Why I Hate Playdates

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I even hate the word “playdate.” I don’t think any dates should be involved in playing. Kids should just play. Preferably outside or at somebody else’s house.

Whatever happened to being locked out of your house by your mother and forced to play with your only sibling on the rusty swing set out back?

Growing up, every Saturday of my life until I left home for college was exactly the same. My sister and I would get up around dawn, watch the Smurfs and The Flintstones, and trash the basement. At a reasonable hour my mom would call us up for breakfast, which signaled the end of our weekend. Breakfast was immediately followed by chores.

We’d be sent downstairs (protesting was not an option) to deconstruct the sprawling Barbie village we had lovingly and painstakingly erected that morning. Then we’d dust and Windex every item of furniture in our rooms, mop and vacuum before we were rewarded by being locked out of the house to play.

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Those are memories my children will not share.

Instead, they will remember arranged and orchestrated play time. Certainly, my first child will, because with her I was all about the playdate. I joined every playgroup in Essex County and was willing to travel to others. I sought support and intelligent conversation. But what I found was more akin to peace negotiations between very demanding and unreasonable little despots, as well as detailed, lengthy dialogues on the best sippy cups or jogging strollers on the market.

The entire two-hour (the typical playdate period) time slot was spent roving around behind the kids, cleaning up smashed goldfish and fetching additional toys, when all I really wanted to do was lie on the couch, sip a cocktail and commiserate with other moms. Oddly, none of the moms seemed up for commiserating, and there was an implication that 10 a.m. was a little too early for cocktails. I was willing to wait until 11, but the breakfast-happy-hour idea never took off.

Then, there are the playdates to which I never consented. On more than one occasion — and I’m still unsure as to how this happened — playdates to which I never extended an invitation took place at my house. A kid would invite my daughter to play. I would grant permission, and then the kid’s mother would turn to me and ask what time she should pick her kid up. What? The rule is if you invite, you host.

I presumed the parents were unaware of the invitation their child made, as kids like to plan all sorts of things without consulting adults, but then there was the time a parent asked me point-blank if my son would like to have a playdate with her son at my house. Just like that, too. I stammered for a minute, trying to process the question, before I had to ask her to repeat it. I thought I must have heard it wrong. But no, she did, in fact, invite her son to my house. I had to decline.

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Then the day finally came when my kids could play with friends without their parents’ involvement. I was thrilled, until I realized I was now the parent to more than my own two children. One little friend noted she didn’t like the snack offered and inquired about other options. That might have been preferable to the time another little friend found it perfectly acceptable to walk into my kitchen, open the refrigerator and rummage through. Then there was the time my son’s friend refused to address me as instructed and persisted in calling me by my first name despite repeated corrections, or the time a little friend had an accident in my bathroom and refused to come out.

I still have difficulty accepting that kids can no longer be kicked outside to play like normal people. My home is half a block away from three little boys in my son’s class, and my daughter is now old enough to walk the two blocks to her friends’ homes. But no one does. No one just goes outside and plays. I suppose it has to be scheduled first. Perhaps I should send my kids into school with Blackberries to schedule playdates in their daily planners. Once kids are ‘penciled in,’ maybe then they can come out to play.

Related post: 10 PlayDate Rules For PlayDates Under My Roof

Spring Break With Kids vs. College Spring Break

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It’s Spring Break time. Fifteen years ago, that phrase was magical. Florida, sunshine, partying, cute boys…

Now? Now it means my kids aren’t in school. Which means I still want to drink copious amounts of alcohol throughout the week. But for very different reasons.

But cheer up, my friends in similar boats! There are some amazing similarities between college spring break and spring break as a parent of young, school-aged children…

1. Scantily clad girls are running around unchecked, giggling and screaming.

2. There are grumpy grown-up residents yelling at the kids to behave.

3. There is a risk of finding a unidentifiable substance in your shoes sometime during the week.

4. Your sleeping arrangements for the night are always unknown and could be any of the following:

•  Sharing a bed with another female who snores and hogs the covers.
•  Sharing a bed with a guy who wants to get in your pants.
•  Sleeping on the floor because you didn’t play your cards right at bedtime.

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5. At 2 a.m. you might be woken up by a request to assist someone in the bathroom because her tummy hurts.

6. Your roommates are always wearing your clothes without asking.

7. You’re really, really tired because loud, inconsiderate people won’t let you sleep.

8. Every single friggin’ day, there’s a girl crying about something at some point.

9. You’re not sure the last time the sheets on the bed were changed, but you’re too tired to care.

10. There’s a yucky smell emanating from somewhere in the room and no one can figure out what it is, where it’s coming from, or whose fault it is.

11. You keep finding people’s underwear in strange places and you don’t want to know how it got there

12. You could go to bed with one person and wake up with a different one. Or two.

See? Key West 1997 and Suburban New England 2015. Not so different after all.

Related post: For Every Mom Stuck Home With Kids Over Spring Break

Moms Know What They’re Doing And Other Misconceptions

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Before I became a mom, I thought moms knew what they were doing. Most moms have known their children for a long time, so they must have some idea about things like, whether their child despises footed pajamas or not. Well, I knew that my 3 yo loved footed pajamas. So I bought her 5 pair for Christmas. And now the only pajamas that she will shove herself into every night are designed for an infant but they don’t have “hot feet” which, apparently hurts her soul.

Well, it turns out that the biggest myth of all is that moms know what they are doing. It’s true…we are all winging it. That’s right. And past experience may have taught us that our kids’ favorite doll needs to hear I’m A Little Teapot before naptime, but then we will be wrong when Miss Dolly clearly wants to hear Where Is Thumbkin. And then you’ve released the Kraken.

Here are some of the main mom myths debunked:

1. We know what we’re doing. I don’t have a clue, do you have a clue? Some days I feel like I’m just standing in a corner tossing out clothes and food and love and discipline like confetti, praying that something sticks.

2. We chose that crazy freaking outfit that our kid is wearing. I lost that battle when my daughter turned two and learned what a tutu was and then again when Elsa was invented.

3. Our life only centers around our kids. I love my kids, they’re great, but my life centers around…well, trying to find a life that doesn’t always center around my kids. 

4. If our kid is messy, it’s our fault. There aren’t enough wet wipes in the world to keep up with my 3 yo. I’m as shocked as you are when I look at her face sometimes.

5. We know exactly what our kids want. My kids are moving targets. One day it’s syrup in a bowl beside the pancake and the next day, if I do this, I have ruined their life. I have no idea what anyone wants besides myself and that’s a nap. And a Twilight marathon.

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6. We know what our kids like to eat. I will have a general idea, but then one day my kids will eat roasted cauliflower like it’s popcorn and tell me that noodles are disgusting. So, I just keep on cooking and hope that no one starves or becomes lactose intolerant because yogurt is pretty much the only thing we consistently agree on.

7. We know how to discipline our kids. My current repertoire is putting toys on top of the refrigerator, time-outs, and a smattering of love and logic. Are these the best options? NO IDEA.

8. We protect our kids at all costs. Of course, for real danger this is true. But I also think that we are all learning to let our kids fight some of their own battles on the playground. At least, I hope we are, because I don’t know of one college professor who likes getting phone calls from someone’s mommy.

9. We are all super ninja multi-taskers. Some of you may be just that. And I have my moments. But there are also many times where I have to just FOCUS on one thing at a time or the whole system breaks down and then we are all having fruit snacks for dinner at 10:00 o’clock at night in a pile of dirty clothes.

10. Having kids has fulfilled our dreams of adulthood. Sure, if my dreams were to be an expert at extracting a crusty booger from a gyrating hole the size of a pencil eraser, my dreams have come true . No. I want also want to…ummm….write stuff and…just have a few seconds to figure out my dreams. Kids are great. I love kids. But there’s a me in there somewhere too. I’m almost totally sure.

Related post: The 10 Lies I Tell My Children

I’ve Never Been as Happy as I am at 35

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I’m 35 years old.

People around me are using terms like “advanced maternal age” and “yearly mammogram.” I know I’m getting older because all of my friends are, but you know what? FUCK THAT NOISE.

I’m not old. I’m loving my mid-thirties, and here are a few reasons why.

When I go shopping, I know exactly what will fit my body. I no longer waste my time trying to jam these hips into “boyfriend jeans.” It ain’t happening. Ever. It’s liberating to breeze past that bullshit and head directly for the “curvy” cut. Those suckers will slide right on and I won’t even break a sweat. Boom. Done.

I spend less time in hell, otherwise known as the fitting room. I remember a time, back when I was fresh-faced and only had two bills to pay, when I went shopping every single Friday. Apparently, I had nothing better to do with my time or my money than to peruse the sale racks at Gap and try on things just for fun. I know, I hate me too. That silly, rested BITCH.

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I am a better person. I used to lie awake in bed at night and dream up my outfits for the week. Outfit planning. That’s what kept me up at night. I’m not gonna lie, it was grand — but also self-absorbed, shallow, and unimportant. I like my 35-year-old self a lot better. My current nighttime train of thought is significantly weightier: I forgot to sign the permission slips AGAIN. I have to remember to do it before school tomorrow. What is our escape route if there is a fire? Is the mole on my husband’s back cancerous? I better Google it in the morning. Right after I sign those permission slips. But not until I have my coffee. Are we out of creamer? OH MY GOD, WE ARE.

See? Much better.

I know who matters. The people who matter now are stuck with me for LIFE: through sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. And I’m not just talking about my husband. My true friends — the same ones who loved me even when I was a silly, rested bitch — still love me now as a tired, frazzled one, and they’re like family. What life lessons and terrible breakups have joined together, let no man put asunder.

I have more fight in me at 35 than ever before. I don’t know if it’s age, experience, a buildup of hormonal rage, or what, but if something riles me, God help whoever stands in my way. As the years tick by, I have begun to grasp the weight of things that are weighty and the infinite value of things that are precious to me. The things that are important are worth fighting for, and at halfway to 70 years old, I better make the most of the time I have left.

I have finally learned how to use profanity in a way that suits me. That takes time and practice. 35 years of practice, to be exact.

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I can hail a cab, fall down in public, use a cocktail shaker and light a match without screaming like a girl. This is monumental. Shut up.

Being 35 is awesome. You should totally try it.

Related post: This Is 39

10 Things I Shamelessly Blame on My Kid

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Kids will take everything you value, then steal it and smear it with goo – your free time, sleep, elegant time spent alone taking a poop. But, the upside is rich.

I’m not talking about the beautiful way they make you see life anew through their eyes or how they make your heart walls pulse a little more readily. Nope. Kids are worth it because they are a 24/7 Get out of Jail Free Card.

You can blame EVERYTHING on them. It is your right and privilege as a parent.

Let me demonstrate how freely and easily I play this card with my handy list of:

10 things I handily (and daily) blame on my kid:

1. Wet Floors.

Husband: “What the hell happened in the bathroom?”
Me: Pokes head in bathroom, “MAAAAN, her hand washing skills are bullshit!”
The truth: Me, washing my face with 16 potions and lotions without my contacts in, then walking away from a sink and bathroom floor that could sustain 14 koi fish.

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2. Why We Have No Good Food.

Husband, eagerly calling from the living room, “Do we have any of that (delicious food) left?”
Me, in the kitchen swallowing the last bit of (delicious food), “Shrmofghftjg.”
“Sorry, I gave Stella the last one before bed.”
The truth: Me, shoving empty container that once held (delicious food) deep into trash.

3. Farts.

Everyone: “EW!”
The truth: Me, happily eating about a head of cauliflower for lunch as part of a recipe that did NOT say “butt plug required.”

4. Why I Can’t Go To That Place/Event/Party.

Me, via text because talking on the phone is only for emergency services: “Maaaaaan, I SO want to come to that, buuuuuut Stella is sick.”
The truth: Me, turning off my phone, ignoring kid and queueing up more Netflix.

5. Why I’m So Tired.

Me to coworker, suppressing tonsil-clearing yawn and pouring coffee into a small jug, “Ugh, she was up most of the night with bad dreams again!”
The truth: Me, propped up in bed with owls and bats, simultaneously watching Netflix and scrolling Instagram with dead bloodshot eyes.

6. Why The Floor Hasn’t Been Vacuumed.

Me to friends: “The sound of the vacuum scares the shit out of her. I just don’t want to be that confrontational Tough Love Mom, y’know?”
The truth: Taking the vacuum out, emptying the gritty bucket attachment because I didn’t want to do it and gag last time, choking on dust clots, unwinding the cord, plugging in the cord, moving things around the room so I can diligently suck up shit under them, then moving everything back, then repeating for each room in the apartment suuucks. That’s why the quick “scan and grab for crumbs” when people are coming in the front door works just as well.

7. Why My Stomach Isn’t Ripped.

Me, to childless people: “Yeah, once you have a kid that part of your body just will never rebound.” Sadface.
Truth: Not ever, EVER in my life, has my stomach been toned. I could be attached to an As-Seen-On-TV muscle shock machine 24/7, eat only egg whites and garlic scapes, and plank while I sleep and still never ever see any definition in my abdominals.

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8. Why The Car Is A Mess.

Me, to the person I’m giving a ride to: (Sheepish smile) “Kids, right? They’re crumb factories.”
The truth: A montage of me yell-singing a medley of 1998 punk songs while finishing a bag of Doritos, an apple, half a pound cake and a watermelon, and then tossing the remains into the back seat.

9. Why I Couldn’t Finish This Post.

I decided to press pause on my writing and spend some quality time with my kid who, really, will only be this young once.
The truth: An opportunity for a nap presented itself, so I stole it. Now, that’s a crime I’m pretty sure doesn’t warrant any jail time.

Related post: 10 Things I Thought Were Caused by Bad Parenting Before I Was a Parent