another Birthday Party Invitation!

My kids are 12 and 8 and over the last eight years or so, I’m pretty sure between the two of them, they have been invited to and attended close to 50 birthday parties of classmates. In fact, I’m sure that number is a low estimate but for argument’s sake, let’s make it 50. Now of those 50 parties, how many do you think I have attended and how many do you think my husband has attended? Figure out the answer any way you’d like, percentages, decimal, fractions…whatever floats your boat. Got an estimate? Did you write it down? Good.
If you answered 100% for Mom and 0% for Dad, you’d be correct! Gold star! Yah!!!!!
I have been to every sugar infused, headache inducing, whine fest my kids have ever gone to. Every. Single. One.
When I was a naive new mother, I looked forward to birthday parties. When my oldest got his first birthday party invitation on cute little race car card stock in kindergarten, I said “Awwww” how cute…can’t wait! When the second and third and fourth followed shortly after, I wondered how on earth we would afford it, but still, thrilled that my child had this opportunity outside of school to interact with his peers. In fact, I looked forward to being able to socialize with parents outside of the school environment. It was going to be a fun Saturday afternoon.
Sucker.
First off, the party was a bowling alley which is fine in itself. But add a class (yes, the entire class) of five and six year olds (some let loose without parental supervision) hopped up on goodie bag candy and permission to throw heavy balls at things and you have a recipe for disaster. The poor mother of the birthday child looked like her hair was being pulled out by its roots as she dashed all over the place, keeping kids in line and making sure everyone had the right meal and the peanut allergic kid didn’t go near the cake she had made with peanut oil not knowing that the kid was allergic to peanuts. I didn’t want to bother her, so I glanced around to see who else I could pass the time speaking to.
You have a variety of parents at these parties, as I soon came to learn. First off, you “the clique”; mothers who have known each other for YEARS (sometimes because they have older children that have been in school together). These mothers will huddle together with their Starbucks, laughing and whispering amongst themselves. They will see the other parents scattered throughout the birthday party and ignore them completely. God forbid you should try to join in on the conversation or even ask them a question, they will glare at you like you are a complete moron. (I’d also like to point out if you encounter any of these moms on their OWN, they will latch onto you like a leech and pretend they are your best friend).
At every birthday party there’s Fun Mom who is literally on floor with the kids, thoroughly enjoying the birthday party. I mean, she’s REALLY into it. Maybe she likes to bowl or roller skate or play laser tag, but I wish she would stop because she’s making the rest of us look like the bad mommies we are, ignoring our children.
Nearby this mother is usually Photo Mom, the one snapping fifty million pictures of the kids in various poses, completely missing the point that this is a PARTY and the kids are supposed to be having FUN, not creating collages of them pretending to have fun. This mom is also present at all baby and wedding showers, stopping the mother to be/ bride after she opens every gift and getting a cheesy picture. She is singlehandedly responsible for making these showers four hours long. Fortunately, they stopped opening gifts at kids birthday parties years ago, foiling her attempts to extend the birthday party to a day and a half.
She actually better than Bragging Mom who catches your ear to tell you every wonderful thing her kid has done in the last month. If she could, she would probably gush about the fact her kid has regular, solidly formed bowel movements every day at 4pm. This is the mom whose kid will never do any wrong and it makes me nauseous because every time I’ve met the kid, he/she is a little $hit.
Then, you have Weirdo Mom, the one who brought her knitting and insists on trying to draw you into a conversation on the dangers of commercially manufactured shampoo. She wants you to join her group the next time they picket the styrofoam cup manufacturing plant. The piece of lint on your shirt suddenly becomes fascinating.
Next to her is Bored Mom, the one looking at her phone every thirty seconds in desperate hopes that something exciting has popped up on the screen since the last time she looked. She is avoiding human contact as best as she possibly can, sometimes fake writing a text message so that she doesn’t have to talk to the person who is approaching her with their mouth opened to speak. I must admit, that has become me lately, but mostly to avoid our next guest…Lone Dad.
Oh yeah. There’s always one and quite honestly, he should stick to talking to Weirdo Mom. But usually, I’m his lucky target as he yammers on about gardening or football dry wall or something manly. Even if I care about the subject or Lone Dad is actually interesting, I really, really don’t want to talk to him. Because when you’re talking to lone dad, the “clique” will eye you up like you’re planning on dragging the guy to the back of the room and making out with him. And you can be certain they will report it to his wife.
Even more amazingly, even if there is someone that I know at the birthday party and whose company I enjoy, for some reason, sitting at glow in the dark mini golf or Chuck E. Cheese renders me unable to carry out a coherent conversation. The noise level is too high or the lights are blinking, enticing me into a seizure. So I will usually sit for the excruciating long one and a half to two hours staring at a book or my iPad, desperately wishing I was anywhere but the birthday party.
Until it is time for us to depart with the fake smiles plastered on our face as my child clutches the goodie bag full of candy bought in bulk and plastic crap that will break before we even get home and remain under my backseat until summer.
In the next few weeks we have three birthday parties, all on Sundays, my day of rest. I begged the hubby to go, in exchange for a variety of favors (wink, wink). He wouldn’t bite. I’ve offered the kids money not to go. I’ve even considered hiding the invitations. But nothing works. So if you see me at one of those parties, just know, it probably isn’t coffee in that Starbucks cup and I’m not sharing. Go get your own.

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Will I Ever Have Nice things Again???

I’m looking around the house and it’s making me sad. I’m convinced I’m never going to have nice things. Oh sure, I can afford to go out and get nice things but that doesn’t seem to matter. Because once the things come into my house, they’re never nice again.
The kids are almost 9 and 13 and I have finally gotten to the point where I buy something, I show it to them with the caveat, please do not touch, break, destroy, etc. etc. and I have about a 50% chance that they will honor this request. I feel that percentage is likely to go up in the next few years (besides,of course, anything pertaining to the car). But it is not the children who are responsible for the majority of the destruction in our humble abode any longer. It is in fact, a furry, four legged resident that is slowly reducing my home to rubble.
Ever since we got married (17 loooooong years ago) we had cats. In fact, we STILL have one of those cats. Cats are notorious for clawing your crap. We discovered this the hard way by coming home one evening to find two of our cats hanging from the curtains like it was an amusement park ride. However, simple solution…declaw them.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…please don’t give me the bleeding heart in humane speech. I’ve heard it. What the cats did to my curtains was in humane. Besides the fact all of our cats have been indoor ones and they have no need for claws.
Cats also spew bodily fluids on places bodily fluids should not be. They pee on carpets when they are upset about something and hack up hair balls in your slippers (yes, I have slid my foot into a hairball lined slipper in the middle of the night). We had one cat who had explosive diarrhea and would completely miss the litter box 90% of the time.
Yet, for all their faults, cats cannot even BEGIN to scratch the surface on destruction like our newest addition to our family.
Colt is a 3 year old German Shepherd. In those three years, he has wrecked more havoc on our home than all our cats, our other dog and every child who has ever visited our house, combined. In fact, he probably broke that record in his first six months of life.
Colt is not an aggressive or vicious dog. He is a VERY happy dog. But he is also a BIG boy. He is almost 100 pounds and greets you with HIS ENTIRE BODY. He lumbers towards you full force, tail wagging, thrilled to death to see you. He loves you…he doesn’t care if he just met you, he can smell that he loves you from across the room. He will land on you and it doesn’t matter if you are a 400 pound body builder with the balance of a yoga instructor. He will flatten you. And then he will sniff your orafices with sheer olfactory delight. All of them.
When we first got him, he was very timid, scared to go up and down steps and scrawny and malnourished. He never chewed a thing and was on his best behavior…other than peeing and crapping 87 times a day in the kitchen. I remember being on my hands and knees scrubbing the grout in the floor with bleach at dawn…crying,”WHY have I done this to myself?” I cursed my moment of weakness when the children and the hubby batted their eyelashes at me and SWORE they would take care of him. For the record, apart from occasionally letting him outside, none of them have honored that promise. But it doesn’t matter, Colt only wants mommy to take care of him anyway. *sigh*
Colt is very needy. He’s whiny like a toddler and follows me around (nose literally up my a$$) like a hemorrhoid all day long. He scratches at the door and cries if I try to change my clothes alone in the bedroom and he waits for me at the bathroom door. He will bark at me and nudge persistently if I try to sit down on the couch and relax. No mommy, no break for you, chase me around the kitchen table! He lays ON me at night only to wake me up at 3 am to chase neighbor cats around our backyard. ( He’s very insistent about this…standing next to me and woofing quietly to wake me. He wouldn’t DREAM of waking up Daddy).
But I can put up with that. It’s the destruction I can’t take.
We had a tiny hole in the couch cushion, about the size of the point to a toy sword (hmmmm, suspicious). One day, I was getting dressed for work and I came downstairs to discover that tiny hole became a hole big enough to fit a person in. And, what’s more, the other two cushions were also people sized holes. The puppy, thrilled with the new toy he had created of cushion stuffing leapt around the living room, tossing that stuffing in the air. He had EATEN THE COUCH. We found the pooped out foam around the backyard for weeks.
Okay, okay, we learned our lesson, right. Nope. A few weeks later, on a beautiful 60 degree spring day, we left him outside with the other dog for an hour or so. He barked. He whined. He begged to come in. There was no reason for it, so we ignored him. Stupid us. I poked my head out the window sometime later and saw him trotting around the yard with what looked like a piece of siding. Yup…he ate the siding off the house.
He has chewed more shoes and boots than I care to think about and he has also munched his way through three or four comforters, countless stuffed animals and pillow. He has helped himself to a variety of garbage can cuisine including entire chicken carcasses and empty peanut butter jars. He has LITERALLY eaten my daughter’s homework on more than one occasion. He ate my husband’s brand new Cowboys hat that he never even wore once. Yesterday, my husband caught him with my eyeglasses. There is no rhyme or reason to his madness. He could ignore a pair of socks laying right next to him on the floor to go and take a library book off the kitchen table to snack on.
He’s laying on my new couch right now, smashing in the top cushion. It’s ruined. It’s never going back to the way it was. The sun is streaming in the window and I can clearly see his nose art all over the front window that I JUST cleaned. I just discovered a pair of my underwear that he took out of my hamper, all chewed up in a ball. He’s three and it’s not getting better. Everyone keeps telling me, “they grow out of it”. But I’ve resigned the fact that I have a perpetual toddler on my hands and…I’m never going to have anything nice again.

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Why I Hate Snow Days

It’s snowing…AGAIN

Author Heather Balog

I hate snow days. In fact, I loathe them. Okay, that’s a little harsh. I don’t actually LOATHE the day. It’s not the day off from school that I hate; in fact, getting a day to sleep in unexpectedly is wildly intoxicating. Not to mention the rare opportunity to get a jump start on cleaning, laundry, etc., etc. Even the kids being home isn’t the problem. The problem lies within that one word, SNOW.
Ugh, how I detest that word. Yes, yes, it’s pretty as it dances gracefully from the sky and we watch it all cozy in our jammies, clutching our mugs of hot cocoa and coffee. And we ooo and ahh as it lays on the ground in the moonlight untouched by footprints and tire tracks. But that’s where it ends. Because everything beyond that is just plain torture.
Oh, where to begin on why I hate the…

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Get Off Your A$$ and Stop Making Excuses

I know I’m going to tick people off with this blog but I’ve GOT to ask this question. Why do we have to give up ourselves to be considered good mothers? Why is it that mothers who take care of their own needs too are seen as “bad” by the rest of the world?
I just saw one of those annoying memes on Facebook, you know, the ones with cute pictures of puppies and babies and kitties with some witty saying allegedly by said puppy, kitty or baby? This one was a picture of a relatively newborn baby and it said “I know you won’t be able to wear your bikini again Mommy, but I promise you, I’m worth it.”
Really???
So let me get this straight. Motherhood instantly causes women to only be able to wear one piece bathing suits but that’s okay because you shouldn’t care anymore because your child is more important than anything else?? Ugh. Please excuse me while I throw up a little in my mouth.
I’m sorry, I find this deplorable. Yes, my children are THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in my life. As well they should be. But just because something is important doesn’t mean that you need to abandon everything in your own life for it. I have other things that make me who I am; writing, running, reading. I don’t want to give those things up just because I have children. Motherhood is all about learning how to balance those things. Abandoning any of those things would make me less of who I am. Of course if forced to make a decision between my children and never working out again, I would chose my children. But that’s not how life works, is it? It’s not black and white and all or nothing.
The “I will never fit in my jeans again, but it’s okay because I gave birth” excuse makes me spitting mad. You want to know why? Because it’s an EXCUSE. People who use this cop out are only doing it so they don’t have to feel bad that they won’t fit in their jeans again. They use their kids as an excuse why they’ve gotten out of shape and can’t get back to their old selves.
I know children change you and all of a sudden the seemingly superficial things don’t matter to mothers as much anymore. And what’s more, I know weight and how we look IS an incredibly superficial concept. But how we look IS important. It gives us self confidence and it is how the world sees us, like it or not. Even though we have much more important things on our plate, we SHOULD still care.
Why? First and foremost, being fit and in shape is important to being a good mother. Not only does being in good health mean you will be around longer for your children, it’s important for interacting with them. A mother who can chase after her toddler, play catch with her preschooler and roller blade with her middle schooler is a better mother than one sitting on the sidelines eating out of a fast food bag. And damn, it gives you energy to keep up with them. Even light exercise like walking the dog can improve your mood and make you feel less sluggish.
Sure, you don’t need to be in bikini shape to do those things, but why the hell not can’t you TRY?? Some mothers weren’t in bikini shape before they had children and that’s FINE. It’s NOT about being a supermodel or trying to fit in a size 6 dress when you always were a 10. It’s NOT about being this imaginary person you never were. It’s about staying true to who you were before you had kids and maybe even going out of your comfort zone to be better for them and for yourself. There is no law that says once you have a child, you are doomed to wear a mumu and cover up to the local pool for the rest of your life. And don’t shake your head and say “it’s okay, I’m a mom now, those rolls that are getting out of control don’t matter”. Screw that! Being a mom doesn’t mean you have to give up being a PERSON! That fun, smart, sexy person your husband, boyfriend, partner, whoever fell in love with. You’re not only sacrificing yourself when you throw in the towel, you’re saying they don’t matter either. For some people, weight loss is a huge struggle and I get that. But don’t give up on yourself and use your kids as the excuse to do it.
As you may have figured out, I didn’t throw in the towel after having kids. I work out several hours a week. And yes, it’s hard to fit it in and many times I don’t want to, but I make time because I know it’s important. I wake up at 5:30 and go to spin class. I run on the weekends. I go to Boot Camp with my husband and my son. It would be easier to hit that snooze alarm or not lace up my running shoes and sit on the couch with a half gallon of ice cream instead. I could say, “hey, I can do this, I’m a Mom remember? I don’t matter anymore”. Sure is easier to do that, right? There’s a million excuses I could use; too tired, too busy, too much housework. I have a friend who has two kids, works full time and still managed to lose half her body weight in the last two years. How are those excuses looking now?

I don’t do it just for myself even though the benefits of exercise and taking care of myself are very rewarding. I do it for them, too. I do it so that my son sees you can accomplish your goals, that age and ailments and disabilities are not an excuse. Not just in health, but in anything you dream of. I do it so that my husband has a wife he can be proud of, one he can introduce to people and not be embarrassed of. I do it so my daughter doesn’t hear the words, “oh God, I’m so fat” come out of my mouth like I heard constantly out of my own mother and grandmother’s mouths and become self conscious about her weight at age 8. I do it so that I can still be 24 years old and feel like I did when my children weren’t the most important thing in my world. I do it to relieve stress and burn off steam. And you know what? That doesn’t make me a bad mom…it just makes me a mom without excuses.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the Victoria’s Secret catalog just came and I’ve been looking for a bikini.

Motherhood is a Bowl Full of Cherries…Laced With Arsenic

       Kids are a lot like a Christmas gift wrapped in barbed wire. Or a cuddly puppy that pees all over your foot. Or a box of chocolates with a bite out of each piece. Like every other mother on the planet, I find my kids are my greatest joy but they are also my biggest source of frustration. There are days, usually when I am popping TUMS from the constant heart burn, when I wonder why I had them in the first place. I stare at my house in disarray, my eyes blood shot from lack of sleep and running here there and everywhere, my laundry piled to the ceiling, the finger prints all over my windows and the 350 half full bottles of water collecting in the back of my car and wonder if life wouldn’t be easier without them.
Yes dear reader, gasp, clutch your chest and exclaim, “Oh my goodness! How could you even think such a thing! Children are a blessing!”. Yes, yes, they are but I am just being honest here. If you don’t see the truth in those statements you are either  A. a parent who is trying to pretend you’re perfect B. in complete denial C. pregnant with your first child D. don’t have children at all. There is no mother alive who doesn’t look at her life and wish she could run away from it. At least for an afternoon. You can’t say you haven’t stared longingly out the window at your car and thought, “I have a full tank of gas and $100 stuffed in my underwear drawer. I could get to the boarder before they even know I’m gone.”
Please understand, I am grateful for my children. I truly am. I KNOW there are people who desperately want a child or another child and can’t have them. In fact, I WAS one of those people. I understand it’s heartbreaking and this blog is in no way meant to diminish their pain. It is simply a realistic assessment of the average woman’s love/hate relationship with motherhood.
As newlyweds, my husband and I discussed kids. Back then, I wanted four or five and he wanted two. He won and it’s not because he is the dominant one in our relationship. (***Snicker*** that’s a pretty funny thought.) The reason he won that battle is because I realized, after having two children, if we added any more into that mix, hubby would be driving me to the nice hospital with the padded rooms.
“Oh please!” You are thinking. “It’s not that bad!” Of course it’s not that bad…all the time.   But there are days when I fantasize what it would feel like if I had chosen a different path. I wonder what it would feel like to come home to a clean house. One that didn’t threaten to incapacitate my feet with Lego traps and those tiny little plastic doll shoes that you don’t see until it is too late. A house without glasses of apple juice stuck to my end table and candy wrappers scattered under the bed. A place that didn’t have hundreds of thousands of poppy seeds scattered all over the kitchen floor (don’t ask). A place where the only piles laundry would be those that I chose to create by changing MY clothes fifty times a day; the only dirty dishes in the sink would be from food I ate (or my husband…I’d let him eat, too I guess).
My fantasy doesn’t end there. In my dreams the only schedule I would be balancing would be my own, my evenings not spent dashing from football practice to gymnastics class and gulping down meals that can be eaten in the car. Rather, they’d be spent leisurely sipping wine over quiet meals and movies without animated characters. I wouldn’t have to repeat myself  a thousand times a day or have someone talk back to me or scream they hate me when they don’t get their way. The only “whine” in the house would be fermented grapes in bottles. I’d read a book without being interrupted every paragraph and I’d be able to form a coherent thought and articulate it without stammering. I’d carry on phone conversations that didn’t end with the phrase, “gotta go, she’s putting something in her nose” or “oh my God how did you get up there?”.
Our summer vacations wouldn’t revolve around the tricky game of “when will baseball end and football begin?”. We could go to couples only vacation destinations (ones without characters in costumes) and not have to listen to other people’s ill tempered children pitching a fit in the hotel room next to ours or being splashed by some unruly brat in the pool. We wouldn’t need a sitter when we both wanted to go out. We would have TIME, oh so much time, to stop and smell the roses.
Every time I have this fantasy, I am shaken awake by a blood curdling scream or insistent tapping on my shoulder or pulling on my leg. It is then when I realize that this dream world I envisioned, the one with lots of rose smelling, sounds like quite a lonely one.
By getting rid of all the negative parts of motherhood, I lose the positives. The laughter, the goodnight kisses, the “mommy I love you”s, the cuddles during an animated movie (which I have an excuse to indulge in). Even the smears and smudges and messes would be missed. Because it’s the disarray that  reminds me that our house is a home, occupied by real people who live and laugh and yes, even argue. There’s clutter and I can’t find anything but is having a clean house really living anyway? I wouldn’t get to play hide and seek every time I need something. And seriously, where’s the challenge in that? I make that pledge to myself to enjoy this time of utter chaos. It is fleeting and before I know it, I will find myself surrounded by a clean house once again.

Why I Hate Snow Days

I hate snow days. In fact, I loathe them. Okay, that’s a little harsh. I don’t actually LOATHE the day. It’s not the day off from school that I hate; in fact, getting a day to sleep in unexpectedly is wildly intoxicating. Not to mention the rare opportunity to get a jump start on cleaning, laundry, etc., etc. Even the kids being home isn’t the problem. The problem lies within that one word, SNOW.
Ugh, how I detest that word. Yes, yes, it’s pretty as it dances gracefully from the sky and we watch it all cozy in our jammies, clutching our mugs of hot cocoa and coffee. And we ooo and ahh as it lays on the ground in the moonlight untouched by footprints and tire tracks. But that’s where it ends. Because everything beyond that is just plain torture.
Oh, where to begin on why I hate the snow. Okay, first of, it’s cold. Yeah, I know, duh, of course it’s cold. But you must not understand, cold and I don’t mix. I am a beach lovin, poolside loungin, margarita sippin, flip flop wearin, heat miser. I like it hot. The hotter the better. I consider any temperature less than 70 degrees, frigid. Apparently, I was born in the wrong season, my birthday being in January. I also hate January, by the way. Way too much snow. And cold.
Secondly, snow is messy. Well, not the snow itself. The salt and sand and the kitty litter everyone throws down is messy. And it gets tracked into my house, eating up my new hardwood floors. Sure, I’ve screamed and ranted and raved “Take your shoes off at the door!”. I’ve put towels out and left slippers for them at the entrance. Do you think that matters? Of course not. The kids all just step over them and tromp all over the house, melting ice and evil salt dropping off their shoes en masse. And I scream like a lunatic and drop to my knees with a rag trying in vain to save my precious floor while they stare at me like I’ve recently escaped the insane asylum. Which is exactly what I feel like when it snows.
Then of course, there’s the whole “mommy can I play in the snow” to begin with. That sentence makes me cringe like no other on the planet. This morning, I heard my daughter approaching me from behind in a stealth manner that could only mean one thing. I ignored her the first time she said it, closing my eyes just like our cat does when she doesn’t want you to see her. Maybe if I close my eyes tight enough, the kid wouldn’t see me.
Nope. She found me and started tapping me. “Mommy? Mommy? I want to go play in the snow.” I kept my eyes closed even tighter. Maybe she would walk away and forget about the whole thing.
No such luck. She began to shake me and shout in my ear. “Mommy did you HEAR me? I want to play outside!”
I threw my hands up in the air and wailed, “But why?”. Because I know exactly how this is going to go down. We will spend 17 minutes looking for a matching pair of gloves that the dog has not chewed a hole in. We will spend 8 minutes arguing over hat versus earmuffs. (I will win that argument and she will wear both…it was 5 degrees this morning). We will spend another 6 minutes in an argument about a scarf in which I will also be victorious, but only initially. I will find the half chewed scarf in the yard in April. After that, we will spend 11 minutes stuffing her into her snow pants which she has grown out of since last winter and then another 9 working on the boots for a grand total of 51 minutes in preparation to go outside. I will then shove her out the door because I don’t do cold. After fifteen years of shoveling, I finally have a kid old enough to do it for me when the hubby is at work so technically, there is absolutely no reason for me to even step foot out the door. I have remote start and for a price, the kid will even clean off my car.
Anyway, remember how long I said it took to get the little one ready to go outside? Subtract 42 from that number and that’s how long she will stay outside. Which makes a hour out of my life that I will never get back again. AND she will track snow through the house as she seeks me out to stop what I’m doing (most likely shoving the previous batch of wet snow clothes in the dryer) in order to demand hot chocolate. Which is why I suspect is the only reason she wants to go outside to begin with. What’s more, we will repeat that process at least four more times on a snow day.
I’m looking at my friends’ pictures on Facebook as I sit in my cozy, warm house. Most of them are sledding or building a snowman with their kids and everyone is smiling and happy with their blue lips and pink cheeks. I feel a twinge of guilt about being a bad mommy because I refuse to play in the snow. Mommy doesn’t want to make a snowman or sled down a freaking hill at dizzying speeds. I don’t want my hands or feet or nose or any other vital part of my anatomy wet and frozen. But then I think, I’m a summer girl. I’m not a bad mommy in the summer. I’ll take you to the ocean and splash in the waves with you any day. I’ll play Marco Polo in the pool and run through sprinkler with you. We can build a sand castle or dig to China on the beach if you’d like. But please, dear child, don’t ask me to go outside with you in the snow. Shouldn’t you be in school, anyway?