Scary Mommy http://www.scarymommy.com A parenting website for imperfect parents. Fri, 28 Nov 2014 22:49:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 A No-Bullshit Holiday Newsletterhttp://www.scarymommy.com/holiday-letter/ http://www.scarymommy.com/holiday-letter/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:22:33 +0000 http://www.scarymommy.com/?p=58098 Image via Shutterstock It’s that time of year – the time of year when Christmas cards come pouring in through our mailboxes, and many of them are accompanied by The Holiday Newsletter. The Holiday Newsletter is the written version of a selfie, all filtered, airbrushed, framed, and presented for other people’s admiration. I’ve done it […]

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It’s that time of year – the time of year when Christmas cards come pouring in through our mailboxes, and many of them are accompanied by The Holiday Newsletter.

The Holiday Newsletter is the written version of a selfie, all filtered, airbrushed, framed, and presented for other people’s admiration. I’ve done it myself: you mine your calendar over the past year for highlights, putting the best spin possible on the mundane shit that nobody else really cares about so that you may present to people you rarely, if ever, actually see An Awesome Life that proves what An Awesome Person you are.

Let’s cut the crap, okay? Frankly, it takes too much work to embellish and shine everything up to fill up a one- or two-page newsletter that your recipients are going to smirk and snark and roll their eyes over in the privacy of their homes (while you imagine they’re oohing and ahhing), while simultaneously feeling like shit because their life, by comparison, doesn’t measure up.

Instead, how about a No-Bullshit Holiday Newsletter instead? Here’s mine…

Dear Far Flung Friends –

Wow, another year – gone.  Doesn’t it feel like we are all hurtling faster and faster towards death? That’s sure what it feels like to me.

So, yeah, I thought I’d take a few minutes between loads of laundry, wiping butts, and catching up on Duck Dynasty episodes to catch you all up on the doings at our house this past year.

2013 pretty much sucked. I mean, we have enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, blah blah blah, but, you know, things could have been better. LOL!

The kids didn’t really do anything that stands out. Kevin’s acne has gotten pretty bad. I’m sure he didn’t get that from me. I mean, yeah, so I still get zits every month around that time, but I never had acne per se. He finally got off his ass and got a job after we hounded him for months, so there’s that. Be thankful for the little things, right?  

Joey is no longer in GATE at school. We pulled him because he couldn’t hack it, and we didn’t want the embarrassment of him being kicked out. He still plays baseball. Ho hum. 

The twins are growing up! Annabelle now regularly has BO (P.U.!), and Daisy is prone to hysterical outbursts.  Womanhood is right around the corner! It’ll be really great when we have three girls in full-blown puberty right about the time I should be going through menopause!

Lilah’s still pretty cute, which is a good thing since she’s becoming kind of a brat. Finn still has Down syndrome.  We’re thinking of trying hypnosis next – I read an article in one of those news magazines (I think it was The Enquirer) that hypnosis can pretty much cure anything.  Scarlett just makes me tired.  God, babies are demanding!

We’ve been pretty healthy this year, except for that run of diarrhea (get it? “Run”? HA HA HA!). Oh, and the kids had lice a couple months back. I’m pretty sure we got rid of it.

We didn’t go on vacation this year – we couldn’t afford it, plus, we just have too many damn kids now. A real vacation would be getting away from them! Ha ha. Michael lost his job, but is trying to work for himself now. We’ll see how that goes! 

Speaking of money, I’m trying to sock some away for bladder repair surgery – this peeing myself all the time is the pits! Well, it’s either that or the boob job I’ve been dreaming about forever – still trying to decide which since we’ll never be able to afford both. Unless I borrow from one of the kids’ college funds . . . ha! Who am I kidding?  What college funds?!

The house is pretty much falling apart, but hey, who wants to fix it up with all these curtain-climbers running around?! I wouldn’t call it squalor, exactly, but . . . well, anyway. I bet you can’t guess which one of us has become intimately acquainted with antidepressants, and which one of us has become intimately acquainted with booze! My lips are sealed.

Anyway!  Well, happy holidays!  Until next year –

Lisa

Well, maybe not.

Related post: Elf on The Shelf… Gone Bad

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What Have The Holidays Become?http://www.scarymommy.com/what-have-the-holidays-become/ http://www.scarymommy.com/what-have-the-holidays-become/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:33:28 +0000 http://www.scarymommy.com/?p=58313 Image via Shutterstock The music, the decorations, the sale ads — the holidays are already here, whether you’re ready or not. Right now there are thousands — if not millions — of people out taking advantage of “Black Friday” deals, sales that started even before the turkey had cooled on the table. Like a lot […]

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The music, the decorations, the sale ads — the holidays are already here, whether you’re ready or not. Right now there are thousands — if not millions — of people out taking advantage of “Black Friday” deals, sales that started even before the turkey had cooled on the table.

Like a lot of people, I sometimes find this time of year to be hard. Between the loss of family gatherings due to time and distance, the rampant and unnecessary consumerism, no holiday break, a dash of deep depression and a partridge in a pear tree, I would much rather just skip to January 2.

There won’t be a big family meal, and come Christmas there won’t be many — if any — gifts. Times are tight and money is even tighter, regardless of the date on the calendar.

I’ve never been bitter because we don’t have money for things, but I do get annoyed that others are so obsessed with those things.

However, I get it. It’s easy to feel pressured to buy things, eat foods that don’t make you feel good and stress about spending time with people you might not enjoy all that much except in small doses.

When that’s no longer an option, you learn a valuable lesson — be better, not bitter, and be thankful for all that you have.

So this time of year I really have to distance myself from certain things online and on TV, as I can’t stand seeing people filmed on Black Friday – ravenous for deals on TVs, cameras, phones, etc., people in malls pushing others over, obsessed with getting things.

Then they show Christmas Day.

The mall is quiet. People are home with their families. The holiday is over. Until the next shot when it’s Dec. 26 and people are right back at the mall again, ravenous for after-Christmas sales and replacing the gifts they didn’t want. It’s like somehow Christmas didn’t happen for some people. It didn’t fill the hole. It wasn’t enough.

It’s different when you’re a kid, or at least it was for me, and so I understand that it’s different for parents. The holidays were a magical time with no worries, only wonder. The fact that parents can take the time to create fun traditions and keep that magic alive is priceless, and something I keep with me now.

Growing up I was lucky enough that every holiday dozens of people in my big Polish family would be crammed around tables full of food and conversation. And while I might remember a few of the special gifts that I got, those “things” aren’t first on my mind.

What I remember much more are the things that we did and said, making the food that we ate and places we went every year. That’s what the holidays were, and that’s what they continue to be.

So this year with every Black Friday ad, and every person complaining about surviving the season like it’s a terminal illness, I’m going to try not roll my eyes.

Instead when they complain about feeling burdened to buy gifts, I might kindly remind them to connect to why the person they’re shopping for is special to them and how they want them to feel when they open the gifts.

Instead of rushing around, try to take a moment to stop and take in the sights and the smells of the season instead of overcommitting to events that just leave them drained. Maybe step back and ask, “What do I want to remember?” And if they have kids, “What do I want them to remember?”

Because even though this time of year might be rough for a variety of different reasons and some things are unavoidable — crazy uncles making “breast or leg man” jokes around a dead bird carcass stuffed with stale bread, Lexus “December to Remember” commercials — there are some things we can control.

We can be thankful for things that we have and make the memories that we want to keep.

(Steps off soapbox, trips, has a piece of broccoli fall out of her shirt that fell in there sometime while she was eating dinner.)

Let the season begin.

Related post: 5 Promises I’m Making For The Holiday Season

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15 Tips For Surviving The Holidayshttp://www.scarymommy.com/surviving-the-holidays/ http://www.scarymommy.com/surviving-the-holidays/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:44:00 +0000 http://www.scarymommy.com/surviving-the-holidays/ Image via Shutterstock Do you find your self running in circles, screaming like a wild woman,“The holidays are coming! The HOLIDAYS are coming!” days before the crush of mass gifting and familial eating are to begin? You’re not alone. Hanukkah, based on the Jewish calendar, moves around every year, unlike Christmas or New Years, and […]

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Do you find your self running in circles, screaming like a wild woman,“The holidays are coming! The HOLIDAYS are coming!” days before the crush of mass gifting and familial eating are to begin? You’re not alone.

Hanukkah, based on the Jewish calendar, moves around every year, unlike Christmas or New Years, and sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Though, even if it were the same day every year, I would still wait to the last minute; Nothing like the thrill and excitement of being on deadline – I get my kicks where I can.

An hour before family is to arrive for my home cooked dinner – and by home cooked I mean take-out on our nice dishes – I put a few menorahs here, a few dreidels there, and when I’m really on fire, I hang our dreidel stockings on the mantle with scotch tape, and wrap our banister with shiny blue and silver tinsel that looks like Liberace lives here. I like to make it festive. I’m classy like that. (Watch out, Martha Stewart.)

It truly is a glorious time of year. I love the “Festival of Lights”, Christmas lights, and good lighting in general. I can’t see worth a damn these days so I can finally find my way around when the city is all nice and lit up.

But the days are flying by and I am feeling less joyous and more ravenous, as my procrastination is at record high and my gift list for family, friends, and teachers has expanded like my waist-line after inhaling a box of See’s. There is much to do, like figure out how to record my favorite shows I’ll be missing when I entertain the family and which restaurant we’ll choose to do take-out from. Where are Santa’s elves when I need them?

The holidays just wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t drive you batty, but a little less stress wouldn’t kill us either. So I put together some tips to help lighten your load. Here goes:

1. Tell everyone you’re going out of town… but don’t actually leave.

2. Never go to the same hairdresser or manicurist more than once. One less gift!

3. Hide your scale and only wear baggy clothes.

4. Draw long swirly mustaches on all the smiling faces in your pile of holiday cards.

5. Switch from regular to decaf, and decaf to 20% proof.

6. Have chocolate at every meal.

7. Do all of your holiday shopping a the grocery store (any gift card will do).

8. Forgo the gift wrap and holiday cards, cuz you’re being “green.”

9. If entertaining over the holidays, only do “pot luck.” Better yet, do every meal, “pot luck.” Kids, you’re on your own.

10. Try to avoid leaving the house from Nov.26 – Jan.2. Think of the gas you’ll save!

11. Insist everyone wear red or green, or blue and silver, or whatever color combination accurately depicts what holiday they celebrate, to keep social gatherings lively.

12. Save the time and money (woohoo!) from coloring your hair and just tell everyone that the silver is tinsel.

13. Re-gifting is perfectly acceptable. Just remember not to regift the item aback to the same person. Too awkward.

14. Laugh a lot, it will soon be over. Drink a lot, it will go even faster.

15. When all else fails, spike your coffee with eggnog morning and night.

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, just remember it’s the most stressful, um, wonderful time of year. Happy Holidays!

Related post: 5 Promises I’m Making For The Holiday Season

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I Can’t Complainhttp://www.scarymommy.com/i-cant-complain/ http://www.scarymommy.com/i-cant-complain/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:28:35 +0000 http://www.scarymommy.com/?p=57354 Image via Shutterstock When people ask me how I am, I try to respond with, “I can’t complain.” Because really, I can’t. There’s a roof over our heads, food on the table, I have a husband who loves me and children who are healthy. I don’t want to complain. I want to be grateful as […]

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When people ask me how I am, I try to respond with, “I can’t complain.” Because really, I can’t. There’s a roof over our heads, food on the table, I have a husband who loves me and children who are healthy. I don’t want to complain. I want to be grateful as much as possible.

Lately I’ve been noticing that complaining has become almost a mode of conversation, a way of commiserating with and relating to each other. We complain about the rain, or the lack of rain, or the heat, or the slow lady at the grocery store, or the terrible service at a restaurant, or the carpool line that is agonizingly long, or the amount of homework our kids get, or the butt loads of laundry that pile up. I am guilty of this complaining conversation just as much as the next person. I complain about how hot and humid it was today, or how I could lose a few pounds but it’s just so hard (especially because I don’t want to give up wine or carbs), or that I am really tired of schlepping everyone around, and did I mention that I have to drive freaking forty-five minutes during rush hour to take my son to ice hockey practice tonight?

I guess everyone has a pity party every now and then, but lately I’ve been trying to catch myself and quit all my complaining. Before another complaint escapes my mouth, I try and remember our friend Kate.

I met Kate in the 7th grade. She was exceedingly bright, especially when it came to English and History. She was kind to all, soft spoken, funny and friendly. After high school graduation, she went on to Trinity College. She became an English teacher at our middle and high school Alma Mater, engaging middle school students in young adult literature. She had three boys of her own. She was the alumni liaison for our graduating class, and we kept in touch at reunions and through other friends. During her third pregnancy she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. A couple years later, she died at the age of 39. Her youngest son was only two years old when she passed away.

The last time I saw Kate alive was at our friend Jo-Anne’s house. It was June and Jo-Anne was having a birthday party for one her kids. Kate was there with her boys. Her cancer was in remission, and she was as vibrant as ever, engaged with her kids, always with a smile on her face. She had a quiet resiliency about her. She really listened when you talked with her. She was never rushed. In October her cancer came back everywhere. By Thanksgiving, she was gone.

Whenever I am having a particularly bad day, the kind where I am annoyed by everything and everyone, and all I really want to do is complain, I think of Kate. If I am standing at our kitchen sink doing the dishes, I remind myself that she would give anything to be here, scrubbing the freaking pots and pans. When my alarm goes off on a school day at 6:00 am and I am tired, so tired, and I feel like complaining about the early hour, I think of Kate and how she would happily trade places with me in a second to go wake up her kids. Whenever I am carpooling kids around to various activities and I am tempted to complain about the traffic, I think of Kate, and how lucky I am to be here in this mundane moment.

So I am trying to be more mindful of what I am saying, and practice positive conversation by commenting on all the good things instead of pointing out the endless crap. It’s not easy to change the conversation and not complain, but it’s a choice, and I’m working on it.

It reminds me of a dad I see at my son’s hockey practices. I typically say hi and ask him how he’s doing, and his response every single time is, “Living the dream!” He says it in a joking way, but you know what? He’s right. We are living the life that Kate and so many others could only dream about. So ask me how I’m doing today, and hopefully I’ll respond, “Living the dream! I can’t complain at all.”

Related post: 28 Reasons Kids Are Awesome – Scary Mommy

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5 Promises I’m Making For The Holiday Seasonhttp://www.scarymommy.com/promises-for-the-holiday-season/ http://www.scarymommy.com/promises-for-the-holiday-season/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 03:19:30 +0000 http://www.scarymommy.com/?p=58568 Image via Shutterstock For the last decade, I have kept a dog-eared copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine among my collection of cookbooks. In the thick glossy pages are dozens of clever holiday themed craft and recipe ideas that every year I swear up and down that I will finally make. I pour a glass of […]

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For the last decade, I have kept a dog-eared copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine among my collection of cookbooks. In the thick glossy pages are dozens of clever holiday themed craft and recipe ideas that every year I swear up and down that I will finally make. I pour a glass of wine and lick my index finger as I swipe through page after page of beautiful and expensive projects as I begin to make my holiday lists.

We can call this small act of creative inspiration the epicenter of my annual holiday guilt-fest.

That damn glossy magazine with all of the fancy ideas for holiday spreads mock my shabby culinary skills and tendency to procrastinate. My guilt over menus extents to self-reproach over poorly executed decorations, slap-dash party plans, and the frightful mile-long lists for holiday gifts that start out as DIY projects and end up as last minute shopping hunts.

But not this year because I am cutting off the guilt before it even starts by making these five promises to myself:

1. I promise I will not succumb to door buster savings. This includes but is not limited to Black Friday, 5 AM door busters, midnight lines around the freezing cold shopping mall parking lot, chasing down coupons, newspaper clipping savings, or any other form of penny pinching nonsense that makes me feel like I should be an economist looking to buck a financial trend instead of a mom looking for a new superman cape for a five-year-old.

2. I promise I will let my kids helpI solemnly swear that no matter how messy, screechy, impulsive, or misguided my children approach a particular holiday craft that I will bite my tongue and roll with it. Let the wreath be lopsided. Let the Christmas tree only be decorated on the lower third. Let there even be a pile of over frosted cookies waiting for Santa. Whatever it is, I will not fix it.

3. I promise I will slow down and enjoy the season. When It’s A Wonderful Life comes on TV, I will not multitask by stringing popcorn or stuffing holiday cards into envelopes. When the kids want to make snow angels in the backyard I will get down on the ground with them. I promise I will get tipsy at least once while I drink spiked eggnog and put my feet up on the coffee table well past my bedtime. I will eat assorted nuts and gold-foiled kisses while telling stories with my kids.

4. I promise I will not bury myself under DIY projects. Sure, its fun to sew new flannel pajama bottoms for my kids. And yes, hot gluing sparkly white stars and snowflakes onto foam rings and knit stockings sure do make the mantle more fun. But if that list of DIY projects begins to feel like work then I will quit. I will not turn this year into a science experiment of how-much-stress-can-mom-take-before-she-implodes.

5. I promise I will not start plotting my post-holiday diet plans before the New Year. I hate it when I find myself at a holiday party and I am eyeing up the spinach dip and the Swedish meatballs but then that nagging voice in my heads starts in with the, hey, you should really go on a diet because this holiday season is going to ruin you. I promise that this year I will enjoy food. I will not limit how much or even what I eat. Bacon wrapped scallops…duh!

Last year everything in my house was a misguided approximation of how Martha would have done it. By the time I was finished I was an unhappy and exhausted mess. Who can enjoy the holidays under those self-inflicted conditions? But not this year. This is the year of making the holidays fun and magical.

Happy holidays. Now, pass me some eggnog please.

Related post: Are You A Pinterest Addict?

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Dear Parents: You Aren’t That Specialhttp://www.scarymommy.com/you-arent-that-special/ http://www.scarymommy.com/you-arent-that-special/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 05:21:50 +0000 http://www.scarymommy.com/?p=53072 Image via Shutterstock Sitting at the pond, observing my four year old’s attempts at mastering the art of flotation, I watched a scene play out that I have seen time and time again: During swim class, there is no swimming in the area marked out for the lesson (which includes the dock), and every single day […]

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Sitting at the pond, observing my four year old’s attempts at mastering the art of flotation, I watched a scene play out that I have seen time and time again: During swim class, there is no swimming in the area marked out for the lesson (which includes the dock), and every single day there seem to be parents who feel their children should be exempt from this rule.

Today, it was a mother who, upon being told by a lifeguard that they needed to be outside the buoys, responded “Well, we need to leave town in 30 minutes, and they want to play on the dock- they aren’t bothering anyone.” Except, of course, that they were, as they were about eight years old and running through the swim class full of toddlers. Plus, you know, rules.

Unfortunately, it seems as though more and more people feel entitled to break rules, be they unspoken or otherwise, when it comes to their children. The thing is, popping out a child doesn’t make them, or you, any more special than anyone else, and acting as though the sun shines out of that squishy little tushie? That just makes you a jerk. Here are some other places I’ve encountered parents who seem to think the world revolves around them and their children:

1. The Movies. Don’t bring your beautiful three month old miracle to a 10PM showing of a horror flick. Your child WILL wake up and disturb others around you. No, you are NOT entitled to go see the film just because you want to. Hire a babysitter. Watching a movie in a theater is not a right, and disturbing others is just obnoxious. This also goes for bringing young children into late night shows where they will either be terrified or disruptive- just don’t.

2. Bars. I am shocked I even have to write this, but having witnessed quite a few people (especially in NYC) feel completely comfortable bringing their young ones into what should clearly be adult only establishments, and it makes me wonder what these parents are thinking? Why would you: 1. Want your child in that environment, and 2. Feel as though it is appropriate to bring them to a venue where other adults congregate to imbibe spirits and likely be away from children? You aren’t that special. Leave your precious snowflakes at home. (Obviously some bars are totally family friendly, especially in the early evening. I’m not talking about those).

3. Inappropriate restaurants. There are family restaurants. Lots of them. Go to those.

4. When there is an age/height requirement at a venue or attraction. There is a reason for it, and arguing (often loudly and at someone who likely had no hand in the decision making) about why your darling child who is a clear six inches too short to ride that ride should be allowed on it, just makes you an entitled brat. It’s called safety — no one is trying to personally inconvenience you by enforcing the rules. If you’re the person willing to argue and harangue people over the rules, you’re probably also the type of person who would sue if something then happened to little Johnny after you forced the issue.

5. Weddings or other events that are specified at “adult only.” Nothing is more irritating than hosting a gathering which is clearly labeled “adults only” and having a friend or relative decide that this rule does not apply to them. Couldn’t find a babysitter? Wanted your kids to see out of town relatives? It doesn’t matter. The host is the person who calls the shots, and imposing your little uninvited darlings on the event is both unfair and flat out rude. If you can’t bear to leave behind your kids, don’t go to the event- accept that your kids aren’t welcome everywhere at all times.

6. Planes/trains/public transportation. No one would ever say you can’t bring your child on planes or public conveyances; that’s asinine and impossible. However HOW you bring your child is very important. Don’t be that parent that brings a high maintenance toddler onto a plane for six hours without being prepared for it. From my experience, no one gets upset with the parents (and are far more patient with the kids) who are actively trying to keep their baby/toddler/small person entertained and calm throughout the flight. People get pretty darn ticked off with the parents that seem to have no concern for their precious little bundle’s decision to repeatedly kick the back of the seat in front of them, or play their movie at full volume without headphones. Don’t be a jerk: Just because you are on an airplane doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to be a parent.

The moral of the story is that you and your offspring aren’t that special. Be a decent parent — nay — a decent person- and do the right thing.

Your kids will be better for it, and you won’t be “that mom” or “that dad” that everyone can’t stand.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Related post: 10 People Who Make Parenting Harder

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