an all-frankfurter weekend

We have so many house guests every summer that I basically run a bed-and-breakfast inn. I actually enjoy this. We are lucky enough to spend our summers somewhere beautiful, and we have a big house with a big yard, so why not? Each summer, though, the numbers creep northward. A few weekends ago, we had fifteen people in our house for the weekend, and just today I have been informed out that this weekend, we will have sixteen plus a newborn, a new record.

I do not really mind this when I have the time to menu plan, and shop, and get everything ready. Sometimes I am frustrated when I don’t get out of the kitchen for an entire weekend, but that is what being a gracious hostess is all about. This summer, though, I happen to have a book manuscript due to my editor by September 1st, and so hosting this many people is more stressful than usual. I don’t have time to menu plan and cut fresh flowers. I only have time to feel bad that I do not have time to menu plan and cut fresh flowers. My husband is a litle frustrated with me for not setting better boundaries, and perhaps he should be, but being a mother, I always say “yes” and figure it will all get done somehow.

I was therefore very grateful when my friend Julie, she who is not a mother but understands mothering better than most people who are, enlightened me in this way:

Kids, Julie said offhandedly, don’t care if you make an effort or not. In fact, when you make no effort is sometimes when kids are MOST appreciative.

How the hell have I gotten through seven summers as a mother, five of them hosting my children’s numerous friends and cousins, without having figured this out? My God, she’s right. What’s my kids’ favorite dinner? Pizza delivered in a box. What’s my kids’ favorite way to spend a sunny afternoon? Inside watching Boomerang. I am not sure why I would ever put myself out again, now that I see how their hearts can be won so easily.

Of course, I still have these children’s parents wondering what’s for lunch. Even there, though, I have learned the hard way that I can spend all afternoon shopping at the farm stand and chopping bruschetta, only to have everyone eat the Tostitos with Hint of Lime instead. My insane planning and perfectionism is rarely rewarded with the reaction I would hope.

So I am going to try, this weekend, to take some time for my writing amidst the madness, to direct anyone to the farm stand who feels like going, and see just how low my standards can be. An all-frankfurter weekend, perhaps? Might be the best weekend any of us have had.


In case you missed them, there were two unsettling breast- feeding stories in the news this past week: one, that a woman in North Dakota has managed to avoid jail time but had her baby taken away from her for breastfeeding while apparently drunk, and the other, that a Spanish toy company has come out with a doll called “Bebe Gloton” (Baby Glutton) that little girls can pretend to breastfeed using a halter top with flip-up daisy pasties.

I usually don’t post news stories here unless I have a point of view on them. I’m just not sure what my point of view is on either of these stories. Certainly a mother who is blotto should consider pumping and dumping, but 1) it is not expressly against the law to nurse while drunk, 2) the police said she “seemed drunk” but did not administer a blood test, and 3) for this transgression, this woman has lost custody of her baby for six months. And counting. As far as the doll goes, the people who are saying this doll might “speed up maternal urges” and promote early pregnancy are, I think, wackadoos. On the other hand, I would never buy a doll that makes sucking noises and burps, and I think there is no need for a breastfeeding doll, since children who see their mothers nurse come up with the idea of nursing their dolls on their own.

As you can see here.

I think what both of these stories have in common is the prevailing idea in American society that breastfeeding is altogether ooky. This despite the insane pressure pregnant women get to nurse their children. I think those cops walked in and saw a mother breastfeeding and slurring her words, and they just arrested her, because there’s just something wrong with that picture. Same thing with this doll. “It’s just…weird,” the Fox and Friends gang concluded, and even though I nursed three children, I have to agree with them. Most of us, to one degree or another, still have breastfeeding hangups. That’s the conclusion I’m drawing here. Anyone else?

damned if you do, damned if you don’t

Yet another parenting catch-22 reared its head this week: apparently, our children are not getting enough sunshine, and it is all our fault, for having been too vigilant with the sunblock.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics says that up to 70% of our children have insufficient levels of vitamin D, which can lead to higher blood pressure, diabetes, and a host of other medical problems.

All I have heard, since becoming a mother, is that my children should be swathed in SPF 45 immediately upon awaking, and again every eighty minutes, and that it is better for them not to be outside at all between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Now, I find out that my children might end up with rickets, a bone-softening disease last seen in the days of Tiny Tim.

The new advice regarding sunscreen seems to be that kids need it if they’re going to the beach all afternoon, but might not if they’re going to be outside for twenty minutes. But we are supposed to consult our children’s pediatrician first. Yeah, I’m sure my kids’ doctor really wants to take two hundred phone calls today to discuss the finer points of each family’s sunscreen habits.

Again, as mothers, we are stuck. Co-sleep and you’re a bad mother; let them cry it out and you’re a bad mother. Get the vitamin K eye drops and you’re a bad mother; reject them and you’re a bad mother. Have children with farmer tans and you’re a bad mother; have children with bowed femurs and you’re a bad mother. It’s enough to drive anyone batty. However, I am kind of excited about this particular study, because applying sunscreen on my three uncooperative children takes up WAY too much of my time, these days. The next time I slack off, at least I won’t have to feel bad. They’ll be getting their vitamin D.

Why I Loved My Mom

Received this in my email inbox today. I generally delete anything that begins with “Fwd” without reading but I was glad I opened this one. I can’t seem to track down who wrote it, but it’s a good one.

Why I Loved My Mom

Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, I’m tired, and it’s getting late. I think I’ll go to bed.”

She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day’s lunches. Rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning.

She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the wash, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button.
She picked up the game pieces left on the table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom.

She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a textbook out from hiding under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mom then washed her face with 3 in 1 cleanser, put on her Night Solution & age fighting moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and filed her nails.

Dad called out, “I thought you were going to bed.”

I’m on my way,” she said.

She put some water into the dog’s dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the doors were locked. She looked in on each of the kids and turned out their bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework.

In her own room, she set the alarm; laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her 6 most important things to do list. She said her prayers, and visualized the accomplishment of her goals.

About that time, Dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular. “I’m going to bed.” And he did…without another thought.

Fergus Explains It All: His Favorite People

Fergus turned 5 this week, and this afternoon, David and I were preparing a barbecue for 14 friends and relatives in our backyard to celebrate. Fergus was sitting at the kitchen counter watching us, and was apparently feeling very appreciative.

FERGUS: Mom. You know what?
MOMMY: What, Ferg?
FERGUS: You’re my second favwite person.

David and I make furtive eye contact.

MOMMY: Wow, I am? Who’s your favorite person?
FERGUS: I not telling.
DADDY: Is it me?
FERGUS: No. You’re my fourth favwite person.
DADDY: Who’s third?
FERGUS: Winda.

David nodded at this, not even really that surprised. Linda was Seamus’ babysitter from birth, and although we see her less often now, we have her babysit as often as we can. Therefore, Linda is also my third favorite person (at LEAST), although I am still scarred by the fact that when he was a year old, Fergus said Linda’s name (“Ee-da”) for several months before he was saying mine.

The rest of Fergus’ birthday afternoon has been spent trying to figure out who is #1. Since he is 5, playing guessing games where only he knows the answer are kind of hard. Whoever this mystery person is that Fergus prefers over me, and three times more than Daddy, she “kind of” lives with us, is a girl, but then became two people, and “might be” imaginary.

I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not Poppy- Fergus’ paternal grandfather is, apparently, his “last favwite” person. Nor is it Ms. Harder (Fergus’ pre-school teacher), Penelope Pitstop, or Santa Claus. Anyone out there good at riddles?